School Lunch Ideas #5: Chicken Salad and Flatbread Crackers

School Lunch Ideas: Chicken Salad with flatbread crackers from ChefsKid.com

School Lunch Ideas: Chicken Salad with flatbread crackers from ChefsKid.com

This one is another great way to use leftover (organic, free-range) chicken.  Actually, in our case, I cook up more chicken than I need for dinner, just so I have some cooked and ready for lunches.  I’m not sure I’d call it leftover, or make-ahead.  Anyhoo.  You can also see in the fruit container that I’ve used a variety of fruits here… another way to use up the last of the fruit.  Oh, and I always quarter the grapes and strawberries so that more of them fit in the container.

The chicken salad is ridiculously easy to make.  Put cooked chicken in a food processor and pulse until it’s almost ground.  (Or you could just mince it with a knife. Less to clean this way, really.)  Transfer the chicken to a small or medium mixing bowl.  Add your mayonnaise of choice, and pickle relish of choice (homemade dill pickles diced into relish are awesome in this) by the spoonful, stirring until you get a consistency that you like.  You can also season it with salt, pepper, or any number of your favorites.  And that’s it.  Not even worth a recipe really.   The food-processor made chicken salad turns out more like a paste – which Kid loves… if it’s chunky, he says it’s too chewy and won’t eat it.  He prefers it as close to ground as possible.  Of course you can vary the texture for your kids in the chopping process as needed.  And I sometimes make it chunkier just to have him try the same flavors in a new way in hopes of expanding his palate.

I serve it with these rosemary flatbread crackers that we all love (thank goodness!) and string cheese and he’s in heaven.  Pack a spreader, along with a fruit and veggie juice blend drink, and that’s lunch.  (The applesauce is for snack)

 

 

School Lunch Ideas #4: Chicken Fried Rice

Chicken Fried Rice from ChefsKid.com

Chicken Fried Rice from ChefsKid.com

This is one of the VERY few leftovers that Kid will eat the next day for lunch.  The prizewinning factors are the crispy rice noodles that go with it.  If you have not tried the canned version (I grew up on the kind in the bag), they will change your life!  Ok, probably not, but they are a lot fresher-tasting and crunchier.  And, unlike the bagged kind, these don’t seem to last long enough to get stale.

My best suggestion to you for this one is to use the take-out version that your child already loves.  I did make mine homemade (because Kid won’t eat eggs), and here’s what I did:

I microwaved a pouch of Uncle Ben’s Ready Rice – brown rice.

Meanwhile, I diced and heated up some leftover chicken (about a cup?) along with a couple of handfuls of organic frozen veggies that he likes (corn, carrots & peas) in a skillet, along with some fried rice seasoning and soy sauce to taste.  You can add chicken broth by the spoonful if you need more moisture to get the seasonings mixed in well, but for me, the water released from the frozen veggies was enough.  Plus, I probably added more soy sauce than you need because we like things salty.

Finally, I emptied the rice into the skillet and tossed it well so everything got the good flavors.

That was the dinner the night before.  (There’s just the two of us most nights, so there’s just enough leftovers for his lunch.  If you’re family’s bigger, you’ll have to increase the quantities accordingly.)  One thing I do love about this dish is that the fried rice seasoning and soy sauce disguise the taste and color of brown rice.  It’s honestly about the only way Kid will eat brown rice.

I serve it with crispy rice noodles (mentioned above) and Mandarin oranges because he loves them.  If fresh organic clementines / cuties / tangerines / or other small oranges are not in season, I use canned.  But I get my canned oranges from Trader Joe’s because theirs are a product of Spain, and the cans are bigger.

To pack it for lunch, I have a microwavable food jar from Thermos that holds the heat well.  If I heat it up for about a minute before packing it, it will be ready-to-eat-warm (warmer than room temperature, but not at all hot) by the time he sits down to lunch 4 hours later.

 

 

School Lunch Ideas #3: Bagels with Cream Cheese & Jelly

Bagels with Laughing Cow and No-Sugar Jelly from ChefsKid.com

Bagels with Laughing Cow and No-Sugar Jelly from ChefsKid.com

This one is a twist on bagels and cream cheese because we are using Laughing Cow light spreadable swiss cheese.  We like it a little better because the hint of tang from the Swiss (there’s really not much at all compared to Swiss slices, for example) is just enough to go well with the sweet from the preserves.  As with all jelly choices, we try to buy the no-sugar-added, organic preserves rather than the preservative and sugar-laden alternatives.

