When I was a kid, my mom pretty much always packed the same thing in my lunch. But after a while, one of three different sandwiches, some chips or crackers and a Little Debbie snack gets really old. (OK, everything except the Little Debbie snack got old.) One way to make your kids look forward to the lunch you pack? Food on a stick. It's a home run every time.
We recommend school lunchroom-friendly sticks with rounded ends, of course, like the ones commercial corn dogs come with. If you can't find corn dog sticks, then wooden, rounded coffee stirrers work too. Now that you have your sticks, all you need are some creative ideas about what to put on them.
1. Chicken on a stick
Mickey D's has nothin' on Mom. Weave 1/2-inch-wide strips of chicken onto the stick, bread the chicken, and sauté them in a shallow amount of equal parts butter and oil over medium-low heat, about three minutes on each side or until cooked through. Send with your child's favorite dipping sauce.
2. Salad on a stick
Cut chunks of iceberg lettuce, and skewer them, alternating chunks of your kid's favorite veggies, cooked, cubed chicken or steak and squares of cheese. Send your kids to school with a little of their favorite dressing.
3. Breakfast-for-lunch on a stick
If your kiddo loves breakfast for lunch (and who doesn't?), skewer chunks of fruit alternated with 1-1/2-inch squares of waffle. Send with syrup or whipped cream.
4. Mini hamburger pops
These little burgers double as a creative appetizer at your next party. Cut little 2-inch squares or rounds of bread, and skewer as follows: a piece of bread, a piece of lettuce, a 1-inch slice of bacon (not too crispy!), a meatball, a small square of sliced cheese, another piece of bun and half a cherry tomato.
5. Antipasto on a stick
Skewer cooked, cold cheese- or meat-filled tortellini, alternating with your kid's choice of salami or pepperoni chunks, cubed mozzarella or provolone, fresh grape tomatoes, olives, chunks of roasted red pepper, artichoke hearts and chunks of mushroom — really, anything your kid likes is fine, regardless of how "traditional" it is. Brush with a little Italian dressing, or send some on the side for dipping.
6. Taco pops
Press refrigerator crescent rolls back into a sheet, and cut them into 15 equal squares. Top each square with a little cooked taco meat and shredded cheese, then pinch the squares into balls, and roll them between your hands to smooth. Bake at 375 degrees F for about 10 minutes or until they're golden brown. Push a stick through them, putting several balls onto each stick if desired. Send with salsa for dipping and a side salad for veggies.
7. Pizza pops
Cut 2- or 3-inch circles (a cookie or biscuit cutter works well) out of refrigerator pizza crust. Push a stick about halfway through, and put it on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Spread with sauce, and top with your kid's favorite toppings. Then just bake them up according to the pizza dough's package directions.
8. Peanut butter-banana sandwiches on a stick
Make little mini peanut butter sandwiches, and skewer them, alternating with wheels. Caramelizing the bananas first will hide browning if your kid's averse to that.
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