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Make the Grade With School Lunches

August 17, 2010

Finding school lunch ideas that stay fresh can be challenging. But with a few simple solutions, you can provide your kids delicious and tasty sandwiches.

- The Bread. Be sure to choose the right bread for your sandwich. Keep in mind that the more moisture in the fillings, the drier and denser the bread should be. Breads with thick crusts work perfectly, or swap your regular bread for flour tortillas, bagels, English muffins or pitas. Grill or toast the bread to add crunch and flavor. Keep wet ingredients from making your sandwiches soggy by adding a light layer of butter to the bread. Get creative with cookie cutters for fun sandwich shapes!

- The Ingredients. To keep sandwiches crispy and delicious, place a single layer of lunchmeat on each slice of bread, then spread the condiments on those.

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The meat creates a barrier between the bread and the rest of the ingredients. Cheese also works nicely as a barrier. One rule of thumb is to never place tomatoes directly on the cheese - the juice from the tomatoes will make the cheese soft and cause the bread to become soggy. Instead, place tomatoes in between lettuce slices. Cucumbers are also great alternatives for lettuce.

- The Storage. Another good defense against sogginess is to pack the separates and let the kids make the sandwiches at school. Bread goes in one bag or container, meat and vegetables in another, and throw in little restaurant packets of mayo or mustard.

Sometimes the simplest ideas work best. To get more quick and easy recipes, product information or additional freshness tips, visit

Fact Box

Be at TOPS of the Class

Busy schedules, including work, school, extracurricular activities and more, often cause healthy eating to fall to the wayside. Kids can end up munching on pizza, snacks, and junk food too frequently, instead of freshly prepared, well-rounded meals. Consider following the recipes below to help your child eat right (and have fun while doing it), provided by TOPS Club Inc.

-Popcorn-Banana Mix -Mix together popcorn and banana chips in a large bowl. Add additional treats, such as dried berries or nuts, for greater variety.

- Fruity Faces -Use a fruit that can easily be cut in half, such as a grapefruit or orange. Halve the fruit and adorn it with a cluster of grapes, representing hair. Add three grapes - two for the eyes and one for a nose. Use two strawberries as ears. Blueberries make the smile.

- Icy Delight - Blend together 2 cups ice, 1 cup juice, and 1 1/2 cups assorted fruit in a blender. Add more juice if necessary. Pour into individual cups and place in the freezer for at least three hours. When ready to taste, remove from freezer and let sit on counter for a few minutes to thaw. Makes 4 servings.

- Berry Delicious - Add fresh berries to yogurt. Top with granola for an extra nutritious treat.

- Fruit or Vegetable Skewers - Place a variety of fruits or vegetables on a skewer and enjoy.

- Banana Hot Dog - Peel a banana and place it between a slice of whole wheat toast. Top with peanut butter or chocolate.

To find a local TOPS chapter, view or call 800-932-8677.

Back-to-School Bagelwich

Makes 1 sandwich

4-6 slices honey ham, thinly sliced

1 bagel

2 teaspoons cream cheese

1 teaspoon honey mustard

1 thin slice beefsteak tomato

6 thin cucumber slices

Split bagel, spread each cut half with 1 teaspoon cream cheese.

On each half of bagel, layer half of each of the ingredients in this order: ham, honey mustard, tomato and cucumber slices.

Join the two halves together. Cut in half and wrap.

Recipe provided by Hillshire Farm.

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Score an A+ with These Palate Pleasers

As families launch into back-to-school routines, moms are thinking ahead to get organized for the busy school year - and seeking easy, affordable mealtime solutions.

Ziploc and Taste of Home magazine have teamed up to help make magnificent fresh snacks and meals perfect for the lunch box.

The pair is scoring an A+ with the "Back-to-School Menu Plan" online recipe guide, which provides families with fun, hassle-free and budget-friendly recipes and tips. The guide features more than 20 breakfast, lunch, dinner and snack ideas that will help moms tackle meal planning and stay organized while getting their families back into the school routine.

The recipe guide can be accessed at

Chicken Tortilla Rollups

Makes 6 servings

If you are on the run, you won't have to take along a fork and knife to enjoy these tasty, hearty roll-ups.

3/4 cup sour cream

6 spinach tortillas or flour tortillas of your choice (8 inches)

1 1/2 cups ready-to-use grilled chicken breast strips or cubed, cooked turkey

1 cup (4 ounces) finely shredded cheddar cheese

1 cup shredded lettuce

1/2 cup chopped ripe olives

1/2 cup chunky salsa

Spread 2 tablespoons sour cream over each tortilla. Top with chicken, cheese, lettuce, olives and salsa. Roll up each tortilla tightly; wrap in plastic wrap or store in a covered container. Refrigerate until serving.

Recipe from Darlene Brenden in Salem, Ore.

Motoring Munchies

Makes 3 quarts

Packed with peanuts, dried fruit and other goodies, handfuls of this sweet snack will make kids happy on the way to school or at lunchtime.

1 package (18 ounces) granola without raisins

1 can (12 ounces) salted peanuts

1 package (15 ounces) raisins

1 package (14 ounces) milk chocolate M&Ms

1 package (14 ounces) peanut M&M s

2 packages (7 ounces each) mixed dried fruit

In a large bowl, combine all the ingredients. Store in a gallon-size zippered bag.

Dole out small portions in snack-size bags.

Recipe from Nancy Schlinger, Middleport, N.Y.

All materials courtesy of Taste of Home Media Group.



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