I pack a lot of lunches. Luckily, as a college professor, my academic schedule is similar to my kids’ school year. That means I pretty much get to take the summer off from lunch packing. This could be one of the reasons that I’m pretty motivated to make good lunches; I get that much needed break in the summer. When I’m teaching, I often have very little time for lunch. Sometimes I eat during my office hours and sometimes I have a weird schedule like this quarter, in which I have a class that meets from 11:00 in the morning until 2:00pm (it’s a terrible class time). When I’m on campus, I pretty much always have to bring my lunch to work. Some days, I have no energy for making myself a fancy lunch once I’ve finished cobbling together a family dinner, cleaning the kitchen and making lunches for the kids. BUT, occasionally I can muster the will to pack myself a lovely sandwich—and, oh, how I love a lovely sandwich. I would be so excited to have a job in which all I did was come up with interesting sandwich combinations. Look at the gorgeous sandwich I made for my lunch today: it’s got cilantro microgreens that I discovered at the farmers market over the weekend, avocado sprinkled with chile limón seasoning, cheese, and thinly sliced grilled pork loin on sprouted wheat bread with mayo and brown mustard. I can’t wait to eat it today!
The kids are now counting the days until the end of school. They’re so ready for this year to be over. They don’t even bother making suggestions for their lunches. “What do you feel like having for lunch tomorrow?” “Uh, I dunno.” “How about a sandwich?” “Uh, we’ve been having kind of a lot of sandwiches lately?” It’s come to this: the kids have lost interest in lunch. Three more weeks of school left: we’ll just have to power through.
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:
Today’s lunch features, not one, but two salads of awesomeness. Several weeks ago, I made a veggie-laden tuna salad of awesomeness. This week, I got a hankering for a tuna panini dinner, and, hence, the leftover tuna in today’s sandwiches. This tuna salad has finely chopped red cabbage, carrots, and fennel; I also added some smoked herring just to kick it up to the stratosphere of awesomeness. It may sound strange, but my kids actually love oily little fish. They eat sardines straight out of the tin. No lie. As a result, I often add either herring or sardines to tuna salad. Mmm, good. The fruit salad of awesomeness has pretty pomegranate seeds, grapes, cantaloupe and plum. I threw in a few pretzel slims, because I love a little crunch with my sandwich.
It’s the end of the first full week of school. A milestone, indeed. Friday’s main lunch item is egg salad on whole wheat sandwich thins. Mmm, do I love a good egg salad. There’s a tiny bit left over for my lunch today.
You’ll notice a lot of sandwich thins in my lunches. These are a fabulous food invention. I find that sandwich thins provide a more appropriate portion for small children than thick slices of bread, unless the bread loaf is pretty small. Iain’s has red leaf lettuce from our garden; Lily still prefers hers without lettuce, I’m sorry to say. Lunch sides are sugar snap peas (farmers market), two small slices of aged cheddar, strawberries and grapes (also farmers market). It looks like one of those crazy candy coated chocolate sunflower seeds in trying to escape from the treat compartment.
*Lunch tip: I boiled four eggs on Monday, anticipating that I could get two lunches for two kids (i.e., four lunches) out of this. Actually, that’s not true. I boiled four eggs, because I had four eggs in the fridge. Whenever possible, prepare things that require cooking or longer prep in bulk (well, mini-bulk; we’re talking kid lunches here) to save time later in the week.
When it’s hot outside, my kids do not eat as much food for lunch. I don’t blame them. Since it has been hot all week, I’ve been including lots of fruit in the lunches. Today’s lunch is fruit heavy: strawberries, those insanely delicious green plums, and red flame grapes (all from the farmers market). Half a tuna salad sandwich (tuna salad leftover from Tuesday’s lunch) and sweet + salty trail mix (Quaker Oat Squares, Life cereal, and pretzel Goldfish) round out the lunch. The treat consists of two dark chocolate mints (Trader Joe’s), because, well, who doesn’t like a dark chocolate mint after lunch?
Mmm, tuna. Today we have tuna salad (heavy on the dill pickles) on whole wheat bread, edamame, carrot slices (farmers market), sliced plums and kiwi, and one cocoa goldfish and a chocolate shell for a treat.