clean eating · cooking · kids · lunch · make ahead · parenting · school

Easy packed lunches

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Oh the adventures of a #boymom. So…yesterday I spent most of my day in the ER (don’t get sympathetic on me yet…this was basically the ER from Stepford, complete with fresh coffee, leather sofas, and recessed lighting for your personal comfort) with the little man, Miss Co, and the wee baby, all thanks to my little dude’s reckless love of life. After dropping Ciel off at school, we decided to “run by the library,” only to discover said library was closed until 10:00. Not to worry, I thought. The weather wasn’t too hot and the kids could run around in the shade while I fed the wee man his second breakfast. Or not. Since in the first 90 seconds Mister James’s feet got ahead of him and he broke his fall with his face, on a concrete bench. Ouch. 5 hours and 5 stitches later we were home (with Miss Co sobbing hysterically at the thought of her brother in pain and the potentially detrimental effects of facial scarring), essentially having any chance of productivity in my day. I should also mention that, of all possible days, I forgot the diaper bag. So as we sat in the ER I feverishly watched the clock until my sainted husband showed up to take the unaffected children home for a much-needed reprieve.

Whew. It happens to the best of us. Don’t worry- the little man was totally fine, as evidenced by his hanging upside down from the couch singing “Happy Birthday to YOUUUUU!!!” I can’t help but wondering if this was the kind of behavior being exhibited by children when Jesus asked them to come to Him. (I like to think it absolutely was, and that’s what makes me think Jesus was a pretty cool dude.) Anyway…as all the day’s chaos seemed to continue into the early evening, I had absolutely no desire whatsoever to cook, nor did I particularly want to invest any energy into making lunches. Luckily for me, I have a freezer stocked for just these occasions. So what do I feed my peeps when the mom-drain gets to be exceptionally real? And what do I send in my extraordinarily picky 9-year old’s lunchbox? Check it out:

First up, quick-from-the freezer dinner.

  • Option 1: pizza- I already have 4 crusts per week in my freezer anyway, plus a variety of chopped veggies. If we go this route, we just “decorate” each of our own slices with our faves and keep it moving.
  • Option 2: freezer burritos- I have several varieties of these onhand, and you’ve already heard me throw out those recipes
  • Option 3: tomato soup and grilled cheese- I use the Pacific brand organic creamy tomato soup and season it with garlic and Italian seasoning, and Trader Joe’s organic bread with Thoughtful Organic’s mild cheddar cheese slices. We also like to add tomato slices to our grilled cheese, and if I’m in the mood, a fried egg for protein. Last night was not an egg night.

Next, lunch prep.Easy organic lunchbox ideas!

  • As a sandwich alternative, I go with pocket pies inspired by this recipe.
    Great organic lunchbox ideas!
    Aren’t these cute? And they are equally delicious!
    • For Celia’s picky tastes, as long as I season the crust with something tasty, she will absolutely eat it.
    • Our fillings are pizza (a dollop of sauce, mozzarella, and a spinach puree), PB&J (and I add a super fruit like blueberry puree here), and “pumpkin pie” (which is really sweet potato or pumpkin puree with added raisins, cinnamon and honey)
    • I brush the tops with egg white and sprinkle with an herb/spice mix that matches the filling, and girlfriend scarfs them down no sweat. And I store them in the freezer, thawing them out in her lunchbox in the fridge overnight the night before.
  • Organic snack-ish stuff. These are our faves:
    • Fruit leather from Target

      Easy organic lunchbox options
      Most of this stuff comes from Target’s Simply Balanced line.
    • Applesauce pouches with a  veggie puree
    • Squeezable organic yogurt
    • A banana or little container of organic raisins
    • Granola bars (I know I could probably make these myself. But even this make-it-at-home mama has to draw the line somewhere!
    • Of course I add in her monogrammed BPA-free water bottle, complete with filtered-by-reverse-osmosis water. Why not?

For grown-up lunches (which I habitually raid for nights just like last night):

  • One of my burrito/taquito derivatives. I like to try and use up an entire pack of tortillas when making a recipe (or two entire packs, depending on the day and the amount), so I can have plenty to freeze.
  • A salad of some sort: I like to keep fresh washed lettuce in my salad spinner in the fridge, with little containers of chopped add-ins close by. If I don’t have it prepped this way, the lettuce will seriously sit in my fridge and rot into brown mush. Never fails. I am not a fan of salad unless it’s essentially already fixed. And our fave add-ins? Cherry tomatoes, chopped red onion, strawberries, chopped pecans, hard-boiled egg, and shaved carrots, if I have them.
  • Hard-boiled eggs: yeah, we usually toss these into the salad, but they actually are an awesome protein-boost as a snack on their own. I keep a teaspoon in the hubs’ lunchbox for easy peeling, since those boogers will make a mess on your fingers trying to get through the shell by hand.

That’s basically it for us! Nothing too terribly complicated. I do swear by having BPA-free water bottles with everyone’s names on them (I use my Silhouette and make super cute designs or fonts for each family member). I am not a huge fan of juice boxes (always with the mess!), and with our last dental bill (umm…cavities, I hate you.) I will be keeping juice and other sugary drink whatevers away from my troop as much as possible. But of course, that’s me- do what you gotta do for you and your peeps, it’s all good.

Happy lunch-packing (or freezer eating)!

xoxo~ LWH

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