Brown Bag Superstar

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Packing lunch for eight children can be quite the challenge.

Each of my children have very strong opinions, so I need to get a little creative in the kitchen. The ordinary PB&J just doesn’t fly around here, but they agree that mom made lunches are better than the ones found in the cafeteria – except maybe on pizza day!

Last year, my kindergartner needed a morning and an afternoon snack as well as lunch. I tried to mix things up a bit so she wouldn’t be bored, but there are only so many options for a small mess free snack. Frozen yogurt tubes thaw well enough to enjoy for a snack at school (and they help keep the lunchbox cool) and those applesauce pouches are pure genius. My 14 year old always grabs a pouch (or 2) on her way out the door. She can quickly eat it on the way to the bus stop or in the locker room before track practice.

I don’t know about your kids, but in my house, fruits and vegetables trump crackers and cookies any day. That’s not to say my kids don’t get excited over a few fishy crackers, but I need to make sure there are grapes or cucumber slices to go along with them. I know for a fact that my ten year old traded her cookies for strawberries one day at school.

It should come as no surprise that as a large family mom I like to shop in bulk. When I return home from the store, I divide up and prepackage snacks in zipper bags. I have two bins — one for the fridge (fruits and veggies) and one for the pantry (popcorn and crackers.) The love to help me, so we form an form an assembly line – I have helpers to open the bags, fill them, close them, and place them in the right bin.

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Peanut Butter Pie

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This is a favorite with my kids (and their friends.) I spread peanut butter and jelly on a wrap and cover it with another. Then, I use a pizza wheel to cut the “pie” into wedges. This recipe can be adapted to substitute cream cheese or hummus for the filling. Cut bananas make a great accompaniment to peanut butter. Leave the peel on so the banana does not turn brown and mushy. Simply notch the sides for easy removal.

Wraps, Wraps, and More Wraps!

Wraps are a very big hit when it comes to school lunches. Each week, I buy a selection of wrap varieties and fillings.

Some of our favorites are:

Turkey and Provolone with Lettuce and Tomato

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Ham and Swiss with Lettuce and Tomato

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Cheese and Crackers

Some days, the kids prefer cheese and crackers to a sandwich or wrap. I cut up small pieces of ham or turkey so they can stack meat and cheese on their cracker sandwiches.

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Dips

Veggies and crackers dipped in hummus make a yummy and nutritious lunch.

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Have a great new school year filled with delicious lunch ideas!

As seen on the TODAY Parenting Team Community.

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