Posted on May 7, 2014
Baking your way to quick lunch snacks
I am not a baker by any stretch of the imagination. I like cooking but because I don’t have a sweet tooth, I rarely consider whipping up some cinnamon buns or scones unless I have a coffee or tea date planned with friends. Still, with the competition of school lunches being extremely appealing, I do try and keep our homemade lunches interesting. Part of that process is creating interesting things to put in the kid’s lunches, which means I have had to up my baking game. While I will never surpass the greatness of some of the bento box blogs out there, I do make sure to switch things up so they don’t get bored.
Luckily for me, the kids love to help out in the kitchen. I know it makes baking things three times as long when you add children to the mix but they do love to help and it is nice to spend time productively with them. Kids also enjoy eating things they had a hand in making so by working together you can also ensure they will eat the finished product. Also, since everything is a balance of time vs. money when both parents are working, this is a great way to save money, time and get in some family time as well.
So on a lazy weekend day once or twice a month I will prepare all the ingredients for a batch of cookies or a batch of muffins. After they cool, I then freeze them in giant freezer bags so in the morning while I am groggily making lunches, it’s easy to just toss them into a container & go.
Use what you have: Batches of muffins usually coincide with the amount of bananas that have gone past their prime or the amount of carrots we have on hand. We always keep pantry staples around (flour, baking powder, oatmeal, raisins, spices) so look through your fridge for ways to use up what may go bad.
Always prep first: If you are doing this with children make sure that you have pre-measured the ingredients so that they just have to pick up the container and add it to the bowl. This may cause a few extra bowls to rinse but will save you the headache of trying to juggle and measure a cup of sugar while the kids get up to shenanigans.
Find a basic recipe and stick with it: older cookbooks such as Betty Crocker will have a generic muffin recipe or a cookie recipe that is easily adapted. All that changes is the spicing and the fruit combo. Once you know the recipe & the steps off by heart it will become second-nature.
Make fun, kid-sized stuff: I always make my cookies about 1-1.5-inches in diameter. Three of those cookies fit nicely in one small salad dressing container. Small muffins in fun muffin cups up the “WOW” factor for lunches. It takes a bit longer but it is worth it.
Alternate & double up: one weekend I may make cookies and then the next weekend I may make muffins. That way I always have a mix of the two to alternate between for lunches. I also always make sure to double the recipe so that they last.
I plan to try the kids on a traditional French Yogurt cake soon as well. This is the first cake French children learn to make and it’s measured with the yogurt container to make it an easy recipe for kids to follow. I love the idea and plan to give that a whirl soon. If they each make a cake recipe, I’ll probably be able to make a month’s worth of muffins!