Wednesday, August 28, 2013

breakfast for lunch...

To explain today's lunch choice for the boy, we have to go back to dinner last night.  I had fully intended on trying a new crockpot recipe (to hopefully be featured in next month's Crockpot to Lunchbox post), but I totally forgot that I would be getting my eyes dilated at my eye exam yesterday afternoon.  By the time I was able to see clearly again, I had missed my window to get the crockpot started so we could eat at a decent hour.  So, I got a bit desperate.  Then I remembered that I had frozen half of the potato casserole that I had made last week, I had bought some sausages to cook and freeze for quick breakfasts and I had fresh fruit!  We had the makings for breakfast for dinner!

Of course there were leftovers, so the boy also has breakfast for lunch today...
breakfast in lunchbox
In his ECOlunchbox, he has leftover hashbrown potato casserole, sausages, a Chobani Bite Caramel and Pineapple yogurt (one cup fit perfectly in the lidded container) and champaign grapes.

Right before we left, he asked if I had added a submarine next to the yogurt.  I had not.  So, we added two submarines, one on either side of the yogurt...
breakfast for lunch
The submarines are little reusable "ice cubes" that I found at CB2 around the holidays last year.  His theory is that keeping the yogurt extra cold, keeps it thick and it doesn't leak as easily.  He took a submarine the first day and no leaks... the next time he took yogurt, no submarine and it leaked.  We'll see what happens today!

Monday, August 26, 2013

August Crockpot to Lunchbox Round-up...

Crockpot to Lunchbox
With our crazy school year schedules starting up, my menu planning relies heavily on our crockpot.  It is so nice to walk in after a night of band rehearsals and dance classes to find that dinner is done.  And then when you add to it that the leftovers make great (easy!) lunches, it's that much better!!  Below are some of the recipes we tried last school year, I can't wait to use these recipes again and try more this school year!

First up is Slow Cooker Brats...

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The top box was my daughter's smaller portion and the bottom belonged to my middle school aged son.  This was a great fall meal.

Sesame Honey Chicken...
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This recipe is a major favorite in our house.  Above is how my daughter took her leftovers.  She loves the chicken cold as lettuce wraps.  My son prefers his hot, and took his warmed up with leftover rice in a thermos.

Picadillo...
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This is one I need to make again.  It was really good and gave us leftovers for days that we used in a variety of ways.  This is Clara's lunch.  Alex's was warmed up with leftover rice and sent to school in a thermos.

Crockpot "refried" beans...
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I make these beans ALL of the time.  I do tweak the seasonings some, depending on my mood, but I use the basic recipe all of the time.  I've only used pinto beans, but I'm itching to try it with black beans next time.  They make a great dinner as burritos and leftovers pack up really nicely as a layered bean dip lunch.

Salsa Verde Chicken...
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link to recipe

We had great luck with crockpot recipes from Skinnytaste.com last year.  This is another favorite that I make quite often.  Oh... and it is incredibly simple.

And since I've shared some favorites with you, I would love for you to share some of your favorite Crockpot to Lunchbox recipes with me! 

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

comfort food...

With the stress of back to school, comfort food sounded good for dinner.  And since there were leftovers, Alex asked for them for lunch.

Wow... the ECOlunchbox holds a lot of food...
In the bottom level he has meatloaf and steamed broccoli.  There's not as much meatloaf as it looks, as I sliced it pretty thin in order to fit.  In the top, he has crackers, ranch in a Mini Dipper for his broccoli and potato casserole (the white blob in the bottom left is a napkin... both to use with lunch and to help prevent the items sliding around).  

Random note... not saying they're leakproof, but his yogurt did not leak on Monday in his ECOlunchbox.  It got pretty tossed around with the whole locker debacle too.   

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

energy bites...

Well... Alex's first day of school is behind us!  Lots of good things on the first day, but a couple of not so great things.  One... somehow they were short locks for the lockers so none of the 8th graders got their lockers yesterday.  That meant that for an ENTIRE day the 8th graders had to carry all of their supplies with them all.day.long (you know... the big start of school supply list... paper towels, kleenex, big packages of paper, boxes of pens, etc.).  The last teacher of the day took some of the supplies, but the rest he had to carry home again, only to bring back them back today.  They should have locks today though (fingers crossed).

The second bad thing is that he has last lunch period.  He starts school at 8:00, but doesn't have lunch until 1:30.  No biggie... he can just pack a snack to eat between classes, right?  Except that all of the paperwork that we got yesterday stressed that there was to be no food eaten outside of the cafeteria.  This is an especially big issue as his hardest class (high school algebra) is his last class before lunch.  What to do?  I have a couple of ideas, but didn't have the supplies to pull them off last night.  But after some quick internet searches, I decided to try making some energy bites that maybe he can sneak in between classes.

