Tag Archives: lunch ideas

Gluten Free Menu Swap – Lunches! September 1 – 5, 2008

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Gluten Free Menu Swap Monday

In honor of the first week of students, I not posting my dinner menu but rather my lunch menu.  This is, after all, the menus that are the most difficult to manage after a summer of coasting in/out of my kitchen at my own leisure.  (Not to mention the freedom of using the bathroom when biology tells me too rather than responding Pavlovian-style to a bell like at school.)

Here are a few teacher secrets for those of you have not ventured in to a classroom since your own school days or who have only ventured through the halls of school in parent-mode:

  • Most of us teachers have night-terrors and mini-freak outs in the days before school starts because we could swear that we’ve forgotten EVERYTHING about how to teach, etc.
  • If you hear heavy-breathing in the hallway on the first day of school, it’s more than likely NOT a couple kids sneaky around for a brief “snog” (love that word) but rather a teacher racing for the copier in the last minute or freaking out about the onslaught of the teenage masses/hormones that we haven’t been surrounded by in a few weeks.  It’s quite an energy change and rather exhausting to readjust to it all.
  • Parent Night, Open House, Meet the Teacher Night or whatever it is called where you live calls forth fear and anxiety in even the most veteran of teachers.  Even though teachers are, basically, public speakers for 6 or more hours of the day…. we do not spend that time talking to our peers.  And no matter how often Parent Night comes around, my knees still shake and I have no conscience memory of what is coming out of my mouth.  <Scary, huh?>
  • It will take us several days/weeks (depends on the teachers) to master the names of the 150 kids that fly through our classroom doors, but that doesn’t mean we don’t see their personalities and enjoy their humor.
  • Sometimes it’s the quiet classes that freak us out the most.  At least when they are talking, you know what they are thinking <usually>.
  • The end of August and the beginning of September are the times of year when we both relish our love of teaching and yet somehow we oft forget that we are competent.

Just to prove my point… as soon as I’m done with this post, I’m off to type up course syllabi and plan my first few days of school.  Despite the fact that I have been slowly stewing ideas in my brain all summer, I’m almost at a white-knuckle panic about it all.  The kids don’t arrive for classes until Wednesday <INSERT MONSTER-LARGE SIGH HERE>.  This gives me time to compare my ideas with colleagues and to set up my classroom a bit longer.

All of this made me want to ask you all about your first days of high school.  What do you remember about them?  What did you do in classes?  (I’m willing to bet that most of you remember picking out your first day of school outfit and checking out class schedules with buddies….but that you maybe don’t remember much about the actual class.  Am I right? LOL)

So here is my snack and lunch plan for the school week.  Forgive me, Gluten-Free Menu Swappers and Meal Plan Monday (OrgJunkie.com) for switching it up a bit.  I usually post our dinner menu, but I thought I would stick to my panic theme.  It seems to be working for me at the moment.    Thank you, Gluten-Free Goodness for hosting the swap this week and to OrgJunkie for hosting Meal Plan Monday as well.

Monday: (No School.  Lunch @ home)  Ham & Egg roll up sandwiches, white peaches and lemonade.

Tuesday:  Leftover Sausage & Zuchini lasagna, quinoa tabouleh, 2 plums and water

Wednesday: Ham & clover roll up sandwich, cherries, strawberry yogurt and lemonade.

Thursday: Ham & white bean soup, white peaches, hummus with veggies sticks and lemonade

Friday: Shrimp-Caesar salad, apple crisp (have to use those apples up!), pumpkin seeds and walnuts, and lemonade.

And for the roll-up sandwiches, I use this recipe. If I want really thin bread, I use one recipe but divide the dough in half and smooth it out as far as possible.  It makes an almost paper thin bread which works well if your sandwich fillings are light and not wet.

