Our five-year-old loves peanut butter sandwiches, but he can’t bring those to school, of course. We did buy something called Wowbutter, but he’s not keen on it yet. So what do you pack for the child who refuses to bring a sandwich to school?
This whole “packed lunch” thing is new for us, and our son decided that what he actually wants for lunch is dinner. Like, an actual supper-type meal, somehow served at lunchtime in his elementary school cafeteria. The place where he refuses to buy the $4 school lunch.
The thermos has been getting plenty of use over the last two weeks, as I find ways to make him “dinner” at 6:30 a.m. so he can take it to school with him. Did I mention that he refuses to eat canned soup or Chef Boyardee delights, which are pretty much the only things I ever got in my thermos as a child?
My lifesaver has been a little thing I “invented” called Lunch Pucks. I could have come up with something more creative, I suppose, but they are literally frozen chunks of food that look like hockey pucks. Super appetizing, right? I know.
If you know and love a student who turns up their nose at a sandwich, here’s how to make your very own Lunch Pucks:
(I like a silicone muffin tray with six large cups) Spoon your leftovers into the muffin cups, heaping the food if necessary so you get a serving that will suit your child. You can also use tiny glass bowls, if you can’t spare your muffin tin.
(I put my silicone tray on a cookie sheet so it doesn’t warp out of shape) Leave it for about 12 hours until the pucks freeze solid.
Don’t forget to jot down the name of the meal (all pucks start to look alike). Because they’re already frozen, they won’t stick together. Put the bag in the freezer.
Punch the reheat button a few times. When the food’s nice and hot, transfer it to their thermos.
So far, our most popular pucks have been chopped-up spaghetti or penne with meat sauce, and I add a sprinkle of parmesan before closing up the thermos. We’ve also done pucks of “Nannie’s special meatballs” with rice, and those turned out well, too.
I have plans to experiment with lunch pucks made from cheesy chicken casserole, enchiladas, chicken with rice and veggies, and even turkey dinner. I think the trick to a good puck is making sure the meal is kind of saucy, because the liquid prevents it from dying out.
We burned through our first batch of pucks quickly, but I’ve been able to replenish the stash by freezing more pucks every few days. Now that we have a few varieties ready to go in the freezer, our son likes getting to choose his lunch each morning. His chosen puck spins around in the microwave as we eat breakfast and get ready for the bus, and it’s actually easier than making him a sandwich.
I wonder if he’ll notice if I sneak one for my own lunch? They look pretty good once they’re not in puck form …