Back to school means back to packing lunches for many of us. If you’re someone who packs lunches for kids, you know that coming up with what to pack can sometimes be the trickiest part. We want our kids’ lunches to be nutritious and easy enough to make, but most of all—we want them to be eaten! (There’s nothing more deflating than having a lunch come home untouched, am I right?) Give these five fun bento box-style lunch combos a try this school year.
Veggie & Noodle Salad Rolls
This is a favourite that packs surprisingly well in an airtight container with one little trick!
Dip a rice paper wrapper into a bit of lukewarm water to soften then lay out on your work surface. Sprinkle on sesame seeds, add noodles and your favourite toppings, and roll them up. Try cucumber strips, carrot ribbons, thinly sliced peppers, mango spears, edamame beans, and tofu strips—but anything goes! If you wish, pack along some simple dipping sauce. Mix up a little bit of nut or seed butter with soy sauce, a little garlic powder, and some hot water.
To prevent the rolls from sticking to themselves or to the lunch container, rub the tiniest amount of oil onto the outside of each roll.
These are like cinnamon buns, but pizza style! They are delicious, easy to make, and last several days in the fridge.
Start with your favourite store-bought or homemade pizza dough. Roll it out into a large horizontal rectangle on a lightly floured surface. Spread on a thin layer of your favourite pizza sauce, leaving the top edge of the dough bare (just as you would when making cinnamon buns.) Sprinkle on a your favourite shredded cheese and some small chunks of veggie pepperoni if you wish. Roll the dough up, pressing the edge to seal, and slice into individual buns. Bake on a lined baking sheet for 9 to 12 minutes at 500°F. Allow to cool completely before popping them into lunch kits.
Do your kids love pasta too? Turning pasta into pasta salad is an easy way to make it super lunch box friendly! Have fun experimenting with combinations. Pack along a fork and you’re good to go!
Cook up some pasta and let cool (or better yet, use noodles left over from dinner). Add chickpeas or beans, chopped veggies, a drizzle of olive oil, your favourite seasonings and herbs, and toss together.
Tip Garlic powder, onion powder, and sea salt makes a great basic seasoning combination. A blend of Italian seasoning, dried basil, and chili powder is excellent too.
Try These Combos.
- Bow tie pasta, chickpeas, cucumbers, and red pepper with olive oil, garlic powder, onion powder, Italian seasoning, and a little salt.
- Rotini pasta, black beans, red pepper, and corn with olive oil, garlic powder, onion powder, chili powder, and a little salt.
An absolute favourite! Pick up pre-made ones in the bistro or make a very simple version at home.
Cook rice according to the directions on the package. While the rice cools, prepare your fillings. Long strips of cucumber, pepper, mango, and tofu work well. Cut nori sheets in half. Place one horizontally on a bamboo sushi mat, and press a small amount of rice onto the seaweed, leaving a strip along the top bare. Place your fillings on top of the rice horizontally. Use the sushi mat to roll everything up tightly. If needed, run a wet fingertip along the strip of bare seaweed to seal the roll up. Cut into small pieces with a sharp knife. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and include a little container of soy sauce if you wish.
Mini Bean & Cheese Burritos
These are so easy to make. While we often think of burritos served hot, they’re actually really delicious enjoyed cold or at room temperature.
Mix canned refried beans with a little garlic powder, onion powder, chili powder, and salt to taste. Spread a bit of the bean mixture onto small whole-grain tortillas. Top with your favourite shredded cheese and roll them up! If you’re feeling fancy, add corn, diced peppers, or shredded lettuce too. Pack along a little container of salsa or guacamole for dipping if you like, and lunch is served!
Jen Kossowan is a kindergarten and grade one teacher and mama of two gorgeous kiddos. She’s passionate about play, loves a good DIY project, and can most often be found in her kitchen whipping up recipes that taste delicious while meeting her crunchy mama criteria. She started Mama.Papa.Bubba. on a whim in 2010 while living in the Middle East and has been sharing her recipes and activities there ever since.
Article was published in The Good Life magazine.