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Thursday, August 18, 2022

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The School Lunch Makeover!

Toss the Lunchables (please, do this right now!) and put the peanut butter and jelly sandwich on hold! Our staff at Tampa Bay Parenting Magazine have been working hard to come up with some great healthy recipes to make the school lunch exciting again. We’ve selected our favorite recipe ideas using food items you can use in more than one way for more bang for your buck. Don’t let food go to waste…because…

According to the National Resources Defense Council, the average American family throws away about 25% of the foods and beverages we purchase each year!!  The number is staggering, especially when you consider how much of your hard earned money is essentially being trashed. Yikes!

FOX 13 News

Don’t throw your money away. We put together a shopping list for you to make preparation as easy as possible because we know how busy you are. We tested these recipes and can confirm they are quick, easy, healthy most importantly…delicious.

***We usually recommend you purchase organic items when you can to limit your child’s exposure to potentially harmful chemicals, but if it’s not in the budget, do not worry. We are big advocates of children eating healthy, fresh foods every day.***

 

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Shopping List:

Sprouted Grain Tortillas

Whole Wheat Pitas

Flax or Whole Wheat Crackers

Peanut Butter (or another nut butter like Almond Butter)

Rotisserie Chicken

Hummus

Apples

Avocado

Cucumber

Carrots

Grapes

Lettuce

Lime

Red Peppers and Yellow Peppers

Zucchini and Yellow Squash

Bananas

Berries

Granola

Greek Yogurt

Vanilla Yogurt

Shredded Cheddar Cheese

 

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Consider purchasing a bento box or other hard container with compartments to separate different foods. We packed sliced yellow and red peppers and fresh green beans in a two compartment container with a separate container to hold the hummus. It’s a colorful finger food presentation kids will love!

 

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The separate compartments also work great for packing granola and berries. Bring a yogurt packed inside a plastic container to mix for later. Yogurt isn’t just for breakfast! Try it as a side item for lunch or afterschool snack.

Use hummus and peanut butter as spreads on crackers or as dips for fruit and vegetable slices. We love vanilla flavored yogurt as a dip for fruit! Add a few slices of apples to the peanut butter cracker and you’ve got a quick, tasty treat! Want to eliminate bread for a snack? Try using apple slices in place of spread and spread peanut butter in between. Yum!

 

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Pita Lunch Ideas:

Pita with Peanut Butter and Banana: Cut pita in half and open. Spread peanut butter inside each half and fill with bananas. Consider packing an unpeeled banana and plastic fork or knife (if allowed at school) so your child can add fresh slices of banana at lunchtime.

Pita with Chicken, Hummus, Cheese, Peppers, avocado and sliced apples: Cut pita in half and open each side. Spread hummus inside each half and add shredded chicken, shredded cheese, sliced yellow and red peppers, avocado and thin apple slices. (Tip: Use lime juice on apple slices and avocado to prevent browning)

Pita with hummus and cucumber: Simple. Cut pita in half and open each side. Spread hummus inside each half and add sliced cucumbers for crunch.

Pita Pizza: Saute diced zucchini and yellow squash with olive oil. Spread a layer of hummus on top of pita and add sauted zucchini and squash. Quickly toast in the toaster oven for added crunch. This is a great after school snack!

 

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Tortilla Ideas:

Chicken Wrap: Spread a layer of hummus on tortilla wrap, add a few lettuce leaves, avocado slices and  sliced red and yellow peppers. (Tip: Use lime juice on avocado slices to prevent browning)

Peanut Butter and Jelly Pinwheels: Spread a layer of peanut butter (or other nut butter) on tortilla. Add jelly of choice (you probably have this in the fridge right now!) and roll up tightly. Slice into small pinwheels and place in hard lunch container to prevent squishing. If it’s coming apart, use a pretzel stick to pierce each wheel and hold together.

Yogurt Veggie Wrap: Spread a layer of unflavored greek yogurt on tortilla, add avocado, red and yellow pepper slices, cucumber slices and lettuce. This is a fresh and crunchy wrap perfect for a hot summer day! Add chicken if you want extra protein.

Chicken and Cheese Quesadillas: Sprinkle a layer of cheese and shredded chicken on tortilla and fold in half. Toast in skillet on medium heat or in toaster oven. Use unflavored greek yogurt as a dip—sour cream substitute. We love this as an after school snack so you don’t lose the crispness of the quesadilla!

Get creative with the combinations! You can’t go wrong! The above ideas are just a few of our favorites. Try to pack at least two sides of veggies like carrots and peppers for dipping. An additional side of a fruit like grapes or berries will make a great substitute for sugary foods like cookies. A cheese stick is another favorite we love to include in the lunch box.

Check out more ideas on our Pinterest page: http://www.pinterest.com/tbparenting/kids-lunches/

 

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Laura Byrne
Laura Byrne is an award-winning former television news journalist who spent 15+ years in newsrooms across the state of Florida including Sarasota, Tallahassee, Fort Myers and right here in Tampa Bay where she still freelances on occasion. She covered the political beat, crime beat and every day breaking news during her time in Florida newsrooms, but is now focused on sharing positive news stories and events with families in Tampa Bay. She is a proud mommy of two little boys who keep her on her toes and laughing every day. Her goal is to inspire families just like yours to get out and play and experience all that Tampa Bay and our great state of Florida have to offer! She encourages you to share your stories and upcoming events so we can spread the good news.

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