Thursday, October 28, 2010

Healthy Sack Lunches for School

The book of Proverbs says a good homemaker "riseth also while it is yet night, and giveth meat to her household."  (Prov. 31:15)

As a homemaker, I have been extremely wary of the quality of food served in the school lunchroom.  Our family has always prepared a lunch at home under conditions that I can control.  Though time-consuming at first, eventually this task can be handed over to the children as they become older.  Through consistency, eventually children become expert at making their own lunches.  

It helps to prepare as much ahead of time, even on the weekends, if possible, to simplify the morning rush.  On those mornings when you just have to hurriedly whip up a peanut butter and jam sandwich, don’t forget to tuck in a quick note of love that will turn even this meal into a banquet! 

I also recommend having children leave everything left over from lunch in their box for the parent to survey to help understand what is and is not being eaten.  In order to insure my children ate their fruits and veggies, I tried to make them as appetizing as possible.  Also, if they were being picky, I would “give them a choice” of two good choices, such as grapes or bananas because they were more likely to eat what they had “chosen” for themselves.  Try some of the following ideas for making these choices more interesting to kids.

For fresh fruit such as bananas, oranges, tangerines, apples, melon, and grapes:  
I like to go ahead and section apples, oranges and tangerines because lunch time is very short now.  
Apples are dipped in a little lemon juice to keep them pretty—presentation is important. 
 I sometimes serve bananas and apples with peanut butter on the side. 
Slip a half or third of a banana into a lunch, dipping ends in lemon juice to keep from turning dark.  Try to package bananas so that the rest of the lunch does not take on their odor.
Serve celery sticks, baby carrots, cherry tomatoes, cucumber slices, etc. with a little low-fat ranch dressing on the side.
Make smiley face oranges which are oranges sliced into eighths.  
Ants on a log is celery with peanut butter and raisins on top, (wrap individually).  
Apple Smiles are apple slices similar to smiley faced oranges only put the lips together with peanut butter and add marshmallow or sliced almonds for teeth.  

Wrap lettuce and tomatoes separate from the sandwich to preserve crispness.

After a while, my kids helped me prepare the lunches.  Making a peanut butter and jelly sandwich became a work of art.  My kids began to try and make their lunches as attractive as possible since they received so much interest over their meals from their school chums.  Before long, it became a friendly competition between friends to see who had brought the better meal.

The following party/appetizer recipes work well as lunch box meals that my kids love:

Pigs in a Blanket
1 pkg. crescent rolls
1 pkg. all-beef cocktail sausages
Tear pieces of crescent dough.  Wrap around sausages.  Bake at 350 degrees F. for 10-15 minutes.

Slow-Cooker Snack Mix
8 c. Chex cereal of any combination
2 c. each mini pretzels, bagel chips, Cheese Nips
1 c. mixed nuts
6 T. butter or margarine, melted
2 T. Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp. seasoning salt
1/2 tsp. each onion salt and onion powder

Combine Chex cereals, pretzels, bagel chips, Cheese Nips, and nuts in a slow cooker.  Combine butter, Worcestershire, seasoning salt, garlic powder, onion salt, and onion powder.  Pour wet mixture over dry mixture, tossing well from time to time--don't drench the mixture.  Cover slow cooker and cook on low 2 hours, stirring every 30 minutes.

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