5 Ways to Easy Lunchtime Wins!
Enjoy More Time With the Kids With Easy Recipes and Time-Saving Tips
Whether the kids are at home or heading off to school or daycare, lunchtime is a constant—planning, prepping, and cleaning up after event!
For parents, that means keeping it fast and simple while offering up meals that kids will eat.
Coming up with exciting lunch ideas week after week for a whole school year can be challenging—especially if you have a picky eater! Here are five ways to prep ahead of time and make lunchtime a breeze (at least, most of the time!).
1. Make-ahead sandwiches
Sandwiches are a classic go-to lunchtime staple for a reason! Plan to build several lunches a week around sandwiches and you will have happy kids on your hands.
Since there is never enough time in the mornings, try making sandwiches in advance.
Make a few nut butter (or seed butter, if your school is nut-free) and jam sandwiches in advance, wrap them in parchment paper or plastic wrap and refrigerate or freeze them in a large plastic poly bag.
Mom Tip: Freezing even for the night before will prevent the jam from getting the bread soggy.
You can also make sandwiches with meat and cheese and wrap and refrigerate or freeze them. Hold off on adding your lettuce, pickles, tomatoes or any other vegetable to the sandwich before freezing.
If you are going to add condiments before freezing, add them between the cheese and the meat. Otherwise, ketchup or mayonnaise, for example, will make the bread soggy.
Mom Tip: Spread butter on the bread as it helps stop the bread from going soggy. Always place the wettest ingredients in the centre of sandwich fillings. When in doubt, pack condiments on the side (either little packets or in tiny plastic containers).
With frozen sandwiches, there is no need to defrost a sandwich in advance or worry about it being unrefrigerated for the morning. The sandwich will keep cool but defrost in your child’s lunchbox during the morning. If they are going to be eating lunch at home, take sandwiches out of the freezer two to three hours before lunchtime or as you start your workday so you don’t forget!
Try different kinds of breads, buns and wraps to mix it up and see which your kids like best.
2. Grab-and-go lunches
When it comes to busy weekday meals, a little prepping ahead goes a long way. In addition to make-ahead lunch sandwiches, get your sides ready so you can pull together a quick lunch in just a few minutes. If the kids are school age, let them pack their own lunch from an assortment of prepared foods.
Depending on how many lunches you will need, spend an hour or two on Sundays sorting and prepping sides for lunches. Use little air-tight containers to pack up several small portions of fresh fruit (berries, grapes, pineapple), veggies (sliced cucumber, mini carrots, celery, peppers) and cheese cubes and any other lunch items. Keep fruit like apples, plums and pears, whole, or slice at the last minute to prevent browning.
Put all the ready-to-go fruit and veggies in a designated bin or drawer in the fridge. You can organize other lunch items—like granola bars, fruit leather, brownie bites, popcorn, raisins, chips and crackers in small snack bags or containers, and keep them in another bin in the pantry.
Bring a little wonder to every morning by letting the kids choose what they’d like to eat for the day by grabbing a sandwich from the freezer, fruits and veggies from the fridge and a snack out of the pantry. Youngsters will love making their own choices!
Mom Tip: Veggies and fruits that are properly stored in air-tight bags or containers should keep for the duration of the week. Another option for easy storage and less use of plastic is to store cut carrot and celery sticks in mason jars, filled with water. The water keeps the celery and carrots from drying out during the week. Change the water every couple of days and the celery and carrots will keep, in the fridge, for up to a week. Sliced cucumbers will keep for three days in a paper towel-lined container.
For more ideas, check out 6 Ways To Help Serve Healthy Kids Lunches
3. Get creative
Sometimes as much as a child loves peanut butter and banana sandwiches, they can get tired of the same old thing! It’s time to mix it up and bring some freshness to lunchtime. These recipes are especially good for at-home lunches.
Try an Apricot, Cheddar and Chicken Sandwich. Not only is this a great lunchtime option for the kids, but also something you can enjoy while working from home. Save yourself some time and cook a few extra chicken breasts for dinner the night before to cut down on cooking time. If store-bought deli meats are your kids’ vice, then those are an easy substitution as well.
Peanut Butter, Banana And Bacon Sandwich Dipped In Honey is a fast and delicious lunch (or breakfast!) idea for the kiddos any day of the week! This quick sandwich recipe can be made for the whole family in less than 20 minutes and brings together all the favs like bacon, peanut butter, bananas and Wonder® Bread.
Let’s face it—No one has time to bake fresh apple pie every time the kids have a craving, but with this easy-to-make Apple Pie Sandwich we’ve got you covered. And kids will be excited to get to have “pie” for lunch!
The 9 in 1 Sandwich is sure to bring some fun to the lunch table. It’s full of great ingredients and bite-sized enough for small hands to enjoy without a mess! These are good for school lunches or, if you’re headed out for the day, this makes for an easy picnic option or the ideal way to serve up a sandwich while on the road.
Hawaiian Grilled Cheese brings together Wonder® White +Fibre Bread, bacon, fresh or canned pineapple and cheese. It’s a fun and delicious way to add a bit of fruit to the kids’ lunchtime sandwiches. If bacon isn’t their thing, try substituting for turkey bacon or even vegan bacon to create this well-rounded lunchtime win.
For even more easy lunch recipes check out Back-to-School and Lunch Time ideas here
4. Engage little helpers
The kitchen is a great place for the family to come together and spend some time doing so much more than simply eating.
While prepping or cooking, have your younger kiddos practice their counting while counting out carrots, celery, grapes or nuts for snack bags. They can put items back in the fridge once you’ve used them or be in charge of getting things out of the fridge.
Older kids can help by setting the table, clearing the table or making a game of getting younger kids to eat their veggies or finish their lunch.
On the weekends when there is more time, have kids help stir the pancake batter or assemble sandwiches. One to try is Fried Bologna, Tomatoes, Mustard, Pickles, Lettuce, a quick and easy lunch idea that is sure to bring back some childhood memories! This easy-to-prepare sandwich is a great way to have the kids help with a weekend lunch by having them assemble the sandwiches once you’ve fried the bologna.
For more ways kids can help Getting the Kids in the Kitchen
5. Heat things up!
As the days get cooler, all of us, even little ones, start craving warm comfort food!
For at-home lunches, have canned soups, stews, pasta or chili on hand to quickly heat up. All they need on the side to make a complete lunch is a perfect slice of buttered bread, like deliciously wholesome Wonder® 100% Whole Wheat +Fibre Bread or fresh and soft Wonder® White Bread
For lunches to-go, have your thermoses ready in the morning and heat soup, chili or stew. Don’t forget to pack a spoon! Of course, if you are ambitious, make homemade soup the night before and heat in the morning. Or, for a very fragrant morning, make soup, chili or stew in the crockpot, simmer overnight and wake to a delicious ready-made meal! The whole family can head off with a delicious hot lunch to keep them toasty warm and full!