My awesome nephew Chris. No, I’m not advocating giant donuts as a lunch option, but if Nate had his way…
Here’s the thing: if I just send my son to school with lunch money, he will invariably fill up on tiny (expensive) pepperoni pizzas and Doritos. The $20 I sent at the beginning of the week lasts little more than Lindsey Lohan’s current sobriety experiment.
The result: he comes home from school, it’s like he’s recovering from life in a war-torn, famine-inflicted country. He can’t shovel it in fast enough. My kitchen looks like it’s been raided by a pack of starving wolves.Cheese wrappers have been ripped off and dropped with the wild abandon of an extreme couponer on double punch day. Cereal that’s meant for breakfast has been devoured as if by emaciated pirates, leaving nothing but a sad empty shell of a box…a mere shadow of what could have been. Either Nate didn’t get enough lunch, or the Incredible Hulk has been through my kitchen.
Meanwhile, my fridge is empty … and so is my heart.
My solution? Send a sack lunch with him that is both filling and nutritious. It’s easier on the wallet and kinder to my pantry. This can be tricky, though, since Mancub is a bit picky and has acquired a taste for food additives and artificial coloring. It can’t be just a PB&J, and sandwiches get old fast.
The best lunches are a combination of proteins, carbs, and fruits and vegetables.
1. Lunch meat rollups. Take
his favorite lunch meat and cheese. Get a large tortilla and spread some onion and chive cream cheese on the tortilla then lay the ham (0r turkey) and his favorite cheese down. Next, put some lettuce and any other shredded vegetables you want to try to sneak in. After that, I put a bit of ranch dressing on it and roll it up like a burrito. These are super popular…sometimes they don’t make it to the lunch table. For Nate, who is 15 and 6′ 4″, I pack two of them as the center of the meal.
2. A giant vegetable salad. Don’t laugh! Depending on your teen’s favorites, this can go a long way to your two goals: filling him up and slowing him down. Of course, pack in dark romaine lettuces and maybe some leftover chicken (or even a package of tuna or a sliced boiled egg–some kind of protein is crucial) from last night’s dinner.
Some vegetables (like shredded carrots, cherry tomatoes and sliced cucumbers) do fine on top, but if all you have in the fridge is sliced tomatoes, you will want to go ahead and pack that in a separate baggie. In another baggie, you can put croutons, bacon bits, cheese, that sort of thing. He can assemble it himself and put the dressing on at the last minute. Hidden Valley Ranch makes single-serve dressings perfect for lunches.
3. A cold pasta salad. Boil up whatever noodles you have–macaroni is fine. Then, add a bit of olive oil or Italian dressing, parmesan cheese, chopped chicken, black or green olives, green peppers, tomatoes–whatever you have. It’s really good, and won’t go bad if it’s not cold.
4. High protein Greek Gogurts–you can’t go wrong with these! I freeze the Gogurt and it’s thawed by lunchtime. PLUS it helps keep the other food cold.
5. Sliced fruit (apples, pears, etc). For some reason, if it’s sliced, it has a better chance of being eaten. Of course it goes without saying that bananas should be avoided unless you want everything to taste like banana.
6. Some kind of protein: peanut butter/almond butter singles (perfect with the apples) or sliced cheese. It doesn’t have to be paired with crackers–you can use a roll or cinnamon toast.
7. A vegetable-juice blend. I also freeze these, and it’s a sneaky way to add to his veggies and he’s usually so thirsty he drinks everything.
Good luck with trying these ideas! Let me know how it goes!
JOIN THE CONVERSATION: What do you pack for your Mancub or Water Girl’s school lunch?