Thursday, September 17, 2015

Packed Lunch Series: Challenge #3: Creative Leftovers...

Ah-- the creative leftovers... similar to the idea of make one, eat twice where you make too much dinner and you get to eat it again for lunch the next day. Only here you get to doctor it up for a new taste. Whether you're prepping for dinner and/or lunch, encourage your kids to come into the kitchen and give you a hand-, even simple tasks like washing vegetables or tearing up lettuce. I love Yummy Lunch Club's founder Carol Harrison's clever thought on this topic-- let them do small tasks with less time on hand, and larger ones with more time such as the weekend. There have been too many times I've turned my sons down when they've asked for help because I wanted to get dinner on the table fast or I had no time in the morning when slapping together their lunch. I've learned that planning ahead and cushioning extra time in the kitchen gives me a better sense of control that would allow me to invite their help. The feeling of ownership this fosters pays handsomely when it comes to getting them to actually eat the food. Shopping and cooking with kids isn't short of mishaps and mess, and not always fun, but it's a learning curve for both of you and you'll be thankful later when they're well broken in and rolling up their sleeves getting right into it with you. 

My boys preparing vegetables for dinner and school lunch.

Turn a night of leftover steak pieces or roasted chicken and the side of grilled or sliced vegetables into fajitas for lunch-- TIP: Cook up larger steaks and save the chicken breast(s).

However, if you are in fact serving Mexican fajitas for dinner which we did last night with steak...

... You can Make Once, Eat Twice, by serving fajitas again for lunch... Heat up the leftovers, top it with the cold toppings and cheese, then place the enclosed fajita wraps onto a hot pan and grill both sides to melt the cheese inside, seal the seam and give it a toasted touch.

OR/ and this is where the creative leftover took place for us... make steak fajita pizzas. An idea spun by my kids over our fajita dinner. I asked them if they could eat fajitas again for lunch how would they eat it differently.... It was such a fun and creative exercise at the table :). You can buy a prepared pizza crust, and cut it into pizza-size wedges. Spread salsa on the base instead of tomato or pizza sauce, add your leftovers (steak, peppers and onions) and top with cheese. Bake for 7-8 minutes in a preheated oven at 425F until cheese is hot and bubbling. Add any additional cool toppings. Let pizza(s) cool slightly before storing into a lunch container or wrap up loosely in foil before packing.

 Yum-- my kids loved this homemade pizza lunch today and not even crumbs to tote back.

My slow cooker is going to be my go-to cookware favourite this fall-- try my Slow Cooker BBQ Pulled Beef for another idea on creative leftovers-- dinner of BBQ pulled beef and mashed potatoes or rice and a sandwich for lunch.

Check back tomorrow for my last challenge in the Packed Lunch Series-- Challenge #4: Compartmentalize-- Bento Fun!

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