Just as many students dread Back to School, their parents dread the Back to School Lunch Issue, where the desire to pack your child healthy homemade lunches vies with short time and tempers.
The answer is wraps. These soft, oversized tortillas are quicker to make than sandwiches and neater to eat, too. They travel well and don’t get soggy the way bread often does. Wraps come in a wide range to fit every dietary need, including multigrain (Mission, $3.49,15 ounces) and gluten free.(La Tortilla Factory $3.49, 13.65 ounces).
Fill them with all manner of plant-based goodness from the ubiquitous hummus to awesome homemade veggie spreads.
Back in the day, peanut butter was the answer to everything — it was high in protein, fiber, kid appeal and ease, but some schools ban nuts due to the prevalence of food allergies. Mashing beans like black beans and lentils or going with sunflower or other seed butters offers the same creamy goodness without allergy issues.
Three to try:
Italian Wrap: Puree white beans, roasted red pepper (the jarred kind are fine) and fresh basil, and top with whole basil and spinach leaves.
Asian Wrap: Smash edamame with ginger, soy and a drizzle of sesame oil, and top with shredded carrot and chopped scallions.
Mexican Wrap Blitz black beans with a little salsa, and sprinkle with cheese and roasted pumpkin seeds.
Other sturdy wrap toppings include: arugula, kale, sliced olives, sliced cucumber, strips of roasted eggplant, any other roasted vegetable your child sanctions and, for sweeter wraps, raisins or chopped dried apricots.
Mash, slap, slather, sprinkle and wrap, and you’ve got a packable lunch. Change up fillings by varying the seasonings. Switching a squirt of sriracha for a splash of salsa takes you from Mexican to Asian in a nanosecond.
Slice wraps in half for easy eating, or, if you’re feeling your inner domestic god or goddess, roll each wrap into a tight cylinder and slice into six or eight pieces, like a sushi roll.
Fresh, homemade, healthy, yummy, easy — wraps make school lunch a snap.
Miami writer Ellen Kanner is the author of “Feeding the Hungry Ghost: Life, Faith and What to Eat for Dinner.”