We’ve just about hit the halfway mark in the marathon that is the school year. I enjoy the challenge of shaking up routines and habits when January comes around. Even my school lunch game needed some refreshing. Tell me I’m not the only one who gets in a lunch packing rut! Here are five new, sandwich-less school lunch ideas using ingredients and products from Trader Joe’s.
Meal #1: Mashed Potatoes with Toppings
Gluten-free, easily made vegetarian by omitting bacon
Maybe it’s because I ate school cafeteria mashed potatoes every time they were offered for my elementary years. Or perhaps because I don’t consider it a proper holiday unless I eat my grandma’s mashed potatoes. Whatever the reason, I love mashed potatoes, and I seem to have passed that onto my kids. They love this lunch.
- Trader Joe’s Frozen mashed potatoes—prepare using package directions. My kids’ thermoses hold about 20 frozen potato pucks worth of mashed potatoes.
- Toppings of choice—bacon and cheese are obvious choices, but diced green onions, steamed broccoli, chopped leftover meat, and green peas work well too.
Meal #2: Turkey and Lettuce Wraps with Avocado
Gluten-free, grain-free, and dairy-free
This is great meal for both kids and adults. I love the difference in textures and also how the meal is filling but does not leave you feeling sluggish.
- Trader Joe’s Smallish Gems sweet lettuce, well washed and dried
- Also great with Trader Joe’s raw sauerkraut (in the refrigerated section), pickles, and/or shredded carrots.
Meal #3: Vegetable Fried Rice
Vegetarian and gluten-free
This could be a one-step meal if you used just the Trader Joe’s frozen Fried Rice, but I generally add more veggies and scramble in a couple of beaten eggs near the end of the cook time for extra protein and fat.
- Trader Joe’s frozen vegetable fried rice
- Frozen peas
- Frozen green beans (chopped)
*For two servings of this meal, I use two cups of fried rice, 1/2 cup each of the frozen veggies, and two eggs.
Meal #4: Cheese Pita Pizzas
This is a oft-requested lunch in our house. Pizza is always a good choice.
- Pita bread
- Tomato sauce
- Shredded cheese
*I bake directly on the oven rack at 375°F for five to seven minutes and then broil for two minutes to brown the cheese a bit.
Meal #5: Egg, Chicken Sausage, and Hash Brown Cups
I’m not going to lie—these take a little effort. They are a great Sunday night recipe, as they will give you a couple of days worth of meals. They are delicious hot and would make a great breakfast or brunch dish, too.
- Trader Joe’s frozen shredded hash browns
- Trader Joe’s maple chicken breakfast sausage
- Shredded cheese
- Salt, pepper, powdered garlic
- Preheat oven to 400°F.
- Liberally spray 12 muffin cups with cooking spray.
- Mix thawed hash browns with melted butter and salt/pepper/garlic powder.
- Place hash brown mixture into muffin cups. Bake for 10 minutes.
- Remove muffin tin from oven, distribute chopped sausage evenly over the 12 cups. Pour beaten eggs over the cups, and top with shredded cheese.
- Return pan to oven; bake 12 minutes.
- Let cool slightly before removing from pan.
*This post is not sponsored by or affiliated with Trader Joe’s. I’m a huge fan of the store and purchased all ingredients and developed the recipes myself.