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Turn a Boring Lunchbox into a Festive Meal

August 22, 2013

Wow! Can you believe it’s back to school time? Time to start planning dinner menus, activity schedules and back to school lunches. I especially pay close attention to that school lunch prep because school lunches have to be enticing enough to be eaten and hearty enough to keep my kiddo full until his school day concludes.

One of my most effective tips to keep school lunches from being traded is to make them fun. I’m still incorporating healthy and delicious ingredients but with a little bit of creativity and a few simple tools, you can turn a boring lunch box into a festive meal.

Fun lunches are easy to prepare. First, figure out what you can prepare that is simple to transport without making a mess. Foods such as quesadillas, empanadas, wraps and sandwiches travel easily in backpacks and lunch sacks.

Since August is National Sandwich Month, I decided to prepare one of the most popular and easy to assemble school meals for my son’s first day of school lunch: a ham and cheese sandwich! But this isn’t a regular ham and cheese sandwich, this sandwich has a few special ingredients that make it pretty spectacular.

Salsa rosa is a perfect spread for any sandwich. It’s tangy, flavorful and easy to prepare. It also makes a great dipping sauce for kabobs, and other simple appetizers.

For this sandwich, you can use your child’s favorite cheese and OSCAR MAYER CARVNG BOARD Meats. Their flavors come together nicely.

Assembling a fun school lunch or a bento box, can be a bit tricky. Always make sure every space in the box is filled with something yummy. Berries, raisins and nuts make great space fillers that are healthy and easy to eat. Cut sandwiches, tortillas and quesadillas in fun shapes. I love my star cutter because it is the perfect size to cut through a large sandwich. If you have small cookie cutters, use them to cut cucumber, carrots, and cheese shapes to make your creation more attractive. Use colorful, layered salads or baby greens as a compliment. Fresh fruit, crackers and cold pasta make great sides as well.

If you are packing a hot side dish as part of your bento box, make sure the dish can be microwaved separately. You wouldn’t want to warm up your rice packed in the same container as a crisp green salad with avocado.

Happy school year and let’s get creative!

Star Ham and Cheese Sandwich with Salsa Rosa Spread
Serves 1

Ingredients
2 sandwich bread slices
1 slice KRAFT Singles
1 slice OSCAR MAYER CARVING BOARD Slow Cooked Ham
½ Tbsp. KRAFT Real Mayo Mayonnaise
½ Tbsp. ketchup
½ tsp. lime juice
1 egg
½ cup variety of baby greens or sprouts
tortilla chips
¾ cup strawberries, chopped in bite-sized pieces

Directions

PLACE egg in a medium saucepan and fill with water, covering the egg 1-2 inches. Bring water to a full, rolling boil and cover the saucepan. Remove from heat and let it stand for 12 minutes, covered.

DRAIN hot water and transfer egg to a bowl filled with cold water.

PEEL the egg and transfer to a fun egg mold. Close mold and let it sit for 5 minutes. Carefully remove from mold and set in bento box.

COMBINE mayonnaise, ketchup and lime juice in a small bowl. Stir to combine.

SPREAD mayonnaise/ketchup on sandwich slices. Add cheese and ham slice. Using a large star shape cutter, cut sandwich and place in bento box.

FILL in open bento box spaces with tortilla chips, salad greens or sprouts, strawberries and small star cheese cut outs. Finish by piercing strawberries with decorative picks for a fun effect.

For more recipes and ideas, visit my blog at www.nibblesandfeasts.com.

Turn a Boring Lunchbox into a Festive Meal
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