The trick here is to keep the bagels tight in the container so they don’t slip around.  You could alternatively send the jelly in a little covered container along with a spreader so they can add the jelly at the table.

I sent him with some organic strawberries and whole-wheat Goldfish crackers and some VFusion by V8.

 

School Lunch Ideas #2: Fruit Kabobs

Fruit Kabobs from ChefsKid.com

Fruit Kabobs from ChefsKid.com

My Kid loves fruit.  Won’t eat a vegetable to save his life, but luckily, he loves a variety fruits.  Which means we buy a variety of fruits each week.  Play the hand you’re dealt, I say!  It also means by the end of the week, we have lots of random fruit pieces left… and usually not enough of any one type to fill a lunch container.  These fruit kabobs are the perfect way to use up those last bits of fruit.

In this case, I had enough to make 5 fruit kabobs.  I varied the pattern a bit for visual interest.  Strange But True Side Note:  one thing I’ve noticed is that my guy doesn’t like to eat a lot of the same thing… even things he likes.  So having different shapes of the same thing helps him alot!   I have one of those Pop Chef fruit popper thingies (to make your own Edible Arrangements) and it does work pretty slick to make the shapes quickly, but small cookie cutters would work fine, too… as would a paring knife. 😉

Slide the fruit pieces onto a popsicle stick or other small skewer (about 3″ – 4″ long) to make each kabob and that’s it!  If your stick has a sharp end you can either cover it with a grape, or simply cut it blunt with a kitchen shears.

These fruit kabobs are also the perfect way to add a little something fresh to our pre-packaged weak moments. (Or in our case, Special Occasion moments.)

Fruit kabobs with lunchables from ChefsKid.com

Fruit kabobs with lunchables from ChefsKid.com

 

 

 

School Lunch Ideas for Kids #1: Hungry Caterpillar Sandwich

Hungry Caterpillar Sandwich by Chefskid.com

Hungry Caterpillar Sandwich by Chefskid.com

With a new school year comes new school lunches.  Being a picky eater means that Kid won’t eat the cafeteria food.  He also won’t eat the same thing two days in a row, or even twice in the same week!  So, if I’m going to serve the same-old, same-old, I have to make it super cute or interesting in some way.

The Hungry Caterpillar Sandwich was one of his favorites.  Luckily, he’s an artist, so he appreciated the artistry involved.  The trick to keeping it looking cute all the way to school – even through a long bus ride, and surviving the big bin where they all throw their lunch boxes when they enter the classroom – is to use a shallow container (we use Sistema Klip-it) and add extra items to keep it in place… in this case – grapes.  Doing this meant he still had this cute little guy at the lunch table instead of a scattered mess-in-a-box.

School Lunch Ideas for Kids: Hungry Caterpillar Sandwich

Rating: 51

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Total Time: 15 minutes

Yield: 1 sandwich

Serving Size: 1 sandwich

Ingredients

  • 2 slices whole wheat bread
  • 1-2 slices bologna - all beef or all turkey, nitrate-free if possible
  • 1-2 slices low-fat mozzarella cheese slices
  • 4 dill pickle slices - kosher
  • SMART butter with olive or canola oil - to 'glue' the pieces together
  • 1 baby carrot - cut into matchsticks - for legs and antenna
  • 1 cherry tomato for head
  • 2 black-eyed peas (uncooked) for eyes
  • 1 leaf bib lettuce for garnish
  • 1 skewer to hold it all together

Instructions

  1. To make the body:
  2. Using a 2-inch biscuit cutter, cut the bread slices to get 8 rounds. Cut bologna and cheese into 4 rounds each using the same cutter. Layer bread, pickle, cheese, bologna, and bread, buttering the insides of the bread only, until you have 4 little sandwich stacks. Slide the skewer through the centers of each sandwich to resemble the photo and set aside.
  3. To make the head:
  4. With a sharp knife, make two small slits in the top of the tomato and insert a carrot matchstick into each slit. Make two more slits to the 'front' where you want the 'eyes' to go and press a dry black-eyed pea into each slit to make the eyes. Cut a small smile from the bologna scraps and 'glue' it onto the tomato with the butter.
  5. Put it all together:
  6. Place a lettuce leaf on the bottom of a shallow sandwich container (we use Sistema's Klik-it system). Lay the sandwich skewer on the lettuce leaf carefully. Add carrot matchsticks for legs. Add the head to cover the sharp end of the skewer. Add grapes to help fill the container - which helps keep it in place - secure the lid and you're good to go!
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