All Posts by MOMables - Laura

Lunchbox parfaits and yogurt packing tips via MOMables.com

How to Pack Yogurt in a Lunch Box and Parfait Recipe

Do  you need tips on how to pack yogurt in the lunch box?

it's easy to make single serve yogurt parfaits for the lunchbox!My son, who is a very (I mean VERY) picky eater, loves yogurt. Alex is 5 and will be entering kindergarten this year. He’s on the small side (like in the 15th percentile for weight), and the pediatrician often reminds me to feed him more calories.

We all know that not all calories are the same. I could give him nine potato chips with zero nutrition and high in fats or a small yogurt, for example.

Since he eats one yogurt a day, this is one item I purchase organic, with no artificial sweeteners or colors, no traces of pesticides, and from cows not fed GMOs or given antibiotics.

I often pack an individual yogurt in his school lunch because of its versatility. It can be a sweet and simple treat by itself or parfait-style with mixed berries and crunchy granola.

Related: Top 5 Lunchboxes We’ve Tested

Packed with protein, calcium, potassium, and probiotics, yogurt is the perfect creamy treat to simultaneously satisfy his appetite.

Lunchbox parfaits and yogurt packing tips via MOMables.com

I know many of you are wondering how I pack it in the lunch box. As with any perishable food, yogurt should be kept cold from the time you take it out of the fridge till lunchtime. So here are some tips on how I keep them cool till lunch. I live in the South, where we have high temperatures nine months out of the year, so keeping food cold is important.

  1. Use an insulated lunch box or bag. Although the insulated material itself won’t keep your yogurt cool, it helps reflect the cold temperatures from any frozen or chilled items you’ve tucked into the bag—maintaining a safer environment inside the lunch box for your perishables.
  2. Pack yogurt cups next to a frozen gel pack or inside a freezer koozie (also called can coolers). This will help keep the yogurt chilled through lunch.
  3. Toss the yogurt in the freezer for 20 to 30 minutes in the morning. I’ve made it a habit to put the yogurt in the freezer while I drink a cup of coffee, get the kids dressed, and get everyone out the door. Again, his yogurt is the last thing I grab before I zip the lunch bag closed. If you are thinking that you’ll forget to grab it, I have a post-it inside his lunch bag that says “yogurt” so I see it before I zip it closed.
  4. Toss yogurt tubes in the freezer the night before. They’ll be frozen by morning, so just slip one into your lunch box before leaving the house. By lunchtime, the frozen tubes will be thawed out and still chilled.
  5. Freeze a water bottle to serve as an icepack. If you often send a water bottle in your child’s lunch, consider freezing the bottle so it keeps the inside of the lunch bag cool.

Lunchbox parfaits and yogurt packing tips via MOMables.com

Lunchbox Parfait

Lunchbox parfaits and yogurt packing tips via MOMables.com
  • Author: MOMables
  • Yield: 1

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons granola or cereal
  • 1/2 cup mixed berries, washed and diced
  • 1 4-ounce YoKids yogurt cup

Instructions

  1. Pack the granola in a small lidded container. These crunchy add-ins are a perfect complement to any yogurt parfait. But if you add them to your yogurt while packing your lunch, they’ll be soggy by lunchtime.
  2. Pack the berries in a separate lidded container. Mix the granola and berries with the yogurt when it’s time to eat.

 

 

–This was a sponsored post. All opinions, as always are my own.  This is also in participation with Stonyfield’s Rock the Lunchbox Campaign.

22

Veggie Mac and Cheese

Are you looking for more kid-friendly veggie recipes? This Veggie Macaroni and Cheese recipe is a winner!

Veggie Macaroni and Cheese Soup Thermos Lunch Idea via MOMables.com

I love thermos lunches. In the fall, winter, and early spring, I try to have a thermos lunch once a week in our school lunch menus. A good thermos school lunch tells my kids that mom wanted them to have a homemade “meal” for lunch that day.

