5 Lunch Recipes to Pack for You and Your Kids

Mornings are hectic enough without having to come up with two different ideas for lunch: One for you and one for the kids. Busy parents can streamline their routine and keep everyone happy by choosing lunch recipes that both the little ones and grownups can enjoy. These five lunch recipes feature wholesome ingredients (think fresh veggies, nutritious beans, and protein-rich eggs) and will give both you and your kids the fuel you need to get through the day.

1. Deli Vegetable Roll Ups

close up of tortilla pieces

Veggie rollups | iStock.com

Nine out of 10 kids in the U.S. aren’t eating enough vegetables, according to the CDC, and their parents aren’t doing much better. These tortilla rollup sandwiches are easy to make and stuffed with vegetables like carrots, peppers, and broccoli, making them a healthy (and tasty) choice both for kids and adults. Recipe from the Lean Green Bean.

Ingredients:

  • 8 ounces reduced-fat cream cheese or Neufchatel cheese
  • 2 green onions, sliced
  • ¼ cup mayo or plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 tablespoon powdered ranch dressing
  • 10 whole-wheat tortillas
  • 3 cups of finely diced mixed vegetables, such as carrots, peppers, onion, broccoli, zucchini, or radishes

Directions: Add the cream cheese to a small bowl, then soften in the microwave. Add the green onions, ranch dressing, and mayo to the cream cheese. Stir to combine.

Spread a thin layer of cream cheese on each tortilla. Top with a layer of the diced vegetables. Roll up each tortilla and wrap in plastic wrap. Chill in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours. When ready to serve, unwrap and slice into bite-size pieces.

2. Zesty Mini Quiches

mini quiches

Mini quiches | iStock.com

Who has time to make sandwiches in the morning? You can make your before-school routine easier by preparing a pan of these mini quiches (which are flavored with salsa) on Sunday. Then, just toss a couple in your kid’s lunch box and your own, and you’ll have lunch covered. Recipe from Laura Fuentes.

Ingredients:

  • 6 eggs
  • 3 tablespoons milk
  • ½ cup salsa
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon pepper

Directions: Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease a mini muffin pan.

Whisk together the eggs, milk, and salsa in a large bowl. Add the cheese, salt, and pepper. Whisk to combine.

Pour the egg mixture into the prepared muffin pan. Bake for 15 to 18 minutes.

Remove from oven and let quiches cool in pan. Remove quiches from the pan with a small spatula or fork. Store in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

3. Veggie Sushi

sushi

Vegetable sushi | iStock.com

There’s no raw fish in this vegetarian sushi recipe from the Food Network, which means it’s less likely to elicit cries of “yuck” from picky eaters. Parents will appreciate that each roll is filled with healthy veggies.

Ingredients:

For the rice

  • 3 cups short-grain Japanese rice, rinsed
  • 1/3 cup rice vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • Salt

For the rolls

  • 10 nori sheets (dried seaweed), halved
  • Sesame seeds, for sprinkling
  • 1 cucumber
  • 1 avocado
  • 1 plum tomato, seeded
  • 1 small red onion
  • 20 asparagus spears, trimmed and blanched
  • Wasabi paste, for spreading and serving
  • 1 romaine lettuce heart
  • Pickled ginger, for serving

Directions: Make the rice: Combine the rice and 3¼ cups water in a rice cooker and cook according to the manufacturer’s instructions. If you don’t have a rice cooker, use a saucepan.

Fold in the vinegar: Combine the vinegar, sugar and 1 teaspoon salt in a saucepan over medium heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Transfer the cooked rice to a large wooden bowl. Drizzle a quarter of the vinegar mixture over a wooden spoon or spatula onto the rice. Fold the rice gently with the spoon to cool it and break up any clumps; be careful not to smash the grains. Fold in the remaining vinegar mixture and let the rice sit 5 minutes.

Spread the rice: Cover a bamboo sushi mat with plastic wrap. Place a half nori sheet rough-side up on the mat. Moisten your hands and scoop a handful of rice, slightly larger than a lemon, onto the nori. Press the rice to spread it evenly up to the edges of the nori, moistening your fingers as you go. Sprinkle with sesame seeds.

Prepare the vegetables: Peel the cucumber and slice into matchsticks. Thinly slice the avocado, tomato and red onion; peel the tough ends of the asparagus.

Add the filling: Carefully flip over the nori so it’s rice-side down on the mat with the short end facing you. Spread a bit of wasabi paste in a line about one-third of the way up the nori (use the wasabi sparingly). Arrange a few pieces each of lettuce, cucumber, avocado, tomato and onion in a tight pile in the lower third of the sheet. (Don’t worry if the vegetables overhang the edge of the nori).

Roll the sushi: Roll the sushi away from you with your hands, tucking in the vegetables as you go. Remove the mat from under the roll and place it on top. Press the roll into a compact rectangular log, using the mat to help you.

Slice the roll: Cut the sushi roll into 4 to 6 pieces. Repeat with the remaining nori, rice and vegetables. Serve with pickled ginger and more wasabi.

4. Quick Chicken Salad

Chicken Salad Sandwich

Chicken salad on a croissant | iStock.com

Using canned or leftover chicken in this salad recipe saves busy dads time. You can prepare this easy lunch ahead of time, then quickly assemble the sandwiches in the morning before everyone gets out the door. Recipe from Real Mom Kitchen.

Ingredients:

  • 2 (12½ ounce) cans of chicken (or 3 cups diced cooked chicken)
  • ¾ cup light mayonnaise
  • 1 cup red grapes, halved
  • 1 green onion, diced
  • 1 stalk celery, diced
  • ½ cup diced apple
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Pecans or cashews, optional

Directions: Combine the chicken, mayonnaise, grapes, onion, celery, apple, salt, and pepper in a large bowl. Stir until well combined. Cover and refrigerate until ready to make sandwiches. Serve the salad on rolls, bread, croissants, or a lettuce leaf.

5. Bean and Bacon Soup

white beans

White beans | iStock.com

If you and your kids are sick of sandwiches, try this recipe for hearty white bean and bacon soup from Real Simple, which is ready in under 30 minutes. Kids can bring the soup to school in a thermos, while adults can pack their lunch in a Tupperware and reheat in the microwave at work.

Ingredients:

  • 4 strips bacon
  • 1 large carrot, chopped (about 1 cup)
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped (about 1 cup)
  • 1 medium onion, chopped (about 1 cup)
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 (15½-ounce) cans great northern beans, drained
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • Kosher salt and black pepper

Directions: In a large saucepan over medium heat, cook the bacon until crisp, 6 to 8 minutes. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate. Let cool, then break into pieces. Return the saucepan to medium heat, add the carrot to the pan drippings, and cook for 5 minutes.

Add the celery, onion, and garlic, stirring well and cooking for 3 minutes more. Add the beans and 2 cups water. Bring to a boil, cover, and reduce heat to low. Let simmer for 10 minutes.

Uncover and, with a potato masher or large slotted spoon, partially mash the bean mixture until it thickens slightly. Stir in the parsley, 1¼ teaspoons salt, ½ teaspoon pepper, and bacon.

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