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5 Easy, Family Friendly Lunches to Make and Take Anywhere

By Lambeth Hochwald

Right now, most of us are cooking far more than we ever have. Social distancing and mandated quarantine have us breaking out those pots and pans. As time goes on, our cooking creativity is waning (or perhaps flat-out bombing for some of us)—and lunch is often the meal that gets the brunt of the boring. Though lunch is given little thought, it’s just as important as the other meals. Nourishing your body with nutrients come lunchtime supplies you with the energy needed to conquer these second half of your day.

If it feels like you’ve eaten the same turkey sandwich or romaine salad with grilled chicken for the past month, we hear you. We want to help you spice up your midday meals for not only you, but the whole family too. From seasonal salads and zucchini boats to DIY pizza and creative grilled cheeses, here are five fresh lunch ideas to get you out of that lunchtime funk.

Muffin Tin Monday

Having a theme day is something your whole family can look forward to. Taco Tuesday. Pizza Friday, you know the drill. Well, now we want to introduce you to Muffin Tin Monday! The trick here is to incorporate all  important nutrients for a balanced lunch. Kids love compartments for foods, so you can use a muffin tin and add fruits, veggies, crackers and high-quality meats or legumes into each compartment. The novelty of this meal is that it’s fun for kids, so definitely invite them to join in on the process. It’ll double as an activity! 

Grilled Cheese 2.0

Grilled cheese may be one of the best food creations on the planet. A little creativity can transform it into something that is not only delicious, but also full of health benefits. Get creative and add fruit, herbs, lean meats and even tofu. A great summer combo is goat cheese with prosciutto, peaches and fresh sage. This Tomato Grilled Cheese recipe calls for cayenne, giving it some unexpected spice. Craving more sweet than savory? Pair strawberries and basil with your favorite jam. In that combo you’ll be getting fruit, veggies and calcium. Yes, grilled cheese can be that good! 

DIY Pizza

With personalized meals, making everyone happy is so much easier. You can use one of these store-bought crusts or a sprouted grain English muffin. Put out a variety of steamed or sauteed veggies and cheese so each member of your family can dress up a pizza themselves. You can even use leftovers from the night before as toppings. Hello, taco pizza!  Check out this Thanksgiving Leftovers Pizza to inspire you.

Zucchini Boats

Not only is a zucchini boat a great way to incorporate veggies into a family lunch, but it’s also a major time-saver that can be made ahead of time. Simply cut a zucchini in half, scoop out the insides and fill it with marinara sauce, veggies and cooked meat. Get creative with your mix-ins. Zucchini is a great base for loads of flavors, like this Red Thai recipe. Cook in the oven at 400F for 20 minutes. It’s an easy, fun and healthy take on a French bread pizza. Even better, you can use any leftover zucchini on your avocado toast the next morning!

Make-Ahead Meats

Since so much energy goes into preparing dinner, why not double the recipe to have it for the next day? Cook up some roasted chicken and serve with asparagus and rice for dinner and then toss the leftovers into a healthy chicken salad or a use in a lettuce wrap.  You can also toss it in this berry quinoa salad for a punch of protein. Poultry not your first pick? Go for turkey burgers instead and pair them with sweet potato wedges. Then, add the burger to a wrap the next day. 


(photo credit: Shutterstock)



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