10 Three-Ingredient Lunches for Kids and Adults
With the back-to-school season closing in, my thoughts always turn to packing lunch. But this year is different, since many of our kids (mine included) will be learning from the comfort of the kitchen table, not the classroom. That means more meals at home, without the convenience of school cafeterias.
It’s with that in mind that I am sharing simple solutions to school and workday lunches. Here are 10 three-ingredient lunches for kids and adults. The portions can be scaled up or down depending on age and appetite. These are all main dish items that can be rounded out with fruit and veggie sides. Every mini recipe can be knocked out in a few minutes and is simple enough for kids to tackle them on their own. Little ones can pitch in, bigger kids can manage the whole job, start to finish (and perhaps even make lunch for mom or dad). Consider it a vital part of their education.
1 sandwich-sized length baguette
Several slices fresh Mozzarella
A few slices ripe tomato
Split the baguette in half lengthwise. Lay the Mozzarella on the bottom half and toast both halves in a toaster oven until the cheese softens and the bread browns lightly. Lay the tomato slices and a generous pinch of salt over the cheese. Cover with the top of the baguette.
Add ons: chopped basil, a swipe of pesto, a dribble of balsamic vinegar, a drizzle of olive oil, a slice of prosciutto
Easy Ramen Noodle Soup
1 package ramen (read the label to find a brand free of chemicals and artificial ingredients)
⅓ cup cooked edamame or diced baked tofu
Handful baby spinach or any leftover cooked vegetables
Make the ramen according to package directions. Stir in edamame/baked tofu and spinach. Serve warm.
Add ons: hot sauce, thinly sliced scallions, sesame seeds, a halved soft-cooked egg
1 whole-grain pita bread
2 tbsp. marinara sauce
¼ cup shredded Mozzarella
Spread unsplit pita with marinara sauce and scatter with Mozzarella. Bake in a 450 degree F oven or toaster oven until crispy, 7- 8 minutes. Cut into wedges.
Add-ons: olives, arugula, broccoli, cherry tomatoes, basil, or any other pizza toppings
Nut Butter and Berry Sandwiches
2 slices whole-grain bread
2 tbsp. peanut, nut, or seed butter
Enough raspberries or sliced strawberries to cover 1 slice of bread.
Spread nut butter over both slices of bread. Lay berries in a single layer on one slice. Cover with second slice of bread. Serve as is or pop into a greased waffle iron to get it warm and crispy.
Add ons: a drizzle of honey, hemp seeds, sesame seeds, cacao nibs
1 whole-grain flour tortilla
2 tbsp. hummus
2 slices turkey
Spread tortilla with hummus. Lay on turkey slices and roll up. Cut in half.
Add ons: shredded carrots, chopped olives, cucumber slices, bell pepper slices, baby spinach
Black Bean Soup
One 15-oz can black beans
4 oz. pico de gallo or other salsa
Small handful tortilla chips
Puree beans with canning liquid and salsa in a blender. Head on the stove, adding water if needed to thin the soup. Serve warm with tortilla chips for dipping.
Add-ons: top with sour cream, diced avocado, a squeeze of lime, chopped cilantro, cooked corn, hot sauce
Asian-Style Chicken Salad
1 1/2 cups Asian-style salad mix
½ cup shredded or cubed chicken
1 to 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
Put Asian salad mix and chicken into a bowl along with some of the won tons/nuts that come in the bag. Drizzle with a little of the dressing that comes with the salad mix and a splash of rice vinegar. Toss well and add more dressing/vinegar as needed.
Add ins: chopped peanuts, chopped cashews, thinly sliced scallions
Sweet Potato Quesadillas
1 small sweet potato
2 smallish whole-grain flour tortillas
⅓ cup shredded pepper Jack cheese
Pierce the sweet potato and cook in the microwave on high or the oven at 425 F until tender. Cut in half and scoop out the tender flesh. Smash an even layer of sweet potato over one tortilla. Scatter with cheese and add a second tortilla. Get it crispy on both sides in a hot skillet (add a little olive oil or non-stick cooking spray to the pan). Cut into quarters.
Add ons: black beans, salsa, taco sauce, or cilantro inside the quesadilla; sour cream or guacamole for dipping
Mezze Picnic Lunch
Cut up crunchy vegetables
2 tbsp. hummus
Handful whole-grain pita chips
Put any favorite dipping vegetables, such as carrots, celery, cherry tomatoes, or bell peppers on a plate. Add a dish of hummus and a pile of whole-grain pita chips.
Add ons: pitted olives, feta cubes, walnuts, artichoke hearts, grapes
Egg and Avocado Toast
1 slice crusty bread, such as whole-grain levain
½ ripe avocado
1 peeled hard boiled egg
Lightly toast the bread. Smash the avocado over the surface of the toast. Add a generous pinch of salt. Slice the egg and lay on top.
Add ons: a squeeze of lemon juice, smoked salmon, black pepper, cucumber slices