Four creative lunch box meals for kids

  • By Reshma Seetharam
  • Monday, August 24, 2015 9:03am
  • Life

Moms and dads, are you ready to start packing lunch boxes? Local food blogger Reshma Seetharam puts together four lunch boxes that can be made ahead or prepped along with your previous night’s dinner. Enjoy!

Panini quesadillas

6 7-inch homemade/store bought whole wheat tortillas or chapatis

10 ounces Mexican cheese, shredded

1 cup ground meat, seasoned and cooked (use your own or try a quick version, recipe below)

1/2 cup colored peppers, diced

1/2 cup lettuce, diced

1/2 cup white onions, diced

1/2 cup carrots, shredded

Salt and pepper to taste

1 cup ground beef, turkey or pork

1/2 teaspoon garlic paste

1 teaspoon taco seasoning

1 teaspoon tomato ketchup

These grilled quesadillas made with the panini press and quick to make are just too good to resist. The kids’ lunch boxes will come back empty guaranteed.

In a small saucepan on medium-high heat, add the ground meat and brown; add the taco seasoning and sauté for a minute. Add in the ketchup and 2 tablespoons of hot water. Cook for a few more minutes until the mixture thickens. Turn off the heat.

For the quesadillas, heat the panini press to medium-high heat. Once the grill is hot and smoking, place a tortilla on the grill, start layering the bottom half of the tortilla. Add a teaspoon of onions and cooked ground meat. Top with carrots, lettuce and cheese.

Close the top half of the tortilla over it to form a semi circle. Cover the panini press gently to let it brown. Depending on your panini press, it will take 2 minutes to brown. When the cheese is melted and the tortillas are lightly browned and toasty, remove and let cool. Repeat for the other 5 tortillas.

Cut into wedges and serve warm.

Makes 6 quesadillas.

Grilled hummus wraps

4 7-inch homemade/store bought whole wheat tortillas or chapatis

1 cup red pepper hummus

10 ounces Mexican cheese, shredded

20 deli turkey slices, thinly cut

1/2 cup colored peppers, diced

1/2 cup lettuce, diced

1/2 cup white onions, diced

1/2 cup carrots, shredded

Salt and pepper to taste

These wrap bites are crunchy on the outside, cheesy and full of flavor and texture on the inside.

Place a tortilla on a flat surface. Slap on a good amount of hummus and spread it on one side of the tortilla. Layer it with turkey slices, followed by shredded cheese, peppers, lettuce and carrots. Roll it tightly from one end to the other into a wrap.

Heat the panini press to medium-high heat. Once the grill is hot and smoking, place the wrap on the grill. Cover the panini press on it gently and let it brown. Depending on your press, it will take 2 minute or more to get brown. When the cheese has melted and the wrap has lightly browned grill marks, remove and let cool. Repeat for the other three tortillas.

Cut into bite sized pieces and serve warm.

Makes 4 rolls.

Fresh shrimp bundles

6 medium sized rice wrappers

6 large lettuce leaves shredded (or whole as you like it)

1 cup cucumber chopped into match sticks, optional

1 cup carrots chopped into match sticks or shredded optional

Salt and pepper to taste

Dipping sauce

1/2 cup creamy peanut butter

1/8 cup water

1 tablespoon hoisin sauce

1 teaspoon fresh lime juice

1/2 teaspoon soy sauce

1 teaspoon honey

1 teaspoon chili-garlic paste

1/2 teaspoon toasted sesame oil

These vegetable and shrimp rolls wrapped in rice paper are served chilled in Asian restaurants. You can find the rice papers in any Asian store; I found it at Safeway. They can be made at dinner time and chilled and sent to school in cold boxes. Get creative; roll them into cylinders or triangle bundles of goodness.

Fill a large plate with warm water. Dip a rice wrapper into the hot water for a couple of seconds to soften. Lay it flat on a damp towel. Arrange a few shrimp, top it with layers of crunchy vegetables; sprinkle with salt and pepper. Fold opposite sides of the wet wrap towards each other. Cover one edge over it and roll it all together tightly down to the open end. Do the same with the rest of the rolls. Wrap tightly into cylinders or bundles. Chill until ready to use.

For the dipping sauce, combine all the ingredients and whisk well. Add more water for a thinner consistency. Serve the wraps with dipping sauce.

Makes 6 rolls.

Taco lunch boxes

12 taco shells, warmed in the oven or microwave 2 cups shredded lettuce

1 medium white onion, chopped

1 medium tomato, diced

1 cup finely chopped cilantro

1 cup shredded Mexican cheese

2 cups sour cream or yogurt

Meat filling

2 pounds turkey, pork or other ground meat

2 tablespoons yogurt

1/2 teaspoon cumin powder

1/2 cup red onions

2 teaspoons thick tomato paste

1/2 teaspoon chili powder

2 teaspoons olive oil

Bean filling (vegetarian)

1 15-ounce can of cooked beans of your choice

1/4 teaspoon chili powder

1/4 teaspoon cumin powder

1 teaspoon olive oil

1 teaspoon yogurt

1 teaspoon lemon juice

Prepping beans: Drain and mash the beans, add the powders, oil, yogurt and lemon juice. Combine. Divide the bean mixture among the taco shells. Top with lettuce, onion, cheese and sour cream; serve warm.

Cooking meat: Cook the ground meat, onion and chili powder in large skillet over medium-high heat until the meat is well browned, stirring often. Pour off the fat.

Stir in yogurt and tomato paste; cook until the mixture is hot and bubbling. Reduce heat to low. Cook for 5 minutes or until the meat is cooked, stirring often.

Divide the meat or bean mixture among the taco shells. Top with lettuce, onion, cheese and sour cream; serve warm.

Or create a mini taco bar in your kid’s lunch box. It will be a fun experience for them at lunch time to make their own custom creations.

Makes 12 tacos.

Reshma Seetharam’s blog, My Foodarama, can be foud at

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