Lunch time is a chance to add some fun and imagination to the noon hour, especially for kids. School is tough and pretty draining, so having a buildable lunch helps make the day better. Bento Lunch Boxes make packing a buildable lunch easy and keeps all the items crisp and fresh.
I remember when I was in school, my mom would leave little love notes for me in my lunch box. She also made a lunch that was unique, like chick-a-deviled eggs. They were deviled eggs made up to look like little baby chicks. I would eat the school offered meals some days of the week and Mama would pack my lunch the rest of the days.
I loved when she made cookie cutter sandwich puzzles too. The sandwiches for just simple ham and cheese, but making shapes and puzzles with the pieces made them taste like a gourmet lunch mad for the Queen of England. Oh, how amazing Moms are!!!
I am Auntie Rema to my nieces and nephews and, as you may know, I am extremely proud to sport that name. My niece always says, and I quote, “home is boring, but it is really cool when Auntie Rema is there. She is cooler than pizza!”
It is definitely a wonderful, heartwarming thing to hear, AND a pretty big responsibility to maintain. Thanks to my own Mother’s ingenuity, I’m able to come up with some creative lunches for my nieces and nephews. Here are 6 buildable lunch ideas that add fun and creativity to your little one’s noon time meal.
1.) Aunties In A Canoe
This isn’t your traditional recipe using celery, peanut butter, and raisins. I’ve taken this recipe and improved it with more flavor and brighter ingredients. First, take large carrots, shave the rough outer layer, cut them in half and remove the inside, using a peeler works the best. In a mixing bowl, soften some cream cheese and sprinkle some cinnamon, nutmeg and sugar. Squeeze some juice from a couple slices of lemon and mix well. Spoon the cheese into the groove of the carrots and assemble a line of cranberries, blackberries, or whatever kind of berry on the top. Break pretzel sticks in half to fashion some oars and “TaDa” you have “Aunties In A Canoe.” Simple and super tasty!
2.) Mini Pizzas
Who doesn’t love pizza? I know my nieces and nephews LOVE it and even more, they love the chance to make their own. And, of course, I am “cooler than pizza,” so I better have an awesome pizza recipe. Since I can’t fit a whole pizza in their lunch box, I have to downsize.
Using a cookie cutter, cut out small circles in a flour tortilla. You can also prepare mini pizza crusts by using a cookie cutter on pizza or biscuit dough and baking as directed. Be sure to let them cool completely before packing them to keep them from becoming soggy and icky. Put some pasta sauce in a small plastic sandwich bag, let your little one cut a tiny hole in the corner, and squeeze the sauce onto the small tortilla or crust. Top with pepperoni, deli ham, or bacon bits and sprinkle with mozzarella cheese. It is better than the packaged lunches and they are super fun, really easy and awesomely fresh.
3.) Pretzel Sandwich Kabobs
This buildable lunch has one demand: Assembly IS required. Get your child’s favorite cheese in cubes, their favorite lunch meat (cubed meats work great), cherry tomatoes (halved) and lettuce if they’ll eat it. Put small holes in the cheese, meat, and tomatoes and simply let you kids slide them onto the pretzels. One thing to remember is to keep the ingredients separate so they do not get soggy. Send them with a yummy dipping sauce, like honey mustard or jalapeno ranch and they will rant and rave all day!
4.) Stuffed Pasta Shells
This particular lunch item is for the more mature pallette. Cook jumbo pasta shells and cool separately, be sure you boil them with plenty of olive oil in the water to prevent them from sticking to each other. In a separate dish, combine ricotta cheese, couple spoons of pasta sauce, oregano, basil, thyme and finely chopped black olives and pepperoni. Pack some bacon bits and parmesan cheese as well. When your kid gets to school and heads to lunch, they can spoon the cheese combination into the shells and top with the bacon bits and parmesan to get a delicious twist on an Italian meal.
5.) Mini Taco Salad
Some spicy items in our kiddo’s lunches is great to scatter in during the week. Using small tortilla chip scoops or using a muffin tin and four tortillas, you can baked your own. Coat the muffin tin with oil or non-sticking spray, cut small circles out of a tortilla, dip in oil, let oil drip off as much as possible and place into tins. Bake for about 5 minutes at 450 degrees or until tortillas are crisp. Now, make your favorite taco meat recipe using ground beef, chicken, pork or whatever your children like the most. Let them build their own taco salads by layering some meat, cheat, lettuce, tomato and add some mild salsa and sour cream to top it off. Muy Bueno!
6.) PB & J Sushi Rolls
Sounds a little strange, I know, but it is sure to be a hit with the kids at lunch and even as an after school snack. Just take the favorite flavor jam or preserves and spread onto a slice of bread (whole grain to stay nutritious.) Layer creamy or chunky peanut butter on the jam and then cut the crusts. Roll the Peanut Butter and Jelly and then cut into bite-size slices. I like to make sweet sticky rice balls to take on the side with sweet and sour sauce for dipping. An Eastern spin on an American staple!!!
These fun and easy lunch ideas are sure to keep the little ones occupied and full during school lunch. Additionally, these all make great snacks for after school or during a sleepover. They are small, light and healthy alternatives to potato chips and cookies. Made with fresh ingredients and packed by us, we know that these lunches are good for growing bodies and great for us adults that want to have fun at lunch too! So, give these a try and please share any other ideas you have, I would love to hear them and I’m sure everyone would appreciate more creativity as well!!!
This post is sponsored by Monbento and written by me. All statements, opinions and recipes are 100% my own.