Brown-Bagging It

Send them Back to School with Healthy Lunches They’ll Really Want to Eat!

Here’s something you haven’t heard in a long time…the kids are going back to school! 

After a year of homeschooling because of the pandemic, schools will be reopening and that means a return to packing lunches. But what to make?

Sure, there are the old stand-bys like deli meat, tuna salad, or peanut butter and jelly, but even those kid-friendly favorites get boring eaten day after day.

Freshen up those predictable bag lunches. Make them nutritious, but also make them something to look forward to! 

These are suggestions for lunches that can be packed the night before, travel well, and can be eaten chilled or at room temperature. There’s no exact recipe — make the ingredients something your child will be sure to eat. Taste varies with age, so your teens may be more adventurous than your grade schooler. 

Homemade Hot Pockets
Roll out bread dough into 6-inch rounds about ¼ inch thick. Place half the rounds on a parchment-lined cookie sheet 2 inches apart. Generously top with your child’s favorite filling, leaving about a 1/2 inch border around each circle. Top with a second 6-inch dough round. Tuck the edges under to seal forming a roll or bun sort of shape. Bake at 350 degrees until dough is nicely browned. Both baked and unbaked pockets freeze well. Filling ideas: Pizza sauce & cheese, corned beef, turkey & Swiss, steamed veggies with stir fry sauce, mushrooms sauteed in butter, well-drained frozen spinach & ricotta. 

Ham & Apple Roll-Ups
Spread apple pie filling over a flour burrito wrap. Top with deli ham and roll up, tucking in the ends like an egg roll to contain the filling.

French Toast Sandwich
Make a sandwich from 2 slices of bread with deli ham, cheese, hummus, or mashed cannellini bean filling. Beat together 1 egg and 2 teaspoons milk. Dip the sandwich into the egg/milk batter as you would French toast. Fry the dipped sandwich in butter till nicely browned on each side.

Stuffed Pita
Pile chilled, lightly steamed broccoli (or your child’s favorite vegetable), cheese, and crispy bacon into a pita. Pack some Italian ranch or thousand island dressing on the side for dipping. 

Fruit Salad and Cheese
Slice a mix of your child’s favorite fruits. (If using apples, toss with 1 teaspoon lemon juice per cup of fruit to keep apples from turning brown.) Fold in about ½ teaspoon strawberry jam per cup of fruit to sweeten slightly. Add cheese cubes. 

Shredded Carrot Salad
Shred a few carrots. Fold in crushed pineapple with the juice, shredded cheese, a few raisins and walnuts, pecans or sunflower seeds to taste.

Tuna Mac Salad
Cook whole-wheat pasta according to package directions. Rinse with cool tap water and drain well. Add shredded carrot, drained canned tuna and thawed frozen peas. Moisten with mayo or any other salad dressing. Good with canned chicken, salmon, tofu, or hard-boiled eggs, too!

Veggies & Dip
Pack one container with nut or sunflower seed butter, hummus, yogurt or salad dressing.Pack another container with cut-up veggies, whole cherry tomatoes and/or apple slices dipped in lemon juice (1 teaspoon lemon juice per 1 cup apple slices). Pack whole-grain crackers or pretzels.

Corn Bread Sandwich
Cut a large square of cornbread. Split in half. Toast and butter, if desired. Spread generously with plain cream cheese or cream cheese filling and sandwich both halves together. Pack additional lettuce, tomato and/or sliced pickle separately. Cream Cheese Filling ideas: Blend one or more of the following into whipped cream cheese to taste: crispy bacon; drained, crushed pineapple; sliced green or black olives; cheddar or parmesan cheese; ham; oil-packed, drained sun-dried tomatoes; pesto; mashed black beans and jalapenos. 

 Hungry for more?
Try these awesome lunch recipes available here in downloadable printable form.
Take-along Vegetable Chili Dog
Cupcake Brownies

Karla Jones Seidita
About Karla Jones Seidita 6 Articles
In her fifty-plus years as a food industry professional, Karla Jones Seidita has been a teacher, a writer, a restaurant and wholesale bakery owner as well as a regular host and contributor to popular radio shows. She is the owner and innkeeper of Cheesecake Farms, a Bed and Breakfast in Southern Fauquier county.

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