Quick Fast & Easy Lunch Meals

by Angela Tague

If your midday schedule includes picking up a toddler from a half-day school program, running errands and balancing work duties, keep lunch simple. Children don't expect a gourmet three-course hot meal. As long as your little one has a rainbow of color and several food groups represented on her plate, you've prepared a healthy lunch.

Cool Kabobs

If your child loves sandwich toppings, but leaves the bread behind, make meat and cheese kabobs for lunch. To keep the meal safe, use slender fiber-packed whole-wheat pretzel sticks as skewers. Alternate cubed deli meats and cheeses on the pretzel. Try low-fat turkey, calcium-rich cheddar and top with a bite-size cherry tomato for a burst of vitamin C and lycopene. Serve the kabobs with a side of baby carrots and dipping sauce for a well-balanced, easy lunch that doesn't require the stove, oven or microwave.

Simple Pizzas

Kids love pizza in any form. For a quick lunch, transform a bagel half into a single-serving pizza. Spread pizza or pasta sauce on the bagel, top with shredded mozzarella and load on the veggies. Keep the preparation simple by using a pre-cut frozen vegetable mix of green peppers and onions. For extra protein, dice meat from last night's dinner. Ground beef, chicken, ham or bacon blend well with pizza sauce. Add a dash of dry dressing and dip mix for a burst of flavor, and warm the creation in a toaster oven until the cheese melts.

Creative Sandwiches

Make bite-size sandwiches from cocktail bread or pita pockets. The miniature size fits perfectly in a toddler's hands and looks different than his usual triangle sandwich halves. Load the mini sandwiches with sliced hard-boiled eggs, deli meats and fresh sliced tomato. To make the sandwiches in a snap, prepare a batch of hard boiled eggs during your free time and keep them on hand for salads, sandwiches or as a protein-filled snack. Spread fat-free creamy dressing on the sandwich bread instead of mayo to hold it all together.

Reinventing Leftovers

Use last night's dinner to whip up a quick soup, casserole or sandwich for your little one. Add leftover cooked vegetables to a can of tomato soup. Layer leftover turkey breast on whole wheat crackers with a dollop of creamy dressing to create open-face sandwiches. Mix excess pasta noodles with that last portion of pot roast for a simple casserole. Slice a fresh apple for dessert and you've not only used up leftovers, you've created a healthy lunch in minutes.

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