Monday, February 11, 2013

The Lenten Lunchbox

I know, I know. Lunch isn't really the first thing you think of when contemplating the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross, but meal planning around restrictions can be a tough thing to do. With that in mind, at the request of a friend, I have compiled a list of some meatless, kid friendly lunchbox meal ideas that might help you get through this beautiful season of sacrifice and preparation. I have tried to include some nut-free and gluten-free options, too, for those of you with further restrictions.

Sandwiches and sandwich-like:
-Peanut butter (or sunflower butter or almond butter, you know, the usual suspects) banana roll-ups. Spread peanut butter on a tortilla and roll a banana up inside.
-Banana dogs. Put a banana in a hot dog bun. Add pbj as "condiments."
-Bagel and cream cheese. Put the cream cheese on the side to avoid sogginess.
-Sandwich Skewers. Cheese, bread pieces and veggies on a skewer. Serve with dip. For a mini version use toothpicks for skewers.
-Tuna salad (can be fun in a pita or a lettuce wrap)
-Egg salad (ditto)
- Cheddar apple sandwiches on baguette
-Veggie wraps with a cream cheese spread (roasted garlic and cheddar, garden veggie or herb cream cheese spread and your choice of veggies)
-Falafel and pita
-Cold veggie pizza (roll out crescent dough in a sheet, bake and cool. Spread with ranch dressing and top with cold, chopped veggies and shredded cheddar or colby cheese)
-Pita with hummus or baba ganoush

Hot Meals in a thermal food storage container

-Vegetarian chili with chips and cheddar on the side. Good with a cornbread muffin too.
-Macaroni and cheese
-Potato soup
-Tortellini vegetable soup
-Italian tomato bread soup
-Tomato soup with popcorn on the side
-Lentil soup
-Pasta with alfredo sauce
-Pasta tossed with sauteed tomatoes, italian herbs and black olives (this is good cold as well)
-Egg drop soup
-Veggie pho (Vietnamese noodle soup)

Cold Noodle/rice/dumpling options
-Noodles with peanut sauce and veggies
-Cheese tortellini
-Cheese ravioli
-Veggie fried rice
-Veggie or shrimp summer rolls (OK, I know these seem a little putsy, but they really aren't that hard to make) with peanut sauce.
-Rice molds with soy sauce
-California rolls
-Soba noodle salad with veggies
-Italian pasta salad with Italian dressing, chunks of mozarella, grape tomatoes and black olives
-Tuna pasta salad with mayonaise, chunks of cheddar cheese and peas

Snack options: (Combine several and you have yourself a meal)

-Fruit and cheese skewers (pictured above)
-Hard boiled eggs
-Celery with peanut butter and raisins or cream cheese and black olives
-Whole grain crackers
-String cheese
-Yogurt (Greek yogurt has more protein)
-Build it yourself yogurt parfaits with yougurt, fruit and granola in separate containers
-Fruit and walnut salad with yogurt for dipping (think McDonald's, but homemade)
-Cheeses of the World (we did this once for about a month, trying different cheeses from different countries. It keeps the cheese + bread combo fresh.) So many options! Brie, Gouda, Manchego, Paneer, Queso Fresco.... the list goes on)
-Breads of the world. Rye krisp, naan, pita, pumpernickel, caraway rye, tortillas, baguette...
-Veggies and dip
-Soft pretzels (traditional for Lent)
-Muffins (blueberry, peanut butter and jelly, corn muffins, ginger peach, banana walnut, etc.)
-Apple slices with peanut butter
-Dried fruits
-Trail mix

Obviously, not all of these ideas will work for all kids, but it's a starting place. I hope it helps!

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