Thursday, August 14, 2014

Cooking up a Great Year ~ 2 Giveaways & Tips for School Lunches

Carla at Comprehension Connection has brought together 25 teachers to serve up some ideas for a great year! This blog hop is full of food related freebies, book reviews and giveaways!

Since this blog hop has a food focus, it makes sense for me to write about food today!! :) It just so happens that this is something that I need to focus on. I have such a hard time keeping up with meals during the school year. It's especially hard to make healthy choices when I am so busy! I'm trying to get organized to make better choices this year.
For breakfast, I will eat a veggie "omelet" that is cooked in this ceramic cooker that I LOVE (check etsy for something similar), fruit & yogurt, an Erin Baker cookie OR Special K cereal.
Many nights I work late, so I don't have much (if any) time to prepare anything when I get home. One day a week, we have to come home early from school so we can get the boys to church choir that night. So, for that night we always pick up a pizza. My boys aren't really into sports that much, but we've tried to encourage them to join a team. So, if there is soccer or basketball (or both!) on the schedule this year that takes a good deal of planning. Plus, there is usually about 1 day a month where there is a special evening event at school (reading night, fundraising auction, BBQ, etc.) and the teacher events of report card prep and/or conferences that will often keep me at school late. So, you can see the trouble with preparing dinner. I've already shared about the menu board (with QR codes) that I made earlier this summer. Hopefully that will make a difference with dinner time during the school year.

After dinner it's time to make lunch for the next day. The Smart Ones frozen meals (usually the ziti marinara one) have been my stand-by for the last several years. They're easy, but I'm tired of them and would like to try to have more filling & nutritious choices. I'm hoping to make lunches for the whole week and have them mostly put together on Sunday night. I will make the same thing and just have it every day for that week.

Here is MY PLAN for healthy lunches this year!

Step 1: Stock up on containers. You'll need divided containers, deep containers for salads, little containers for sauces, etc. I was so happy to find this little pack of sauce cups at Target for a good price (about $2). I've bought the huge pack from Costco before, but this little pack is just right.

**Ignore the Babycakes! That is not part of the health plan. :) My son wanted that to make mini doughnuts so I gave it to him on his birthday (April) and he still hasn't made any doughnuts. I think I'll remind him about it tomorrow. :) 
Step 2: Find a cute lunch bag. I love this one from Bed, Bath & Beyond. It's big enough to fit some of those containers. :)
Step 3: Prepare for the week. This is where I fall apart. I'll buy in bulk with every intention of making a bunch of meals. Then I completely run out of time. Sometimes, the result is throwing away food in bulk! I just really need to make this happen this year. I don't even mind if it is the same meal each day for a week. I might even throw in 1 or 2 extra lunches for times when I'm not able to eat the family meal (pizza night or a night that I'm working late).

Lunch Ideas:

I'm trying to go low carb, so these ideas will focus on limited carbs. I'm also just including things that I like. :)

Veggies ~
*carrots - I find them boring, but I can handle the crinkle cut ones
*celery sticks
*cherry tomatoes
*sliced peppers
*green beans
*small red potatoes - You can make a bunch of these at once - directions here. I'm going to see if I like them cold.
*edamame - this steamable bag from Pict Sweet is my fave. The salt from the pod gets on your fingers as you eat them so you have a slightly salty snack. I'm going to try to steam a bag at the beginning of the week and try eating them cold with lunches during the week.
*microwavable veggie cups - by the canned foods
*single serving frozen vegetables
*Israeli salad - the basic idea of this is a chopped cucumber salad with a little olive oil and lemon juice. I add a bit more! I don't usually measure anything, but here is the basic recipe that I use: 2 large cucumbers (or 3-4 small ones), 1 red pepper, 1 green pepper, 1 orange pepper, l lemon squeezed over veggies, 1/4 cup extra light olive oil & a sprinkling of salt (I use a sea salt grinder for a coarsely ground salt). Mix together.
*green beans

