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help with lunch

Okay, so basically the problem is that with summer vacation looming (and 3 kids to feed) I find myself in a rut where the lunch menu is concerned. Dinner is not a problem as it's almost always the only meal my entire family eats at home, However lunch is baffling.....I'm getting tired of the old standby's ramen, canned soups, sandwiches, mac and cheese,. I would like to add a few more things to the repretoire...(sp?)
I would prefer things that are relatively easy.....few ingredients, and healthy but "kid friendly" Also a note: My children are not necessarily of the picky variety. Hope that helps!!!

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  1. "Good-wiches" are a favorite around here. Pitas stuffed with leftover steamed broccoli, sauteed onions for those who want, and bbq sauce. Seriously good stuff!

    Salads, cottage cheese and fruit, fruit kabobs, fried rice, falafel. Any of this helping?

    1 Reply
    1. re: tzurriz

      Every one of these....thank you. Especially pitas with broccoli and onions.....they won't do cottage cheese but everything else would be a go

    2. Here are some things that have always worked with my kids who are now 13 & 16:

      I buy the "truly handmade" flour tortillas from Trader Joe's for quesadillas...grated cheddar or Monterey Jack, throw in some cut-up, sauteed chicken breast, dot with salsa especial also from TJ's, voila, best quesadilla kids ever had : )

      Then there's tacos with corn tortillas (usually go to local Mexican market but found pretty decent ones recently in Tia Rosa (white corn) at Target.

      I also make Pillsbury crescent rolls filled with sauteed ground meat, bit of grated cheese, & dollop of Maggi hot & sweet sauce**. Of course you can experiment with anything here...chocolate chips & bananas, grated mozzarella w/ marinara, etc. **I'm sure it will work with a spicy ketchup or something to that effect.

      Chicken/pineapple teriyaki meatballs from Costco...I cut it up smaller, heat up in pan, then stuff in toasted, slightly hollowed out sweet French roll, add shredded carrots, cucumbers, cilantro then drizzle with Asian sweet chilli sauce...my 13 & 15 yr olds go crazy for this.

      Oh, also skewered caprese salad or in sweet French roll.

      1. My stepdaughter LOVES pickle roll-ups for lunch. Take a few pickle spears, wrap with your choice of lunch meat. Quick and easy.

        1. There's a huge range of salads. Garden salads, Greek salad, pasta salads, noodle salads, tuna salad, chicken salad, bean salad, chickpea salad, caprese.

          Veggie sticks with dip - dips like hummus are healthy on their own, and if you use yoghurt as a base, you get something that's much lower in fat and calories than your typical mayo or cream cheese based dips. They'll keep for a while too.

          Toasted open face sandwiches for variety.

          Eggs are great for lunch - omlette, fried eggs, scrambled eggs, poached eggs, hard-boiled eggs.

          Have breakfast for lunch, with pancakes, sausage or bacon and fruit.

          Get chicken breasts on sale, cut them into bite sized pieces, and saute with a bit of olive oil on medium heat until well browned. Serve with dipping sauces (ranch or Caesar dressing, honey mustard, plain mustard, ketchup) as a healthier varient on chicken nuggets.

          1 Reply
          1. re: tastesgoodwhatisit

            These are all amazingly good ideas, some sound like they can even be rolled over for dinner menus. Especially the pickle roll up idea. They might have a hard time keeping mom off of those. Thank you so much everybody.

