Are your kids sick and tired of the same lunch, day in and day out? Do you ever look at what you put in their lunch box and think "there's no way I would even eat that every single day?"
With just a few adjustments and some extra ingredients, you can easily make work and school lunches that everyone will be excited about by using the leftovers from the night before. We asked HelloFresh Head Chef, Claudia Sidoti to share some of her favorite meal ideas that work for both lunch and dinner.
One of Sidoti's favorite recipes is Chorizo and Beef Chili. This dinner becomes a fully loaded burrito the next day for lunch--great for both kids and parents. Sidoti says this recipe format can be used as inspiration for any favorite chili recipe, which are also terrific "everything but the kitchen sink" recipes as well. Having the ability to customize both the chili and the burrito with spices and toppings, makes these meals a hit with the whole family.
Chicken is a family favorite that comes with endless ways to prepare, meaning this high-protein food offers ease and convenience. Sidoti recommends roasting a whole chicken and serving half for dinner, then using the leftovers for creative, but quick meals: Quesadillas, pasta dishes or a chicken and veggie stir-fry.
What would a family dinner menu be without a classic meatloaf? It's a great basic dish that makes a hearty dinner one night and a delicious lunch the next day in a hot or cold sandwich. Sidoti also recommends crumbling leftover meatloaf into a noodle casserole (a lunch favorite) or making meatloaf quesadillas to pack for the kids. "Meatloaf is the perfect food for kids because it is so versatile. Try a twist on a kid favorite, like grilled cheese." Just crumble a little on top of the cheese, then sandwich together and toast.
Other Quick Tips
Save your sides and build bento boxes. Kids love bento boxes for lunch because it's like they have a smorgasbord of options without eating too much. Plus, it allows you to use all the tiny bits of various leftovers that you may have just thrown away.
Have a burrito bowl bonanza. Anything can be turned into a burrito bowl. Plus, they are easy to make and taste amazing. Chicken, beans, ground beef, fish, veggies and rice, the list goes on and on. Start with a protein, add a grain with some veggies and let your kids pick whatever condiment toppings they like.
Make lunches before cleaning up dinner. Before you clear the table and all that goes with it, why not gather the leftovers and pack lunches first? Your kids can get in on the fun by picking the sides and leftovers they like most and creating a custom bento box, salad, sandwich or burrito bowl.
Bag up the fruit and veggies. Grab some baggies to make individual snack packs with leftover fruits and veggies from dinner to throw in the lunch box. You can always add a small container with ranch dressing or peanut butter for dipping!
Create a super salad bar. You'd be surprised how many kids like eating salad for lunch, especially if they can build their own. That's where dinner leftovers come in handy. If you have some basic salad fixings in the fridge, you can bag up several sides and leftovers for kids to add come lunchtime the next day. Rice, meat, cheese, fruit, pasta, chopped potatoes, beans and eggs all go great on salads--just to name a few.