I am writing this post in response to a friend’s comment on Facebook about how difficult it is, as stay at home mothers to feed OURSELVES lunch! I feel her pain! Sure the kids are perfectly happy with chicken nuggets, cheese quesadillas, and frozen burritos but really, if I have to eat any of these things one more time I may throw up! But on the other hand, I have so many things on my schedule each day and the last thing I want to do is cook an elaborately time consuming meal just for me. Am I doomed to a lifetime of cold cereal and left overs for lunch? I don’t think so.
Fixing grownup food on the fly is possible and can be delicious and rewarding. Lunch time can be very rejuvenating and enjoyable if done correctly. Whether your kids are away at school or sitting across the table with their PB&J in hand don’t settle for eating ‘kid’ food all the time. You deserve something REAL, healthy, and delicious! All it takes is a little planning and some forethought at the grocery store.
To ease your burdens a bit I have made 5 weeks of mommy approved lunch time meals to give your afternoon diet some variety. Just follow these steps and add the weekly grocery items to your shopping list and you’ll be set. (The freezer meals are completely optional! The lists have been separated so you can plan your meals with or without freezer meals)
Step 1: Go shopping. Here are the lists you may need
for a one page, easy to read, everything you need Lunch for Mom’s shopping list.
for freezer meal shopping list.
Step 2 (Optional):
Prepare some HOT meals for the freezer. Part of what makes ham sandwiches so unappealing is their lack of heat and flavorful ingredients. Mixing hot food into your week provides a variety you can’t otherwise find. Set aside an afternoon and prepare a batch of Fajitas (chicken or steak), Beef Enchiladas, and Lasagna. Rather than making a big pan, divide your batch into small serving sizes (the lasagna and enchiladas work well in disposable mini loaf pans, the fajitas freeze well in Ziplock bags). Place these in the freezer and use them in your weekly lunch time rotation.
(this recipe is very large so make ½ for your family for dinner and portion out the other ½ for lunch time freezer meals.)
Step 3: Cook and freeze meat.
Marinate 6 chicken tenders (or small breasts) in dressing of your choice (I like Sun Dried Tomato Vinaigrette and Vidalia Onion Vinaigrette) for an hour to overnight. Grill chicken on a grill pan or in a Panini press until cooked through.
Allow chicken to cool. Store 2 tenders in the refrigerator for Grilled Chicken Salad, 2 tenders in the freezer for Chicken Wonton Salad, and 2 more tenders in the freezer for Chicken Ciabatta Sandwich.
Cook 5-7 strips of Bacon until crisp; store ½ in the refrigerator for Avocado Egg Flatbread. Store the other ½ in the freezer for Spinach Salad.
(On week three) Hard boil 8 eggs (2-3 for chef’s salad, 5 for egg salad sandwiches).
Step 4: Use the following menu plans and add the ingredients to your regular grocery lists. (*Shopping lists were made with the assumption that all kitchens have access to salt, pepper, vinegar, sugar, oil, garlic salt, salsa) To reduce the amount of ingredients I substituted comparable items like Chive and Onion Cream cheese with Garlic and Herb Cream Cheese, etc.
Cut Wonton wrappers into strips and fry until golden brown. OR buy Fresh Gourmet Wonton Strips and do nothing! Take grilled chicken out of the freezer for Wonton Salad.
Take grilled chicken out of the freezer for ciabatta sandwich.
Take bacon out of the freezer for spinach salad.
The important thing to remember about making lunch taste grown up is not WHAT you are eating, but HOW you are eating it. For example, if my kids are eating chicken nuggets for lunch and I really don’t know what else to fix for myself I will make me some chicken nuggets with the kids but rather than eating them plain I will put them between two pieces of toast, add some spicy mustard, onions, tomatoes, and lettuce and make a chicken sandwich. When the kids eat quesadillas I also eat quesadillas but with pepper jack cheese and fresh sliced tomatoes and cucumbers. Ham sandwiches can turn from blah to wonderful with some spicy cheese and a hand full of veggies.
I included an egg meal on every week because eggs seem to be the quickest and easiest way for me to consume protein. They fill me up and keep me going for a long time, plus the possibilities with eggs are truly endless!