If you are a homeschooling Mom, you already know how hard it can be to prepare a good lunch every day of the school week for a group of hungry children and still be able to get your housework done and assist the children in their own work….and get supper ready!
This is our 23rd year of homeschooling and just as with curriculum choices, what to prepare and serve for lunch can sometimes be a matter of trial and error. My goal is to help you along with some of the poor choices and good choices I have made over the years and give you ideas for lunches.
Hot Lunch vs. Cold Lunch
While some people always insist on a hot lunch, I think we can find a balance here. There are some days when a cold lunch is just as nice and just as filling. The weather has a lot to do with what we eat. Cold days call for soups and stews, warm breads and muffins. Days when we are rushed for time and have errands to run may be good days for a quick, cold lunch or a lunch that can be packed and taken along.
You can also introduce Tea Time into your afternoon. As a homeschooler, you have that luxury of teaching your children how to slow down and read aloud while enjoying good food, tea and the company of others. Tea Time is a good time to offer snacks.
Here are some quick ideas for making lunch time more manageable for your homeschool:
Plan Ahead – Make up your menu at least a week ahead of time. Factor in leftovers and meals for which you can cook once, eat twice. Plan on cooking for lunch and supper at the same time, often.
Set aside Lunch Food – Don’t let your family or yourself pilfer the lunch food during the week. That way you will have what you need come lunch time.
Choose Food that Helps Children Concentrate – Avoid foods that are high in artificial/hydrogenated fats and processed sugars. Choose whole grains, lean meats, fish and vegetables, fruits and beans. Even a pizza can be a healthy choice if you make it with a whole grain crust and lean meat.
Schedule lunch for the same time every day. This helps children get into some good habits. Washing hands, cleaning up their work area and helping prepare lunch are all great ways to teach your children how to do things for themselves. Having lunch at the same time every day also teaches your children to wait and to have patience.
I usually plan on three hot meals per school week and two cold meals. Here are some lunch ideas for you to start with:
Hot Meal Ideas:
Whole wheat tortillas with cheese and/or refried beans – Check out my recipe for soft flat bread. Its very easy to make and great with refried beans.
Chicken and Corn chowder with crackers – This is easier than it sounds. Use pre-cooked chicken, (or use sausage), chicken broth to cover, bring to a simmer, add 1 can of creamed corn and 1 can of drained kernel corn. Once its hot add some cream or milk to the thickness you like. Taste and season with black pepper and salt. Check out my homemade cracker recipe, its delicious.
Potato soup – Boil some cut up potatoes til they are tender, add milk, salt to taste and then shredded or cubed cheese to taste.
Canned chili beans and brown rice, shredded cheese – Cook your rice and season it with salt and butter., Then to the cooked rice add 1 can of chili beans. Top each serving with shredded cheese, green onion, tomato, cilantro.
Crusty bread with vegetable soup
Whole wheat toast with peanut butter
Cinnamon Apple Toast - My children like this with a scrambled egg on the side.
Whole wheat toast with baked beans spread on top
Homemade chicken nuggets with honey mustard or ranch dressing – Cut up chicken breasts into small, bite sized pieces. Put them in a bowl and cover with buttermilk. Let the chicken sit while you get everything else ready. Heat some oil in a big, heavy pan. I use a cast iron dutch oven. Drain the chicken then dredge the pieces in flour. After they are all dredged with flour you can sprinkle them with salt. Fry the pieces in hot oil til they are dark golden brown. Drain on paper towels and while they are draining, if you want that Chick-filet taste, drizzle the fried pieces with a tiny amount of honey.
Cold Meal Ideas:
Apple slices and nut butter for dipping
Fruit and cheese, crackers
Raw vegetables and dip
Hummus and dippers
Homemade vegetable chips and sandwiches