This is the Spy Test Kitchen’s favorite time of the year – when we pull out our annual sandwich ingredients list. Have an excellent school year!
I always loved that first day of school: new shoes, new notebooks, new pencils, and a pristine box of still-pointy, aromatic crayons. I always forgot about my crippling anxiety about remembering my locker combination over the summer. I never thought about the social implications of lunchroom seating during those leisurely hours, either. As a responsible parental-unit, I loved shopping for school supplies, and shoes, and new lunch boxes. It was only the night before school started that I confronted the horror: the woeful lack of organization in our lives.
While the young ’uns were setting out their new sneakers for the morning, and frantically paging through books that should have been read weeks before, I was peering into the fridge and taking stock of our jumble of foodstuffs. What nutritional and tempting combinations could I conjure that would actually be eaten? Once, when Mr. Sanders had been out of town for a very long business trip, we attempted to set a world’s record for eating pizza for every meal, for many days in a row. I understand that that sort of tomfoolery doesn’t set a good example nowadays.
Now everyone has cute, eco-friendly, bento box lunch boxes, Mr. Sanders included. They have cunning little containers for vegetables, for fruits, for proteins. Some people cut vegetables on Sunday afternoons, and put them in the fridge for easy access on school mornings. They roll up lettuce wraps, dice carrots, prepare tuna salad, bake muffins and stack little cups of applesauce. These people also involve their children in the lunch assembly process. The despair I often felt in those dark, early mornings racing to get lunches made before the school bus arrived no longer exists, because now people are organized and thorough. And you can be, too.
While we are still leftover-dependent in this house, these folks know what to do about school lunch organization: Make Ahead Lunches
A handy guide to Sunday night preps: https://www.realmomnutrition.com/lunch-packing-stations/ And at Food52, the ever-clever Amanda always has some really fab lunch ideas. Amanda’s Clever Lunch Ideas
And now, with shameless drumroll, is the Spy Test Kitchen lunch list, which I haul out, shamelessly, every fall. Feel free to make your own spreadsheet, Google Doc or PowerPoint deck so you never have another moment of lunch ennui. The Test Kitchen came up with this flexible list of ingredients for packing school lunches a few years ago.
It is just as timely today:
Let’s start with bread:
Whole grain breads
French baguette s
If storing overnight, layer bread with lettuce first, then add the spreads, to keep sandwich from getting soggy.
Next, the spread:
The main ingredient:
Crumbled hard-boiled eggs
The decorative (and tasty) elements:
Sliced red peppers
“ ‘We could take our lunch,’ said Katherine.‘What kind of sandwiches?’ said Mark. ‘Jam,’ said Martha thoughtfully, ‘and peanut-butter-and-banana, and cream-cheese-and-honey, and date-and-nut, and prune-and-marshmallow…’”