By Cammie Jones
Before school starts each year, I try to be creative when it comes to breakfast and lunch ideas for my girls. The usual will work for a while – think cereal and toast for breakfast and turkey and peanut butter sandwiches, fruit, and a bag of chips or crackers for lunch. But, after a few weeks, the girls want something different, and honestly, I do too! Here are some ideas that I have used over the years and some that others have suggested to make both breakfast and lunch a little more unusual and pleasing to the palate.
1. Breakfast Parfait Bar.
Make it easy for your kids when they enter the kitchen for breakfast before school. Have the following ingredients ready to go in the fridge or on the counter:
– Vanilla or Plain Yogurt, Greek or Regular (preferably not fat-free)
– Cottage Cheese
– Strawberries, Blueberries, or any other cut up fruit
– Clear plastic cups
Let your child make his own concoction. He can layer the fruit and granola between the yogurt or cottage cheese. This makes for a fun and delicious way to start the day. When the kids leave, just cover and refrigerate the leftovers for an afternoon snack or the next morning’s breakfast.
2. Homemade Breakfast Casserole Muffins.
A friend of mine is an excellent cook who is creative as well. She will take leftover vegetables or meat and combine this with eggs and shredded cheese, which she then puts in a greased muffin pan. She cooks these muffins for a few minutes in the oven at 350 degrees. After cooling, she pops each one in a sandwich sized plastic bag and freezes them for her children to eat all week. Just pop one in the microwave set to defrost and you have a quick, healthy meal on the table in just seconds.
This is another quick way to start your morning off in the right direction. A bag of frozen fruit in the freezer or fresh cut up fruit in the fridge makes the base of this delicious treat. Add protein powder, milk or water and some low-fat yogurt to fruit in a blender. I like to add a tablespoon of organic flaxseed to add a nutty flavor and a little kick. Press the smoothie or blend button and you have a healthy breakfast drink. This is a great idea for teens who have hit snooze too many times and need to take their breakfast on the go.
4. Salad Bar
I love all the containers out there that allow you to separate your food if you are packing a lunch. One of my favorite styles is the salad container that allows you to place lettuce on the bottom, and then has a second segmented “level” that allows you to add cut up veggies, etc., so that they won’t get the lettuce soggy. A fork and knife fit on the underside of the second section and there’s even a small round container with a tight lid where you can put your favorite dressing. It’s all in one, handy square shaped container. It’s the perfect way to transport a traditional salad or even a pasta type salad that you can add stuff to when you go to eat.
If you are tired of the same old sandwich, there are many alternatives to this which can sometimes be more healthy. Eating a wrap can mean less bread and more nutrients. You can also skip the bread and make a turkey and cheese roll up. Add a little spinach, thinly sliced tomato or avocado and you’ve added a few extra vegetables for the day.
6. Hummus & Pita Plates
Skip the sandwich or wrap all together and make a finger food lunch of carrots, pita chips and hummus. Throw in some ranch dip if your child does not care for hummus. Add a fruit kebob and a cheese stick, and lunch is served! Again, look for individualized containers or use various sized plastic zip bags that will keep all this separate so that the food won’t get soggy or messy.
7. Chicken & Veggie Kebobs
Have leftover chicken from the night before? Cut it into bite sized pieces and put it on a skewer. Add a couple pieces of cheese or a veggie in between. Add a small container of dip of some sort – ketchup, ranch or barbecue sauce to add a little zing. You can also buy individual containers of dips at the grocery store or throw in a leftover sauce container from your favorite fast-food restaurant.
The first sign of fall and I am looking up delicious soup recipes where I can sneak in plenty of lean proteins and veggies for my children. If your child will eat soup, a great investment is in stainless steel soup container that will keep the soup warm until lunchtime. Not only is it healthy and filling, but it’s also an alternative to your usual “cold” lunches.
Breakfast and lunch options have come a long way since I was a child. Using your imagination and thinking outside the box will help you to avoid the monotony of the frozen waffles and PB & J sandwiches of the old days.
This article appears in the August 2018 issue of Augusta Family Magazine.
Did you like what you read here?