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Moms can never have too many lunch ideas!

It is that time of the year again - back to school. While some children are returning this next week, others have been back for quite a while...my own kids returned to school over a month ago.

No matter if your children have been back in the classroom for a while or if they are just now starting to get ready for the big day, you know that a Mom or Dad can never have too many lunch ideas!

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Lunch box recipes

Try these ideas for creative, thrifty and nutritious lunch box, snack time and home school lunches.

1) Save your yogurt containers!

After eating the yogurt, wash them thoroughly and fill with liquid Jell-O or pudding mixture (before it sets), cap, and refrigerate.

This gives you individual snack-sized Jell-O or pudding at a fraction of the cost.

2) Take leftover cooked chicken and make chicken strips.

Pack dippers such as salsa, ranch dressing, barbecue sauce, ketchup, honey mustard, or pizza sauce.

3) Use a variety of breads your children enjoy eating. Whole grain breads are best. Try Italian varieties, sourdough, different grains, Hawaiian bread, and different rolls.

4) Pack string cheese or cheese cubes.

Send along bread sticks or crackers to eat with them. Or pack a prepared cheese spread with breadsticks for dipping.

5) Cut fresh fruit into bite-sized pieces and use fruit-flavored yogurt or pudding as a dip. Or mix the fruit with your prepared Jell-O (see Jell-O tip).

6) Each day include a short note to your child.

Anything that shows them you love them and you are thinking of them will show your child you care.

Helpful Lunch Box Printables

Animal Pals Lunch Box Notes and School Labels

7) Layer creamy peanut butter on a flour tortilla with jelly or fruit spread and roll up "wrap" or "jellyroll" style.

Slice crosswise into pieces. Select the size tortilla depending on your child's appetite.

8) Heat frozen waffles and make a sandwich with them, using peanut butter and jelly. Or cut them into bite-sized pieces or sticks and send syrup for dipping.

9) Add fun to your child's lunch by using colored plastic wraps. Or during the holiday's, use special prints that are usually for plastic wrap, zipper-type bags, and napkins.

10) Cut open a bagel and spread each side with cream cheese. Lay several slices of lunchean meat on top of cream cheese and make into a sandwich.

11) Kids love to dip!

Send baby carrots, celery sticks, or broccoli trees with their favorite dip or dressing. Or send peanut butter as a dip, and include some sliced apples.

12) Create your own "Lunchables"...cut meat slices and cheese into pieces that will fit on crackers. Pack the meat, cheese, and crackers together. Have extra mustard or mayo packets from your take-out? Pack those along for condiments.

13) If your child loves sandwiches and won't let you try anything new, have fun with the sandwiches - cut the sandwich into interesting shapes or cut with cookie cutters.

14) It doesn't have to be jelly everyday!

Some other ideas for sandwiches using with traditional peanut butter are: sliced bananas, honey, butter/margerine, raisins, and thinly sliced apples.

15) Did you know you can create "wraps" with bread?

Simply take a slice of your favorite bread (softer breads work better), and lay a slice or two of your favorite lunch meat and cheese on it. Roll up the bread tightly, making sure to press the edges of the bread together to seal.

2001 - Brandie Valenzuela

About the Author - Brandie Valenzuela is the freelance writing mother of three children. She is also the editor of the Family First Newsletter at: http://members.aol.com/BMValen/index.html and The Creative Scrappers Newsletter at: http://www.geocities.com/creativescrappers

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