Back to School & Work Lunch Recipes | Healthy Lunch Recipes |

School is back in session and many people who’ve been working from home are heading back to the office. Packing a lunch and having after-school/work snack ideas at the ready can help make the transition a bit easier for everyone. Our writers came up with some delicious ideas for quick and easy make-at-home eats that you can take with you, pack up for the kids, or enjoy once you’re home for the day.

Beat After-school Hunger with Nutritious Optionsfood

Written and photography by Cassie McClure 

If you dropped off your human children at school in the morning but received ravenous wolf pups from the afternoon pickup lane, it’s helpful to have a snack that can be prepped before they get home so that it’s ready for immediate devouring. Takis chips are a playground and cafeteria favorite, but you can replicate their spicy crunch in a healthier way with a Mexican seasoning called Tajin.

Instead of corn and food dyes, Tajin is made with chili peppers, sea salt, citric acid, dehydrated lime juice, and silicon dioxide (to prevent caking). Otherwise, there are no artificial colors or flavors. Generously coat slices of crunchy veggies like cucumbers or jicama with lime juice, then sprinkle with the seasoning. Tajin also goes surprisingly well with sweeter fruit like mangos and grapefruit.

Once the worst of the hangry has abated thanks to those crunchy veggies, you have time to have the kiddos create their own garden-fresh meal. Backyard basil is easy to grow, even in a pot on a small porch, and it makes a delicious fresh pesto. Ask the kids to pick the basil, and, with supervision, let them use the food processor to blend the basil with extra virgin olive oil, garlic, pine nuts or walnuts, salt, pepper, and a hard cheese like Romano or Parmesan. Allow them to decide the noodle-to-pesto ratio for the fettucine.

Watch out for wolf pup energy returning after they enjoy these nutritious, delicious foods!

12 Boiled Eggs, Four Weekday Meals

Written and photography by Tracy Patrick Roy

A quick trip to the vegetable aisle and a dozen eggs from the dairy section will yield four packed lunches when you add just a few fresh ingredients and some pantry staples. The result is a low-cost, low-calorie-yet-nutrient-dense week’s worth of workday lunches. These lunches can be easily prepared all at once and stored in containers in the refrigerator. Alternatively, you could simply boil the eggs, cut up the veggies, and store them individually in airtight containers. Each meal will take only a few minutes to assemble and pack.

12 hard-boiled eggs, cooled and peeled
2 hearts of Romaine lettuce, shredded
1 large tomato, half sliced, half diced
1 English cucumber, sliced
Small bag of baby carrots
4 slices sandwich bread
¼ cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
2 teaspoons mustard, divided
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons mayonnaise
1½ tablespoons sweet relish, divided
½ teaspoon garlic powder, divided
Salt and pepper, to taste
Paprika, for garnish
Ranch dressing or another salad dressing of
your choice
Cherries or seasonal fruit

Lunch 1: Two eggs and raw veggies
For a simple ensemble, pack 2 boiled eggs in a container with cucumber slices, sliced tomatoes (halved), carrots, and cherries.
Take some salad dressing for dipping.

Lunch 2: Salad with sliced egg + crackers and cherries
In a container, top a bed of shredded Romaine lettuce with cucumbers, diced tomatoes, baby carrots, and shredded cheese. Slice 2 eggs into four vertical slices each and top the salad. Take the salad dressing of your choice and don’t forget your crackers and cherries.

Lunch 3: Deviled eggs and salad
Slice 4 eggs in half vertically and scoop out the yolks into a bowl. Add 1 teaspoon mustard, 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard, 2 teaspoons mayonnaise, 1½ teaspoons sweet relish, ¼ teaspoon garlic powder, and salt and pepper to taste. Mix well with a fork until a paste forms. Scoop the yolks back into the egg halves and garnish with paprika. Package along with a salad made from the veggies and cheese.

Lunch 4: Egg salad sandwich
Smash 4 boiled eggs in a small bowl with a fork until broken into small pieces. Add 1 teaspoon mustard, 1 tablespoon mayonnaise, 1 tablespoon sweet relish, ¼ teaspoon garlic powder, and salt and pepper to taste. Mix well. Spread half of the mixture onto two slices of bread and add lettuce and tomato if desired. Save remaining egg salad for later, or pack two sandwiches!

No-bake oatmeal bites

Written and photography by Tracy Patrick Roy

This easy no-bake treat, made with pantry staples, packs a protein punch for afterschool snacking on the go.

1 cup oats
¾ cup creamy peanut butter
½ cup mini semisweet chocolate chips
⅛ cup chia seeds
¼ cup coconut flakes
2 tablespoons honey

Mix all ingredients in a bowl until well-blended. Form into 1-inch balls and place onto a parchment paper-lined baking tray. Refrigerate at least 2 hours before serving.

Meat, vegetable, fruit, and cheese kabobs

Written and photography by Jackye Meineckefood

Children — and even adults — like to play with their food. Small bites on sticks are a playful treat. In addition to being fun, these kabob combinations are healthy and filling.

Apple or pear
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Red and/or green grapes
Cherry tomatoes
Cheese or mozzarella balls
Slices of lunch meat
Pepper jelly
Package of skewers, measured to fit
your lunch box

Wash the tomatoes and fruit. Cut the apple or pear into chunks and soak in lemon juice. Cut cheese into small cubes. Slice the lunch meat into 1-inch strips, then accordion fold the strips and tuck pepper jelly into the folds. Thread the fruit and cheese onto skewers for sweet kabobs. Thread meat, tomatoes, and cheese onto different skewers for the savories.
Store the skewers flat in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. For children’s safety, snip off the pointed ends of the skewers once the ingredients are placed on the skewers.

Upscale Peanut Butter Sandwiches

Written and photography by Jackye Meinecke

When my family travels, we take peanut butter and bacon sandwiches because they don’t get soggy and don’t spoil easily. I decided to take this sandwich up a notch with candied bacon to make a satisfying lunch or afternoon snack.

Peanut Butter and Candied Bacon Sandwichfood

Ingredients for one sandwich:
2 slices of candied bacon
1 multigrain Sandwich Thin
2 tablespoons peanut butter

Candied bacon
This can be baked ahead and stored in the refrigerator for several weeks. Eight slices will top four sandwiches:

8 slices thick bacon
1 teaspoon cracked black pepper
(or to taste)
½ cup dark brown sugar
½ teaspoon chile powder (optional)

Line a jelly roll pan with foil to catch the grease and melted sugar to cut down on clean-up time. Place a rack in the jelly roll pan.

Spread the brown sugar on a large plate and mix in the pepper and chile (if using). Dredge each piece of bacon in the brown sugar mix on each side and place on the rack. Place the pan in the center of the oven. Turn on the oven and set the temperature to 400 F. Check the bacon after 15 minutes for crispness. If it is not brown and crisp to your taste, continue to cook for another 10 minutes, checking at 5-minute intervals.

Spread the peanut butter on the Sandwich Thin, add your bacon slices, and enjoy!


Originally published in Neighbors magazine.

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