This post was sponsored by Flatout Flatbread.

“It’s only October and I’m already so over the lunches.”

That’s a one-liner I overheard last week while standing amongst a throng of parents waiting to pick up our kids up after school.

What are we, six, eight weeks into school and already burnout is setting in? What’s a parent to do?

Here’s what…my number one secret to keeping your school lunch groove on:

HARNESS YOUR LABOR FORCE! 

Whether you have kids who are pint-sized, preteen, or on the verge of fleeing the nest, getting them in on the action is the best way I know to keep things fresh, fun, and less taxing for you. Here’s why:

  1. Kids are so capable! Even those as young as four or five can pitch in, alleviating some (and eventually all) of the responsiblity for the job.
  2. They will more likely eat what they had a hand in packing.
  3. It can be a pretty sweet way to spend time together.
  4. In the process, your kids will develop some real skills in the kitchen.

Now for the reality check: It takes a little investment of time to get them going. And let’s be honest, if you have preschoolers or younger grade schoolers, you will need to be close at hand to get the job done right (and safely).

In the interest of sending your kids down this path of lunch packing independence, I’ve partnered with Flatout Flatbread to devote three posts and three recipes to the topic.

The recipes are all

  • A departure from the same-old, same-old sandwich
  • Entry-level easy
  • Include five ingredients or less
  • Have a little bit of a fun factor.

Each recipe will feature a photo tutorial with a printable recipe basic enough for kids to follow along. The first recipe is a Ham and Cheesy Greens Flatbread Panini, all done in a waffle iron (or panini press if you own one). Stay tuned for next week when I’ll share lunch packing tips for kids along with two more recipes. So…

LET’S DO THIS!

1. Grab a kid (or three) and gather your ingredients

Fixings for Lunch Box Panini

2. Help younger ones cut the cheese (watch that 1st grader humor, lady). Let them layer on the ingredients with a smear of mustard across the top.
Fixings for Lunch Box Panini

3. Have the kiddos fold over the top. Get it into the waffle iron (littler ones will need help with the hot iron). 
Kids Make School Lunch

4. See if you can get them to wait for lunch to eat it. YUM!

Ham and Cheesy Greens Flatbread Panini

Servings 1 serving (2 for the littlest ones)

Ingredients

  • 1 Flatout Foldit Flatbread (see note)
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons favorite mustard
  • Enough thin slices of sharp Cheddar cheese to cover the flatbread in 2 layers
  • 1 to 2 thin slices ham
  • Small handful arugula , baby kale, or spinach

Instructions

  1. Heat your waffle iron. Coat lightly with oil or non-stick cooking spray.
  2. While the waffle iron heat up, lay Foldit Flatbread on your work surface. Spread mustard over half of the flatbread. Lay half of the cheese over one-half of the flatbread. Lay the ham on top, followed by the greens. Cover with the remaining cheese. Fold the top of the Foldit over so it covers the ingredients
  3. Carefully set the flatbread in the center of the waffle iron and press the lid down firmly. It may not close completely. Cook until the flatbread is lightly brown and crispy
  4. Remove and leave whole, or cut in half or quarters, as desired.

Recipe Notes

If you can't find Flatout Foldits, you can use sliced sandwich bread or Flatout Flatbread. It is thinner than Foldits and some of the cheese may sneak through, making it all the more crispy and appealing (in my opinion).

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