Kids can be fickle. They can’t get enough of a food one day and feign horror at the sight of it the next. Add a busy schedule to changing moods and taste buds; it can be all too easy to give up and send them to school with lunch money. What every parent needs in their arsenal is a solid list of recipes that break the mold and keep kids happy and fueled throughout the school day. Here at InTown Suites, we’ve gathered an exciting list of easy lunches that’ll get you thinking outside the lunchbox.
WRAP IT UP
Ditch the bread and soggy sandwiches, and switch to mess-free hand held wraps for all your lunch needs. Whole wheat, gluten-free, spinach infused—the options for sandwich wraps are endless and an easy way to cut down on excess carbs and focus on the best part of any sandwich, the filling.
When it comes to fillings have some fun with ingredients and get your kids involved. Squeeze in more vegetables and lean protein with this Heavenly Hummus Wrap with Homemade Hummus. Pick crisp vegetables that’ll hold their shape and keep the wrap from getting soggy, or lay down a layer of greens and throw on some grilled vegetables for a Mediterranean inspired lunch.
Little ones have more of a sweet tooth? Nut butters and spreads needn’t be reserved for the humdrum PB&J sandwich. Peanut butter, almond butter, and chocolate hazelnut spread all make the perfect vehicle for “Fruit Sushi.” Add bananas, strawberry, or apple slices with add-ons like granola, shredded coconut—even chocolate chips—and slice into bite-sized pieces for a protein filled sweet surprise.
Have leftovers? If it passes the dinner test with your kids, it’s sure enough to pass the lunch test. Chicken, steak, or pulled pork tossed together with some veggies, cheese and a schmear of mayo or guacamole make a perfect lunch on the go. For inspiration, check out these Grilled Lemon Chicken Flatbread Wraps.
TACOS TO GO
Besides pizza, we can’t think of another more beloved food amongst the under 12 set than tacos. Cheesy toppings, savory meats, and filings—what’s not to love? Tacos might not seem like the most practical—or tidiest—lunch option to pack, but with some ingenious tweaks, you can make your kid’s Mexican-inspired lunch dreams come true.
The messiest part about tacos is easily the open-ended shells. Avoid spills by baking small tortilla shells into bowls with this fantastic Muffin-Tine Taco recipe. Pick out filling options with your kids, from classic spicy beef to restaurant-style black beans, add in condiments like salsa and sour cream, and pack taco bowls for a DIY taco bar lunch.
Another work around is to bake the ingredients right into the shell. Move aside tacos, taquitos are the new kid-friendly finger food. Toss salsa, fillings, and cheese together in a tortilla, bake until crunchy and serve. Easy to make, and even easier to pack for lunch, these Baked Black Bean Taquitos are the perfect break from traditional lunches.
Somewhere between a soft-taco and grilled cheese, you’ll find the humble quesadilla. Swap the usual suspects of chicken, beans, and salsa for this old-school inspired Ham, Apple and Cheese Quesadilla. With cheese as your binder, this fresh take on Tex-Mex finger food will be met with requests for more lunches like this.
FINGER FOOD FUN
Shorten your to-do list by removing utensils from your lunch packing and opting instead for finger food. Besides saving your silverware drawer from the pain of lost spoons and forks, kids will love the break from social decorum.
We all know pizza is sure to be a hit. But, the staying power of a traditional slice might fall short, leaving little stomachs rumbling before the end of the day. Enter Quinoa Pizza Bites. Portable, protein filled cups of goodness with all the flavors of pizza are the perfect vehicle for sneaking in vegetables and some extra nutrition. Make a couple dozen batches of these on Sunday for the week ahead, they’ll surely be gobbled down.
Breakfast for lunch? Why not! Break out that muffin tin once again to prepare these perfect tiny-hand sized Cheddar, Pancetta and Thyme Mini Quiches. Premade tart shells make this recipe as easy as whipping up scrambled eggs and kids will love eating a savory breakfast item for lunch.
Mac and cheese is always a welcome lunch option. But between packing a thermos and utensils, it can be a bit cumbersome. Make this classic kid’s favorite more portable and nutritious with Baked Macaroni and Cheese Cupcakes. This carby, cheesy dish gets a boost from protein dense ground poultry and vitamin rich tomatoes with green veggies. Hot or cold, these hand-held cups of goodness are sure to be a new favorite.