Sunday, September 1, 2013

6 Weeks of School Lunches Without Peanut Butter

My children do not have food allergies of any kind, but a lot of their friends and classmates do. Our school has combated that by banning peanut products anywhere on school property. As I learned on Facebook, this is apparently very controversial. Here's my personal opinion- I don't need a child's death on my conscience. Period. And certainly not for something as frivolous as peanut butter.
With school coming up again I'm on the search for school lunch ideas because a child can only eat so many turkey sandwiches in a week without going on a hunger strike. And who could blame them?! I found hundreds of lists of school lunches and fully half of them contain peanut butter. I found a list of 25 and each and every single one had peanut butter. These lists are not helpful for me so I decided to make my own. I don't know how many of these ideas will work for every family, or child's palate, or lunch box set-up, but these ones work for us.
A few disclaimers- I make our bread, granola (bars) and chips by hand. I know mine don't contain any peanut products or any products made in the same place as peanut containing products. I have NO IDEA if any of them in the stores do. However, I'd be more than happy to share my recipes for those things with you if you'd like. I don't make anything that takes a lot of time or skill in a kitchen. Plus, I do all of my cooking (breakfast, lunch and dinner) on the weekend and then freeze it all until later in the week, so most of these can be frozen. If they can't be, I pop them in the fridge and we eat them first. I don't know about the rest of the parents out there, who are probably better at this whole mom thing than I am, but after the kids go to bed I am OFF DUTY and expecting me to do something productive before school starts.. well, good luck with that one, buddy.
So, here we go. 6 weeks of school lunch ideas-

1. Pizza roll-ups. (My kids are bringing this on their first day)
    Put shredded cheese on a tortilla and melt it. Place your pepperoni, or child's favorite pizza toppings, on your tortilla. Roll up and set aside to cool. Cut into rounds. Simple enough, right?

2. BLTs
    Does this need instructions? Make a sandwich with bacon, tomato and lettuce. Or skip one of those and add cheese instead.

3. Other sandwiches.
    Turkey, ham, cheese, hummus and tomatoes...

4. Hummus with veggies and/or crackers.
    Hummus is super easy to make! Drain a can of chickpeas into a bowl. You're going to use the liquid in a minute. Put chickpeas in a blender. Add 1 clove garlic (smashed, diced, whatever you like), 2 tsp. cumin, 1/2 tsp salt and 1 Tbsp. olive oil. Blend until smooth while adding liquid a little at a time until you reach your desired consistency. I usually have a little left over, but you might not. It all works. Once you get that down, you can add things your child likes- tomatoes, more garlic, spinach, pretty much anything will work.

5. Fruit with dip.
    I have two fruit dip recipes that are both really easy.
    Dip A- 1 cup vanilla yogurt, 1 Tbsp honey, 1/4 tsp cinnamon, 1/4 tsp ginger, 1/4 tsp nutmeg and 1 tsp lemon zest. Put that all in a bowl and stir.
    Dip B- 4 oz cream cheese, 1/2 cup sour cream, 1 tsp vanilla, 1/3- 1/2 cup sugar to taste
    Bonus- Dip B with some grapes stirred into it makes an awesome fruit salad. I think my kids could live on it happily for the rest of their lives.

6. Remember that pickle tray at every family party ever? Olives, pickles and cheese? Well, those fit in a tupperware...

7. Red Ants on a Birch Log. Just like the ants on a log with peanut butter and raisins, but with cream cheese and dried cranberries instead.

8. Bagels. Spread them with cream cheese or make a sandwich with them. Sometimes just a different type of bread will update a sandwich enough that my kids will eat it and not complain.

9. English muffin sandwiches. My kids like them toasted first, but whatever works for you is great. Here again. Same sandwich with a different bread will often trick my kids into eating it again.

10. Muffins. Blueberry, cranberry, use oatmeal instead of flour.. whatever works for you. Seriously, do a google search of 'muffin recipes' and you can read new ones for days. The possibilities are endless!

11. Turkey cheese roll ups. Ham and cheese roll ups. Tortillas, meat and cheese.. rolled up. You can probably figure it out, huh?

12. English muffin pizzas. English muffins, sauce, pizza toppings, bake until cheese is melted. Done.

13. Corn dog muffins. Use a package of corn muffin mix or your own recipe, fill muffin tins, add pieces of cut up hot dogs and bake for the instructions your mix/recipe call for. Voila!

14. Pasta salads. Veggies, pasta, meats, Italian dressing based, mayo based.. Here again, endless possibilities!

15. Potato salads. Same deal as above. Google searches are amazingly empowering things, my friends.

16. Lettuce salads. If you're packing one, put the dressing on the bottom and the lettuce and toppings over top. When it's time to eat, just shake it up. This helps keep the lettuce from getting all wilted and gross.

17. Yogurt parfaits. My kids like theirs with fruit.

18. Chicken wings. Easily done in a crockpot and refrigerated or frozen until you're ready to eat them.

19. Veggies with ranch.

20. Tuna salad. Either in sandwich form or with crackers.

21. Chicken salad, however you want to serve it.

22. Deviled eggs. I found out that those flat lunchmeat containers fit deviled eggs in perfectly and they won't move around or tip over.

23. Tortilla chips with salsa and/or guacamole and/or 7 layer salad.

24. Kebobs. Various fruit OR meat and cheese. If you don't want to send your kids to school with a sharp skewer, a thin popsicle stick would also work.

25. Pigs in a blanket. Hot dogs or smokylinks wrapped in crescent rolls or bread dough and baked.

26. Stuffed tomatoes. I like cherry tomatoes and I use a melon baller to scoop them out. Our favorite filling is bacon and cream cheese, but you can do whatever works best for your kiddo. If you're using the bacon and cream cheese, remember to mix those two things together the day before you're going to eat them, or if you're going to wait at least a day to eat the tomatoes you'll be ok. The bacon just needs about 24 hours to soften up so it doesn't slice up your mouth when you're chewing.

27. Crackers and cheese plate. Healthier and more filling than the ones you can find in stores.

28. (from a Facebook follower) Leftovers in a thermos- chili, mac and cheese, soup, pasta..

29.  Fruit quesadillas. 1/2 cup chopped, dried apricots, 1 tsp grated orange peel, 6 Tbsp orange juice, 2 cups ricotta cheese, 6 Tbsp honey (or more if you're a fan), 1 tsp coriander, 12 tortillas, 3 cups pineapple chunks, drained well... In a bowl, combine apricots, orange peel and orange juice. Set aside for 10 minutes. In a blender combine apricot mixture, ricotta, honey and coriander. Blend until it's all smooth. Spread 6 tortillas with your mixture and top with pineapple. Then, top with another tortilla. Bake at 450* for 7-9 minutes. I'm thinking there's pretty much no reason you couldn't use one tortilla and just fold it in half so it fits in a lunch box a little better. I'll be testing that soon.

30. Taco salad.

If you just can't live without a classic pb&j, maybe some sunflower butter, or other substitute, would work. However, for me, I'm thinking this list will get me started and more things will come to me in time. Or after 6 weeks, we'll just repeat this list. At this point I'm good with either way. I hope you found a few things that'll work for you. If not, you can just toss this aside with all the lists I found.

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