There are plenty of meal-planning resources out there to help busy families make the most of the week's groceries and limited cooking time. Planning meals and even prepping lunches for the week can help limit food waste and remove guesswork from already hectic schedules. But sometimes (or most of the time for many of us) tomorrow is as far ahead as we can think. Minimize the stress of packing a lunch for kids and for yourself (and don't fall into the just another PB and J trap) by making sure you always have these pantry staples on hand so you can make simple, single prep meals that will keep you and kids happy.
1. Chickpeas for Lil Chickies
Hummus has near-universal appeal these days, and when making a homemade batch you can tailor it to your family's preferences. Reducing the garlic may be just the ticket, or adding a little extra lemon to keep the flavor bright and fresh might be perfect for a younger palate. Make a batch of hummus for the week and use it as the base for crunchy veggie wraps, or send a small container with carrot and celery sticks as a complement to your child's sandwich. To woo a picky eater, try tossing in some boiled beets to add brilliant red color (and shamelessly sneak in an extra veggie).
2. Go Go Tofu
When encountering cubes of squishy, under-seasoned tofu in stir-fries, even some grown ups make blech faces. Not so with this recipe for Nutritional-Yeast Breaded Tofu. Essentially the equivalent of tofu nuggets, these subtly crunchy rectangles will certainly appeal to kids of all ages. Make a big batch (you can even bake the breaded slices of tofu at 350° to skip the frying) and use a few as a base for sandwiches or wraps, a topping for grown-up salads or even pack them with a dipping sauce and a serving of our next lunchtime fave.
3. Sweet potatoes sweep lunch
We love sweet potatoes for their flavor and bright orange color. They are satisfyingly starchy, and with a high beta carotene and vitamin A content, they certainly pack a nutritional punch. Preparing a tray of Oven Baked Sweet Potato Fries is a guaranteed lunchtime win. Pack in your child's (or your own) lunchbox as an accompaniment to a sandwich, baked tofu or other leftover protein. For an adult adaptation, use the sweet potatoes as the base for a dish, as in this recipe for Sweet Potato Chickpea Buddha Bowl.
4. Noodling Around
Pasta is a simple meal to satisfy kids and parents alike. And it's easy to slip in more veggies than meet the eye. Get more greens into your picky eater with Sneaky Spaghetti Sauce, or one of our favorites, Hidden Broccoli Pesto Pasta. Since it's just as easy to boil an extra large pot of water as a normal-sized pot of water, you can easily make enough for dinner tonight and lunch tomorrow. And maybe even the day after.
5. YOLK IT UP
Fritattas are a savory, satisfying and, most importantly, portable way to eat your eggs. Make a single frittata and cut into slices (we like this method because you can cook the veggies and frittata all in one cast iron pan, making clean-up a snap) to send to school or work. For a fun, personalized feel, we also like these kid-sized Toddler Friendly Mini Frittatas. Adapt the recipes to your family's tastes. Whether packed with cheese or loaded with greens, frittata is a filling lunch, especially when paired with whole grain tortilla chips or grainy bread.
If Boston Organics currently delivers fruit to your office, ask us today about our wellness programs and learn about how employees can take advantage of our network of farm partners and convenient service at home. Make sure you always have chickpeas, tofu, sweet potatoes, pasta and eggs on hand by ordering them as recurring add-ons with your Boston Organics home deliveries.