There are many things that can interrupt the flow of a good school day, and lunch time can be one of them. I don’t know about you, but there are times when we are in our learning mode, everyone is doing what they are supposed to, lunch time rolls around and BAM…all chaos breaks out. Everyone is hungry. Mom doesn’t know what to make. The little ones start getting into stuff while mom stares in the fridge thinking about what kind of gulash (this is what my kids call stuff I make up on the spur of the moment) she can come up with.
There are two things I have learned while staring aimlessly into the fridge:
1. Plan ahead – I don’t necessarily have a full-out meal plan for lunches, but I do try to have a general plan for the week. I either try to make extra food for dinner so that we can have leftovers, or I make sure and have food on hand that can me made up quickly.
2. Keep it simple – There is nothing worse than 12:00 rolling around and starting a lunch that takes over an hour to prepare. Keeping lunch simple helps to keep lunch on time with little effort. It also makes it easier to have your children help with lunch.
With these two things in mind, I want to share one of my favorite foods to serve for lunch…
Beans just don’t get the fanfare they deserve. They are full of protein and fiber and so good for growing bodies.
What I like to do is make up a large pot of pinto beans at the first of the week (sometimes on Saturdays, if I plan ahead). It is best if you can let them soak in water overnight. After soaking, I pour off the water (if there is any left, sometimes it is all soaked up). I then cover the beans with a generous amount of water, add some salt and garlic powder, and cook until tender. I prefer using my pressure cooker, but you could also cook in a pot or in the slow cooker.
I now have a base for a weeks worth of lunches.
Here are a few suggestions:
Beans and cornbread – I grew up eating beans and cornbread. You can either pour the beans over the cornbread, or just eat a bowl of beans with the cornbread on the side. A variation of this would be to make up a pot of chili with beans. This could be done for supper, then serve the leftovers for lunch.
Refried beans – Take a large skillet (cast iron works great), put in a bit of oil, then add in beans. I try not to add too much liquid at first. I season my refried beans with chili powder, cumin, garlic powder, and salt. After they are hot and bubbly, I take a potato smasher and smash them up until they are smooth. At this point, you may have to add in more liquid if they get too thick.
I use the refried beans to make:
Bean and cheese burritos – Fill a tortilla with refried beans and cheese. You can also add lettuce, tomatoes, sour cream, guacamole, and salsa…or anything else that tickles your fancy. I also like to make these and roll them up, put them in a baking dish, and cover with enchilada sauce. I cover it all with cheese and bake until bubbly.
Chalupas – Chalupas are basically flat tacos. You can buy corn tortillas and fry them in oil until they are crispy or you can buy the already made ones (check next to the taco shells in the store). If you buy the already made kind, you might want to heat them up a bit. Top the tortilla with the same toppings as you would a burrito.
Nachos – Place chips on a baking sheet, cover with beans and cheese, heat until melted.
Taco salads – I break up corn chips (tostitos type) and cover with seasoned hamburger meat, refried beans, cheese, lettuce, tomato, etc.
Quesadillas – Place beans and cheese between two tortillas. Put a dab of butter on a griddle or in a skillet and brown tortillas on both sides, making sure the cheese melts.
I like to serve these meals with some fresh fruit for “dessert”.
What about you? What do you like to serve as a healthy, quick, and easy lunch?
Don’t forget to check out the other High Five Moms and see what they are cooking up for lunch!