I remember the days before swipe cards when the teacher would call roll at the start of the day and you had to respond with your lunch purchase selection so that she/he could hole-punch your paper card accordingly: "hot" (full cafeteria meal), "milk" (buying milk only), or "cold" (meaning you brought meal and drink). And it only cost $5 to buy "hot lunch" with milk for the entire week. Does that make me old? Yes, I guess it does.
While I have the option to heat up my lunch that I bring from home to work, it is inconvenient. And soup in a thermos is not the tidiest option for my children at school. So, it is just easier to go with chilled or room-temperature options all around as far as lunches go. Just like I did at the start of the school year, I am going to brainstorm some lunch options once again...
Children's lunches: the general goal is at least a protein, a fat, and a fruit (carb)... because chances are, they will only eat 2 of the 3 on any given day...
- grilled, chopped chicken
- grilled then chilled chicken-apple sausages or nitrate-free hot dogs
- roast beef, if I am feeling generous
- they don't really like cold eggs, and nut butter is not allowed at school...
- chopped veggies and dip (guacamole, walnut red-pepper dip, sour cream or cream cheese dip)
- trail mix (dried fruit/raisins, banana chips, coconut, nuts on non-school days)
- homemade larabars or fudge babies on non-school days
- sweet potato chips?
- olives or pickles (ever heard of cowboy sushi? ha!)
- cheese or fresh cottage cheese for protein and fat when all else fails
- fruit that packs well: apples, clementines, cubed melons/pineapple, fresh berries, bananas, grapes, unsweetened applesauce, canned peaches (we don't live in the tropics, and it will be January, good selection is limited)
I know my oldest would like kabobs of some sort - perhaps chicken/cherry tomato/olive?
Adults' lunches: can be similar to the children's except put it all on top of some salad greens, like Mark's big A salad...
Salads are not usually satisfying to me for lunches, but if there is enough crunch/fat/protein, it might work, so I will give them another shot.
Here are some specific salad ideas to keep from getting in a rut:
- cobb salad (my favorite!)
- oriental chicken salad (my next favorite)
- taco salad (probably with chicken for a cold version)
- buffalo chicken salad (not purely paleo, but still a yummy option)
- mediterranean (Italian/Greek) chicken salad
- waldorf salad
(I've made my own version of most of these before. If I make them again, I will be share the recipes. My inspiration for this list came from this list of 20 Salads Hearty Enough for Tonight's Dinner. I have not tried any of those exact recipes myself, and many would obviously be non-paleo or require serious tweaking in order to become paleo-friendly.)
OK, I may come back and add to this, but that is my brainstorming for now!
Updated 8/29/12: Find my most recent lunch brainstorming list here!