You may think I’m crazy but I actually miss preparing school lunches and snacks for my daughter now that she’s away at university. I always packed her lunch with love, finding creative ways to show it so that when she opened it at school, she’d get that warm feeling of home. I’m looking forward to her being back at home next year while she goes to teachers’ college so I can prepare her lunches once again! In the meantime, though, I love to spoil my little grandniece and grandnephew and it’s fun for me to share some of the same traditions with them that I did with my own daughter.
One of these traditions is Del Monte fruit cups. Kids always love things packaged in small, individual serving sizes don’t they? Add to that the great taste, the healthy nutritional content, and the grab and go convenience of them and Del Monte fruit cups make for the perfect addition to a packed lunch or as an after school snack. So, recently I headed out on a shopping trip to Walmart to pick some up to share with my grandniece and grandnephew. Check out my photo album to see all the pictures from this shopping trip!
I never sent my daughter to school without a note in her lunch bag reminding her of just how much I love her. Sometimes the notes contained reminders of something she needed to take care of that day or something different that was happening after school. Sometimes the notes contained encouragement for a big test she had coming up that day. Sometimes I added in a little puzzle for her to do or I’d start a game of tic-tac-toe with her. No matter what, though, the note always told her how much I love her and was filled with hugs and kisses. For this note to my grandniece, I decided to present it in a creative way that I knew she’d love by turning the Del Monte fruit cup itself into a person and incorporating the note into it. It only takes a minute or two to make but when she opens her lunch and finds this inside, I just know she’ll have a huge smile on her face! I bet she and her brother would enjoy decorating fruit cups for each other’s lunches too!
Instead of an ordinary sandwich, try cutting off the crust and using a rolling pin on the slice of bread to flatten it slightly. Spread on a sandwich filling (tuna salad maybe?) and roll the piece of bread up into a tube-like shape. Cut the tube into slices to form pinwheel sandwiches. You can do the same idea with tortilla wraps instead of regular bread as I’ve done in the photo above with some chicken salad. I made the chicken salad by chopping up some leftover chicken from last night’s dinner and mixing in a little plain yogurt, some Del Monte diced pears from one of the fruit cups (chopped apple is good here too), some dried cranberries (or raisins), and chopped walnuts for crunch (if your child goes to a “nut free” school, you could substitute some chopped carrots or celery for the walnuts).
My daughter always loved taking fresh vegetable sticks along with some ranch type dip as part of her lunch. I would put the dip into the bottom of a lidded cup, add the veggies, and put the lid on. This all-in-one presentation saves space in the lunch bag and is easy for kids to manage. It’s also a great idea for an after school snack in the car on the way to extracurricular sports as you don’t have to worry about the kids trying to juggle a container of dip AND a container of veggies. Sometimes though, to change things up, I’d find a different way to present the vegetables in my daughter’s lunchbox as I’ve done here with my delicious carrot salad. Peel and grate a carrot or two and mix in a little bit of mayonnaise and plain yogurt to moisten. Sprinkle in some raisins and for an extra yummy addition, add some of a Del Monte fruit cup –I’ve used diced peaches here.
After school snack time was another important part of the back to school routine in my household. We called it “tea time” because I would create a little festive atmosphere by using a pretty tea set to serve our juice or lemonade. We’d sit at the kitchen table, having our “tea” and a fun snack while we chatted about my daughter’s day. Let me tell you, this was a far more effective way of learning about her day than the usual “What did you do in school today?” “Nothing.” routine as she opened up more in this relaxed tea party atmosphere. To this day, we still have tea time, either at home or at a local tea room, and it’s still the setting for many of our best talks! Tea time also set the stage for getting her homework done without the usual nagging. She’d get our her homework and I’d work on my budget or my meal planning right there at the kitchen table while we continued to sip our “tea” and nibble the last bits of our snack.
Here’s a great after school snack idea that’s delicious, nutritious, and a little bit different. Fruity nachos! To make them, simply cut a flour tortilla into wedges (like you would for a pizza – in fact, I found using my pizza cutter to be a very effective way of doing this!). Brush on a very light layer of melted butter or spritz with some spray margarine. Sprinkle on some cinnamon and place in a 425 degree F oven for a few minutes until crispy and browned to your liking. Remember, they’ll look a bit darker than you might expect because of the cinnamon. Once done, let them cool. Meanwhile, take a Del Monte fruit cup and drain off the juice, reserving it. I decided to use this amazing new flavour – diced peaches with cinnamon and brown sugar. The original recipe that I saw years ago called for a topping (the “cheese” on the nachos) made of whipped cream, cream cheese, and marshmallow fluff but I changed this to something just as tasty but with more nutritional value. Simply blend some cottage cheese to make it smooth and creamy – I use this as a substitute for cream cheese all the time. If you add a little vinegar or lemon juice to that, you’ll have a great substitute for sour cream too! But for this recipe, I take the plain pureed cottage cheese and mix it with a bit of yogurt (you can use plain, you can use a flavour that will complement the fruit you’ll be adding, or if I weren’t using fruit that already has sweetening in it from the brown sugar, I might even use some of that delicious Greek yogurt with the honey added). Stir in the reserved juice from the fruit cup and pour this mixture over your cooled nacho chips. Now top with the fruit from your Del Monte fruit cup and enjoy! Yum yum!
I am a member of the Collective Bias™ Social Fabric Community®. This shop has been compensated as part of a social shopper insights study for Collective Bias™ and Del Monte #CBias #SocialFabric. All ideas and opinions are my own.