Lunchtime! An Ultimate Recipe Swap

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Ultimate Recipe Swap

Lunchtime’s been on my mind recently. I realized last week that between hot breakfasts and home cooked lunches every day, I was spending 2-3 hours daily in the kitchen. Umm, excuse me, but no. This is not conducive to good learning or happy mamas.

How did I get here?

Well, hubs and I chatted, and we realized that in my efforts to save money by cooking so many meals from scratch, I was paying for it in time and energy. While I don’t want to throw money away, time is a non-renewable resource. So, I need to play this game a little more wisely. We came to the conclusion that I needed to simplify. It’s okay to have “serve yourself” breakfasts like instant oatmeal, boxed cereal, and bagels on the days when baking muffins or frying pancakes might make things a little too crazy for comfort. Likewise, we decided that it was better to make easy, brown bag kind of lunches. I had considered this a few months ago, but somehow eating leftovers or cooking a meal at lunchtime seemed to be a more frugal venture.

I’m pleased to report that the Good Old Fashioned PB and J has served us well this week. I made 18 pints of jam last summer and stocked up on a peanut butter sale a few months ago. So, sandwiches have been a quick and easy lunch. In fact, I’ve made the kids’ lunches in the morning when I make FishPapa’s.

Everybody knows how to make a PB and J, I’m sure. However, I wonder if you know my trick. One of these kids is not like the other. Come on, can you tell which one?

One of these sandwiches is made with the heel of the bread. But, most people — my children included — would not be able to tell. And since peanut butter and jelly are such sticky fillings, this heel of a sandwich has always flown under the radar. And we all know that the heel has all the vitamins, right? It’s true.

My mom said so.

While I love my bread machine and make my own bread several times per week, it’s nice to have a backup plan. Thankfully, there are some good, healthy, and affordable options out there that I can throw into the cart and buy myself some time.

Sara Lee recently sent us a few loaves of their new Soft & Smooth® Plus Made with DHA Omega-3 bread. The bread tastes as good as their standard sandwich bread, but has all sorts of extra nutrition thrown in. I consider it a nice alternative to the homebaked bread that would be my first choice.

This week five participants in URS (either through comment or link) will win two loaves of this same new Soft & Smooth® Plus Made with DHA Omega-3 bread. Entries will be accepted until Sunday night at 8 pm PST.

What do YOU like to make for lunch?

1. Post your recipe on your blog. Please mention in your post. Then, come back here to add your link to Mr. Linky below. (Instructions for Mr. Linky are available.)

2. If you don’t have a blog, simply tell us about your recipe in the comments section.

1. Odd Mom (Lighter Spaghetti con Sugo di Tonno)
2. Amy @ GOSPEL HOMEMAKING (Two loaves, no fishes)
3. Jenna @ Food with Kid Appeal Frugal Fruit Yogurt Parfaits
4. Alison @ Hospitality Haven (Chicken Bombay)
5. BBQ Lunch Meat- A Simple Step Up
6. The Prudent Homemaker (Quick and Frugal Stir Fry)
7. Lemon Poppy Lunch Box Cake
8. Kitchen Stewardship (Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes Grilled Cheese)
9. A Busy Mom of Two (Yogurt Treat)
10. Morristribe and Meal Decisions with Chicken Tacos
11. Jill @ Love from the Kitchen(Porcupine Meatballs)
12. Jaime @ Like a Bubbling Brook (Ancient Mulitgrain Bread in the Bread Machine)
13. Fancy Frugalista! (Cavatini)
14. Family Balance Sheet (Red and White Chicken Chili)
15. Moneyless Momma’s: Quick and Easy Casserole
16. The Local Cook loves leftover Slow Cooked Chili for lunch!
17. LovePeaceandSaving~APPLE PIE SANDWICHES
18. Laura @ Frugal Follies (Kasha Varnishkes)
19. Melissa @ Mom’s Plans (OAMC Breakfast Burritos – for lunch!)
20. Finding Joy in My Kitchen (Soft Wheat Sandwich Bread)
21. 8-MuddyBoots (HomemadeYellow Cake Mix, Ready Anytime!)
22. Family Stamping and FOOD (Crispy Potato Cake)
23. CFM-Tuna Egg Salad
24. Breakfast Casserole –(Brunch)
25. Mama Bird’s Nest {What Jack Eats!}
26. Tess @ Kipfl and Fudge (Pumpkin Spice Muffins)
27. Sherry @ Lamp Unto My Feet (Frugal & Easy Lunch)
28. Sara (hummus)
29. Mum In Bloom (Tomatoe Basil Soup)
30. Katie @ The Cutting Back Kitchen – Morning Glory Muffins (Healthy!)
31. Kristen @ Hope Abound: Some Sort’a Pork
32. Easy To Be Gluten Free (Sausage Spinach and Lentil Soup)
33. ElizabethG (Loaded Soup for Lunch)
34. Susie’s Homemade
35. mandi@itscome2this (muffins)
36. Twylyth – Tortilla Pizza
37. live once juicy (vegetarian three bean chili)
38. MomReviewTB- Chicken Fajita Melts
39. Debra (homemade mac ‘n cheese)
40. Recipes for Moms (Barbecue Chicken Quesadillas)
41. Just Trying To Save Money- Meatloaf
42. Coby’s Corner (Golden Potato Rolls)
43. Savings Makes Cents-Cheesy Quinoa Spinach and Mushroom Casserole
44. The Cozy Country Home (The Lunch Bunch)
45. annies home – grilled ham and cheese sandwiches
46. MasonDixonMagnolia (Ma Ma Betty’s Pimento Cheese)
47. Courtney (Chicken Salad)
48. Mary Jo @ Covenant Homemaking
49. Holly @ A Mommy’s Blessings (PERFECT Peanut Butter Granola..Promise!)
50. Lauren @ Leaving a Legacy
51. Coffee with Me (Cheesecake Chocolate Brownies)
52. The Packet Queen (Crockpot Bacon Cheeseburger Meatloaf)
53. Michelle @ Navigating Domesticity–Simple Quesadillas to freeze
54. Kate @ modern alternative mama (Ham and Potato Soup)
55. Pepperoni Pizza Wheels!
56. Newlyweds (Hearts of Palm Salad)
57. Feeding Four – Ham & Potatoes (&giveaway!)
58. Frugal Homemaking (Perfect Hamburger Patties)
59. Pam @KeepingLifeCreative (Cooking with kids: Pigs in a Blanket)
60. NerdFamily Food (Combos)
61. Vanessa’s tuscan white bean soup
62. My Country Cupboard – Apricot-Garlic Chicken

