Lunch Tips for School Days

By Tawra Kellam

It’s that wonderful time of year that lightens your heart and fills your soul with peace & tranquility. No, I’m not talking about Christmas! I’m talking about school starting!! Yes! Yes! Yes!  It’s a bitter sweet time for most moms. Bitter because you’re back to hectic mornings, finding everyone’s books and papers and trying to get them out of the door on time… because you now have 180 lunches to make over the next 9 months if you have 1 child and 720 if you have 4 — But hey, who’s counting?

It is sweet because the peaceful quietness that penetrates the house is like gentle music to your ears and you can take a lovely relaxing bubble bath without what sounds like the whole US army trying to break down the bathroom door.  Well, now that I think about it I’ve not known many moms that had the luxury of a bubble bath in the middle of the day but I can dream can’t I? I can’t help you find time for that bubble bath but maybe I can help you with those 720 lunches.  Here are a few lunch and snack ideas from "Not Just Beans: 50 Years of Frugal Family Favorites" that will satisfy even the pickiest of eaters.

*To keep drinks cold in lunch boxes, pour a small amount in the bottom of the container (not glass) and then set the cap loosely on top. Put it in the freezer overnight. The next day fill with the rest of the drink. The ice should slowly melt all day long, keeping the beverage cool. 

*Save the catsup and mustard packets and napkins you don’t use from the fast food restaurants. Use them in lunch boxes.

*Puddings – sprinkle with marshmallows, coconut, nuts, chocolate chips, butterscotch chips or peanut butter chips (for chocolate pudding) or berries (in vanilla pudding)

*Banana, pumpkin or zucchini bread

*Tuna, egg or chicken salad sandwich

*Tuna salad and crackers

*Sandwiches made from last night’s dinner meat (ie. roast beef, chicken ,turkey)

*Pickles

*Ants on a log-celery with peanut butter inside and raisins on the peanut butter

*Carrot sticks, celery sticks or radishes with Ranch dressing

*Homemade granola bars

Granola Bars
1 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter or margarine, softened
2 Tbsp. honey
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1 egg
1 cup flour
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1 1/2 cups rolled oats
1 1/4 cups crispy rice cereal
1/2 cup wheat germ (optional)
1 cup chocolate chips*

In a large bowl, cream sugars and butter until fluffy.  Add honey, vanilla and egg.  Mix well.  Blend in flour, cinnamon, baking soda and salt.  Stir in remaining ingredients.  Press firmly into the bottom of a greased 9×13 pan.  Bake at 350  for 20-25 minutes. To microwave: Press ingredients into a microwave safe dish. Microwave on medium power for 7-9 minutes. Rotate dish every three minutes.  Bars will firm as they stand.  Cool and cut into bars. Save the crumbs for yogurt or ice cream topping. Makes 24 bars 

*The following may be used in addition to or to replace chocolate chips 
 1 cup coconut
 1/2 cup creamy or chunky peanut butter
 1/2 cup nuts
 1/2-1 cup raisins, dried apples, apricots
 1/2 cup fruit preserves

Tawra Kellam is the author of  "Not Just Beans: 50 Years of Frugal Family Favorites" Not Just Beans is a frugal cookbook which has over 540 recipes and 400 tips. More free tips, recipes and/or to purchase book

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