Pack and Go and Go and Go

It seems spring and summer activities are leading to more make ahead meals to pack and go in our family.  Lately I’ve kept my lunch tote in the kitchen as we unpack from one meal and activity and repack for the next.  The weekends of swim meets and outdoor festivals along with midweek baseball games is having me get more creative.  It’s also been kind of fun and easy as long as I plan ahead.  It helps me to think outside the box or traditional breakfast, lunch and dinner and merge them together too.  Here’s a few things that have been working for easy prep and healthy meals to avoid the snack shacks and take out menus.


1. Sandwiches and Wraps

Simple to make a customize.  Having some simple ingredients on hand means everyone’s tastes are met.   My family thinks sandwiches are more special if on some type of roll or baguette.  My vegetarian daughter is always happy with a caprese – tomatoes, mozzarella cheese and basil.  While my son is a turkey, cheese and pesto kind of guy.  My husband eats anything without cheese and I’m pleased with whatever.  This has also become a fun way for the kids to make their own sandwich and we pack them all together.  Putting out an array of bread options, condiments, spreads, cheeses and meats makes it easy for assembly.


2. Pasta Salad

At my daughter’s swim meets they sell a pretty good pesto pasta.  But for a single $5 serving, I can feed my whole family the same thing.  Not to mention that the meets often sells out of food before we’re hungry.  I was inspired and I’ve been making pesto as well as other cold pasta salads with a variety of pasta shapes, veggies, cheese and olives.  I pack the pasta in the kids’ lunchbox thermos’ and in reususable containers that we can eat out of, and only require me to bring forks.  This also cuts down on trips to the snack stand where kids are tempted by other not so healthy offerings such as candy and chips.


3. Fruit and Fruit Salad

Who doesn’t like cold fruit on a hot day?  We were particularly happy to have slices of watermelon while at an outdoor play last weekend.  And this time of year there is so much to choose from: grapes, cherries, berries, nectarines, plums, etc.


4. Veggies and Hummus

If you have time slice carrots, jicama, celery, and cucumber for quick healthy snacks to go.  If you’re short on time just buy some baby carrots, snap peas and cherry tomatoes and throw them in a container with a prepared hummus or ranch dressing on the side for dipping.  Again only napkins necessary.


4. Food on a stick

Food is always better on a stick.  Think shish kebobs and fruit sticks.  I’ve been putting a variety of items on a stick to rave reviews at my house.  Even left-overs.  How about a chicken sausage, tomato, cheese and tortellini stick.  Or a vegetarian stick of veggies, cheese and olives.  The options are dizzying.  Pack a sauce like pesto (yes, we do eat a lot of it), marinara and hummus and it’s good dipping too.


5. Pancakes and Waffles

If you’re making these on the weekend for breakfast, remember to make a double batch to have on hand for on-the-go meals.  A pancake sandwich layered with nut butter makes a simple, yummy meal.  Filling waffle wholes with nut butter, dried fruit and trail mix makes people healthy and happy too.


6. Treats and Dessert

I always know there will be some kind of sweets at sports events and activities.  I am very proud that my kids do not whine for churros, donuts and cotton candy.  That is because I plan and make ahead.  I always bring a homemade sweet that my kids (and usually their friends’) like, such as cookies, muffins, or kettle corn.  When I don’t have time to make something I offer a better option (higher quality, healthier) after.  For instance we skipped the chemical laden ice cream at the carnival and went to our favorite gelato shop after the rides and games.


7. Drinks Too

Bringing your own water and low sugar drinks also cuts down on the purchase of sugary soft drinks and chemical laden sports drinks.


Don’t forget to keep it cool.  Having ice packs ready in the freezer is helpful to keep foods safe and fresh.  As is a few small bags of ice.  (I’ve found these also work well for baseball game injuries.)




200 Easy Mexican Recipes – Cookbook Review for Cinco de Mayo


Happy Cinco de Mayo!  I received 200 Easy Mexican Recipes: Authentic Recipes From Burritos to Enchiladas by Kelly Cleary Coffeen just in time.  It’s full of a variety of mexican favorites I’m sure we’ll be making, as Mexican food is very popular at my house.  I love how with a few key ingredients you can make a wide array of Mexican favorites and it easy for me to adapt these recipes to my family’s tastes and my daughter’s vegetarian needs.

I decided to make the Chopped Mexican Salad (recipe below) and while I was glad I did, the name didn’t fit the preparation.  I was expecting a salad of chopped items all mixed together.  However the recipe calls to lay out the lettuce and layer veggies and beans on top – which I’m sure is a beautiful presentation.  Since it was a “chopped” salad I chopped the lettuce and and mixed it together.  I’m sure it’s tasty either way, but I was going for speed and ease.  In order to make it more hearty I added some grilled shrimp.   I think next I’ll try the making the homemade tortillas with my kids. Stay tuned….


Pros: Lots of easy recipes for a variety of tasty, vibrant mexican classics.  Useful recipe tips of substitutions and additions to alter recipes.  Good intro of Mexican cooking techniques, equipment, ingredients and spices.

Cons: If you like colorful photos you’ll wish there were more.  Only about a dozen.  Recipe instructions may differ from others.

Chopped Mexican Salad

Makes 4 to 6 servings

Fresh goodness and color are at the heart of this chopped salad.  A citrus marinade refreshed these chopped vegetables.  This is a wonderful vegetarian meal but can be topped with chicken or steak as well.


1/2 cup freshly squeezed lime juice

1/3 cup olive oil

1 tablespoon minced cilantro

1 teaspoon hot pepper flakes

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 tablespoons honey


6 cups chopped romaine lettuce

1 can black or pinto beans rinsed and drained

1 cup chopped, peeled jicama

1 1/2 cups fresh or frozen corn kernels, thawed

1 yellow or red pepper, seeded cored and diced

2 ripe avocados, peeled and diced

1/2 cup crumbled Cotija cheese (you could substitute feta or goat)


To make the dressing: In a small bowl, whisk together lime juice, olive oil, cilantro, hot pepper flakes, garlic and honey.

Spread lettuce evenly across a large serving platter.  Arrange beans, jicama, corn , bell peppers, and avocado sie by side on top of lettuce. Garnish with cheese. Cover and refrigerate until chilled, for at least one hour before serving.

Drizzle with dressing before serving.