Happy Gluten Free Lunches, All!
-Kate

PS.  If you are looking for more GF Lunch ideas then check out these two posts:

  1. Packing up your Gluten Free Lunch (how to pack it up, what I use to pack my lunches)
  2. Gluten Free Lunch To Go:  Ideas for what to pack (a list of general lunch ideas that I have used)

Gluten Free Lunch: To Go! Ideas for what to pack

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GF Bento Lunch

A packed lunch from last school year. Photo by Kate Chan

Are you looking for a little inspiration for your lunch box/bag?  Me too.  I put together a little post about my favorite ways to pack up my lunch to make it more exciting and now I thought I’d list a few of my lunch menus/ideas/components as well as some links to where I find inspiration to cute-up or nutrition-up my lunches.

Just a little thought for you neophytes on the hand-packed, homemade lunch route:  I’ve gotten MUCH better at packing a balanced lunch than I used to be.  I don’t think I paid much attention to my food balance… until I started taking pictures of it all!  Now THAT will keep ya on your toes – and it’s much healthier to boot!

The easiest lunch to take:  leftovers.  And this is something I take frequently.  We make extra portions when we cook for exactly this purpose.   While cleaning up the kitchen, I just pack the leftovers for lunch, varying a bit the side dishes (if I pack side dishes at all) and being sure to toss in some fruit/veg.  I know leftovers are not exactly the most romantic or exciting thing…. well, wait.. that depends on what you ate for dinner, I guess.  Sometimes leftovers aren’t an option – maybe we didn’t eat at home or we had friends over, etc.  So that is when the rest of this list kicks in.

I wrote about lunches last year too.  I think the lunch thing always hits me hard when school starts.  I’m no longer at home where easy access to “whip” something up is possible.  Being gluten-free and planning lunch has certainly forced me to become more organized and thorough about my plans for the day.  I no longer just “wing it”, but make sure that I have a plan for myself so I don’t feel deprived or annoyed…. or downright crabby (I was so gonna say something else… but I’m keeping it PG) at work.  Some days last twelve hours or more at school and then another 2 or 3 at home prepping for the next day.  I don’t have time for food meltdowns.

And now with a kidlet on the way?  NO TIME for FOOD meltdowns times two. (And thankfully, no more twelve hours at school crap either!  I shall be joining the ranks of those teachers who are “permitted and allowed” to leave at a reasonable hour because they have kids.  Apparently my dog, Max, never counted as this permission – even though he is quite dependent on us for those walks/potty breaks. Oy vey! I’m whining again! Sorry!)

Mr. Bento Premier

A Mr. Bento Lunch – My first Mr. Bento Lunch from the 07-08 School Year.
Photo by Kate Chan

(Click on the link for the picture to see what each item is.)

So, what’s my plan?   Here’s the list of goodies that I count on for lunch.  It’s a mix and match list.  (And I’m probably even repeating some here without knowing it.)  What would you add?

These are the  items I pack:

