Busy parents will love these kid-friendly recipes for breakfast, lunch and snack-time that can be prepared in 30 minutes or less. And don't forget to check out our reader tips below for easy back-to-school ideas.
You'll also find even more tips for brown bag lunches at tasteofhome.com/lunchbox, and a handy list of everything you'll need for the new school year at rd.com/school.
Apple-Swiss Turkey Sandwiches
Honey mustard adds a sweet tang to this hearty concoction from Gloria Updyke of Front Royal, Virginia. Apple slices, Swiss cheese, cucumber and turkey are layered between slices of nutritious multigrain bread. These delicious sandwiches pack well to take to the office or on the trail.
Looking for something different-and-not-so-sweet for a bake sale? Whip up this fun popcorn snack from Sheri Warner of Louisville, Nebraska. It's lightly spiced with pizza seasonings and very munchable.
Apple Waffle Grills
You'll need only four ingredients for this handheld standby. The quick and easy sandwiches also make great lunches. "My husband likes it when I add a slice of ham between the waffles," says Sonia Daily of Warren, Michigan.
"My husband loves peppermint patties, and our son is crazy for vanilla wafers," shares Julie Wellington of Youngstown, Ohio. "So I put the two together to make a cool cookie that looks just like a burger."
Using refrigerated crescent roll dough, these PB&J treats from Lisa Renshaw of Kansas City, Missouri are a fun snack for hungry youngsters to assemble. Parents just have to help with the baking. Plus, they're easy to vary using different jelly flavors and nuts to suit each child's taste.
Pizza Grilled Cheese
Combine two all-time lunch favorites into one and you've got this recipe from Tim Kettering of Newville, Pennsylvania. His mother, Robin, says Tim created the sandwich with dipping sauce to satisfy his love for pizza.
- We enjoy homemade baked goods for breakfast, but I don't have time to bake each morning before school. So I devote one day a month to making large batches of cinnamon rolls, doughnuts, cream cheese rolls and muffins. I place them in heavy-duty resealable plastic bags labeled with the date. (They freeze for about 2 months.) On busy mornings, it's a snap to pop a few in the microwave to warm. The kids love the fresh-baked flavor. —Lori T., New London, Texas
- With two children in elementary school, I pack 10 lunches a week. Having the "same old, same old" gets boring for them to eat and for me to make. So every now and then, I pack the fixings for them to assemble a bug. I include a short poem like this: "In your lunch you will find the parts to build a bug of some kind. With celery antennae and wings of cheese, build a butterfly if you please." —Sandy K., Elmhurst, Illinois
- My husband and I want our children to make their own school lunches, but with five of us trying to get out of the house by 7:30 a.m., it doesn't always work. So I use an entire loaf of bread to prepare peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, then put them in individual plastic sandwich bags and freeze them. That way, anyone who does not want to prepare lunch can grab a frozen PB&J to put in their lunch bag. By lunchtime, it is thawed. The 16 or so sandwiches I make stay fresh, and they help keep the whole family on schedule. —Muriel J., Marlboro, New Jersey
- When my kids were in elementary school, they really liked to find sandwich surprises in their lunches. I put raisins, mini marshmallows, M&M's, or chocolate or butterscotch chips between the peanut butter and jelly in their sandwiches. They were the envy of their classmates and always ate their sandwiches. —Paul K., Brighton, Michigan
- Making lots of cupcakes for a school function? To speed the process and cut down on the mess, I rely on my turkey baster to squeeze the batter neatly into paper cupcake liners. —Angie S., Winchester, Virginia
From p. 26 of the September/October 2008 issue of Simple & Delicious