Rainbow Pasta Salad

This is another of our big batch lunches – it makes enough for us to each take this twice for lunch during the week, plus extras to snack on at home. Like the Couscous Salad, it’s a great lunch for summer.  It’s also a good pasta option that doesn’t require reheating.  My recipe is below.

rainbow pasta salad

rainbow pasta salad, cherry tomatoes, clementine, and gummy bears

Rainbow Pasta Salad

Serves 6-8
Prep time 5 minutes
Cook time 15 minutes
Total time 20 minutes
Misc Freezable, Serve Cold


  • 16oz pasta
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 1/2 cup frozen corn
  • 1 1/2 cup frozen peas
  • 1 carrot (grated)
  • 1/3 cup parmesan cheese (grated)


Step 1 Cook the pasta according to package directions. Rinse with cold water and drain.
Step 2 In a large bowl, toss everything together. Keeps for a few days in the refrigerator. Delicious cold.

Rock the Lunchbox Winner!

Have you checked out Rock the Lunchbox?  It’s a great resource that provides ideas, tips, and coupons for natural and organic products from Stonyfield Yogurt, Annie’s Homegrown, Honest Kids, and Organic Valley.  You can also upload your own lunch photos, entering you into a weekly sweepstakes to win products and coupons.

A few weeks ago we posted our Smoked Gouda Pasta & Salad and then submitted it to Rock the Lunchbox - and I’m happy to say that we won!!!  We were even featured on Annie’s Homegrown facebook banner for a week:


(that’s our lunch on the left)

If you haven’t entered, there’s still time – the sweepstakes runs through 9/29/13.  After that, you can still check out the great tips and lunch ideas on the site.

Homemade Uncrustables

Like lots of other folks out there, we make our own Uncrustables (frozen peanut butter & jelly sandwiches) for a couple of reasons.  They’re cheaper AND we get to choose the ingredients.  Our picks are: white whole wheat bread, whichever organic nut butter is on sale, and usually natural blueberry or blackberry jelly.  There are great step-by-step instructions here and here, so I won’t repost those.  My two cents is that a tool like the Pampered Chef Cut-n-Seal makes the job easier and more fun.  So if you see yourself making a lot of these, it might be worth the $10 investment.

homemade uncrustables

homemade uncrustables, olives, cherry tomatoes, apple

You’ll also notice that this isn’t in our usual Ziploc lunch container.  We’re giving Rubbermaid LunchBlox a try and we’ll have a review coming soon!

Couscous Salad with Garbanzos and Tomatoes

Today’s lunch is one of my favorites for these still summer-like days we have in Texas in September.  This is the time of year I crave sweatshirts and jeans and leaves changing color .  We’ll eventually get to the sweatshirts and jeans (maybe not until November) and I’ve given up on any expectation of fall color here.  But one way to deal with the heat that’s still oppressive is to have a cold  couscous salad – made in advance and  enough for each of us to have it for lunch twice.  It’s a delicious cold lunch and the tomatoes and parsley give it a wonderfully fresh flavor.  My recipe is adapted from this Cooking Light recipe to suit our family – we doubled it, left out the onion, added more lemon juice and serve the olives on the side.

couscous saladcouscous salad with garbanzos and tomatoes, back olives, and chocolate chip cookies

Back to School Lunch Idea Roundup

With school back in session, we’re packing more lunches than ever and sometimes our inspiration meter runs a little low.  Here’s a roundup of five cute and fun lunch ideas from across the internet.  And some of my random stream-of-consciousness thoughts at the end…

This banana makes me happy.  I may never do a true bento, but I can scratch a banana with a toothpick!  From Mamabelly:
Lunchbox Printables from Our Best Bites!

Sandwich kabobs – now that Lily’s old enough not to poke her eye out with the stick. From Simple as That – the blog:
Lunchbox Printables from Our Best Bites!

Green machine pizza from Weelicious:

Lunchbox Printables from Our Best Bites!

Pizza in another form – “pizza scrolls” from I Pack Lunch:

Lunchbox Printables from Our Best Bites!

And, of course, these cute Lunchbox Notes.  Lily would never let me do this, but I hear some kids adore getting notes in their lunchbox. I know I would.  From Our Best Bites:
Lunchbox Printables from Our Best Bites!

(Aside: For some reason, this post reminded me of the episode of The IT Crowd when Roy and Moss give Jen the internet – a small black box with a red LED light on top.  If you’ve never seen the show I’d highly recommend watching it. While you’re making banana art.)

