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.)

 

 

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Hunger Challenge/Meatless Monday – Day 2

Today was easier than yesterday.  I knew it would be.  The kids have more of a routine, are at school and not asking about the unsmiley faces.  There’s been lots of talk and then stress at my house about what’s going to happen during the week in regards to food.  I imagine in a house where food is lacking this would always be on a child’s (and parent’s) mind too.  Wondering if you’ll be provided with enough to fill you up (physically and emotionally).

My husband ended up on a plane today for 24 hours, so we didn’t need to worry about him.  No, it was work related.  At least I don’t think  he wasn’t trying to get out of the challenge.

Breakfast was the usual for me – oatmeal with a sprinkle of granola and a half of banana.  The kids had yogurt with berries and granola and orange juice.

kids' breakfast
my oatmeal

I made my son’s lunch for school.  I had to remind him that we were not only on the challenge but it was Meatless Monday so no turkey sandwich.  He settled for sunflower butter and fruit spread plus carrots, pretzels and grapes.  My daughter and I had lunch at home after I picked her up from kindergarten.  Her wrap was avocado, cheese, and spinach.  Mine was the left-over roasted veggies from dinner with hummus, avocado and spinach.

son's lunch
daughter's wrap
my wrap

Later was snack time between school and Tae Kwon Do.  My daughter suggested smoothies which was perfect.  I plopped in about a cup of frozen pineapple, a banana, about a cup of orange juice and about 3/4 cup yogurt.  We all had some and put some in popsicle molds to freeze and eat tomorrow.

smoothie (and those pretzels again)

 

Dinner was very exciting.  My kids love fondue.  And this is a fun and easy recipe for pizza fondue (see recipe on previous blog here), which works great for Meatless Monday too.  What’s not to like – tomaoes, cheese and spices?  Plus they love to break out my fun orange fondue pot I found on Etsy.  (We serve in it only.  I don;t risk burners on the table with kids).  Although my son questioned why I was opening a can of tomatoes saying “Aren’t canned food bad?”  We usually use Pomi in a carton, but I explained about the price difference and they were still organic.

While my son was at Tae Kwon Do my daughter and I made a trip to Whole Foods for a baguette, some celery, a box of crackers, brown sugar (not my usual, but cheaper version) and a few plums ($8.46).  There were a few discussions when my daughter said “Mommy can we get this?” or “Mom we’re out of this.”  I had to remind her about the challenge, which she mistakenly (or freudian) calls “the hungry challenge”.  She’s only 5, but she’s starting to catch on…if we buy the olive bread for $4 instead of the french for $2, then we can’t buy the crackers.

Since my husband is gone I removed a few big scoops of the tomato puree to reserve for pizza sauce later in the week, and then saved on cheese too.  I also transformed the lentils from left-over Sunday night to a lentil salad (now cold with rosemary salt, vinegar and oil).  I made japanese sweet potato chips for dipping.  We also dipped the baguette, red pepper, broccoli, and celery.  My son doubted that a family on food stamps could make this since it was so good.  I said yes they could, as long as they had the time and energy and liked to cook (no orange fondue pot necessary).

cooking fondue
Dinner

 

 

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