Related: Top 5 Thermos Containers We’ve Tested

I’ve tried filling them with lasagna, spaghetti, and soups, and they are typically very receptive. On the other hand, should I have the bright idea of filling the thermos with leftover grilled vegetables from dinner, the thermos would come back untouched.

I don’t know what it is about the kids + veggies combination. Why does it have to be so hard to get them to eat more veggies?

Since my kids are very picky, I’m constantly trying to find ways in which I can sneak more of them into their diet (hidden, cooked differently, in their favorite recipe, baked—you name it, I’ll try it).

I love my thermos containers. I can pack a filling lunch that is easy to eat in their 20-minute lunch period.

Some of the other things I’m always keeping in mind when creating MOMables menus are ways to revamp leftovers, help my subscribers stay on a budget, and use real and convenient ingredients.

I wrote a post in this column about why I am on a mission to help others feed their kids better.

One of the reasons the use of more real ingredients in our diet plays a big role is because my daughter is allergic to disodium phosphate and chemically-derived nitrates. For this reason, I don’t buy things that have orange powdered cheese or processed cheese (those triangular chips, orange puffs, blue box mac and cheese, fake block cheese—it seems to be everywhere!) or processed meats cured with chemical nitrates.

If I’m purchasing a “boxed” anything, the product can’t have artificial flavors, synthetic preservatives, or GMO ingredients (the final one is by choice). I thoroughly scan each label before they go in my grocery cart, a quick process that can save me a trip to the emergency room.

Veggie Macaroni and Cheese Soup Thermos Lunch Idea via MOMables.com

As a full-time working mom who often travels, I also have a few items in my pantry that dad can whip up quickly, insert in their lunch, or pull out of the freezer for lunch or dinner.

This soup is a delicious and hearty dinner for the family but also perfect for a school lunch. Last month, I had 368 moms in my recipe-testers group perfect the recipe so your kids could enjoy it too. Bonus: It’s just $1.24 per thermos! Win-win.

Veggie Mac and Cheese

Your kids are going to love this cheesy veggie mac and cheese in their thermos!

  • Author: MOMables.com
  • Yield: 4-6
  • Category: Soups

Ingredients

With boxed macaroni and cheese:

  • 1 6-ounce box natural or organic macaroni and cheese
  • 1 32-ounce package reduced-sodium chicken broth/stock
  • 1 16-ounce bag frozen broccoli, cauliflower, and carrot blend
  • 1/4 cup whole milk or half and half
  • 1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese

To use pasta:

  • 1 1/2 cups dry macaroni pasta (or other)
  • 1 32-ounce package reduced-sodium chicken broth/stock
  • 1 16-ounce bag frozen broccoli, cauliflower, and carrot blend
  • 1/4 cup whole milk or half and half
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese

Instructions

  1. Cook the pasta according to the package directions.
  2. In a large saucepan, bring the broth to a boil over high heat. Add the vegetables, and cook until tender, about 5 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium.
  3. Add the cooked macaroni and cheese to the veggies and broth, add the milk and cheese. Stir well to combine until the cheese is melted, turn off the heat, and serve.

This was a sponsored post by Annie’s Homegrown. All opinions, as always are my own.  

48 easy veggie nuggets kids will love - who knew broccoli was this much fun!

Veggie Nuggets Recipe

Goodbye processed nuggets. Hello veggies for picky eaters. 

Easy Veggie Nuggets MOMables.com perfect for the lunchbox!

Having been around my fair share of kiddos, I’ve found that even the pickiest eaters seem to like “nuggets”. They are an American kid food staple. Unfortunately, most of these nuggets are highly processed, and have very little nutritional value.

Why feed our kids food empty of nutrition? I like that you can make these for dinner and recruit your little ones to help shape or bread the nuggets. In addition, they are perfect for the lunchbox since they are just fine at room temperature. If you need more lunchbox ideas, click here. We’ll email you some. 

