School starts next week for my kiddo, and we’ve been shopping for supplies and goodies for his lunch (we tend to make it together, though he’s taking the lead on packing lunch more and more often). For my part, I want his lunches to nourish and satisfy him for the day, and for his part, he wants them to be fun and interesting.
It’s easy to get into a rut, isn’t it? I’ve worked with Applegate for a few years now, and love that they’re accessible in nearly any market in the country, and they’ve partnered with a few of the other natural food brands that I buy from time to time like Rudi’s, Annie’s, and Honest Kids on Rock the Lunchbox – a resource that helps to give inspiration to create wholesome lunches with coupons and resources. Moreover, they’ve chosen to support FoodCorps which helps to support healthy lunches for kids, as well as education on food and gardening for school-aged children.
How to Keep Lunch Fun for Little Ones
My son has experienced a fair amount of anxiety with the start of this school year, though he looks forward to it all the same. And one of the ways I try to remind him throughout the day that I love him and care about him is by tucking little notes into his lunch bag. If he’s packed his lunch in advance, I’ll sneak something in as a surprise in the morning. An “I love you.” A happy wish. A funny picture. A reminder. It’s these things that keep him uplifted during the day.
Rock the Lunchbox, like puns and jokes, that you can tuck into your children’s lunchboxes or that might give you inspiration for something else that’s homegrown, creative and all your own. They also have some fun ideas that you and your children can go through as you plan for lunches throughout the week, if you need a little inspiration.
Our Favorite Sandwiches
I like to vary the lunches my son and I pack, adding soups or stews in thermoses, wraps of lunch meats and cheese (you can see variations here), but the truth is this: he really likes sandwiches. They’re easy to make. They’re portable. They’re not messy, and they don’t require forks or knives or spoons. So to change things up from time to time, I like to vary what I add to sandwiches – giving them a boost of flavor with herbs and spices, which not only makes them more interesting, but also more nutritious as herbs and spices are packed with antioxidants. Just a little sprinkling of caraway or cumin, or perhaps basil or flat-leaf parsley used in place of lettuce can really make things more interest.
Salami, Basil, Tomato and Provolone
I spread a little aioli, a garlic and olive oil mayonnaise, on slices of bread and top them with fresh, home-grown basil, sliced heirloom tomato, Applegate Provolone and Salami. My son likes it when I serve this sandwiches with a few pitted olives on the side, and fresh fruit.
Ham, Swiss, Dijon and Chives
Black Forest Ham and Swiss Cheese are made for each other. The mild flavor of fresh chives gives them a nice complement. I typically spread a little mayonnaise on one slice of bread, sprinkle it with snipped chives, and then spread Annie’s Dijon mustard on the second slice of bread, layering Applegate ham and Swiss between them.
Hummus and Vegetables
I make sprouted hummus every week, and like to use it as a spread for sandwiches. We top it with whatever happens to be in season, and right now that means tomatoes, cucumbers, lettuce, basil, and shredded carrots.
Bacon, Lettuce, Avocado and Tomato
My son loves bacon (who doesn’t?), and we often make BLAT sandwiches of bacon, lettuce, avocado and tomato. For these I tend to prefer shoulder bacon like Applegate Good Morning Bacon which, unlike traditional bacon made from pork belly, is higher in protein and lower in fat – making it leaner, like a cross between bacon and ham, and a better complement to the mayonnaise and avocado already on the sandwich.
Turkey and Cream Cheese with Tomato, Caraway and Sea Salt
We also often spread bread with softened cream cheese (including homemade cream cheese that I’ve whipped). We top this with fresh tomato, smoked turkey breast and a sprinkling of caraway seeds (get them here) and sea salt.
Get Coupons from Natural Brands like Annies, Applegate and others …
Right now, you can download coupons from natural and organic brands like Rudi’s, which offers whole-grain, ancient grain and sourdough sandwich breads, Annie’s which offers some treats that we buy from time to time, Honest Kids, and Applegate whom I’ve worked with for a few years and who are my go-to source for natural lunch meats. Download the coupons here.