The Lunch Lifesaver, Part 2: Batch Cooking for Sanity

The Lunch Lifesaver, Part 2: Batch Cooking for Sanity

We’re at the end of week two of school here in Toronto, but I know some of you have been back for a few weeks. How is it going? We had a couple of bumpy days last week but that was about the bus. I’ve been pretty pleased with how the packed lunch thing is panning out. Despite my fears, Julian is adjusting to losing the three-course, hot lunch he had for years at daycare and happily finishing up the packed bento box I’ve been sending him to senior kindergarten with. And it really doesn’t feel like much more work to pack two lunches rather than one.

My real trick is doing as much prep on the weekends as I can. It’s my goal to make two or three things on the weekend and two of those are with school lunches in mind. Once you start this habit of cooking ahead each weekend, you’ll start to build up your freezer as part of your arsenal in a way that is life changing. So a couple of days a week I’m really just assembling a lunch rather than making it. And talking about assembling, I make sure that I have lots of packable ingredients for snacks – things that won’t smush. Even though I use a bento box, which keeps lunch elements from touching each other, there are foods that just don’t travel or keep well. Looking at you, raspberries. But grapes, carrots sticks, peppers cut into strips, cucumber rounds, cherry tomatoes, celery sticks, etc, all make it through the day well.

Okay, here’s the lunch plan for next week, with a few things you batch cook on the weekends. Let us know how it’s going for you, what you’d like to see and what your kids like or don’t like. We love hearing from you!

A Week’s Worth of SPC Lunches

lentilchili

Make a pot of this Lentil Chili on Sunday and either have it for dinner that night or get it in the freezer for sometime during the week. Then use the leftovers to fill a thermos (or two!) for lunch. It’s hearty, not too spicy and packed with fibre, vitamins and minerals. Feel free to add mushrooms and or diced sweet peppers if you got those.

quichefinal

Whip up a batch of these mini quiche, get them in a tightly sealed container and then freeze them. When you’re packing lunches in the evening, just grab as many as you need and pop them in your kid’s lunch container. By the time the lunch bell rings, they’ll be completely thawed and ready to go. My kids like a combination of cherry tomatoes and sweet peppers but feel free to toss in any finely diced veggie.

mushroombarleysoup

This Mushroom Barley Soup is a breeze to make and is basically fall in a bowl. A thermos of this soup will fuel your kids all afternoon.

hummussammiepost

This Hummus and Feta Sandwich has plenty of protein along with a serving of fruit from the sliced apple, so it’s a nutritional win. You can make your own hummus or go with a store-bought brand (I love Sunflower Kitchen), try another kind of cheese if feta doesn’t appeal to your crew. A sharp cheddar would be good but even a mild mozzarella is great. Just be sure to give the apple slices a good squeeze of lemon juice to keep them from turning brown.

Why not end the week with a twist on a classic tuna sandwich? This tortilla-wrapped number gives you the chance to add a couple of servings of veggies to the mix. The post comes from the sad, pre-Maya days of SPC, so I’m not sharing the image here. But believe me, it’s a great sandwich!

Your SPC shopping list:

Produce

celery
cherry tomatoes (pint)
carrots (3 but get more to cut up as snacks)
avocado
garlic
onion x 2
1 lb Cremini mushrooms
lemons x 2
green onions
fresh thyme (but go ahead and used dry if that’s easier)

Grocery

olive oil
cumin
chili powder
bay leaves
whole grain sliced bread
whole grain tortillas
canned tuna
mayonnaise
eggs x 3
milk
cheddar cheese
feta cheese
pearl barley
chicken or vegetable stock (2 cups)
white navy beans x 1 19 oz can
black beans x 1 19 oz can
whole tomatoes x 1 28 oz can
and if you’re making hummus:
chick peas x 1 15 oz can
tahini

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