More Ways to Beef Up a Bag Lunch

Even though we just finished the first week of school, the lunch box rut is rearing its ugly head. In the carpool line today, son number three was taking a sneak peek at his mid-day meal and I hear a wail of disgust from the backseat, “aww, mom . . .not another peanut butter sandwich today!”. “Eat it,” I shot back sternly, “and don’t mess with me”.

But, when I returned home, I realized that I really do need to step up my lunch box game. A recent survey by Harris Interactive said that while 84 percent of kids prefer bringing their lunch from home (rather than purchasing in cafeteria), 55 percent report they pretty much eat the same thing day in and day out — that explains all the backseat bellowing about peanut butter.


No matter how easy PB&J and other sandwiches are to make, who wouldn’t grow bored at noon when the only thing to look forward to was stuck between two slices of bread?  Not that a sandwich is a bad thing, especially if it is loaded with brisket or juicy slices of roast beef , but eating any other type just doesn’t put an exclamation point onto the end of a busy day break.  But, don’t worry, there are lots other packable lunch ideas that are just as quick and convenient as the almighty sandwich — like wraps, salads and super kid-friendly bento boxes. Even straight-up leftovers from the night before can be yummy if packaged up in a pretty way!

With 70 percent of parents struggling to provide new options in the lunch box and the majority of us always looking for more nutritious ideas, it’s beef to the rescue!  Not only does beef make healthy fuel for growing bodies by providing 10 essential vitamins/minerals and plenty of protein, it can also be quite convenient to prepare for lunch boxes with leftovers or convenience items from the deli or frozen foods departments.

Here are a couple sources of no-recipe inspiration for you. The first is a fun bento box perfect for a child’s lunch. It features leftover meatballs made to resemble little “critters” in a forest of broccolini – the eyes are made with tiny circles of mozzarella (I used a hole puncher!) and the smiles are ketchup! The background is a mix-up of brown rice and quinoa that was leftover, but you could easily make a batch of the two, stir together and freeze in individual sized serving bags for easier school day preparations. For a little sweet treat, use whatever fruit you have to make a fun medley — these blackberries are supposed to look like little bugs!

Packing a lunch for the more mature tastes of a teen or adult can be just as easy. Above is a recent lunch sent with my husband that features a kale salad, deli roast beef wrapped around steamed broccolini, grapes, and a whole grain! Easy-peasy!

Need more ideas? Check out this round-up from Beef Loving Texans and my blog, The Fit Fork.



Beef Lunch Ideas

Beef Salad Shakers

Mu Shu Beef & Apple Wraps

Roast Beef Tea Sandwiches

Any Day, Any Way Steak Salad

Spicy Asian Beef & Rice