Is this that time already? Is it just me, or does it seem like the summer gets shorter and shorter each year?
Awhile back, I put out a survey, and boy did you respond! Thank you! Many of you have asked for THM-friendly school lunch ideas, but the truth is that what you probably just need are ideas…any old school lunch ideas. Sure, they could be on-plan, but around about mid-October the 987th peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwich is looking rather uninspired, and you just want something new. And even though we homeschool our kids, the truth is I need ideas too, if only for packing my husband’s lunch.
The ideas on this post, which are THM-Friendly but just plain, old good lunches, make a few assumptions:
1. Your child(ren) have no access to a microwave or other heating machinery at the place where they eat lunch. While I used to work at a school that did provide microwaves for student use, I know these are few and far between, and I understand why. The ideas here will be presented assuming the food will be eaten cold or from a Thermos (do people even use those anymore?) of some sort. If they do have microwave access…BONUS!
2. Your child(ren) do have an insulated lunch bag/box/suitcase and an ice pack/cold pack of some sort to keep things cool between the time you pack them and the time they eat them. Also, soup and smoothie ideas assume a Thermos or other insulated bottle of some type.
3. Your child(ren) are interested in, or at least willing to, eat food that’s on-plan. Many of the ideas here are just that…ideas. If you didn’t tell the child(ren) they were on-plan, they might not even know. That’s the power of motherhood. Mwahaha.
4. Your child(ren) are sticking with either S or E meals. Creating an S-Helper, Fuel Pull, or Crossover are easy tweaks.
5. That “lunch” is a relative term in post-modernity and “breakfast” items like eggs or “dinner” items like steak can be eaten at “lunchtime”.
6. That this list is not, by any means, comprehensive but is a get-you-started, mix-and-match kick-off-the-school-year list.
7. That I have no idea what your babies are allergic to/like/don’t like, so do what works for them, man!
Sandwiches and Wraps
The variations here are endless. May I submit to you that making and refrigerating Gwen’s Easy Bread be something you incorporate into your weekly routine? Like sweet-tea-making here in The South. Two pieces of Gwen’s Bread make the basis for a great E sandwich. And also this: low-carb wraps. Amen.
Low-fat/sugar-free lunchmeat of choice (mix it up, man!) with low-fat cheese slices, low-fat mayo and/or mustard and choice of veggies on either Gwen’s Bread, Ezekiel Bread or low-carb wraps (E); recommendation…buy meat from the deli…when caught on-sale it’s cheaper than the pre-packaged stuff and they’ll slice it how you like it…we ask for shaved. Shaved’s the bomb.
Two scrambled eggs (not just for breakfast, man!) with full-fat cheese and regular mayo (throw in some meat if you want) on low-carb wrap only (S); wrap in a paper towel and aluminum foil for insulation…should stay warm until lunch
Tuna/chicken/egg/ham/turkey salad (cooked, chopped meat/egg with mayo and seasonings or add avocado too!) with/without choice of veggies on low-carb wrap only (S)
PB&J wraps using on-plan peanut butter and jam…watch your portions (E/S)
Hebrew National 97% fat-free beef hot dogs wrapped in Gwen’s Bread and baked ahead of time with Ranch mustard dip (E)
Same hot dogs topped with shredded full-fat cheese and wrapped in low-carb wraps with mustard dip (S)
Veggies-only sammie with low-fat mayo and a drizzle of balsamic vinegar on Gwen’s Bread (E)
Leftover meat wrap (grilled steak, roasted chicken, cooked turkey slices, ham steak, bacon, turkey bacon…endless possibilities) (S)
Mexican wrap (cooked ground turkey breast seasoned with taco seasoning with beans and light cheese and veggies on wrap) (E)
Smoothies are generally best right out of the blender, but they can be good later on. My husband takes his in a Mason jar to work and, when he’s ready to drink it, gives it a hearty shake and drinks it down. Any smoothie or protein shake that you would normally make, pour into an insulated Thermos-type bottle and pack in the bag with an ice pack. When your little precious one is ready to drink it, he/she just needs to give it a quick shake and go for it.
Tip #1: Funky straws are fun for littles (and me, too!). Bed, Bath, and Beyond sells milkshake straws for $1.99 per bag.
Tip #2: Pour ice-water into Thermos or insulated bottle then empty it out before putting shake in. That way, the bottle’s already cold, helping the smoothie keep its temperature.
Tip #3: Throw some greens into your little person’s smoothie. Spinach is a mild-flavored beginner green. Increase the amount gradually over time and, chances are, they won’t even notice. The blueish-purple of blueberries covers the green nicely. Just sayin’.
My teenager loves the Just-Like Campbell’s Tomato Soup from the book. We make it in batches of four times the recipe and keep individual portions in the fridge. The light Progresso soups are also on-plan, as are any number of soups, both in the book and on Pinterest and blogs. The possibilities are endless.
The technique is simple. In the morning, fill the Thermos or other insulated bottle with hot, hot water and allow to sit for a few minutes in the morning. Heat the soup separately. Then, pour the hot water out of the bottle, pour the hot soup into the bottle, close the bottle tightly and pack away from the cold stuff. On a day when soup is packed, try a side of some type of flourless cracker or other non-cold items.
Apple dippers with peanut butter dip (Greek yogurt, defatted peanut flour, sweetener) (E)
Veggie dippers with Ranch dip (Greek yogurt, dry Ranch seasoning) (FP)
On-plan blue corn chips (watch portions) (E)
Flourless crackers: Just-Like Wheat Thins or other from the book or Homemade Cheez-It’s (S); add some Greek Ranch dip for kicks
Mashed sweet potato (bake, remove from jacket and mash with cinnamon and sweetener) (E)
One portion of fruit (E)
Cottage cheese or Greek yogurt with berries, sweetener and vanilla extract (FP)
Side green salad with Ranch (S) or light balsamic (E)
Baked Cinnamon Apple Chips (E)
Don’t discount the power of the leftover in school lunches: leftover Fooled Ya Pizza is especially delicious!
Use leftover, cooked meat to make wraps, salads or delicious egg scrambles.
You get the idea…
Give the kid a sweet treat, would ya?
Mine love the Peanut Squares from the book or any cookie coming out of Mrs. Criddle’s Kitchen.
What about a slice of on-plan banana bread? Or even a half-slice?
These Coconut-Flour Chocolate Chip Cookies are the poo, and the recipe makes a ton. Flash-freeze baked and cooled cookies on a sheet pan then put frozen cookies into a large Ziploc freezer bag. Pop a couple of frozen cookies into the lunchbag and, by lunchtime, they’ll be ready to eat! Do this with just about any cookie.
A small portion of Brownie Batter Overnight Oatmeal. This stuff is like candy, man!
If you’re packing an insulated bag, why not some skinny chocolate?
Any of the sippers would work in an insulated bottle for lunchtime drinks.
Consider a fruit-tea version brewed and cooled then sweetened with on-plan sweetener.
Here’s a cool idea that my mom used to use when packing my lunch when I was a kid. Of course, she packed me a Diet Coke, but you could just as easily substitute Zevia or other on-plan, canned colas. The night before, take one can of refrigerated soda, double wrap in paper towel, then wrap in aluminum foil. Place in freezer overnight. When packing lunches the next day, put cold soda in lunch bag. By lunchtime, the soda can be unwrapped and should still be ice-cold but not frozen. There may sometimes be icy bits…love that!
Does this help you get started? I mean, I haven’t even started talking about muffins yet! I’d love for you to post additional ideas in the comments section below for everyone to see. Mamas helping mamas is powerful stuff, man! Mamas gotta stick together.