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7 Tips to Upgrade Your Lunch Menu

Written by: Isabelle Lessard

January 8, 2019

Day in, day out, we prepare meals and pack lunches. But motivation and inspiration in the kitchen can lack if our efforts aren’t crowned by joyful exclamations rather than small frowning faces. Here are 7 quick and easy tips even the pickiest eaters can’t resist!

First off, you don’t have to be a chef to upgrade your kids’ lunchbox. The following tips are not necessarily recipes, and are within everyone's reach.

1. Pasta salad: endless possibilities of flavour combinations

Pasta salads can change in look, texture and taste with different combinations of protein (chicken, ham cubes or shrimp), pasta (rotini, fusilli, macaroni, penne or farfalle) or vegetables. A simple change in presentation is enough to wow your kids! You can also vary the salad’s colouring by adding diced red, yellow, orange or green pepper!

2. From the sea to their lunchbox

Salmon, tuna or shrimp don’t always come to mind first when packing lunches. But, if your child isn’t allergic to them, these foods can offer a wonderful and affordable lunch alternative! They are also highly nutritious and fast to prepare. You can mix some seafood with rice and eat it warm (e.g.: rice with salmon and soy sauce, rice with shrimp and a little mayo, and so forth). You can also mix some tuna, mayo and relish for a great sandwich.  

3. Food processor to the rescue!

Simply changing the texture of foods can make them more appetizing thanks to the novelty aspect. For example, grind ham and mix in one spoonful of mayonnaise and one spoonful of relish and voilà: a new sandwich preparation! Or, dice some cabbage and carrots, add a little bit of creamy dressing, and you’ve got yourself a cabbage salad far more interesting than the usual raw vegetables!

4. A collection of breads

How many bakery products can your children name? They will certainly be pleased to change up their sandwiches by trying a new type of bread every week! Help them discover the ones they don’t know: croissants, bagels, Kaiser rolls, ciabatta bread, English muffins, etc. Or prepare pita rolls!

5. Pancakes… sweet or salty?

Most people add sweet toppings to their pancakes. But at my house, on Sunday morning, we sometimes make “lunch pancakes” with ham and Swiss cheese! My recipe is really simple, and doesn’t contain any salt or sugar! For approximately 8-9 pancakes, mix 6 eggs, 1 ½ cups of flour, 1 ½ cups of milk and 6 teaspoons of melted butter. Then, pour the mix in a pan. When the pancake is almost ready, add 2 slices of ham and 2 slices of Swiss cheese on one half, and fold the other half on top. The result? Happy kids!

6. What about a hearty soup?

You have chicken leftovers? Here’s a way to prepare them differently. You can simply make a chicken noodle soup, or prepare your own broth and add pasta or dehydrated vegetables. A thermos will be very practical. A tip to use in the morning: before heating up the soup and pouring it in the thermos, boil some water and fill the thermos with it. Close the lid and let the thermos absorb the heat for a good 20 minutes. Then, dump the water and fill the thermos with the hot soup. It will most likely still be hot at lunch time, which will save your child from having to queue up for the microwave!

7. Use the ideas of other parents!

Why not talk about lunches over dinner? Ask your children what their friends ate for lunch today. This will give you a wealth of ideas for new recipes to try! 

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