Darcie Maranich

Darcie Maranich


How about this weather we’re having lately? Not too shabby, right? It’s only February and already the tiniest green buds are appearing on my trees in the backyard. And I’ve had to dig out shorts for my kids to wear to school. These brag-worthy temperatures have even enabled us to shut down both the heater and AC in favor of open windows and fresh air. It’s official: I have spring fever. While I’m absolutely enjoying the warm, sunny days, spring fever also has a bit of a drawback—at least for me. I tend to get in a bit of a mom rut this time of the school year. It’s possible that I look more forward to summer break than my kids do. It’s a vacation for me, too, after all. Summer break means alarm-free mornings and laidback afternoons at the park or the pool. It means not having to help with homework. The very best part, though? Summer break means that I don’t have to come with any more nutritious and delicious (not to mention visually appealing) packed lunches!

Seeing as how we still have a few months to go in this school year, I had to come up with some fresh ideas to tide us over; it seems my kids have grown tired of the classic lunchbox pb&j. And, truth be told, I can’t say I blame them. Not to worry because I’ve got three creative new ways to fill their little bento boxes and keep them happy until that final school bell rings. I’m sharing the ideas today, just in case your little ones could use a change, too.

Pizza muffins – These are genius! To make them, you simply roll out homemade or store-bough pizza dough and spread it with pizza sauce, cheese and toppings of your choice. Rather than bake it as is, though, you roll it up as if you were making cinnamon rolls, and cut slices that are about an inch thick. Place the rolled pizza into a muffin tin and bake at 400 degrees for about twenty minutes. These handy and delicious pizza muffins can be frozen and thawed overnight for eating the next day. My kids love them!

Hummus melts – Start with a whole wheat English muffin and spread it with a generous slathering of hummus. Top with shredded mozzarella cheese and pop it into the oven under a broiler just until the cheese is melted and bubbly. To serve in a packed lunch, you can either wrap it in foil to keep it warm or place it atop an ice pack for a cold sandwich alternative.

Veggie pita pockets – Combine one can of garbanzo beans with ½ cup of quartered cherry tomatoes and ½ c diced cucumbers. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Scoop ½ cup of the mixed veggies into a whole wheat pita pocket. I also send along a small cup of greek yogurt for dipping.

Hopefully one (or all!) of these lunch ideas will help get you and your kids through to summer break, too!

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