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Pizzas to Go
apple pie sandwiches
soy butter and banana
guacamole mexican mush
Lovely Leftovers Grated Beet Salad
Mom's Mac & Cheese
Odds and Ends to Add
Cereal Snack Mix
Apple Pie Sandwiches
Cheesy Vegetable Dip
Ants on a Log
Healthy Energy Cookie Recipe
Natural Peanut Butter Cookies
More Kid-Friendly Recipes
Edible Science Experiments
Birthday Cake Ideas
Dog Treats You Can Make Yourself
Wizard Themed Recipes
Medieval Themed Food Ideas
Halloween Themed Food Ideas
Camping Food Ideas
Packing and Packaging
Packing a litterless lunch makes sense on many levels: it reduces waste, saves money, and many schools and workplaces now require it. A litterless lunch kit will vary depending on your food preferences and needs, but should contain as a minimum: a well-insulated container, a reusable ice pack, and a beverage container (best is unlined stainless steel). Messy meals will require a reusable cloth napkin and/or washcloth. Sandwich containers, small leakproof containers and cutlery are also good additions. When packing cutlery for school meals, be sure to review their "no tolerance" policies regarding cutlery. Sometimes even metal forks or bread knives can be banned.
Check out this link for more container ideas (not just for lunches!).
School lunches provide additional challenges. Students will need a way to keep their lunches cool to avoid food spoilage. This means you will need an insulated lunch bag and a reusable ice pack. In my experience, freezing water or juice often doesn't work. Usually the beverage does not fully thaw in time for lunch. If you do this, be sure that the container you use is designed for such use, or it could rupture when frozen and make quite a mess as it thaws.
With the amount of junk food being pedalled to families and especially kids, it can be hard to ensure your child gets healthy food during the day. It is still not unheard of for schools to have soft drink vending machines and hot dog days. Processed foods, corn syrup (aka "fructose-glucose"), hydrogenated oils, white flour, and many more items fill the ingredient lists of "convenience" lunch foods. Granola bars and cereal bars are among many items that pretend to be healthy. A quick read through an ingredient list (with your kids) is well advised.
Most workplaces offer a refrigerator and microwave, and this section will assume you have access to those things. If not, see "school lunches" above.
Some employers offer food plans. One employer I know uses a caterer who uses only reusable packaging, and food from local sources. Employees may order for specific days, or on an ongoing basis. If you are an employer, you may wish to consider such an option. A well-fed workforce stays focused.
I can take no responsibility for the way you handle your food, but try these links for some safe food handling guidelines:
Keep a stash of fresh vegetables ready to go. To make things easier, purchase vegetables that require little cutting, such as baby carrots, snow peas, green and wax beans, grape tomatoes and fresh mushrooms. Broccoli and cauliflower also keep well once cut. Cut them up ahead and store them in your refrigerator (except for the tomatoes, which should never be refrigerated) for up to 4-5 days so you can just grab a scoop and fill a container, or pre-pack them into lunch-sized helpings. Consider adding a few olives or chunks of fresh fruit and berries to your veggies as well.
Fruit is the ultimate in easy lunch food. Much of it even comes in its own biodegradable wrapping. Keep on hand a selection of locally grown seasonal fruit whenever possible. If your school or workplace doesn't compost, be prepared to bring home the skins and cores to compost yourself.
Cheese and crackers form the basis for many commercially pre-packed lunches. You can do the same, for less money, less waste and with better ingredients.
Leftover pizza makes a great lunch, or try pita pizzas.
Heated: You can add all of your toppings at home, then broil or microwave just long enough to melt the cheese. Eat as you would any other pizza.
If you make your own or have access to good tortillas or pitas, this may soon become your favourite lunch option. "Pita Pit" and "Pita Factory" have helped provide healthy fast food alternatives that are easy to copy yourself.
From sandwich pitas to celery sticks, there are many foods that lend themselves well to stuffing. This can make food easier to pack and carry. Try some of our fillings below, or use your own ideas to fill any of the following items: small sweet peppers, seeded; celery sticks (try ants on a log for kid appeal), tomatoes, egg roll wraps, mammoth olives, whole-grain hot dog buns, and large-leafed greens.
Before taking along any mayonnaise-based salads, be sure to check your refrigeration to ensure your food remains safe. If you use a freezer pack in an insulated bag, you are likely safe if your experience tells you the pack remains frozen well after your normal meal time. To be extra safe, add an extra freezer pack.
This is a great substitute for peanut butter in places where peanuts are banned, but you may need to do some explaining before it is allowed as soy butter looks remarkably like peanut butter. To add to the problem, one brand label calls it "soynut butter", possibly in a misguided effort to show the similarity of the product. Soy is a bean, not a nut, but it may take a bit to convince the powers that be of this fact! Soy butter can be found in the health food section of most larger grocery stores. Be sure to look for an organic brand for this or any soy product.
"Mexican mush" refers to the desire in our house to mix Mexican-styled dips and ingredients. Possible ingredients include:
Use these alone, or add a favourite sauce, spread, dressing or dip. Veggies that travel well as sandwich, wrap and pita fillings include: grape tomatoes (slice once to keep from rolling), sliced tomatoes, lettuces, leafy greens, sliced cucumbers, grated carrots, grated beets, pickled beets, sweet pepper slices, celery, chopped sweet, red or green onion, sprouts, radish slices, mushrooms, zucchini slices and sticks, broccoli, cauliflower, grilled zucchini, grilled eggplant, grilled sweet peppers, and snow peas.
More easy-travel food items to add to your lunch:
cereal snack mix
bagel and creamed cheese
fruit and cottage cheese
fruit and yogurt
trail mix (replacing nuts with seeds if necessary)
pickles and olives