I'm looking for suggestions for lunches I can prepare for my wife, who teaches 40 4th graders in an urban system. The principle cut their lunch time in an effort to raise the test score, so she, and the other teachers in the lunch room will not have much time for the stand-by microwave lunch. (Scenario sound familiar?)
I'm not the handiest cook, but I can follow directions. Besides, the suggested lunches would be appreciated by the teachers out there. Thank you!
I like to bring five days of lunches on Monday and eat them throughout the week. A staple for me is a salad that includes grains, vegetarian protein and vegetables. Last week I had quinoa with red onion, tomato, Italian parsley, lemon juice and feta cheese (a la tabbouleh). Next week I'm eating farro with roasted cauliflower, leeks and shallots, with chickpeas, fresh sage and a cider vinegar dressing. These dishes are good hot, cold or at room temperature! I will occasionally pack some different dips (like homemade hummous and tzatziki) to eat with vegetable sticks and Ryvita. Or, even better, I'll make some kind of vegetable pancake (zucchini is pretty standard, but I'll grate just about anything and mix it with chickpea flour) and dip slices of the patty into the sauces! You can obviously do soup in a Thermos too (don't forget to pre-heat the Thermos by putting just-boiled water in and sealing it for ten minutes, then draining before putting in your soup or other hot food)... I love homemade soup with a slice of bread!
Couscous is super easy to make... boil water let stand for 5 minutes dress as desired... olive oil, rice wine vinegar, veggies, herbs, etc. add roasted chicken or lentils or cheese or tofu...
As suggested above, grains are great... and legumes. Lentils, beans, quinoa, etc.
Thermos is another good suggestion -- i didn't eat sandwiches as a kid, and always had a thermos for lunch. Mashed potatoes with chicken, lasagna, chicken drummettes, leftover chinese food, etc.
Mezze - hummus, pita, baba ghanoush, kebabs (good cold), dolmas, etc
Muffaletta - which benefits from time to sit and soak :)
French spread - baguette, cheese, grapes, olives
Cold sesame noodle salad
parfait - yogurt, fruit granola - send separately and let her assemble
Dinner leftovers, such as rice with stir-fries, pasta, or hearty soups, reheated in the morning, and stored in a good Thermos jar, have worked well for me. The reviews on Amazon provide good information on which vacuum jars keep food hottest. Thermal bento containers can also be found in large Asian grocery stores.
I like to make a peanut sauce (pb, soy sauce, fish sauce, lime juice or vinegar and siracha) toss it with cooked buckwheat noodles. I top it off with a bunch of vegetables (bell pepper, tomato, cucumber, whatever is in the fridge) maybe a little kimchi and any leftover cooked meat (or not or tofu). It takes like 5 minutes to chuck together, tastes great and is filling.
If you keep a bowl of tuna salad and another of egg salad, well covered, you've got instant sandwich material or a scoop of something to put atop a bed of lettuce and vegetables. Potato salad, with a side of sliced tomatoes, is a tasty and really adequate lunch too. Buy a squat, wide-mouth thermos, and pour in boiling water; let sit 5 minutes, empty and fill with chili or soup; it will stay perfectly hot 'till lunchtime; send crackers and cheese or a breadroll with this. Lavash sandwiches (flatbread rolled with lunchmeats, veg. and spread, cut into pinwheels) are always nice. Chunk up some fruit and send cottage cheese, with a coldpack. Roll lean lunchmeat around mozzarella sticks.
And please thank the good lady for doing what amounts to a thankless job. Bunches of us out here appreciate her and her like, and would hand-deliver hot lunch on a daily basis to the folks who teach our kids.
I taught for 15 yrs, mostly 4th also. Anyway, I wasn't inventive with my lunches I'm afraid. I used leftovers, often. Cold roast sliced with slices to cheese and crackers. The basic sandwiches. Often salad made, but not dressed, the night before and put in air tight bowls, dressing in the frig at work. Cold leftover chicken. Frittata is good at room temp. I worked with a teacher who stirred tuna and a bit of dry onion soup mix into a carton of cottage cheese. Hard boiled eggs are filling along with the salad.
I was so hungry by the time I got lunch, I just wasn't very particular, I guess.