Related: Top 5 Lunchboxes We’ve Tested

Today I am going to be sharing a recipe for nuggets with you. I apologize in advance for them not being shaped like dinosaurs, but instead they are packed full of veggies and fresh ingredients. I used a cookie scoop to shape them but you could easily make them with your hands.

veggies-1

To make them, you start with ½ large cauliflower and 1 broccoli crown.

veggies-2

Boil your cauliflower and broccoli together, until they are cooked and soft (about 10 minutes).

Remove from water and rinse in cold water to stop the cooking process.

Place cauliflower and broccoli inside a food processor and process for a minute or two, until it’s thoroughly combined.

Veggie-Nuggets-Collage--1

Add eggs, breadcrumbs, Parmesan cheese and seasoning to the veggie mixture. Process a few pulses until evenly combined. If veggie paste is too sticky, add additional bread crumbs. This will vary based on the size of your broccoli and cauliflower heads.

Using a cookie scoop (you can use a 1 or 2 Tablespoon cookie scoop, depending on how big you want your nuggets to be), place veggie nugget scoops onto a parchment line baking sheet.

Bake for about 15 minutes, or until golden brown.

Veggie-Nuggets-8

Once they are cooked, they look like little macaroons. My kids liked to dip theirs in marinara sauce.

These also freeze very well. All you do is place uncooked nugget scoops onto a baking sheet, and place them in the freezer. Once they are frozen, you can store them in a gallon freezer bag. On busy nights, pull them out of the freezer, preheat oven, and bake an additional 2-3 minutes. These veggie nuggets are great to send in your child’s lunch.

Veggie Nuggets

easy veggie nuggets kids will love - who knew broccoli was this much fun!
  • Author: MOMables
  • Cuisine: Lunch

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups cauliflower
  • 2 cups broccoli florets
  • 3 eggs
  • 3/4 cup bread crumbs
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 375°F.
  2. In the microwave, lightly steam veggies. Or, boil your cauliflower and broccoli until they are cooked and still slightly crispy. Remove from water and rise in cold water to stop cooking process.
  3. Place cauliflower and broccoli florets inside a food processor. Process for a minute or two until it’s thoroughly combined.
  4. Add eggs, breadcrumbs, Parmesan cheese and seasoning to veggie mixture. Process a few pulses until evenly combined. If veggie paste is too sticky, add additional bread crumbs. This will vary based on the size of your broccoli and cauliflower heads.
  5. Using a cookie scoop, place veggie nugget scoops onto a parchment lined baking sheet. Bake for about 15 minutes until golden brown.

Notes

Some people have complained that the nuggets seem undercooked even when baked at a longer time. This is because veggies were overcooked when boiled. They need to be cooked but still slightly crispy, not soft.

To freeze: Place uncooked nugget scoops on a baking sheet. Once frozen, transfer to a freezer bag. To bake again, preheat oven and add 2-3 minutes to baking time.

 

3

Trail Mix Frozen Yogurt Popsicles Recipe

These are no ordinary popsicle… these are popsicles for adventurous kids.

7-15-Trail-Mix-Popsicles 1What kind of food comes to mind first when you think about cooling down from the summertime heat?

For my family, it’s a no-brainer–popsicles and ice cream. But how do you enjoy these sweet summertime treats without consuming the sugar and “junk” that so many of these treats often contain? The answer is simple…make them yourself.

Like I have been with many other “homemade” recipes, I was under the false impression that making homemade popsicles or ice cream would be a difficult and/or time consuming task. I couldn’t have been more wrong.

In anticipation of summer, I purchased some popsicle molds and started experimenting with recipes. I truly couldn’t believe how quick and easy homemade popsicles were to make, and how few ingredients it required. Not only that, my kids thought I was nothing short of a magician. And better yet, I am confident I could sneak just about any ingredient in their popsicles and they wouldn’t even notice, just because it was being presented to them in popsicle form.

