Memories of school lunch meals bring up an array of emotions in most parents. In the 1980’s the school cafeteria was ground zero for hanging with my friends, comparing leg warmers and trading stickers.
While I work with food every day what sticks out for me most are the memories of the inedible rubbery hot dogs and grey-blue rectangular pizza. Remember fish stick day, and the cold mac & cheese? Most schools have done away with the lunch lady and so it’s up to us to feed the kids. These “Modernized-Healthy” versions will make you and your kids happy for lunch every day. Since you are feeding 2+ kids most of the recipes serve 6-8, that way you will have leftovers for the next day.
Monday’s Special – Macaroni & Cheese, Serves 6-8
It contains vegetables, whole grains, and dairy so you can feel good about serving your little one this healthy alternative.
•3 cups cubed butternut squash, (1 ½ cups puree)
•1 cup vegetable or chicken broth
•¾ cup almond milk
•2 cups macaroni noodles, GF or regular
•1 1/2 teaspoons garlic salt
•1 tsp Worcestershire Sauce
•4 oz/1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
•pinch of nutmeg, optional
•1-2 tbsp cornstarch
1.Heat butternut squash, broth and almond milk in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer and cook for 15 minutes or until butternut squash is soft.
2.At the same time, cook macaroni noodles according to package instructions, drain and set aside when done.
3.Carefully pour butternut squash mixture into a blender or use an immersion blender. Add garlic salt and Worcestershire to the mixture. Blends until really smooth, you don’t want any pieces in the sauce.
4.Pour butternut mixture into the pasta saucepan and add cheese. Stir until cheese is totally melted. If sauce seems to be too thin, return saucepan to the stove over low heat. Start by dissolving 1 tablespoon of cornstarch in cold water and add it to the sauce. Stir until thickened. Repeat with the remaining tablespoon of cornstarch, if necessary. Once sauce has reached desired consistency, add pasta and coat well. Serve while still warm and garnish with parsley, if desired. Enjoy!
Beth’s Notes – Buy the already cubed squash from the market. If you start the squash/broth/milk as soon as you start the pasta, everything will be done at the same time. Double or triple this recipe, it freezes really well and if you portion in into small containers/baggies in the freezer; lunch time is just a few seconds away.
Tuesday’s Special – Vegetable “Mini” Meatloaf & Sweet Potato Mash, Serves 6-8
Vegetable “Mini” Meatloaf
Kids and sometimes adults can be obstinate when I comes to eating their vegetables. But paired with the right ingredients, you can “hide” them in plain sight. These mini veggie meatloaves are full of nutritious vegetables but don’t tell them. Hot or cold, these are always a kids favorite
•1 lb ground beef
•1 lb ground turkey
•2 tsp olive oil
•3 large carrots, shredded
•1 medium zucchini, shredded
•1 onion, chopped
•2 clove garlic, minced
•3 cups fresh spinach
•1 tsp salt
•½ tsp pepper
•2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
•½ cup oats, GF or regular
•1 cup tomato sauce, split into ½ cups
1.Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2.Heat oil in a large pan over medium-high heat. Add vegetables to pan, and sauté until soft about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.
3.In a large bowl, combine ground meat, garlic, salt, pepper, Worcestershire sauce, egg, oats, ½ cup tomato sauce and vegetables. Mix until thoroughly combined, getting your hands dirty here works best.
4.Form into 6-8 4-inch loaves; place on prepared baking sheet, make sure loafs are equal to ensure even cooking. Top with tomato sauce, and bake for 20 minutes, or until cooked through.
Beth’s Notes – Cutting a few into slices is a great way to get the kids to have a piece after school too. Having the kids help and make their own loaf will hopefully guarantee a feast. These freeze really well and stay in the refrigerator for until 5 days. Use the mash as a dip for the meatloaves at dinner too.
Butternut Squash Soup