  • Green leafy salads – all varieties!
  • Quinoa Salads or Quinoa Tabbouleh
  • Cheese crackers/Mock Fish crackers
  • Fruit:  Grapes, cherries, oranges, blueberries, bananas, oranges, starfruit, jicama, etc.
  • Veggie sticks:  carrots, celery, sugar snap peas, broccoli, cauliflower, lettuce wraps, etc
  • Mango-Ginger Chutney with GF lunch meats and/or salad
  • Stew/Rice packed on top to keep the stew together and warm
  • Nori Wraps – nori wrapped around cucumber, avocado, etc – with or without rice
  • Sushi – California rolls, tuna, salmon, cucumber, inari, etc rolls.  (sushi rice recipe)
  • GF Pretzels with grain mustard dip
  • Celery with GF Cinnamon peanut butter or cinnamon hazelnut or cinnamon almond butter
  • Raw nuts/seeds and dried fruit
  • Homemade GF granola bars/granola cereal
  • Polenta Fries
  • Cottage Cheese
  • Savory grits
  • Yogurt  (with fruit, or fat free Greek yogurt, etc)
  • Red pepper strips with tzatziki
  • Taco salads/nachos: Chips, guacamole/avocado, salsa, shredded lettuce, shredded chicken
  • Chicken/tuna salad (use Greek yogurt instead of mayo to lower the fat)
  • Canned salmon/tuna (packed in water)
  • Chilaquiles (I love using the Nissan for this.  Keep the broth HOT until I’m ready for the chilaquiles!)
  • Onigiri (Seamaiden @ Book of Yum has a great post about Onigiri here)
  • Jicama strips
  • Beef or salmon jerky
  • Hard boiled eggs (shaped, of course)
  • String cheese or “Laughing Cow” cheese bites
  • Egg Muffins (NOT Egg McMuffins) with cheese/ham or green onion/garlic or mushrooms (See Kaylyn’s Kitchen for the recipe.)
  • Teriyaki Chicken salad
  • Steamed veggies
  • Risotto with seasonal veg and/or seafood
  • Parmesan crisps
  • Lettuce wrap sandwiches
  • Spring rolls
  • Dates with cream cheese and walnuts (definitely a dessert!)
  • Nori strips for snacking
  • Garbanzo beans:  on salads, fried or baked/crispy for snacking or salads
  • Baked Falafel
  • Fruit kebabs
  • Hummus with veg sticks or pita or baked wrap “chips”
  • Fruit leather (Here’s how Carrie @ Ginger Lemon Girl makes hers.)
  • Popcorn
  • Smoothies
  • Cinnamon nuts
  • Cucumber salads or sandwiches
  • Little fruit-filled mochi or red bean-filled mochi (I like the small 1 oz size)
  • Rice cakes (I prefer the thin ones over the thick ones, if savory)
  • Sweet rice cakes (dessert or sweet treat after school at only 20 calories!)
  • Baked sweet potato chips (or parsnip chips, etc)
  • Rice with nori & sesame seeds
  • GF Oatmeal with cherries or cinnamon with a little rice milk
  • Sandwiches
  • Wrapped Sandwiches

And of course – desserts when I will allow myself the treat. (Check the desserts recipes on the Recipe page.) I like make cookies to bring to work.  Helps with portion control – and looks “normal”  LOL!  I especially love Aunt Selma’s (GF) Oatmeal Cookies and the Chocolate Threat Cookies.

Mr Bento...mmm..cold salad & GF lunch =)

Another of My Mr. Bento Lunches – a tad starch-heavy, but yummy!
Photo by Kate Chan

(Click on the link for the picture to see what each item is.)

I know this list is not nearly complete.  There are a million things we can eat for lunch.  And here are a few sites where I seek inspiration when I’m feeling in a lunch-rut:

  • Mr. Bento Flickr Pool - People take pictures of their Mr. Bento packed lunches.  You don’t have to have a Mr. Bento to be inspired by some of their ideas – Many of which are quick, healthy, and easy on the budget too.
  • Laptop Lunch Flickr Pool - Just like the “Mr. Bento” pool – but with a different pack.  Still inspirational – and often kid-friendly too.
  • Lunch In A Box – a great site with great ideas for lunches.  While she focuses on “bentos”, really – it’s all just packing a lunch. :)
  • Lunchbox Recipes Flickr Pool – Similar to the three above, except you are guaranteed a recipe to go along with the tasty eye-candy treats.
  • The Lunchbox Gourmet - Written by someone with multiple food allergies (NOT gluten-free, however) and is a rather long list of recipes and ideas for lunches.  Perfect to make your brain kick in to gear and get you motivated!
  • Chocolat-Vanille’s Flickr Bento Set – A Japanese woman who shares photos of her Tupperware lunches.
  • Kastinkerbento - A live journal blog with photos of great bento meals from breakfast through dinner
  • And OF COURSE – ALL of my GF Blogger Buddies, links on the side here.  HUGE Inspiration there!

A little bento lunch

Another school lunch from last year.
Photo by Kate Chan

(Click on the link for the picture to see what each item is.)

And check out this super cute idea…. oh, yea… I can’t WAIT until there is a kidlet around this house for me to make bentos like this for! Strawberry Mice anyone? (Almond ears, mini-chocolate chip eyes/nose)

Photo by Shiegra.  Found here on Flickr.

So …. what are YOU going to be packing for lunches this <school> year?