The Frozen Trail Mix Froyo Pops Recipe, for example, is packed with protein-rich Greek yogurt, fresh fruit, nuts and granola. These are probably ingredients that many picky eaters wouldn’t consume if they were served individually, but once all of these ingredients are mixed together and frozen, it becomes a sweet, creamy, decadent treat that even the pickiest of eaters is sure to enjoy.

Trail-Mix-Froyo-Pops-2

Now that I know just how truly easy it is to make homemade frozen treats, my freezer has been stocked full all summer long. It’s the perfect treat to have on hand to offer your kids after being outside playing in the heat.

Experiment with different fruits and add-in’s. The ingredient combinations and flavors are endless. Involve the kids too! If they are like my kids, they will love to help you think of combinations to try.

For more healthy summertime snack ideas read this MOMables post.

Trail Mix Froyo Pops

  • Author: MOMables
  • Cuisine: Treats

Ingredients

  • 2 cups Greek yogurt (I use 1 cup plain, 1 cup vanilla)
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped fruit (I used strawberries & bananas)
  • 1/2 cup chopped nuts (I used almonds)
  • 3/4 cup granola

Instructions

  1. Mix all ingredients in a bowl.
  2. Pour mixture into popsicle molds and put in freezer.
  3. Freeze until solid, at least 4 hours.

 

12

Disposable Field Trip Lunch

If you have a school-aged child, chances are you have been asked, at some point, to send your child with a completely disposable lunch. 

disposable-and-recyclable-lunch-momablesFor those of you who have kids enrolled in summer camps, you have also probably had this requested of you as they often go on weekly field trips.

Today I am going to share with you some tips on how to pack a completely disposable and recyclable lunch for these occasions.

Related: Top 5 Lunchboxes We’ve Tested

If you need a fully disposable lunch, this will also mean that you can’t pack an ice pack, so everything you pack will need to be non-perishable.

Many of our lunch menu ideas will keep without ice-packs and the plan is filled with packing tips that show you just how to achieve that.

 

Here are some non-perishable food ideas:

Main Entree

  • Meat & cheese sandwich w/o mayonnaise
  • Peanut butter sandwich with strawberry or banana slices
  • Peanut butter & jelly sandwich

Vegetable

  • Carrot sticks
  • Celery sticks
  • Grape tomatoes
  • Broccoli florets

Fruit

  • Strawberries
  • Blueberries
  • Banana
  • Apple
  • Grapes
  • Fruit Cups
  • Applesauce cups

Dairy

  • String cheese (check out this post where the Chief MOM shows you how to pack string cheese in lunches)
  • Yogurt tube (stick in the freezer overnight and it’ll be thawed by lunchtime)

Drink

  • Bottled Water
  • Juice Boxes

Disposable-Field-Trip-Lunch-5

Then the question comes in of what to pack the lunch in. Some obvious solutions are a brown paper lunch bag, a gallon plastic zip bag, a plastic grocery bag, etc. But what if you want to pack items that you don’t want to be squished or bruised? The best solution I have come up with is saving those plastic clam-shell baskets that fresh fruit comes in.

I use a larger basket (pictured is a 2lb. strawberry basket) to hold everything and I use the smaller ones to hold sides (like blueberry/raspberry baskets). You could also pack side items in small paper cups that are covered with plastic wrap, or some items could be packed in a paper muffin cup liner. If you’re really feeling adventurous you can decorate the basket with duct tape or let your kids loose to decorate it- just for some added fun.

So when your child gets sent home with a note saying they are going to need a disposable field trip lunch, don’t stress! And whatever you do, do not run out and buy a pre-packaged lunch :).

Also, for those of you whose kids are enrolled in summer camps, here are 20 Easy Summer Camp Snack Ideas and 10 Summer Camp Lunch Ideas

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