It's back to school time so we came up with a few ideas for kid-sized meals all for under two bucks. Each lunch idea is fun, frugal, and healthy too!
Mini Pizzas on Pitas
Preheat your oven to 400F and position your oven rack in the lower ⅓ of the oven.
Meanwhile, line two baking sheets with parchment paper and place 3 pitas in each baking sheet.
Spread 3-4 tablespoons pizza sauce onto each pita, top with toppings and cheese.
Bake one tray at a time, 7 minutes, until cheese is bubbly and melted.
Store leftover pita pizzas in the fridge. To pack for school lunch, lightly toast in the toaster oven (or in your oven's broiler on low), remove and cool down to room temperature before packing in a lunchbox.
A compartmentalized container
Fresh fruit and veggies (grapes, carrot sticks, celery sticks)
1-2 cheese sticks, diced or
1-2 ounces cheese, sliced
2 slices ham or turkey or salami, rolled and cut into pieces
Handful of crackers
Assemble items in the lunch container, and pack in a lunch box. It really is that simple.
Easy Mac and Cheese Bites
Olive oil cooking spray
½ cup (2 oz/60 g) whole-wheat elbow macaroni
½ teaspoons unsalted butter
1½ teaspoons all-purpose flour
¼ cup (2 fl oz/60 ml), whole milk, warmed
½ cup (2 oz/60 g) shredded sharp white Cheddar cheese
1 tablespoon grated Parmesan cheese
1 large egg, beaten
1. Preheat oven to 375°F (190°C). Spray a 24-cup mini muffin pan with cooking spray.
2. Bring a saucepan filled with water to a boil over high heat. Add the macaroni, reduce heat to medium and cook until al dente, about 7 minutes or according to package directions. Drain the pasta. You should have about 1 cup.
3. In the same saucepan over medium-low heat, melt the butter. Add the flour and whisk until smooth. Slowly add the milk while whisking constantly, until smooth. Continuing to whisk, slowly add the cheeses until smooth. Add the macaroni to the cheese sauce and stir to combine. Add the egg to the pasta and mix well.
4. Spoon the pasta mixture into about 12 of the prepared muffin cups, dividing evenly and filling the cups. Bake until crisp and browned around the edges and bubbling, about 10 minutes. Allow to cool in the pan for about 10 minutes before removing (use a small knife to help dislodge them if necessary).
Store It: Refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 3 days, or seal in a zippered plastic bag and freeze for up to 3 months.
Pack It: Thaw 2 or 3 mac & cheese bites, if necessary, then pack in a small airtight container. If you are on the go for more than 1 hour, place in a small bag with a travel ice pack. Check out more mac & cheese options.
Chicken Salad Stuffed Pita Pockets
1 tsp green onion, chopped
½ celery stalk, medium
1 lettuce leaf
2 oz left over chicken
2 tsp mayonnaise, low-fat
½ pita, whole-wheat, large
1 cup fresh grapes or sliced apple
1. Wash onion, celery, and lettuce.
2. Chop onion and celery finely.
3. In a small bowl, combine chopped onion and celery with chicken and mayonnaise. Mix thoroughly.
4. Line the inside of the pita half with the lettuce leaf and apple for grapes.
5. Spoon the prepared chicken salad into the pita
Quesadillas with Leftover Chicken
4 (8-10 inch) flour tortillas
1 cup shredded cooked chicken
½ cup shredded cheddar or Monterrey jack cheese
¼ cup cream cheese, softened
In a large mixing bowl, combine the cream cheese, shredded chicken, and cheese.
Mix thoroughly until well combined.
Heat a large nonstick skillet with cooking spray over medium heat.
Carefully place one tortilla on the pan, top with half the mixture and spread out evenly, top with another tortilla.
Cook for 2 minutes then flip with a spatula and cook the other side for 2 minutes or until light golden and the cheese is melted.
Remove from heat and cut into 8 slices.
Serve with salsa or guacamole.Serve warm with your favorite salsa.