Stocking the Pantry for Back to School Lunches
Making a kids lunch can be a scary task for any parent. We want our kids to be fueled to learn but also we want to make sure they eat while they are away from home for 6-8 hours. Most parents’ biggest fear is that their kids will be hungry and won’t like their lunch. For the past few years I have taught kids cooking classes and I noticed kids like to be put in charge with choices and they can make great decisions when they are encouraged to.
Every year I have sat down with my own daughter and made a list of her favorite fruits and vegetables, and then we tackle the mains. Kids lunches don’t have to be boring or the same day after day. The same way I tackle dinner is how I tackle lunches. I make a master list of 8-10 recipes. I go through a large list with my daughter and she chooses her favorites. There are generally a few she doesn’t love but in the end we normally have 8 recipes that are home runs (This means variety in mains for 2 weeks, as we have pizza lunch at school weekly). I use these staple lunches as a way to stock my pantry and fridge weekly.
When I work with families I ask the whole family (kids included) what their favorite foods are. When we empower kids to make choices for their lunch (using the formula below) it makes it easier and more successful. My formula for creating lunches is easy and I am sure similar to most people.
Main + snack one (fruit) + snack two (vegetable) + one package snack
= 1 lunch
Here are our top 3 lunch mains as an example:
1. Kale pesto pasta (in a thermos)
2. Banana dogs
3. Meat balls and vegetables
Our go to for 5 years straight is kale pesto pasta (or green cheese pasta) here is the recipe adapted for nut free schools. We make a big batch and freeze in an ice cube tray for later lunches!
- 2 cups packed kale leaves
- 1/2 cup toasted walnuts or parmesan cheese (if nut free)
- 2 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese
- 1 garlic clove, roughly chopped
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 cup olive oil
1. Place all of the ingredients in a food processor and puree until smooth.
2. Serve over rice, pasta or as a sandwich spread.