Updated: Aug 19, 2018
On this week every year, I begin to cheerfully sing the "Back to School" song from Billy Madison". My children scream and scream. I laugh. It's fun. It is a tradition after all and who am I to stand in it's way?
Besides getting a much needed break, I love back to school time because I LOVE to pack lunches. I know, I'm a sick woman.
I believe my obsession with lunch packing can be traced back to some childhood trauma of being a kid of the 80s. We had Mother's brand 50 cent white bread with sugar laden peanut butter and high-fructose corn syrup clumpy jelly that made your bread a soggy purple mess. We drank Ecto Coolers or those little plastic containers in the shape of a jug. What the hell was in that anyways? Our parents might have even thought that Fruit Gushers and Fruit by the Foot actually had fruit in them. Oh the horror. It's a wonder we are all still alive.
Now that I'm older, wiser, and have children of my own, I thoroughly enjoy sending them off to school with a lunch bag packed with the macronutrients and micronutrients they need to feed their growing minds and bodies.
Back to school is the perfect time for a reboot. Check out The Honest Pantry Blueprint!
So how do I do it AND stay sane?
Well, let's start with supplies. I've chosen the below based on the following factors:
Safety - no chemicals
Functionality - multi-uses
Ease - dishwasher friendly
Durability - products that will last
STAINLESS STEEL PRODUCTS
Unlike plastic, stainless steel is corrosion resistant. Plastic leaches chemicals. In 2012, the FDA banned the use of BPA. BPA has been in plastic food containers since the 1950s. It took over 60 years for the government to figure that one out. I'm not taking any chances.
Stainless steel is 100% recyclable. Plastic is not. Contrary to popular belief, just because you put your plastic in your recycling can, that doesn't mean it actually gets recycled. In fact, only 9.5% of plastic material is recycled. How disturbing is that?
Stainless steel is more durable than plastic. I cannot count the number of plastic containers I've tossed of the years. Don't be scared off by the price of stainless steel products. Remember, quality over quantity. You children will use these for years to come.
My favorite are:
ECOlunchbox which can be purchased HERE. These come as a set. I use them to store crackers, fruit, veggies, nuts, and more. They are very versatile.
ECOLunchbox which can be purchased HERE. This container will be used pretty much everyday. It can hold a cut sandwich, bagels, pasta salad, and more.
Various Silverware Pieces - Don't send them to school with your good stuff just in case it doesn't come back.
Lunchbots Insulated Container which can be purchased HERE. I like to use this container for thick soups or chili. I will also use it to hold chopped fruit or yogurt parfaits.
Thermos Brand Insulated Container. You can get it HERE. This too is an older version. See, I told you this stuff last forever.
FiftyFifty Double Insulated Water Bottle which can be purchased HERE. This is my son's water bottle which makes it's way to the baseball fields (as you can tell). I love this bottle because you can serve hot or cold drinks from it. With fall baseball around this corner, this is a great feature. Hot chocolate anyone?
Silicone is a man-made polymer like plastic.
The FDA has approved silicon for baking even though there has been very little testing done. Shocking. Not really. Pretty standard fare of the FDA.
What's scarier, silicone is used as an anti caking agent in FOOD!
DO NOT use silicone in the oven or with warm foods regardless of what the manufacturers tell you.
Silicone Yogurt Tubes which can be purchased HERE. Now I know what you are thinking, "Melissa, why are you using these if the science is unclear on the safety of silicone?" Well, here is my theory, I only use silicone for room temperate or cold items. I do not heat them up or serve warm food in them. I chose to purchase these because I can make my children healthier yogurt pops then the ones on the market. I can also serve apple sauce out of them. Have you seen the nasty stuff about those apple sauce pouches? If not, click HERE. Lastly, they are reusable which is better for the environment.
Silicone Muffin Liner which can be purchased HERE. I use these little guys to hold hummus for dipping, cream cheese for spreading, or just to keep 2 items separated.
