Lunchtime at home can be very exciting—you have a world of options at your fingertips, from open-faced broiled sandwiches to stovetop pastas and soups. But making mouth-watering, portable meals for school or work can be more challenging. Break up the usual routine with crunchy sandwiches and other ideas that I suggest in this section. You also want to make sure that you make healthy lunches that travel well.
Follow these guidelines to maintain a healthy lunchbox:
- Clean up with moist-wipes. Pre-moistened wipes can clean messy hands gently, before and after eating. Kids can keep a box in a desk or locker. You can also buy them in individual packets.
- Wash your lunchbox. Bacteria can grow anywhere, so clean lunch boxes or bags out regularly.
- Jump-start your thermos. Get the thermos up to temperature by prefilling with iced or boiling water. Food stays the proper temperature longer, making it tastier and safer to eat. Remember to keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold to avoid food-borne illnesses.
- Pack juicy ice-boxes. Freeze individual juice containers and then pack them with sandwiches to keep them cold as the juice boxes thaw.
To save your family lots of time, form a lunch-pool with four other families. On one day of the week, one family makes lunch for all. Most people find it easier to make five of the same lunches one day per week than to make five different ones every morning. A lunch pool also adds variety—just make sure you all share similar tastes in food!
Tasty Tips for Better Brown-Bags
- Brighten an otherwise ordinary day by turning your brown-bag into a mail bag. Pack a personal note, picture, cartoon, or joke, and add variety to lunch with special treats like these:
- Add crunch for lunch. Mix up an unusual variety of chips in plastic bags—try tasty bean chips, vegetable chips, and bagel chips. Add nuts or sunflower seeds to salads, soups, and even sandwiches for crunch appeal. Try toasted, spiced pecans instead of potato chips.
- Get your five-a-day. Pack fresh relishes and salsas. Try grilled corn and diced red and green peppers; black olives, tomatoes and grated cheese; or red onion, oranges, and cilantro. Pack some hummus dip and celery sticks, grate vegetables into a salad, or roll raw veggies in lime juice and mild chili powder. Be inventive!
- Stop the sog. Bag moist vegetables, such as tomatoes, separately for adding to a sandwich, and pack individual condiment packets (ketchup, salsa, mustard, and so on) like those found in fast-food outlets. The result?—no more mushy bread.
- Cook silly pasta salads. Specialty and gourmet shops now carry all sorts of fun pasta shapes—basketballs, sailboats, and Christmas trees. Make pasta salads using these silly shapes—everyone will love them.
- Make cookie cutter sandwiches. Use cookie cutters to cut bread slices into fanciful shapes—bats and cats for Halloween, bunnies for Easter, or stars any time of year. Pack a few extra to share with friends, too!
Chapter 17: Breakfasts, Brown-Bags, & Breads
© 1999 by Kate Heyhoe.
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