I’ve been trying to fight a nasty cold that has been getting the better of me for the past four days. I pretty much never call in sick, especially not for a class of seniors preparing for a portfolio review this Saturday. However, I did use my misery as an excuse to skip out of my office hours today and to come home and prepare myself a proper lunch. You have to feed a cold, don’t you?
Luckily, I have a fridge full of leftovers from our Mother’s Day feast of Hawaiian-style tacos with pulled pork, coconut rice, and pineapple slaw. For my lunch, I sauteéd up a mess of kale, rice, pork and pineapple chunks in coconut milk combined with glorious pork roasting juices. I squeezed on a ton of Sriracha in a futile effort to open up my nasal passages.
The kids’ lunches were cobbled together in a hurry this morning: jam and butter on bread, a fruit salad with strawberries, pineapple and apricots, and a baggie of Goldfish.
Due to the insanity that is life, I haven’t been posting lunches lately. However, I have been making lunches and the kiddos have been helping—not everyday, but I’ll take what I can get. One of my goals this year is the get the kids more involved with meal prep and clean up. I’ve put them in charge of cleaning out their lunch boxes after school, which is a little thing but a big help to me. When I get home from work and am scrambling to make dinner, I don’t have to worry about washing the lunch boxes to clear some counter space. Here are some recent lunches the kids have helped make:
I love breakfast and could eat breakfasty things all day. Last night, it was just the kids and I for dinner, so we indulged and had french toast with warm berry sauce, maple syrup, whipped cream and a side of Canadian bacon. Lunch was easy: a few slices of french toast with a little container of maple syrup and some fruit, veggies, and Goldfish, of course. Lily picked out a fancy marshmallow for her treat and Iain had a couple of chocolate covered almonds. This was the last lunch of the week, as the kids have an extra long weekend coming up (teacher’s development day and MLK holiday on Monday). Lucky them.
We’re getting through the first week on the new year and surviving being back in the school/work routine. I’ve been mixing it up with the lunches this week: lots of variety. On Tuesday, it was pizza bread, Wednesday was loaded with fruit, and Thursday’s lunch has quesadillas because the kids like quesadillas and, we’re out of bread.
And just like that, winter break is over, school is in session and it’s 2016. Happy New Year! As is typical for me at the start of a new year, I’m filled with optimism about organizing, cooking, eating healthy, exercising, and basically getting back on track after the long stretch of holiday gluttony that pretty much starts on Halloween and ends on New Year’s Day. Over the weekend, I went to Costco and spent most of Sunday cooking like crazy and organizing my freezer. I marinated a big pile of chicken thighs and then grilled them—I sliced up the leftovers and portioned them out into little freezer bags, because grilled chicken is a great addition to salads, noodles, sandwiches and such.
I also saved a little grilled chicken for the kids’ lunches today. They both ate every last bite, so this was a major lunchbox success. Of course, as I made these lunches, I took a moment to admire them and mentioned to my husband that I wish our lunches looked this good. Better grownup lunches: now there’s a challenge for 2016.
My Favorite Chicken Marinade, no measuring required
Combine all ingredients in a gallon-sized freezer bag. Exact proportions are not important: I never measure for this marinade and it always turns out. Throw your chicken (I typically use boneless chicken thighs) in the bag, seal it, and squish the bag a bunch to rub the marinade into the chicken. Marinate the meat for several hours or all day long. This marinade is extremely versatile. You can change the flavor profile by adding different spices such as curry, chili powder, ginger, smoked paprika, etc. It works great with just salt and pepper, but the Montreal Steak Seasoning is especially good. I have a big jar of this stuff because it’s a fantastic rub for anything you want to throw on the grill.
Lunch on Wednesday was a little on the sweet side with rice cakes spread with peanut butter and Nutella. Seriously, how yummy does that look? Nothing fancies up a simple salted brown rice cake like a little Nutella. And every one in awhile, when I don’t make it to the farmers market and we get low on fruit, I forget that we have orange trees right outside. Craziness. Look at how juicy those fresh-picked oranges are? Even though they’re messy, the kids love juicy orange slices in their lunches.
Today’s lunch is more on the savory side with little chicken, rice and veggie roll-ups made with some leftover Thai food. I’ll put anything in a tortilla. And, yes, those are Cheetos, which I bought in a moment of weakness when shopping with Iain.
After several days of manic cooking followed by several more days of decadent consumption, we are getting back into a normal eating routine (along with an increased exercise schedule for the grown-ups). Monday’s lunch did have a touch of the holiday with some shredded smoked duck. I decided to order a smoked duck from Nueske’s to have with the Thanksgiving turkey, because: why not? Naturally, I decided to order the duck at the last minute and it actually arrived on Friday, which was perfect because we had tons of leftover side dishes ready to go. And, BTW, smoked duck from Nueske’s is delicious!
Today’s lunch was a classic, quick throw-together of the world’s easiest sandwich (peanut butter, Nutella and jam) plus some fruit and stuff out of the cupboard (pretzel fish and Trader Joe’s fig bites).
Today’s lunch has not one, but two pumpkin treats: pumpkin pancakes filled with Nutella and peanut butter and mini pumpkin muffins. I guess I was in a pumpkin mood yesterday. I also included a little tangerine, Pink Lady apple, tomatoes and some parmesan Goldfish in this lunch. Isn’t it pretty?
On Monday I made a big pot of chili. Some of that chili went into these tortillas, along with some shredded cheese, to make delicious chili quesadillas. For veggies, I sliced up some sweet farmers market carrots and red bell peppers. I also include a few parmesan Goldfish and two small slices of pumpkin bread.
Today’s lunch features leftover veggie burgers re-packaged as veggie quesadillas. The kids can’t quite eat a whole veggie burger and half a veggie burger isn’t quite enough, so that leaves little quarter chunks of veggie burgers on their plates. And since I hate waste, I mash up those little veggie burger pieces and stuff them in quesadillas for lunch. Quick, easy and yummy!
Lately, I’ve been trying to get the kids more involved in packing their lunches. They’re not really helping with prep so much as giving me ideas for what they want to eat. Yesterday it was a quesadilla with Goldfish, baby carrots, and fresh pineapple.
Today, it’s a little leftover miso chicken from last night’s dinner with cheese, wheat crackers, apple slices and pineapple.