Wednesday, September 06, 2017

School Lunch Box -- What to pack for school lunch?


After two whole months of lazy summer, schools open up this week. Right after depressing stuff like setting the alarm clock to 5:30 in the morning, what looms large in my mind is "What to pack for school lunch?".

This year, I have a high schooler who has a strong dislike for lunches at the school cafeteria and prefers lunch from home. And then I have an elementary school goer who scans her school lunch menu to pick the days when the school will serve Mac & Cheese or a Pizza. While the first one eats her veggies and likes more of the pasta dishes, the second one loves fruits and prefers a ham sandwich. The first one will finish her lunch, while it is on a rare day that the second one will bring home a clean lunch thermos.

As you must know by now, I am not the Mom, who makes pretty bento boxes or egg faces for school lunches. I admire those lunches and look at them longingly on instagram but sadly that is not me. I also make sure that my kids never get to see those glorious lunch boxes on social media ;-)
The lunch boxes I pack have to be done the night before, packed quick in the morning, and not make me shed any of my remaining my gray hair!!!

Easy, Quick, Kind of Healthy-- those are the key words that describe our school lunch boxes.

Thinking of all the possible lunch options that my kids love, I decided to curate the lunch box recipes from my blog and present it in one post. Since both my girls have a hurried, small breakfast in the morning, they get hungry by lunchtime and want something "interesting"! I have tried to break down the lunches we pack in 4 broad categories.

1. Pulaos and Noodles
2. Pasta
3. Crepes, rolls and Quesadillas
4. Sandwich

Click on the Recipe Titles to get the recipe

I am hoping to have one more similar post soon as this list is not complete. Until then this will help me and you both. And then in-between there is always Costco raviolis to tide us over.





Pulaos and Noodles


Bread Pulav with Vegetables and Eggs



Pros: Big hit with the kids. Keeps warm in thermos. Easy to cook ahead in large quantity. Good serving of vegetables and protein which you can adjust.

Cons: Best when warm. Okay at room temperature.

Oats Upma




Pros: This is preferred more by the older kids. Keeps warm in thermos. Easy to cook ahead in large quantity. Good serving of vegetables and protein which you can adjust. High up in the healthy scale.

Cons: Best when warm. Okay at room temperature.

Stir fried Noodles




Pros: Big hit with kids. Keeps warm in thermos. Easy to cook ahead in large quantity. Good serving of vegetables and protein which you can adjust.

Cons: Best when warm. Okay at room temperature.

Pasta Dishes


Pasta with Peppers and Greens in a homemade marinara sauce





Pros: Big hit with the kids. Keeps warm in thermos. Easy to cook ahead in large quantity. Good serving of vegetables which you can adjust.

Cons: None

Spaghetti with Broccoli, Sausage and Burnt Garlic




Pros: Big hit with the kids. Keeps warm in thermos. Easy to cook ahead in large quantity. Good serving of vegetables which you can adjust.

Cons: Best warm in thermos.Okay at room temperature.

Pasta with Grilled Vegetables and toasted Breadcrumbs



Pros: Big hit with the kids. Keeps warm in thermos. Easy to cook ahead in large quantity. Good serving of vegetables which you can adjust. You might want to skip the feta if you are warming and packing for lunchbox.

Cons: Do not add the breadcrumbs if you are serving this cold or at room temperature.

Pasta with Spinach Pesto



Pros: Big hit with the kids. Keeps warm in thermos. Easy to cook ahead in large quantity. Good serving of vegetables which you can adjust.

Cons: None

Crepe, Roll & Quesadillas


Kolkata Style Egg Roll




Pros: Big hit with the kids. For a healthier option, make this roll using a tortilla or roti instead of paratha.

Cons: Takes about 15-20 mins in the morning to make and pack for 2 kids

Keema Quesadillas



Pros: Big hit with the kids. The Keema with beans( Ground chicken) can be cooked a couple of days ahead. The Quesadillas have to be made the night before. Does not need a thermos and can be packed in aluminum foil. Protein packed.

Cons: If your child only likes hot lunches this might not be his/her thing. Does not stay piping hot in climate like ours.

Savory Crepes



Pros: Big hit with the kids. The potato or sweet pea stuffing can be cooked a couple of days ahead. The crepes have to be made the night before or in the morning. Does not need a thermos and can be packed in aluminum foil. If you stuff it with the Keema aka Ground Chicken from the previous recipe it is super protein packed.

Cons: If your child only likes hot lunches this might not be his/her thing. Does not stay piping hot in climate like ours. My kids still love this as they stay reasonably warm when wrapped in aluminum foil.

Sweet Crepes


Pros: These are exactly like the savory crepes but instead of a savory filling is slathered with Nutella. A big hit with kids who like a sweet touch in their lunch

Cons: If your child only likes hot lunches this might not be his/her thing. Does not stay piping hot in climate like ours.



Sandwich - Samwich

Chicken Mushroom Sandwich



Pros: If your kids like mushroom like me then they will love this. Or else make it for your own lunch box. The chicken meatballs or burgers can be cooked a couple of days ahead. The sandwich has to be made in the morning. Does not need a thermos and can be packed in aluminum foil. Protein packed.

Cons: You need about 10 mins in the morning to pack this which is not that bad

Tomato Basil Sandwich



Pros: If your kids like tomatoes and basil like me then they will love this. Or else make it for your own lunch box. This sandwich is best made in the morning. Fresh taste

Cons: You need about 10 mins in the morning to pack this. I would keep the tomatoes and basil chopped the night ahead for this. It might get a little soggy by lunch time.

 Egg Salad Sandwich




Pros: If your kids like eggs like me then they will love this. Unfortunately mine don't so I make it for my own lunch box.

Cons: Bit on the spicy side this one



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