As much as I want to hang on to every fleeting moment of summer, it’s time to admit that school starts soon.
In some ways, it’s exciting. For instance, the school our girls go to got a brand new playground over the summer. Also, Addison’s favourite teacher is coming back to teach her class.
Finally, it means that for six hours a day, I only have to keep two children from the clutches of winter boredom (no, I don’t want to play right now, that’s why I made you a sister!). Unfortunately, the return of school means the return of the dreaded monster also known as making lunches.
I could continue with a much longer list of adjectives to communicate my contempt towards this chore, but I shan’t belabor the point. Needless to say, making lunches are not my favourite part of having school age kids.
All of this being said, I do have a few recipes in my book that make packing lunches a little bit easier. I enjoy baking and freezing things like muffins and cookies to toss in. Frozen treats perform double duty. They act like an ice pack to keep lunches cool, yet are thawed by lunch time to be a yummy treat! I wish I could take the credit for that, but it’s a trick as old as time.
Here’s the recipe for one of my family’s favourite treats; whoopie pies!
I could probably make these every other day, and they would all be eaten, but I try to space it out a bit, you know…for health reasons.
Whoopie pies are a soft chocolate sponge cake, held together with butter cream frosting. To make them perfect for lunches I make them small, since they are quite sweet, and I individually wrap them in saran wrap so they can go from the freezer to the lunch container easily.
What you’ll need:
- 2 cups Sugar
- 1 cup butter or margarine
- 2 eggs
- 2 tsp vanilla
- 4 cups flour
- 1 cup cocoa
- 2 tsp soda, dissolved in 1 cup warm water
- 1 cup milk
What to do:
- First, cream together the sugar, shortening, eggs, and vanilla.
- Then, add flour, cocoa, and soda/water mixture. Mix well. Add milk and stir thoroughly.
- The mixture should be the consistency of thick whipped cream.
- Drop by tsp onto a cookie sheet…I make them fairly small since you will have two held together with icing when you’re all done!
- Bake @350 for 10 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.
As the cookies are cooling, make your frosting:
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 2 Tbsp flour
- 2 Tbsp milk
- 4 Cups icing sugar
- 1.5 cups lard (or margarine)
- Cream together ingredients for your frosting!
As an extra, my family loves adding peppermint extract to the icing, and I usually let the kids pick a color for the frosting too.
As for the rest of the lunch, here’s a few ideas I have learned in the last couple of years that have helped me minimize emotional breakdowns.
Fill the crispers at the bottom of the fridge with single serving baggies or containers of easy to grab snacks. Veggies, fruit, pretzels, cheese strings, or crackers are all popular here.
I love small thermoses and use them often. If I fill them with hot water while I prepare the rest of the lunch, then dump it out right before I fill the thermos, the contents stay warm until lunch. It’s a great way to use leftovers,or I just heat a can of soup and send that!
Pieces of meat, cheese, and cucumber are much more popular than sandwiches in our house.
Happy lunch making, fellow parents!