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Disclosure: We received two sample loaves of bread in order to try the product. I was not compensated in any other way. My opinions are my own.

About Jessica Fisher

I believe you can get great meals on the table -- and still keep that pretty smile on your face.

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  1. if you’re using homemade jam, then your pbjs are still a from scratch meal you nut! we LOVE pbj, eat it 2x a week for lunch. PB in celery with raisins or on crackers with banana also delish.

  2. Very crafty at hiding that heel!! 🙂 I love PBJ as well. Although, PB and Banana is my favourite. I make it whenever we have bananas in the house.

  3. Sandwiches are a great quick meal–but only if I’ve already made bread!

    If you plan for leftovers, you can have leftovers for lunch a couple of times a week.

    We have soup for lunch most days of the week. I can start the soup when I’m making breakfast if need be, and let it simmer on the stove. This is really easy to do when you’re making waffles, for instance, because waffles give you a little down time in-between to keep working in the kitchen.

    Something I did recently to help with breakfast was to make a double batch of muffins (a batch being 18 for us) at night. I had them mixed up while making dinner, and then the first batch cooked while we ate dinner, and the second batch cooked while we cleaned up from dinner. Then, the next two days we had muffins for breakfast and snacks, and we made a quick fruit salad from home-canned fruits to go with the muffins both days.

    We make oatmeal from old-fashioned oats. It doesn’t take much time to make a big pot (I buy 25 lbs of oats for $7.60) in the morning for that morning’s breakfast. I can go back to stir the pot a few times while I do laundry, make sure the children do their chores, etc. My 8-year-old can even make the oatmeal, and often does. She even dishes up all the bowls for everyone with brown sugar and butter.

  4. I make a lot of wraps out of leftovers. My husband loves them, and I just let him know in the morning if they are supposed to be heated or eaten cold. One surprise hit was mashed potatoes, gravy, pot roast and veggies in a wrap. I’ve also done roast beef, cranberries, blue cheese and horsereadish (to be warmed slightly). I know it sounds gross, but it is delicious. Leftover salad and crunchy veggies go into a wrap with sliced meat, whatever cheese we have around and a variety of salad dressings.

    For my daughter, she loves hummus and veggies. On those days I’ll also make a hummus wrap with veggies and meat for my husband.

  5. I love your trick!

    We went through a PB & J phase with our older kids. Being a homeschooler means that we need to be frugal because we are living on a single income and that I have limited time to make lunch because I am both the teacher and the lunch lady. So I would make a whole loaf worth of sandwiches, then put them back in the loaf bag, and either refrigerate or freeze them. Then I could just pull them out a little before lunch so they would thaw in time for lunch.

