The sandwich is traditional lunchtime fare for many children, but sometimes even the tried and true favorite turns stale. If you're looking for a change of pace from the usual mid-day sandwich, pack a hearty bread-free lunch that keeps your child satisfied while providing plenty of energy for the afternoon ahead.
Making soup doesn't need to be complicated. Start with the broth of your choice and add shredded or cubed chicken, or skip the meat and use vegetable broth for a vegetarian soup. Add your favorite vegetables such as onions, carrots, tomatoes, zucchini or broccoli, along with salt and pepper or a package of dried salad dressing mix. For a little more heft, add lentils, barley or split peas. Pack the hot soup in a thermos.
Consider incorporating whole grains such as brown rice, quinoa or bulgur wheat, which fill kids up and provide energy. Older children and adventurous eaters might enjoy a stuffed portabella mushroom cap or a bell pepper half. Mix your choice of cooked whole grain with grated cheese and a few tablespoons of creamy dressing. For a quick and simple lunch for a vegetarian teen, combine brown rice with rinsed, canned beans and a chopped onion. Cook a large batch of any whole grain to store in the refrigerator for reheating in the microwave. Leftovers such as cooked chicken, vegetables or grated cheese often come in handy for easy rice add-ins.
Instead of bread or typical flour-based wraps, wrap your lunch in a large-leaf lettuce such as romaine. Use two or three leaves to wrap fillings such as tuna salad or a hamburger patty spread with creamy dressing. Keep things simple by filling your lettuce leaves with thinly sliced deli meat such as turkey, ham or roast beef, along with a slice of cheddar, mozzarella or Swiss cheese. If you have a little extra time, make an Asian-style lettuce wrap filled with chicken breast, water chestnuts, mushrooms and shredded carrots. Flavor the filling with soy or teriyaki sauce, or garden vegetable ranch dressing.
Potatoes are rich in nutrients and fiber, and until you add toppings, they contain no fat. A potato cooks in the microwave in minutes, but if you have time, an oven-baked potato provides more flavor. Top the potato with nearly anything your heart desires, including chili, grated cheese, cooked vegetables such as peas, broccoli, cauliflower, onions, salsa or beans, ground beef. You could add cooked chicken, ham or cream of mushroom soup. Finish with chives and sour cream or creamy buttermilk ranch dressing.