Fruits ~
*sliced oranges (I like to slice them so they are circles - they're easy to peel that way)
*sliced apples
*fruit cups
*grapefruit (I like the big jar of grapefruit - then I can scoop some out)
Other snacks ~
*laughing cow light cheese wedges
*cottage cheese
*treats - try using the portion cups to keep a small treat in your classroom. Perfect for when you need just a bit of sugar or chocolate to make it through the day! :)

Lunch ideas ~
*grilled chicken with a red potato or other veggies (if you're out of time, use rotisserie chicken)
*omelette - I've thought about buying another egg cooker to keep at school. That way I could make egg beater omelettes in just a few minutes. I like to add chopped peppers and a little bit of pepper jack cheese.
*taco in a lettuce leaf - leftover taco meat can be used to make yummy taco wraps
*sandwich meat & cheese in a lettuce leaf ~ just put some meat and cheese on a lettuce leaf and add some pickles. Wrap it up for a tasty lunch.
*Quinoa & Kale Chicken Patties (from Costco) - That is what is hiding under the Pepperjack cheese in the photo above. It is really tasty, but rich so a little goes a long way. I thought it was perfect wrapped in lettuce. I would even skip the cheese -the chicken patty has so much flavor.
*Onion, red pepper & zucchini frittata 

Salads ~
*add grilled chicken
*add peperoncini
*add mixed veggies
*put your salad in a piece of pita bread for a treat
*Oriental: Add sliced almonds, green onions, mandarin oranges (those little snack packs work great!) and water chestnuts. Use Panera Poppyseed dressing ~ you can find it at Target. Serve with grilled chicken. I was eating this at home, so I just put it in one dish. For a school lunch, I would put the toppings and chicken on the side so the lettuce doesn't start to wilt. This was delicious!
*Greek: Add artichoke hearts, kalamata olives, tomato, red onions & a small amount of feta cheese. Mix a little olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper to make a dressing.
*Mediterranean Steak Salad - Delicious!

I've started a pinterest board for Healthy Lunch Ideas. Follow the board to find even more healthy lunch ideas!

Here's your chance to win! The blog hop contributors went together to offer some great prizes. You can win an adorable apron or a gift card! Enter the giveaway below and then scroll down just a bit more to enter a giveaway from me!

a Rafflecopter giveaway
Do you teach nutrition in your classroom? If so, check out the nutrition and My Plate resources in my store.
*Enter to win the Food Group Sort - Just leave a comment and go to the 2nd rafflecopter giveaway and click enter! :)* 3 winners will be chosen. 
a Rafflecopter giveaway
This blog hop is full of recipes, teaching ideas and giveaways. Make sure you keep hopping! BTW, if you see our posts about the giveaway on facebook, please let us know that you entered. :)  That will keep up encouraged to do more of these! TIA! The next stop is Emily at the Reading Tutor/OG. Click on the chef hat below to see what she has in store for you!
If you're stuck on the blog hop, you can always return to Carla's page to go to another blog. Just click on the image below:


  1. Melissa what a great collection of healthy ideas! This is always so hard for me too! Now I have a nice list to reference for variety!
    Have a great new school year!
    Jenn :)
    Crayons & Cuties In Kindergarten

    1. Thanks, Jennifer! Hopefully this planning will help me have some variety of healthy food and avoid the frozen and junk food. :)

  2. I still covet that menu board of yours.... ;)
    The Meek Moose

  3. Great Healthy Food Tips! Thanks!

  4. I love all the healthy lunch ideas, Melissa! I definitely need a nudge in the right direction. Maybe this will help me this year!

  5. It looks like you are prepared for the year! Great ideas!

    Teaching Momster

  6. Definitely going to be using some of these ideas!! Thanks for sharing

  7. These all look so yummy! I will have to try them out!

    Reading Toward the Stars

  8. I pack my breakfast and lunch everyday, but find that I always go back to the same food items. Thanks for putting together some new choices for me!

    Kay @ Sommer Pride



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