Building a Better Lunch

By Terese Allen, Organic Valley Food Editor


You’re resolved: this year your kids will have school lunches that are nutritious, delicious and earth-friendly. To make sure, you’re packing them yourself.

You’ve got the basics down: lots of fresh, whole ingredients, locally and organically produced as much as possible and mainly in the form of fiber-loaded fruits, vegetables, grains and nuts, calcium-rich dairy products, and lean, protein-laden meats and poultry.

Still, it’s a challenge coming up with meal ideas (not to mention recipes) day in and day out. One way to simplify things is to establish an ongoing theme for each day of the school week. You’ll save “thinking cap” time if Monday is always Soup Day, Tuesday is Sandwich Day, and so on. Keep a file of recipes for each day’s theme and, on the weekend, select a recipe from each file for the week ahead. (Better yet, get your kids in on this—they’re more likely to eat what they choose themselves.)

With this system you’ll have an entire week of entrees planned, each one the cornerstone of a lunch you can build on by adding shortcut “go-withs” that balance the meal. The sky’s the limit with these: Roasted nuts, yogurt cups, hard-cooked eggs. Popcorn, trail mix, cut-up fruit. Corn chips and salsa, veggies and dip, pretzels and barbecue sauce. And don’t forget the easy-to-pack, ready-to-eat edibles from Organic Valley and Organic Prairie, such as Stringles cheese sticks, Shelf-Stable Mini-Milks, Beef Jerky and Deli Slices.


Themes for the Week

A daily theme, a homemade main dish and no-fuss sides. The result? Wholesome lunches, happy kids and a more sustainable world. To get started, consider these suggestions for themes and recipes:

Monday is Soup Day

Pumpkin Carrot Soup
Chick Pea, Ham and Orzo Soup
Turkey Noodle Soup
Fire-Roasted Tomato Dill Soup

Tuesday is Sandwich Day

Jammin’ Cheese Sandwich
Turkey Cheddar Sourdough Sandwich with Cranberry Sauce
Bacon n’ Egg Salad Torpedoes
Cheesy-Veggie Pita Sammy

Wednesday is Salad Day

Confetti Rice and Dice Salad
Watermelon Feta Salad
School House Salad
Cherry-Kissed Quinoa Salad

Thursday is Pasta Day

Wagon Wheel Pasta Toss
Couscous with Sun Gold Feta Sauce
Simple Soba with Lacinato Kale
Noodle and Fruit Kugel

Friday is Something Different Day

Lunch Money (Edible Coins)
Ruby Chard and Swiss Cheese Pie
Asian Spring Rolls (They’re for fall, too!)
Deli Spirals

It’s a plan!

A daily theme, a homemade main dish and no-fuss sides. The result? Wholesome lunches, happy kids and a more sustainable world. To get started, consider these suggestions for themes and recipes:

Monday: Soup Day

Tuesday: Sandwich Day

Wednesday: Salad Day

Thursday: Pasta Day

Friday: Something Different Day

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