Tips for Packing Lunches Your Kids Will Love
Banish Peanut Butter Boredom
There’s no denying that fixing a peanut butter sandwich is fast and easy. To counter the boredom of eating the same thing day after day, take an extra minute to blend a custom peanut butter spread. To ½ cup peanut butter, add a few tablespoons each of finely shredded carrot, sunflower nuts or pine nuts, raisins or currants, and honey. Spread as usual on bread. You should have enough for several sandwiches.
Don’t Pay for Prepackaged Lunches
Prepackaged lunch kits from the refrigerator case at the supermarket are convenient but awfully expensive. It’s not hard to make your own copycat version, and you’ll save at least half the cost. The secret is to use a cookie cutter to cut cheese and cold cuts to fit round whole wheat crackers. Kids love these lunch treats, and so will you.
Give Your Kids Lunch Trumpets
For kids who resist eating traditional sandwiches, trim the crust from two slices of bread and flatten the bread with a rolling pin. Spread a thin layer of filling, such as chicken, tuna, or ham salad, not quite to the edges of the bread. Roll each bread slice into a cone shape, keeping one end open. Fasten with toothpicks.
Sandwiches day after day in your brown-bag lunch can become mighty boring. For a fast alternative, fill a small drip-proof container with salsa, hummus, bean dip, or fruit dip. Add a bag of sturdy chips, veggie sticks, or fruit.
What to Do When There’s No Dessert
Not a cookie or piece of candy in the house, but your child (or spouse) will be so disappointed if there’s no treat in his lunch bag. Sure, he could live without it for a day, but here’s an easy, innovative substitute. Just create a “Get Out of Doing the Dinner Dishes” or “Excused from Cleaning your Room” card and slip it in with his lunch. Up the fun factor by writing with crayons or markers on a 3-by-5-inch index card, or whip up something colorful on your home computer and print it out.
When the Bread’s Gone, Waffle It
The bread bag is empty, but you have lunches to pack. Raid the freezer and pull out frozen waffles as a bread substitute. Just toast two waffles, spread them with peanut butter and jelly, and assemble them as a sandwich. This is guaranteed to give kids (and sometimes grown-ups) the giggles.
Easy-Wash Ideas for Lunch Boxes
Over time, a reusable lunch box or bag can become a breeding ground for bacteria, but cleaning lunch boxes isn’t high on most folks’ “to do” lists. Try one of these easy ways to clean a lunch box. If it’s a soft plastic lunch bag, turn it inside out and toss it in the washing machine with your bleachable whites. Most soft plastic lunch bags are colorfast and will not run, bleed, or fade. Another option is to clean your lunch box, soft or hard, outside using a hose. Hook the power nozzle onto your garden hose and blast away every last speck of dirt. For older children and adults, tuck an antibacterial wipe inside the box each day. Instruct them to toss the garbage and wipe the box clean after they finish eating.