This lunch box mama gets ready for back to school with recipes for her little ones. Bread, muffins, tarts, and even back to school pencil-shaped wafers.
I’ve never really been a New Year’s resolution person. I might make a mental note to try harder at something, but it’s a romantic notion, not grounded with any sort of seriousness. So it’s surprising to me, that the start of a new school year has become my time for change. I suspect that this has to do with real change. New schedules, new programs, new grades (for the kiddies), new clothes, new books, even–for us Yellowknifers–new weather. It makes sense that new eating habits could easily be laid out on the table with a juicy side of physical activity.
The days leading up to school’s start have included me stocking the freezer with lunch box options that include protein and/or convenience. The family goal is to eat fewer processed foods but these should make my mornings a little more stress free–perhaps even allowing for a bit of early exercise.
While the side effects of stocking the freezer remain to be seen, I’m pretty excited to see how these additions to school lunches go. Historically my kids rarely eat sandwiches, preferring a little of this and a little of that. Our school is old and faulty, which means the microwaves in every classroom (no cafeteria) lead to fuses being blown, so in turn we’re cautioned against hot lunches. On top of that, the line up for heating food often means that the kids at the back of the line have little time to eat before the bell rings. Throw in the no nut issue, the fact that my oldest won’t eat anything out of a thermos, and my options become extremely limited.
(Psssst! Click the pink titles to link to the yummy recipes!)
Whole Wheat Honey Bread
My binge baking week started with homemade bread. A whole wheat honey bread I’ve been making for my family for several months. It’s pretty easy, once you learn a few tricks (kneading it for the full ten minutes is recommended and for some reason the bread doesn’t rise in my house properly so I put it in an oven that had been heated to 100 and then turned off. It takes over the 25 minutes recommended, and I bake for an extra five or ten minutes as well.) I get two loaves out of this recipe, they currently last about a week, but the kids are on a morning toast binge.
Maple-Sweetened Banana Muffins
While the bread is proofing I begin mixing muffins, bananas and sugar free (maple syrup substitute) to use some of the bananas we have in the freezer. The three this recipe calls for barely makes a dent in my frozen banana reserve! I’ve made this recipe before and it’s usually a hit with my youngest. My oldest strangely doesn’t eat muffins, to the point of picking out the chocolate chips, from a chocolate chip muffin and leaving everything else behind.
The next day I move on to new territory. Attempting to make fun and innovative lunch box items with some protein. I attempt a flaky pie dough crust substituting the white flour with whole wheat. It seems fine.
Butter Flaky Pie Crust
This needs to sit in the fridge over night, so I move on to the next recipe…
Ham, Cheese & Spinach Muffins
I have a friend who has a son who’s the pickiest eater on the planet. His diet consists of pancake based meals with lots of goodies hidden into them for nutrients. When I saw this muffin recipe, I thought, this could be the answer to my lunch box woes. I will admit, we had them for dinner that evening as a trial run, and they weren’t a hit with my kids, but I’m including them anyway. Your kids and my kids are two totally different beasts, perhaps this recipe will work in their lunch box. (Also, anyone want some savoury muffins? I have a dozen in the freezer.)
Beef Taco Pop Tarts
Day three, the pie crust comes out of the fridge. It’s rock solid and won’t roll out, so I stick it in the microwave to warm up the butter a bit. It melts, and the whole thing is a mess but some flour and elbow grease puts things into working order and I’m able to start working some cooking magic.
I forgot the cheese in these puppies, I’m hoping the kids won’t notice, I also didn’t have any black beans. I could include salsa for dipping, but I’m pretty sure none of my munchkins wouldn’t make use of it. The youngest would be all over some sour cream though…
Lunch Box Wafer Pencils
Finally, the last item on my list, a simple treat, strictly for the first day. I’m not including a recipe, because I didn’t follow one. I found the picture online and guessed how they were made.
Wafer cookies, cut to a point.
White icing and pink food colouring
I toyed with adding sprinkles for extra fun, because my kids love sprinkles… eventually fun won out and I added them to the eraser side only. I made enough for my kids to have two each and to have a few to share with their cousins. My oldest (who was already excited to be going back to school) now tells me she’s even more excited because of these treats. Noted. Recipe firmly planted in the Lunch Box Mama bank.