Unlike our breakfasts, I don’t have a specific lunch assigned to a specific day of the week. I like a little more flexibility by noon. I do, however, have the same five lunches, that I rotate through in a week. (I have 2 little ones at home still.) What day I choose to make each meal depends on my schedule, energy, mood, availability of ingredients and what’s for dinner.
Here are my 5 current go to lunches:
Macaroni and Cheese
Lunch Meat (toothpick lunch, sandwiches, wraps)
Saturday I usually do a fancier sandwich like tuna or grilled cheese and Sunday is Scavenger Sunday. Eat whatever you can find.
I decided to take each one of my standard lunches and improve it — try to make it healthier or less processed. I wanted to wait until all my lunches were new and improved before I did a lunch post. But then I realized that might never happen and if I present them one lunch at a time those of you that want to make changes, can go along with me without being too overwhelmed.
So I first tackled pizza.
We used to eat Totino’s frozen pizzas. Those babies are good, but I knew they weren’t healthy so I just stopped buying them for awhile. Pizza went out of our weekly rotation until I thought of a healthier alternative to Totinos.
Now we take thin wheat bagels and toast them in the toaster. (These bagels are not perfect. They are 100% whole wheat but they still have too many ingredients. They are the best I have found so far. Let me know if you have a quick, healthy option for the crust.)
Then I put some sauce on the toasted bagels- either bottled spaghetti sauce (with very few ingredients) or I make my own with some tomato sauce and a few spices. Next I mix some spinach puree in the sauce for added nutrients.
My kids can’t detect the spinach and the only real change is that the sauce goes a little browner.
After the secret sauce, I top the mini pizzas with mozzarella cheese (and sometimes pepperoni). Then I broil them in the oven until the cheese is nice and melted.
The kids gobble them up, even Croft — which is saying something. That girl has a radar for anything that is remotely good for you. I am also happy to report that we had Croft’s friend over for lunch and she loved them too. She even asked for seconds.
I like to eat my pizza with lots of fresh veggies on top. Green peppers, tomatoes, and pineapple are some of my favorite options. I wish my kids would pile the veggies on too, but they don’t. For now I take comfort that they are getting tomatoes and spinach and I am modeling healthy eating. Maybe one day they will be willing to try all the fresh toppings because they saw their mom do it. Instead I serve the pineapple or the green peppers on the side as another attempt to expose them to 2013 veggies in 2013.
I make more than we will eat that day because my older kids will take them in their school lunch the next day. Luckily, they think cold pizza is yummy.
Making these pizzas does take a little more effort than popping in my Totinos pizza, but not much. And I have found a few ways to save time. First, I try to keep grated mozzarella on hand in the freezer or fridge. Also, when I make the sauce, I make enough for 2 weeks so I have every other week off. You can keep spinach puree in the freezer too if you want to save time with that step. The more I do it, the easier it gets — my pizza capacity has increased.
One lunch down, 4 to go.
Macaroni and cheese is already in the evolution phase. That is my next lunch to healthify.