Over 7 billion paper napkins are thrown away each day.
The U.S. uses over 160 billion paper napkins every year.
31,500,000 gallons of water is used to make 450,000,000 paper napkins.
Cloth Napkins - nothing fancy here. I just purchased these on clearance at Target. I've also made some from extra flannel fabric I had on hand. Just make sure you have at least a dozen or so.
NOW LET'S TALK FOOD!!!
Quick Pasta Salad Lunch
Pasta salad is a great option for lunch. It can be made on Sunday and served a few times throughout the week. This is also a great opportunity to use up any leftover veggies you have on hand.
4 cups pasta of choice, cooked
1 cup broccoli, chopped
1 small tomato, chopped
1/2 cucumber, chopped
1 small green pepper, chopped
1/2 cup cubed cheese of choice
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tsp maple syrup
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1 tsp garlic, minced
2 tsp dried parsley
1/2 tsp salt
1. In a large bowl, combine all pasta salad ingredients.
2. Add dressing ingredients to a jar with lid and shake.
3. Pour dressing over pasta salad and gently fold to combine.
4. Store in refrigerator.
*Serve with grapes
Pita & Hummus Lunch
I only serve my family homemade hummus mainly because there are always mass recalls on hummus. Also, homemade hummus is super cheap, even easier, and taste better! Make a big batch on Sunday and have it for the week. Don't forget to peel and chop tons of veggies on Sunday
1 - 14oz can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 tbsp sesame tahini
Juice of 1 lemon
1 tsp chopped garlic
Salt and Pepper to taste
1. Blend all ingredients in blender for 1 minute or until smooth and creamy.
2. Transfer to a glass container with lid and store in refrigerator.
*Serve with pitas, veggy sticks, hard-boiled eggs, and orange slices
Bagel & Cream Cheese Lunch
Perfect for when you are running late ;)
This lunch contains:
1 Everything Bagel, toasted
2 tbsp Veggy Cream Cheese
1 Light String Cheese
1 apple soaked in doTERRA OnGuard Essential Oil
1. Place apple slices in container and fill with water.
2. Add 1 drop of doTERRA OnGuard Essential Oil. Allow to sit for 5-10 minutes.
3. Drain water and place lid on container.
4. Assemble the rest of the meal as shown.
*Why soak the apples in doTERRA OnGuard?
OnGuard is a blend of Wild Orange Oil, Clove, Cinnamon and more. It will leave your apples with a mild cinnamon flavor. OnGuard is a natural and effective alternative for immune support - which is so important during the school year. Aside from that, the citrus will slow the browning process so your little one will have fresh apple slices at lunch time.
Berry Citrus Yogurt Pops
Besides being delicious, these yogurt pops serve as an extra ice pack. Store them in the freezer and by lunch they will be slightly softened and ready to eat.
1 cup zero-fat plain Greek Yogurt
3/4 cup frozen strawberries
1-2 tbsp honey
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 drops doTERRA Wild Orange Oil
1/3 cup blueberries, fresh or frozen
1. Blend yogurt, strawberries, honey, and vanilla in blender until smooth.
2. Add doTERRA Wild Orange Oil and blend one last time.
3. Add a few blueberries to each yogurt tube.
4. Fill tubes 1/2 full.
5. Add several more blueberries.
6. Top each tube off so they are 3/4 full.
7. Place lids on tubes and place in freezer for at least 8 hours.
Snack Attack Lunch
Almost zero prep = win!
1 cup fresh strawberries
1/3 cup Annie's Cheddar Squares
2 Aussie Bites (which I find at Costco)
1 wedge Light Laughing Cow Cheese
1/4 cup trail mix of choice
1. Assemble as shown!
THIS ENDS PART 1 OF THE BACK TO SCHOOL LUNCH PREP.
STAY TUNED FOR PART 2 COMING NEXT WEEK!
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