5 ‘wicked awesome’ lunchbox ideas

I know moms/dads everywhere make kitchen discoveries; we have mini light bulb ‘a-ha!’ moments as we figure out how to make things work… better. Each little ‘helpful hint’ isn’t worth shouting about… but maybe here and there a list proves useful to another parent-making-lunches. Little dots of wisdom that speckle our kitchens—that aid our lunch-making feat—and make our lives run just a bit smoother and smarter.

Here are a few of my recent, useful, [and in the words of my junior high son ‘wicked awesome’] mini light bulb moments:

1. peanut butter. I now buy the ‘more authentic’ kind of peanut butter (no sugar!), which means once opened it goes in the fridge. It also means the oil floats and top and doesn’t want to mix in. My solution: stir it the first time, then store in your fridge upside-down. It keeps the oil right where I want it—at the ‘bottom.’

2. limey apples. Apples go brown and kiddos don’t always love browned fruit. My boys love it when I cut up the apples then add some squirts of fresh lime juice in the bag before closing it. Keeps the apples from browning AND adds a nice citrus note!

3. keep it cold. Need to keep your son’s or daughter’s lunch contents chilled until high noon? Keep a few lunch-juice boxes in the freezer, then toss them in their lunch in the morning. The food will stay in the proper anti-bacteria temperature zone AND your kiddos get a slushied juice for lunch!

4. don’t forget the microwave. A lot of school cafeteria’s now provide microwaves to heat up lunch items. Here are a few quick reminders to warm your child’s belly: chili, tortellini with peas & bacon, nacho chips (tortilla chips, shredded cheese), rice with beans/chicken curry/butter chicken.

5. raw vegetable chips. Just because they are vegetables doesn’t mean they always have to appear in stick form—chop it up differently next time. Instead of cutting carrots into sticks or apples into ‘standard wedges,’ cut it up ‘all wrong.’ I sometimes cut carrots in really thin rounds-on-the-angle and make ‘carrot chips.’ (Here is a great recipe for cooked carrot chips—roasted for a perfect dinner side dish). Just today I stood a pear upright on the table and slices 1/4 inch ‘chips’ from top to bottom.

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