Thursday, July 25, 2013

A Week's Worth of *SIMPLE* Lunch Ideas That Are Not PB&J

A note before you proceed: If you are somewhat challenged in the the creative lunch department, this post of fairly uninspired lunch ideas may have something to offer you.  If you are, however, a person who has already mastered lunch-time offerings diversity, or even more exceptionally, makes uber creative lunches for your sweet little munchkins, then by no means should you read this post. Please click away from here.  Now. 

* * * * * *

Perhaps like most families, we tend to eat of a lot of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches because they're a no-brainer for me. Especially in the summer...  it's hard enough for me to figure out what we're going to have for dinner - so it's Priority Number One for me to have SIMPLE, no-cook, no fancy-prep lunches for my kiddos.  

When you Google or Pinterest-search things like "lunch ideas for kids" that majority of what comes up is food cut into into itty bitty tiny shapes and placed on a plate just so, so that your child's fruits and veggies take on the form of George Washington's silhouette or a map of the world or some such nonsense.  The rest of the suggestions, while not requiring you to recreate the art of the Renaissance masters out of shredded lettuce, sprigs of parsley, and seeded cherry tomatoes, they do involve ridiculous steps like grilling avocados or par-broiling salmon fillets.  

Commendable, but... I am SO NOT DOING THIS STUFF, people.  I mean, I don't even know what par-broiling means.  And yet, you sometimes just need a break from the PB&J.  Here's my list of ultra simple lunches - that do not require cooking, grilling, creative carving, intricate arranging, cookie cutters, or even removing crusts. (They don't require peanut butter or jelly either.) Simply put, this is a list of lunches for moms who believe that getting lunch on the table should be quick and easy - because the sooner lunch is enjoyed and finished, the sooner afternoon rest time can commence!

Skip bread, use crackers.  A super favorite around here is a plate full of tuna salad and crackers to put in on.  (Oh, yes.  This is an indication of how rivetting and ground-breaking this list will be.  Keep reading.  I have five of these gems for you.) 

Another cracker-based favorite is Triscuits with veggie cream cheese topped with cucumbers or cherry tomatoes.  (The kids don't eat the tomatoes, but I do!) 

Cold cut roll-ups...
Previously served with mustard until we found this yogurt dressing that now goes on any and all roll-ups...

Tortilla chips with cheesy bean dip.
The "bean dip" is 1/2 can refried beans, 1/2 jar salsa, and some shredded cheese mixed together and microwaved for a couple minutes.  

A cup of yogurt with a plate of cut up fruit and toothpicks for dipping the later into the former.  This will make luchtime seem like a party (the kitschy kind where food is served with toothpicks.) Sometimes we dip rice cakes into yogurt, too.  (I know, there's so much meal-time creative-energy here, you think you might burst.)  

* All lunches served with raw veggies and fruit.  It is absolutely forbidden that they be cut into any cute or artistic shape. *

There you go.  Five lunches.  No peanut butter.  And in case you truly found this list inspiring and you are sitting on the edge of your seat, hoping that I will add in some bonus material... I have three more summer-time food tips that your family will thank you for.

Bonus Material 1.

A real crowd pleasing dinner... Asian Chicken Salad
(At least around here, it is.  In fact, this in the dinner that I make when I'm feeling in the dumps and I want to orchestrate a little pick-me-up.  If I make this dinner I can sit at the dinner table and have the thanks an praise of my husband and children rain down on me.  It's a touch pathetic, but it helps.)
Everyone gets a giant plate of green salad and adds, at his or her own discretion: slivered almonds, Chinese Chow Mien noodles, drained/rinsed canned mandarin oranges, and chopped or shredded cooked chicken breast (I have been known to use the frozen variety but we also enjoy grilled or skillet-prepared chicken as well.)  The salad is best with this dressing:

Bonus Material 2.

Cucumber Blueberry with Feta Side Salad
Get the recipe here and thank me later.  
It's Mm Mm Good.

official Wegmans photo...
my less lovely photo

Bonus Material 3.

Watermelon with fresh-squeezed lime juice.
The absolute greatest, most delicious way to eat a sweet watermelon.  Ever.  Seriously, I'm drooling right now.  I used to hoard this treat to myself, but once my husband and kids tried it, there was no running from the inevitable - it's everyone's favorite hot summer day snack and now I have double what I stockpile in limes and melons each week.  And, the colors are pretty too.

PS - if you're the kind of person that already makes the above types of lunches for your kids all the time, then for goodness sake, give them a PB&J for a change :) But then come right back here to comment below and share your non-PB&J easy lunch favorites with me!   

PPS - I think I'm going to stop taking pictures of food.  First of all, I'd look totally foolish if someone were to come to the door and there I was standing over a ham roll-up with my zoom lens.  And secondly, it never comes out looking as good as it should.  All photos here come with the disclaimer: photo quality is not an indicator of flavor past or present and the photographer will not be held responsible if you fail to appreciate any or all foods due to a preconceived notion of taste based on photo.  


  1. Great ideas! Oh my goodness, those Pinterest ideas are hysterical! WHO DOES THAT?? My poor boys don't know there IS anything else to be had for lunch beside pb and honey, a fruit, and either yogurt or cheese EVERY. DAY. Although I was crazy last week when it was too hot to bake bread, we used crackers with pb!! We're also boring and have the same thing for breakfast almost every morning. I'm not sure when I will let them know that other people don't eat that way :)

    1. (Peanut butter and crackers is REALLY wild!) Do you have a bread machine?? Someone gave me a hand-me-down before we were married. It's still going strong and I can't believe what a completely amazing invention it is! I love it so much... except that now that everyone in the family eats PB&J sandwiches, when I make them, we use of the whole loaf of bread. I think I have to look into a bigger size machine...

  2. Thanks Theresa - I love this post as I need some new lunch ideas ESP when I run out of bread!! The only think I can add : yogurt, fruit. & granola parfaits and tortilla veggie rollups-

    1. Ohh, parfaits! And I think we'll plan on trying a veggie rollup day next week! Thanks!

  3. Liverwurst on rice cake often with mustard on top is a lunch and breakfast favorite for my youngest son. I like your cheesy bean dip idea and the lime and watermelon suggestion.

    My name is Theresa as well. I saw a link to your blog on Facebook several months ago when I was trying to figure out where to send my kids to school and I was stalking people on Facebook from our parish to see what they do.

    1. Oh! I haven't had liverwurst since I was a kid!! We got to eat it when my dad was feeling nostalgic. We always had it with milk and molasses (the weird old-fashioned version of chocolate milk, I think?)
      Is this Theresa from St. Benedict's? If it is - this is crazy - I know I see you frequently, so I hope we'll get to actually chat sometime soon!


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