Fun School Lunches
Here are some fun lunch ideas as the kids head back to school.
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Courtesy of FoodNetwork.com.
The life of a celebrity chef can mean long hours in the restaurant kitchen--in between traveling and television appearances. It's an old saw that chefs' own refrigerators at home are mostly empty.
Sara Moulton doesn't have the option of letting her cupboard go bare. She has to feed two hungry teenagers when she's not working at one of her three jobs as star of Sara's Secrets on the Food Network, executive chef at Gourmet magazine and correspondent for Good Morning America.
As the kids head back to school, parents all over are facing the dilemma of what to send with them to school and off to college. Over the years, Moulton has developed a set of tips on how to brighten up those tedious chores:
- Make lunch fun for your little ones. Cut their sandwiches into creative shapes using cookie cutters. They'll get a kick out of the elephants and birds they find in their lunch.
- Freeze your children's juice packets or boxes the night before they take them to school. They'll thaw during the day and be icy-cold for lunchtime.
- Go all out for your kids! Put together a gourmet taco kit for their lunchbox. Put some shredded cheese and lettuce, salsa and shredded rotisserie chicken in separate baggies and tuck in taco shells for a Mexican school-time treat.
- Want to include fresh apple slices in your kid's lunches? Store them in a Thermos with homemade lemonade or apple cider, they'll stay sweet and crisp for lunchtime, and the drink will be flavored, too.
- Keep your kids' sandwiches high and dry. Pack the filling and the bread in separate baggies for easy lunchroom assembly.
- Don't just stick to white sliced bread for your kids' sandwiches. Mix it up with tortillas to make wraps, whole-wheat pitas to stuff, or toasted whole-wheat English muffins, which make great triple-deckers.
- There's more to lunch than sandwiches, so forget the bread and make lunchmeat "sushi." Roll sliced turkey, roast beef or ham into pinwheels stuffed with your favorite sandwich fillings. Try turkey with couscous salad, hummus and sliced cucumbers and carrots.
- Hey, dorm kids, toaster ovens aren't just for Pop Tarts. Try sprinkling thin cuts of raw meat with soy sauce, sesame oil and a little vegetable oil, cover them with sliced vegetables and pickled ginger from the salad bar, and wrap it all up in foil. Bake the foil packets in your toaster oven for a dorm-room-style Mongolian barbecue.
- Are you having visions of your college student munching on potato chips for dinner? Turn him or her into a two-burner gourmet. With a hot plate and skillet, he or she can whip up any number of quick dishes, like sautéed chicken cutlets with salsa sauce or pork chops with a little store-bought chutney.
- Are your kids coming home from school and hitting the cheese balls and fruit rollups? Stock the fridge with easy-to-prepare, healthy alternatives to combat the munchies. Try crisp cut-up vegetables with homemade ranch, hummus or peanut-butter dip. For fruit, trying making a dip with vanilla yogurt and cream cheese. Sneak some bananas into the freezer for a real treat. Once frozen, they're creamy and delicious like ice cream.
- Children love stuffed food: they love to pick up little, cute things and munch away. They're easy to transport and store, too. Try my twist on deviled eggs--halved boiled eggs stuffed with a Mediterranean-style tuna salad--or my super kid-friendly jiggly orange wedges: fresh orange juice made into Jell-O and chilled in hollowed-out orange halves.
(Sara's Secrets airs weekdays at 2 p.m. EDT and Saturdays at 9:30 a.m. on Food Network. For more information, visit www.FoodNetwork.com.)
Food Network's Sandra Lee serves up easy green recipes and projects at HGTV Green Home 2009.Back to Green Home Central.