White Pepper & Parmesan Crackers :: Simple Bites #recipe

29 New Lunchbox Ideas

If the current weather is trying to get us in the mood for heading back to school, it’s working.

Yesterday morning felt like a brisk autumn day; I sent the boys outdoors with hoodies and socks, in addition to their usual attire, and they returned a short while later to request hot cocoa. It feels as though summer has been even more fleeting than usual, leaving me wishing for one more weekend to barbecue and enough heat to turn my green tomatoes to red.

Maybe a few more hot days are to come, maybe not, but instead of grasping at summer like I usually do, I’ve decided to look ahead to fall – the return to books and the inevitable school lunch.

If I have a lunchbox plan down on paper – a handful of ideas, a shopping lists, new items to try and old items to reintroduce – I’m good. Then I can take it morning-by-morning, a week at a time. This post is just as much for me as it is for you; I tend to forget what is in the archives and how much we enjoyed certain recipes.

So let’s take a look at some new ideas for school lunches together and get ready to make a plan, because, ready or not, that first day of school is coming up soon.

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A garden inspired picnic

A garden inspired picnic

I‘m currently running around trying to pack for a little family getaway to Prince Edward Island, but I have a recipe up over on Jamie Oliver you won’t want to miss.

It’s a spontaneous snacking weeknight supper that tuned into a little garden-inspired picnic. I brought outside for us to nibble on while we wound down from the day. The children buzzed around barefoot on the lawn, chasing chickens, while I walked Danny through a garden tour and we got caught up on our respective days.

It turned out to be one of my favourite meals from the week, and one I plan to reproduce several more times before the summer is over.

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Kids in the kitchen for FoodRev Day 2014

42 simple summer lunch ideas kids can make

When I announced to my boys that they would be making their own lunches over the summer, they responded with an enthusiastic “Yaaaaaay!”, followed by an unconvincing “Awwwww”. Since cooking is technically work, they didn’t want to come across as overly excited, but I knew that they were jazzed.

It’s all part of my master plan to keep them busy and out of trouble. I’d given it some thought and realized that lunch was the best meal for them to take over. I’m not awake enough to supervise breakfast prep first thing in the morning (kids don’t sleep in, remember?) and by dinner time they are fading from a day in the sun. No, it had to be lunch.

My children tend to eat a big lunch, then pick at their dinners; I’ve grown used to it. I stuffed their lunch kits with a well-rounded mid-day meal all school-year long and my 6-year-old never failed to return his completely empty. So, we’re putting some attention into lunches this summer, but still keeping things simple enough for them to execute under my supervision.

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Manners and the  family table

Our guidelines for good manners around the table

“Mom, can we ask Ethan why he was late?”

My eldest piped up with this question around our Sunday dinner table, while sitting across from the named guest. I remember trying to silence him with a look, and then muttering something along the lines of “we’ll talk about it later.”

Ah, kids. They certainly aren’t born with manners. It’s up to us, the parents, to teach them until they grow up and begin to grasp the meaning of tact and diplomacy. A most interesting discussion on the Simple Bites Facebook page a while ago encouraged me to write down and share our guidelines for good manners.

We strive to teach good behaviour around our table, but, boy, is it a work in progress. I’ve learned to heap on encouragement, striving to give 5 times the praise for each reprimand or instruction. Some nights it feels impossible to find anything good to say, but the children perk up with the praise and noticeably try harder.

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Pancake breakfast

How our kids made us brunch and how we lived to tell about it

Now that we’ve been cooking with our children for several years, we’ve always wondered how well would they function entirely on their own. My boys have claimed for some time now that they are proficient in the kitchen, and while they do a fine job, I have always remained close-by.

Last Monday was Danny’s and my wedding anniversary. The evening before was full of fugitive huddles and fervent whispers between brothers. Their eyes were shining when I tucked them into bed, and Mateo, the considerate one, asked me how early they could get up.

Something was afoot, although I’d never imagine they would attempt a full breakfast in our honour. It turns out those two are full of ambition.

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