          2. my FAVORITE as a kid was sliced tomato, sliced cheddar cheese, and maybe a sliced meat of some kind, drizzled with Italian Cheese Dressing.

            egg boats -- hard boiled eggs, sliced in half longways, the yolk mashed with mayo and whatever else they like, put back into the white, and topped with a sail (a toothpick with a paper sail attached)

            quinoa/veggie pancakes -- cooked quinoa or quinoa flakes, mixed with a little egg, veggies, and binder and pan seared or baked

            baked or pan seared salmon croquettes with some mashed potatoes or soup (and ketchup for me)

            noodles with butter and parmesan (and leftover veggies if around)

            mini pizzas -- make a batch of pizza dough and portion into small balls to keep in the fridge/freezer; take out as needed. each kid can decorate/top his/her own. (alternately, bagel or toaster muffin pizzas are good too)

            Mexican strata (freezes well, pre-portion it if so) - layer sour cream, tortillas, cheeses (jack, cheddar), cooked chicken, salsa or tomatoes, green chiles or scallions if tolerated... just layer in any way you like, over and over then bake til bubbly

            Inner Tubes -- scoop bagels, give the middles to the dog or reserve for later use. toast the shells, make tuna sandwich. layer some cheese in half of the toasted shells and let melt for a sec. fill with tuna salad. top with a slice of tomato and the empty bagel halves.

            stuffed baked potatoes - or just topped baked potatoes... baked em, scoop em, mash as desired, refill and top with veggies, chicken, sauce, etc. (if you're in the mood, you can bake a second time...)

            good luck... hope something helps...

            2 Replies
            1. re: Emme

              First of all I haven't been on here much since posting, second I want to thank all of you for the suggestions. As of this moment we are low on food and income so it's good old canned soup for the next few days. As soon as I go the store I am going to try most of these recipes....Excited to see how the kids (even the big ones) will like them....I will keep y'all posted and thanks again.

              1. re: lilpixy

                When money's tight, you can get busy using up that last egg and the veg. remnants in a fried rice or noodle dish.

            2. How old are your kids? That really has a big impact on what kind of lunch to make for them.

              4 Replies
              1. re: John E.

                My kids are 14, 10 and 8.....and not exceptionally picky (they love sushi) However I don't intend to hand roll my own and its way too expensive to order more than occasionally I am looking for easy to prepare meals more for the sake of convenience (much too beautiful in summer for me to spend all of it in the kitchen cooking and cleaning) than for worrying about their palates. Hope that helped!!

                1. re: lilpixy

                  When I was a kid my mother was pretty easy going and by the time we were old enough to run around the neighborhood without supervision which back then (60s and 70s) was about age 7, we never had a scheduled lunchtime. We came home when we go hungry and my mother gave us something to eat. I suppose it was a sandwich and canned peaches or something simple like that. Our best friends had to drop everything and be home at 1pm for lunch because that's when their father got home from work and they HAD to sit down to lunch no matter what. That really put a crimp in whatever it was we were doing at the time.

                  Since you need to make something for the younger two children you might as well make lunch for all of them, but my mother would say, pretty soon they should be making your lunch.

                  1. re: John E.

                    I'm a bit more like your friends mom....while I let my children pretty much go play as they wish, i expect them back and all at the table for meals. This in my case, and I'm sure perhaps in hers.....is mainly to avoid having to prepare 3 different meals at 3 different times. As far as them making me lunch they have, and the concoctions they come up with are wonderfully bizarre :)

                    1. re: lilpixy

                      I think what my mother did was to make the sandwiches all at one time and then we may or may not have come home to eat them at the same time. I was the scrawny one of the bunch so I'm sure my big brothers never missed lunch. I on the other hand had a tendency to skip lunch to keep playing with my friends. My friends mother made a big lunch because her husband/father got off work around noon so they always had lunch at 1pm sharp.

              2. I firmly believe in letting the kids help when they can. Tuna with a slice of tomato and a slice of cheese on an english muffin under the broiler is good. In that same vein as Emme said, use the english muffins to let them make their own "mini" pizzas. You can keep baggies full of shredded cheese, pepperoni, sliced canadian bacon, etc. on hand and pop under the broiler. Whatever they like. You can also buy in bulk and break down for meal-sized portions. Same for the english muffins. Any chance you have a bakery outlet close? Those are great if you have some freezer space.

                Quesadillas are also another option (great if you have some left-over chicken, beef, etc. and/or some veggies from the night before). My kids liked chicken, cheese, diced onion, red and green bell peppers).