As parents, we are sometimes just as excited as our kids when school is out for summer. For us, that means no helping with homework, no rushing around in the morning, and no packing of lunches. But as the summer nears the end, we realize the tasks ahead of us as the school year begins. Packing lunches does not need to be one of those dreaded tasks. Here are some helpful tips for putting together a delicious lunch in advance:
No “surprise” lunches
Try out new recipes on your kids at home first, rather than surprising them with a new lunch. As a food blogger, I do this all the time.
Use Sunday to prep
When I find something they like, I’ll make that dish on a Sunday night. I make enough so I can pack individual lunches for a few days during the week. My kids’ lunch favorites are Banana Muffins, Hidden Zucchini Muffins, Bourbon Chicken and Crispy Corn Flake Chicken (see below for recipe). Also on Sundays, my boys and I will bake S’mores Brownies. Then we’ll wrap them individually so they’re ready for the lunch box for dessert throughout the week.
Eat in season
My go-to fruit is the small individual bag of organic apple slices from Costco or Trader Joe’s. Of course, a fabulous autumn activity is apple picking. If you have picked them fresh, make sure to cut them up in the morning so they don’t turn brown before lunch. If stored properly, freshly picked apples will last up to two months in the refrigerator.
Keep it cold
Freeze a box of yogurt squeezers (my favorite is Stoneyfield Organic Strawberry), and include one in the lunch box. By the time lunch rolls around, the yogurt will be defrosted but still cold. And it will keep the other lunch items cold, too. You can find dozens of quick and easy kid-friendly recipes on my blog at www.mommachef.com. All use no more than six ingredients and are under six minutes of prep time.
Momma Chef’s Cornflake Coated Chicken (makes 6 servings)
6 boneless chicken breasts
4 cups cornflakes
2 large eggs
2 tbsp. water
1 tbsp. salt
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
2. In a large bowl, mix together eggs and water. Set aside.
3. In a large Ziploc bag, add the cornflakes and salt. Then crush the cornflakes.
4. Dip each chicken breast in the egg/water mixture and put them in the Ziploc bag. Shake to coat all sides of the chicken.
5. Arrange the chicken in a single layer on a baking sheet and bake for 40 minutes.
Your kids will hate some foods, and that's ok
5 tips for cooking with little kids
How I got my toddler to eat like a normal human