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Think Outside The Lunchbox

Back to school or family daytrip doesn’t mean you have to haul out the same old boring PB&J sandwiches. With a whole new take on ham and cheese, easy-to-make teriyaki bowls, and homemade simple pizzas, these bites will be the envy of brown bags everywhere.

Ham, Spinach, and Cheese Quesadillas

4 large flour tortillas

¼ pound thinly sliced ham

2 cups baby spinach

1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

1 cup shredded jack cheese

½ teaspoon garlic powder

½ teaspoon black pepper

½ teaspoon onion powder

1 tablespoon butter

In a small bowl, stir together garlic powder, black pepper, and onion powder. Set aside. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat with 1 teaspoon olive oil. Once hot, add spinach and cook for 30 seconds, until wilted, then set the spinach aside.

In the same skillet, melt half of the butter over medium-high heat. Add one tortilla to the pan. Top the tortilla with ¼ of the cheese, a layer of sliced ham, and a layer of wilted spinach. Sprinkle over half of the spice mixture, then another ¼ of the cheese and top with the other tortilla. Cook until the tortilla on the bottom is golden brown and toasted. Carefully flip and cook the other tortilla until the cheese is melted and the tortilla is golden brown. Remove from heat and repeat for the second quesadilla.

Cut each quesadilla into quarters. Pack in airtight containers, with two to three pieces per

container. Serve with fruit and/or other vegetables.


The ham and cheese combination can also be turkey and cheese, or whatever you would like to use up from your refrigerator.

Chicken Teriyaki Bowls

8 ounces chicken thighs

4 tablespoons olive oil

1 clove garlic, minced

¼ cup soy sauce

1 inch piece of ginger, peeled and minced

2 tablespoons agave nectar

1 tablespoon rice vinegar

½ teaspoon red pepper flakes

¾ tablespoon cornstarch

1 cup broccoli florets

1 cup sliced bell peppers, any color(s)

1 cup cooked white or brown rice

Sesame seeds

Preheat oven to 425°F.

In a large bowl, toss broccoli and peppers with 3 tablespoons olive oil. Spread in an even layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast vegetables for 20 minutes.

While the vegetables are cooking, heat remaining olive oil in a nonstick pan over medium-high heat. Once hot, add chicken and cook for 8 to 10 minutes, until golden brown and cooked through. Remove chicken from pan and slice into thin strips. Set aside.

To the same pan, add garlic, soy sauce, ginger, agave, rice vinegar, red pepper flakes, and cornstarch, whisking well to combine. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook until thickened, approximately 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from heat.

Let everything come to room temperature before assembling lunch boxes. To assemble, add rice, then chicken and vegetables, and top with teriyaki sauce. Refrigerate and store for up to 5 days.


You can substitute steak for chicken if you want to beef up your kid’s lunches or offer some

variety for the chicken teriyaki bowls.

English Muffin Pizzas

2 English muffins, split

1 to 1½ cups tomato sauce (any variety)

1 bell pepper, seeded and chopped

1 poblano pepper, seeded and chopped

¼ red onion, thinly sliced

1 tomato, sliced

Freshly chopped basil

1 cup shredded mozzarella

Under a broiler set to high, toast English muffin halves until golden brown.

Top each English muffin half with equal amounts of tomato sauce. Then divide cheese evenly on top of each muffin half.

Add toppings in whatever combination you like! Get creative with your toppings and ideas!

Add to airtight containers and your kids can melt them in the microwave at school for 30

seconds to 1 minute, until the cheese is melted.


If you need ideas for toppings on the pizzas, try tomato, basil, and mozzarella for a classic topping combo. Other combinations include peppers and poblanos or bell peppers and red onion!

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