I think School lunches are the most difficult meals to prepare. Day in, day out, painstakingly making delicious, healthy and exciting lunch boxes to avoid, G-d Forbid, 'Lunchtime Letdown'!
Of course, there's always the mom who remembers to send a 'you're special' note wrapped around a muffin and the mom that includes a chocolate bar everyday! And then, then there's me! The the mother who stood making bagels, that could dislocate a jaw, it was so packed with meat, pickles and love, who learned only too late that her children were selling these bagels at school to buy 'sloppy Joes' at the tuckshop.
But, then of course there was my mother who insisted we use one of those mini cooler bags for our school lunches; "Durban was hot and things went off quickly"! We were scarred for life by our school mates comments. "Class going on a picnic and you doing the catering Sharon?" or "brought you travelling fridge again!" These weren't like todays funky little insulated bags that fit snugly into your school bag, they were more like the size of a carry on piece of luggage!! Needless to say to this day my mother believes somebody caught onto her idea, made them smaller and made millions.
So let's go back to what they used to swap their beautiful bagels for and how to to turn Sloppy Joe's into several lunch ideas or quick hot meals for when they get home from school starving.
If you make a large pot of ground beef mixed with deliciously flavoured tomato sauce it can be sloppy joes for dinner or lunch one day, spagetti Bolognese the next, cottage pie the next, minced meat pies the next and tacos or wraps the next. If they become a little minced out, freeze the meat in little ziploc bags and all you have to do is warm them up.
You can also order some minute steaks and give them steak sandwiches the first day, stir fry the next, beef Schnitzel or toasted steak the next. Chicken breast can be sent grilled or turned into schnitzel or chicken fried in a fat free pan and served in a roll or over a salad or in a stir fry.
When you think about the varieties of breads available for sandwiches your kids will never be bored. Whether it's traditional white, brown or rye bread, rolls, bagels, wraps, bagels or pita, each day can be more exciting then the next.
Here are some quick easy ideas to avoid lunchtime letdown with sandwiches:
- Thinly sliced cold cuts of meat with pickles, mustard and all that jazz!
- Sliced rare roast with horseradish sauce and mustard
- Biltong bagel/roll (my favourite)
- For those who are watching their carbs, wrap the cold meat around a pickled cucumber, a few sticks of celery or carrots.
- Chicken Mayonnaise, with chopped pickled cucumber.
- Thin Chicken schnitzel with a layer of mixed mayonnaise and hot sauce.
- Cream cheese and salmon bagel
- Chopped boiled egg mixed with a little mayonnaise and fried onion.
- Grated firm cheese and tomato
- Tuna mayonnaise
- Roasted vegetables and avocado dip with humus
- Chocolate spread or savoury sandwich spread
- Of course, there's always the compulsory peanut butter and jelly sandwich which my children had to have daily - almost like a security blanket! Whether it came home or not it always had to be there!
Here are a few of my favorite back to school recipes you can pack for your kids this year or yourselves :)
Playground Crunchies Cereal Bars