Lazy Day Lunches

Today I was browsing Pinterest for what seemed like five minutes but ended up being more like two hours (how does that happen?!) when I came across a blog about fresh cooking.  I clicked the “about” page and there in the introduction the author says that she doesn’t do “lazy” days.  Apparently not because she’s crazy busy cooking, blogging, and raising kids… but because she doesn’t want to.  Because, she says, “the more you do, the more you get done.”  And for a moment I felt really, really guilty.  Because whenever I get a chance to have a lazy day?  I am ALL OVER IT.  Pajamas, hot tea, a book, maybe a bath. And definitely a nap. Maybe I was a ferret in a previous life.

lazy day

me, 300 years ago

In celebration of lazy days, here are my three favorite go-to lunch ideas for just such an occasion:

1. Peanut Butter & Jelly Roll-ups. I *know* you have pb&j, so if you have tortillas you are all set.
2. Croissant & Salami.  No prep here, except for cutting up some fruit.
3. Spring Rolls. Plan ahead for your lazy day and pick up some grocery store spring rolls. Everybody’s happy.

5 Tips for Packing School Lunches

school lunchesFirst day of school! First day of school! This always reminds me of the scene in Finding Nemo where I’d start the movie for Lily when she was little (we skipped over Mom’s untimely demise). This year I’m not sure Lily is as excited as Nemo was, but my enthusiasm is definitely more than Nemo’s dad’s.  Even though I’m happy school is starting it’s hard to transition from summer to school.  Here are 5 tips I try to keep in mind that make things easier.

1. Make a plan.  Get inspired by visiting Pinterest and searching for “school lunch ideas.” Also, check out Let’s Pack Lunch – one of my favorite community boards.school lunch ideas

2.  Let your kid(s) help.  Depending on their ages they can help by packing the lunch themselves, going shopping with you to choose the fruits/vegetables they want to include, or simply by making a list of things they’d enjoy for lunch.

3.  Add whole foods.  We don’t worry too much about the balance of fruits and vegetables in our house.  There are already too many other things to stress about.  So if we make whole food choices, we congratulate ourselves and move on.  For the lunchbox, we try to fit in as many healthy colorful things as we can.

5 tips for packing lunch

4. Keep it cool.  Keep food safety in mind.  Here in Texas we’ll still have some hot days once school starts and lunch will be outside and on a school bus for part of the morning.  We are big fans of blue ice.

5. Don’t panic.  Repeat after me:  “I am not and will never be the kind of mother that cuts letters out of cheese or creates a work-of-art bento for lunch.  And that’s okay.”

Good luck to us all as school starts!


Turkey Havarti Roll-ups

We’ve posted some roll-ups with tortillas (pizza, pb&j, and pizza again), but today we opted for just meat and cheese since we’re including a homemade pretzel (yum!)

turkey havarti roll-ups

turkey and havarti roll-ups, cherry tomatoes, blueberries and cherries, and a homemade pretzel

Smoked Gouda Pasta & Salad

Today’s lunch is a favorite for both Lily and me.  I’ve mentioned before how I like to cook up a big pot of pasta and freeze some for later lunches.  Our lunch today features another pasta dish that’s easy to make – we heat up the pasta, add shredded smoked gouda and a little bit of milk or cream, then mix in some green peas.  We served it with a salad and our homemade balsamic vinaigrette along with some no-bake energy bites for a sweet treat.  You can find energy bites recipes all over, but my favorite is the one from Smashed Peas and Carrots.

kids lunch ideas

baby kale and spinach with clementines and strawberries, smoked gouda pasta with green peas, and no-bake energy bites

For more vegetarian lunch ideas check out our archives.

Pizza Roll-ups 2

A while back, I posted about our pizza roll-ups. For today’s lunch, we’re having a vegetarian version with pesto.  We make these in the toaster oven too, substituting pesto for the jarred pizza sauce and adding mozzarella and tomatoes.  While spinach is our go-to green in the winter, it is looking pretty sad these days at the grocery store, so we’ve been using baby kale instead.  I’d love to hear from you about what salad green your family likes the most!

And what is that delicious treat below?  Thanks to Girl Gone Grits, it’s an oreo truffle made by Lily.

vegetarian lunch ideas

baby kale with shredded carrots and strawberries, pesto pizza rollups, blueberries, and a treat

Looking for more vegetarian lunch ideas? Check out our archives.