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By Kim Humphrey
Posted Jun 24, 2020
Posted Jun 24, 2020
The transition from "the school year" to "summer fun" looks a lot different this year; meaning, there's not much of one! But one transition I'd definitely like to make is having my kids take over making their own lunches. Happy summer to me!
While our kids were responsible for packing their own lunches for school, with school and activities canceled, my hubby and I fell into the routine of preparing lunch for them at home. But with school officially out for summer, it's time for these kids to start pulling their weight around here!
If you're feeling the same, check out this round up of kid-friendly, easy-to-prepare lunches we've put together that will put your kids on their way to lunch self-sufficiency.
We love this pizza recipe from Pint-Sized Treasures that uses a tortilla for the crust - something we're much more likely to have 'in stock' at home versus ready-to-bake pizza crusts. Kids simply slather on some sauce of their choosing (if you don't have pizza sauce in, kids can use jarred pasta sauce like marinara, alfredo, or pesto, or even no sauce at all!), top with mozzarella cheese and their favorite toppings and pop in the oven. Tip: Up the health factor by purchasing some ready-to-bake cauliflower pizza crusts.
Making sushi at home may seem daunting, but it's actually pretty simple and very fun for even kids to make themselves. However, we do recommend investing in sushi rolling mats for them to use to roll up their sushi. They are inexpensive and much easier to use than at-home hacks like tea towels. The Gingered Whisk has a very easy to follow Vegetable Sushi for Kids recipe that even includes handy age guidelines. Older elementary aged kids should be able to handle all steps independently - from cooking the rice to chopping the veggies to rolling and slicing the sushi rolls - while younger kids may need the ingredients prepped for them and need help slicing their final product. The beauty of sushi is that it can be totally customized to kids' tastes and preferences. Let their imaginations and taste buds run wild to come up with all sorts of different versions!
Sandwiches are the obvious go-to for an easy-to-make lunch, but my kids are 'so over' sandwiches. However, sometimes just tweaking the recipe and presentation a bit is enough to get kids excited about an otherwise tired option. Enter Sandwich Pinwheels! The great thing about these is that you can use so many different 'bases' for your rolls - tortillas, different 'flavored' wraps, and even different kinds of bread - and use a variety of fillings to create unique combinations. Check out these 5 Pinwheel Sandwiches for Lunch Boxes from The Pioneer Woman for some creative ideas. Pickier kiddos can stick to deli meats and cheeses, while the more adventuresome can try out more inventive combinations of proteins, veggies and spreads.
Everything tastes better dipped in cheese, am I right?! Have the sibs collab on dipper ideas - meats, breads, veggies, fruit; this kid-friendly Food Network recipe suggests some fun options like tater tots and pretzel crisps. While it may sound fancy, the fondue is super easy for the kids to make on their own by simply whisking together a handful of ingredients on the stove top. You do not need a fondue pot to make this, but may have to gently rewarm on the stove if the cheese starts to congeal as it cools. Do make sure you purchase a block of cheese for the kids to grate versus using pre-shredded cheese. Pre-shredded cheese almost always contain extra starch to prevent it from clumping in the package, which will affect the melting process and texture of the fondue.
Mini Lasagna Cups
Pasta is a perennial kid fave and these mini lasagna cups could not be easier to make. This recipe from Damn Delicious uses won ton wrappers as the base but you could sub in pre-cooked lasagna noodles if preferred. Scoop in some marinara sauce, ricotta and mozzarella cheese, and (optional) browned Italian sausage and plop in the oven, and lunch is served! You'll be hard pressed to find anything easier or quicker for a self-service meal for the kiddos.
Copycat Chick-fil-A Nuggets
Sure, it would be easiest to just buy some store-bought nuggets for the kids to stick in the oven, but what's the fun in that? By now, you have probably heard about the magic ingredient to a spot-on copycat Chick-Fil-A nugget recipe: pickle juice! I know, weird, right? Believe it or not, these copycat nuggets are pretty simple to make, but best suited for slightly older kids since frying is involved (or, search for a recipe that calls for baking or for the air fryer, if you own one). My 10-year-old daughter can make these on her own now, but did require assistance her first time through.
Tacos are a tried and true fave of all three of my kids. The quickest and easiest version (doable for even young elementary age kids) is to simply use a packet of store-bought taco seasoning (a staple in our pantry) paired with ground beef. Older kids can graduate to this Simple Beef Tacos recipe from Super Healthy Kids for a slightly more sophisticated version that uses diced onion, garlic, salsa verde and cumin to sate the beef. For younger ones who aren't quite ready to use the stove top to brown meat, consider making up some filling in advance so they can simply heat in the microwave.
I love smoothies both because of the convenience and the fact that I can sneak in some veggies! One of the smartest investments we ever made was in a high-quality blender with a single serve cup. We keep a variety of frozen fruit on hand (and fresh spinach and kale!), which makes it so easy for our kids to throw their favorite ingredients in a cup at any time and blend up a smoothie just for them - and without the hassle of having to use and clean the big blender. Check out these ten smoothie recipes for kids from Delish for some recipe ideas.
Cheesy Hot Dogs in a Blanket
While even my 18-year-old is prone to simply throw a hot dog in the microwave and plop it in a slice of bread to eat, I'd like to suggest a slightly more sophisticated (and definitely tastier!) alternative. All you need are hot dogs, cheese and refrigerated crescent dinner rolls for this recipe, which is easy for even little kids to assemble on their own. Crescent roll dough is also a great base for making all sorts of other kid-friendly eats.
Mini Crustless Quiche
These are so delicious, easy to make and can be customized with whatever fillings your kids prefer. While this recipe calls for sauteing the veggies, these mini quiches could also easily be made with ingredients that don't require that extra step, like ham and cheese or even just cheese! All kids need to do is whisk together eggs and cream, stir in their desired fillings, transfer to a greased muffin pan and bake. Easy peasy.
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