Have you ever woken up in a cold sweat realizing that you don’t have anything in the fridge, pantry or freezer to pack for your child’s school lunch? Yeah…neither have I…But I do face major guilt if the only thing I’ve got is, heaven forbid, some sort of pink processed meat on white bread with a slice of mystery cheese and a pickle.
Packing a healthy, hearty and heartfelt school meal for your child is a lot easier than you might think. It just takes a little planning to ensure that your kids eat well and you lose the cold sweat alarm clock.
Spend a few Sundays a month and prepare some of your family favorites; whatever they may be. We are especially fond of spaghetti and meat sauce, any kind of soup and healthy casseroles. Place a single serving in a Ziploc bag, label it well and put it in the freezer. The night before school, simply pull out however many packages you need and then heat them up in the morning.
Invest in a sturdy thermos and disposable utensils (trust me, forks and spoons go missing like socks). Add a good dose of fruit and veggies, and maybe one of those chocolate chip cookies you do so well!
If at all possible, get those kiddos of yours cooking in the kitchen with you. Not only will they have the memory of your time together, but they will get that special something to make them think of Mom and Dad during their lunch hour. School can be stressful, so give them a little love with a simple meal from the heart and your home!
By Guest Blogger, Heidi Lee, C-CAP Arizona Culinary Resource Specialist
Easy Spaghetti and Meatballs
Makes 8 servings
- ¼ cup olive oil
- ½ head garlic, minced
- 1 T parsley (fresh or dried)
- 1 T basil (fresh or dried)
- 2 cans (~28 oz) crushed tomatoes (fire-roasted are best)
- Salt and black pepper, to taste
- ¼ cup sugar
- 20 oz. ground meat – whatever mix you like*
- 1⁄3 cup shredded Swiss or provolone
- 1⁄3 cup whole-milk ricotta
- ½ cup grated Parmesan or Pecorino Romano
- ¾ cup breadcrumbs
- 3 eggs, lightly beaten
- 1 lb spaghetti, cooked
- 2 T finely chopped parsley, for serving
Heat oil over medium heat in a non-stick saucepan. Once the oil gets slightly thinner, add half of the minced garlic and simmer until lightly browned. Add the herbs, tomatoes, salt and pepper and cook for about an hour. Add the sugar and continue to cook until thick, about 20 minutes. Mix your ground meat with the remaining garlic, cheese, breadcrumbs, eggs, salt and pepper in a bowl. Form eight meatballs, about 6 oz. each. Heat remaining oil in a 12” skillet over medium-high heat. Once the oil is glimmering and very thin, add the meatballs to the pan in batches, making sure to not overcrowd the pan. Turn the meatballs once they start to brown, cook about 10 minutes. Add the meatballs to your sauce and cook until cooked through, about half an hour. Serve your meatballs and sauce over spaghetti, add chopped parsley to serve.