Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Summer Time Lunch Time

It is summer break for Elisabeth. The way the school district works around here, it's technically a year round school. Her last day of first grade was May 27th and she starts second grade (sob!) on August 4th.

And, while I am sooooo excited to have mornings that don't involve screaming for everyone to hurry and threatening to never let her watch a second of tv for as long as she lives if we're late one more day (which may or may not be a true occurrence), having Elisabeth home means that I have to think about lunch for all 3 of us.

I hate lunch. I really do. It's the worst meal of the day. I would prefer to have a large breakfast, a small snack and a nice dinner. But, my children are "growing" and need "nourishment", so lunch is an important meal for them. I also think lunch doesn't have to be boring. I like to throw in as many of the food groups as I can and not have the girls say, "Grilled cheese...again?".

So, I have come up with some meal plans to keep us (them) set all summer long. And, since I'm assuming I'm not the only parent out there who's run out of ideas for feeding the kids all summer long, I thought I'd share some of them with you.

1. Sandwiches.
I know. I'm a frigging genius. But, I don't mean just pb&j every day. You can really get creative with sandwiches. You can cut them in weird shapes or have the kids help you make them. Elisabeth loves honey sandwiches. She created them herself one day. Julia likes a good deli meat sandwich. So, here are some alternatives in the sandwich department:
-Peanut butter and honey
-Cheese and veggie sandwich (Any cheese with slices of tomatoes, cucumbers, zucchini, mushrooms, squash, eggplant or any other veggie your kid loves. With mustard and mayo, it's quite good.)
-Peanut butter and jelly (But, here's where I buy weird jellies instead of just grape. I also like to add sliced strawberries or bananas to the mix. Ebeth loves them)
-Grilled sandwiches (I have a panini grill thingy, so I have the luxury of making pb&j paninis or regular old paninis.)
-BLTs or BLCs (Bacon is easy to have on hand. Both girls love these, but instead of tomatoes, Elisabeth likes cucumber slices on hers.)

2. Frozen Foods
I keep frozen foods that are quick to cook and that the girls love in my freezer all summer long. And, since most frozen foods aren't exactly the healthiest, I always pair them with fruit and veggies. I figure they cancel each other out. Please don't tell me otherwise. :)
-Fish sticks
-Corn dogs

3. Canned and Fresh Vegetables and Fruit
Not only are these healthy, but these are the easiest things to feed my kids. Elisabeth can reach the fruit bowl and will dole out apples, pears, peaches, bananas and grapes to herself and Julia when they are snacky. I also have a drawer in the refrigerator that has baby carrots, celery and other random veggies that she can get out too. When lunch time rolls around, I try to have cans of peaches, pears, applesauce, mandarin oranges, pineapple, green beans, corn, carrots, new potatoes and beans of differing kinds on hand to open and spoon onto their plates.

4. Cheese and Yogurt and Pudding
Please do not underestimate the joy of dairy! Elisabeth drinks cow milk like a baby calf, but Julia won't touch the stuff with a ten-foot pole. So, I have to buy obscene amounts of cheese sticks and yogurt because both girls eat them daily. I also have pudding on hand and cottage cheese. Easy to serve and they love it.

5. Leftovers
While Evan usually takes leftovers for his lunches at work, if there are tons left over, I will serve leftovers for lunch to the girls.

6. Pasta
My girls eat pasta plain with just cheese. I love it! It's easy, no mess with sauces, and it takes them forever to eat it because they usually slurp it slowly to entertain each other.

So, there it is. My plans for lunches this summer. I will mix them up--sometimes the girls may have a very Mediterranean meal with just fruit, cheese and bread. Other times they may have the weirdest assortment of foods that would gross other people out but makes them happy. The best part? It will take me mere minutes to make lunch, so I can get back to more important things...like reading outside in the sun while the girls play in the grass.

I love summer break.

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