School lunch can be big on flavour

Good game plan ensures kids actually eat and enjoy lunch

Well, parents everywhere are breathing a sigh of relief and kids are groaning in agony as the school buses hit the roads on their way back to school. Kids are excited for a day or two as they get to show off their new clothes, see friends that they haven't seen in awhile and get settled into their new grades but that wears off pretty quick and after that first week they'll start to look more like they're walking the green mile on their way into class.

One way to make the days go easier for your studious little school goer is to pack them up a good lunch that they'll actually like eating. I know that sounds pretty obvious but it can be difficult to hit a home run everyday when it comes to making lunches. Finding a variety of cool foods that won't get traded away for a pudding or a fruit roll up helps in a big way and just requires a little imagination and some insight on what kids like.

Spend a little time mapping out lunches. Not only does having a game plan save you time in the long run but avoiding repeats is a good way to keep lunch interesting and fresh. Foods that are easy to reheat and eat are always big winners and lunchtime eats that are handheld and resemble fun foods usually go over well too.

Going light on the fruits and veggies is another good way to keep your average kid happy. While it's always advisable to get a good serving of fruits and vegetables, if you pack too much of either it's likely to go to waste.

Instead make a deal with your kids. You won't pack their bag full of durian and beets if they promise to eat what you do pack.

Let your kids have a cheat day. Everyone needs a break from making the healthy and wise food choices they usually do, your kids included. Some schools offer a hot lunch once a week that is quite often a treat like pizza, or pasta and meatballs.

Make sure your kid gets a "break" day so they have something to look forward to every week that is in the realm of kid delicious.

Another thing that I've learned from experience in the lunch department is that unpleasant textures is a sure fire way to turn your kid off eating. A soggy or stale sandwich, dried out veg or a limp taco definitely will make the epic fails lunch list.

By packing wet items separate from dry items and letting your kid do some assembly in the lunchroom you can solve many of these issues.

By keeping your kid's lunch fun and flavourful, packed full of delicious stuff that they want to eat or even had a hand in making you'll be less likely to be emptying a lunch bag into the garbage after school.

Here's a quick lunch idea to spark your lunch building creative side and get you and your little ones off on the right foot for the start of this school year.

My son has taken a liking shrimp lately and although it's a little more expensive I am happy his taste buds are growing. Here's a cool po'boy sandwich that makes a great lunch.

Simply pack the shrimp separate so a light reheat can be made without making the sandwich soggy. The remoulade can be sent in a little dollar store mini squeeze bottle. The result is a smashmouth and fresh lunchtime sandwich.

Declan's Smashmouth Shrimp Po'boy

1 pound shrimp peeled and deveined

1 tbsp. oil

1 tbsp. creole seasoning

1 baguette

1 cup lettuce, shredded

2 large tomatoes, sliced

1/4 cup remoulade sauce

Toss the shrimp in the oil and creole seasoning to coat. Skewer and grill the shrimp until cooked, about 2-3 minutes per side. Pan frying can be used too.

Assemble sandwich.

(Adjust ingredients to your liking. My son doesn't like tomatoes.)

Remoulade Sauce

1/4 cup mayonnaise

1 tbsp. creole mustard

1 tbsp. ketchup

1 tsp. horseradish

1 small clove garlic

1 tbsp. lemon juice

1 teaspoon capers

1 green onion (chopped)

1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper

1/4 tsp. paprika

hot sauce to taste

Blend everything in a food processor until smooth.


Richard Moorey (aka Chef House) can be reached with email to chefhouse@evot.ca, through his website at www.evot.ca, or on his Facebook group Evolution of Tastitude. You can follow him on Twitter @House_74.

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