Easy lunches

Creative healthy lunches for daycare, school, on the run, at the office or at home can be stressful to make. As the school year starts we all start to get busier and need easy, healthy lunches. I admit I have fallen into a lunch rut for myself and have been eating leftovers or Lean Cuisines so that I have time to cook dinner, job hunt, write this blog, shower or maybe clean my house while the boys are napping :) I'm a stickler at dinner and breakfast for us all eating the same thing. Not quite sure why that is different at lunch? Maybe because we have different schedules and it always seems rushed.

Here is a sample lunch menu for our family for the week:

Mondays, I have all 3 kids at home with me while my husband goes to work. Tim gets leftovers for lunch, the kids eat Annie's mac-n-cheese mixed with peas and bananas on the side. I have a sweet and sour chicken Lean Cuisine.

Tuesdays, Karina is in school so I pack her lunch: 2 ham and cream cheese roll ups, a plum, crackers and a yogurt with water. Tim takes leftovers again or a ham and cheese sandwich with a banana. The boys will eat chicken nuggets with roasted broccoli and sweet potato fries. While I'm baking the nuggets and fries, I put a couple of frozen broccoli spears on the same sheet pan and just roast it along with the other frozen foods. Easy! I eat mac n cheese from Lean Cuisine (with a pinch of cayenne for more flavor).

Wednesdays, same schedule as Tuesdays. Karina's school lunch: cream cheese and jelly on a multigrain bagel thin, grapes and a cheese stick with water. Tim takes leftovers (sensing a pattern? Luckily he likes them). The boys will eat the same as Karina but with peanut butter and jelly. If I have the energy to make sometime for myself, it usually is a salad with handful of black beans, blueberries, a little leftover meat from last night and a little shredded cheddar or feta or even a cut up cheese stick if that is all I have in the fridge. Add a little olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper and it is a tasty little salad.

Thursdays, same schedule again. Karina's school lunch: leftover pasta primavera (cold) with yogurt and water. Boys, leftover pasta and yogurt (I try to match Karina and the boys' lunches and make them all in the morning so I don't have to do it twice). Tim, leftover pasta and me, probably another lean cuisine :)

Fridays, All 3 kids are home with me again. Kids and I will have tuna fish sandwich on whole wheat with peaches and carrot sticks with hummus.What does Tim take to work? You guessed it, leftovers.

Saturdays and Sundays, If we are all home or some of us are, we usually eat leftover homemade pizza from Friday night's dinner and some fruit or carrots or in the fall we often have soup and a grilled cheese sandwich or quesadillas.

Here are some lunch recipes from me or blogs I like to follow:

Quesadillas you can get very creative with. The link will take you to quesadilla recipes I've previously mentioned.
Tomato tart from Michael Simon over at the Chew. This one requires actual cooking, but I did it the other day when we spent a rare morning at home and the kids actually were playing nicely together. I didn't have as many tomatoes as he suggests, but it was still delicious. I also happened to have some pastry dough leftover from making the Quiche Lorraine around Julia Child's 100th birthday. We had a little picnic with it. My kids, I don't know how, but do not really like tomatoes, so weren't huge fans but I loved it!
Pinterest of course has many ideas as well. My kids' favorite one is hot dogs with pasta. Take dry spaghetti noodles and stick through cut up hot dogs. Boil it all together until the pasta is cooked. I sometimes serve it with perogies and edamame.

Catherine over at Weelicious posted some sandwich ideas recently.

Red Tricyle also has some ideas for school lunches today.
I try to make the lunches balanced with a protein, grain, dairy, fruit and/or vegetable. What do you make for you and your family for lunch? We all could use ideas!