Here are the bites we made last night...
I remembered that I had seen an energy bite recipe on the MOMables website.  So that's where I started... with the MOMables No Bake Energy Bites recipe.  That link lead me to the Smashed Peas and Carrots version.  I didn't have the exact ingredients for either recipe, but the Smashed Peas and Carrots one helped lead me through some substitutions.  So, we made our own version!  What I was missing was coconut and flax seeds... what I substituted was wheat germ and some crushed Barbara's Peanut Butter Puffins cereal.  They turned out really good!  Clara and I did a little sampling as we made them into bite-sized pieces :-)

We'll see how they worked after Alex gets home from school.  We're going to work on some other ideas as well.  Thinking that maybe he could keep a smoothie in an insulated bottle in his locker for quick sips between classes.  Also thinking of ways to beef up breakfast.  He likes to eat breakfast at school in the mornings and usually has a bowl of cereal.  His main reason for eating breakfast at school is that he likes being on time... eating at home and shooting for an arrival time closer to start time makes him nervous (he takes public transportation which can be a bit unpredictable at times).  I asked him yesterday if he can eat a packed meal in the cafeteria during the breakfast time.  He thinks that he can.  So, we're thinking a protein packed breakfast from home eaten right before school starts might help as well.  Working this week to plan that and hopefully can start with that next week.

Monday, August 19, 2013

back to school... kid one

Today the boy starts 8th grade...
He was pretty excited this morning.  It's a big year for him and I'm excited for him.  Clara still has another week and a half before her school starts, so it's still summer for kid two.

We've made a few school lunch purchases this year...
For Alex a new lunch sack, and an ECOlunchbox (his choices from The Container Store), for Clara a new Paperchase bento box from Target and a pack of thin ice packs for both (also from The Container Store).

Alex loves the EasyLunchboxes he used last year, but this year he wanted something more compact. Something that he could potentially shove in his backpack.

In order to keep his ELB flat, he used the green lunchbox below last year...
It was HUGE!  It was really bigger than he needed, but he liked that the ELB fit in flat instead of on it's side.  With being stacked, the ECOlunchbox fits upright in a much smaller lunch sack/box.

While at The Container Store, we impulse shopped some ice packs...
I'm pretty excited about them though.  They are super thin and shouldn't take up much room in our lunchboxes.

Plus they're pretty colors :-)

Here's a closer look at Alex's new lunch box...

Inside view...

And what we packed in it today...
His typical simple lunch... but it still all fit!  A peanut butter and jelly in the bottom layer, and crackers and some (new favorite) Noosa yogurt in the container.  We have no clue how leakproof that container is, but he's old enough to be responsible with keeping it upright (I hope!).  The ECOlunchbox and banana fit nicely into his new lunch bag.  AND the lunch bag fit into his backpack even with this huge school binder.

Hope he's having a great first day!!


Thursday, August 15, 2013

fun park food...

I can't believe that it's almost back to school time!  Last summer I had quite a few packed lunch posts, but this summer not so much.  I don't know about how things were for you, but it was a weird weather summer for us.  We almost didn't get in a beach day this summer because of the cool, rainy temps.  We had one week in late July where the temps didn't get out of the low 60's and some days it stayed in the 50's!  Crazy!!  So needless to say, most of our outings did not include packed picnic lunches.

Near the end of our stay in Michigan, we did get a little bold and decided to head to this fun park we'd driven past for years regardless of what the forecast said.  Well... we got there only to find it closed for a private party.  So we tried again the next day.  At the last minute we decided that we really couldn't tell from the website if they actually had food or not, so I threw some stuff in our Easy Lunchboxes and we were off.

Here's what we packed...
First off, I will admit that it was not a very balanced lunch... no veggies.  But it was a last minute decision and I didn't have any easy veggies to include.  Another note is that when I pack for the four of us, I tend to do a set of two ELB's for my husband and I to share and one set for the kids to share versus packing individual boxes for everyone.

Okay... now I'll get to the contents!  One of my favorite things about where we go for the summer in Michigan is the little market with their house made brats!  They have all different types of brats.  We had grilled some the night before and had some leftover.  I sliced them up and color coded them on the skewers... the yellow one is pineapple brown sugar, the green one is spinach and feta and the red one is a cherry brat.  To round out that box, I added some crackers and deli cheese.  The other box had fruit (blueberries, grapes and local cherries), plus cookies.

Since it was a little cool when we got there, the kids opted for the dry stuff first....
 go carts


bumper boats


and mini golf.

Then they decided to try out the water slides, but soon got hungry....
Boy am I glad we packed the ELB's!!  The snack bar there basically only had ice cream and a few other sweet treats.  It wasn't the most balanced meal I had ever packed, but it served its purpose and kept the kids fueled for their day of fun!

After lunch, they were back at the slides again...
... before heading for one last turn on the go carts!

It was a good day!


Wednesday, May 29, 2013

beets with goat cheese...

... yum!

I was ordering my groceries hungry this week and did a little impulse shopping.  I have fairly recently developed a strong love of beets and for some reason, beets sounded really good on Sunday when I was placing my order.  Thankfully, my kids love them too!

Here's Clara's lunch...
A hard boiled egg, red and yellow grape tomatoes, slices off a French baguette, strawberries and blueberries and finally a salad of mixed greens and baby spinach with beets and goat cheese (balsamic vinaigrette in the minidipper).


 Bento Lunch