  6. I work from noon till 5 everyday and I just can’t get myself to eat lunch before I leave or else I will get hungry early! So I usually end up taking a turkey or pb&j with me, some fruit and a granola bar 🙂

  7. I love to eat the heal of the bread but my hubby & son don’t ! I do the trick with my son of turning it around & it also works for grilled cheese. Can’t fool hubby though oh well more for me. We eat a lot of raw veggies & fruit for lunch. My toddler is picky but at least he eats fresh fruits and veggies.

  8. My husband often has peanut butter for lunch. I usually try to make a large pot of soup over the weekend that I then pack to take to work each day for lunch.

  9. my kids actually all fight over the ends(heel). i have all ways been an ends person, i love the ends of bread,meat, cheese pretty much everything. i guess that is where my kids get it from. we do sandwiches of all kinds for lunch. we also do soup. when i make mac and cheese for dinner that is the only thing i make extra of. the kids love it so much that i make extra so we can eat it the next day. my mac and cheese, really my father in laws idea i borrow. pasta, cheese, ham, tomato sauce, and what ever spices i feel like putting in. so yummy!

  10. My oldest gets a real kick out of a layer of baby spinach leaves in between the PB and J. Who knew? I’m not complaining, though.

  11. We all make our own lunches every day. My husband likes salads, my son likes ham and cheese sandwiches and I will make whatever I feel like… some days PB&J, some days soup and sandwich or soup and salad, some days I even make egg salad or chicken salad sandwiches. I also eat the leftovers if we can’t incorporate them into a later meal. For breakfast, we eat different foods on different days: eggs and bacon, oatmeal, and dry cereal (we rotate so we don’t get bored). On the weekends I will make waffles or pancakes. You are right about getting hung up on making everything from scratch… we frugalites have got to find a compromise before we burn ourselves out.

  12. My lunches are usually pretty quickly thrown together…my favorite being egg salad sandwich! mmmm

  13. When I am doing my freezer cooking, I make some dishes that I can break down into small freezer bowls for lunch. Soups always work great for this, then I can thaw them the night before a busy day. I also flash freeze my own “bagel bite” pizzas when I have bagels that are getting a little close to stale.

  14. Lately, I haven’t had to make lunch. My husband is a principal who, thankfully, gets to come home for lunch every day. He brings home cafeteria food most days so I never know what I’m going to get!

  15. I have never found a loaf of Sara Lee bread that didn’t contain HFCS. Do you know if this new kind includes HFCS among it’s ingredients??

  16. We homeschool, too, and I have two growing boys to feed. I have a menu rotation for lunches. Monday is quesadillas. Tuesday is pasta with butter/cheese or sauce. Wednesday is mac and cheese. Thursday is hot dogs or chicken tenders. Friday is free choice — anything that doesn’t have to be cooked — leftovers, sandwiches, or something the boys make themselves.

  17. For lunch we have leftovers or sandwiches if there is no leftovers.

  18. We love pb&j, but also grilled cheese. Sara Lee has awesome bread but haven’t had the chance to try the new one.

  19. I usually pack leftovers – I do eat A LOT of PB&J though too! One of my favorites things to do, is make a large pot of soup, stew or chili and then portion out for the week. I love having a ‘home cooked meal’ at lunch; makes for a nice break in my workday!

  20. Preparedmom says:

    We do a lot of microwave quesadillas…just a plain flour tortilla covered with shredded cheese topped with another tortilla. Microwave for 45 seconds or so and cut into pie shaped wedges. Some like to make theirs pizza style by adding leftover marinara sauce and mozzarealla cheese instrad of cheddar.

  21. I usually toast the heel and use it for breadcrumbs in meatloaf or meatballs. . .

  22. I have no solutions – I just try and scoop out an extra serving before putting dinner on the table for my husband’s lunch the next day. He has a bad fast food habit and is sort of fussy and I am not exaggerating when I say this carnival is an answer to a prayer of frustration 🙂 I’m going to see how all of your clever readers solve this problem.

  23. I have been making the homemade hot pockets from, and they are so yummy and easy to either heat up at lunch or even have at room temp.(I am planning on changing the meat when I make them next to turkey and pepperoni). I freeze those along with alread made burritos, homemade mac and cheese, and premade PB and honey sandwiches. Also homemade lunchables with some fruit are always good.
    As far as breakfast, I make and freeze pancakes, muffins, french toast sticks(I make the french toast from the 75 dollar family feast cookbook but cut the bread in sticks), and homemade egg muffin sandwiches.

    • @Abby H, i love the homemade lunchables. the real ones are so bad for kids. but ofcourse they want them. so i started doing my own and they love them just as much.

  24. I always use the heels. Personally, they are my favorite. My girls eat them as I’ve told them the ends are special – in a whole loaf, there are only two! They take turns getting the ends (heels) in their lunches.

  25. My favorite new thing to make for lunch is homemade nachos, chips, cheese, seasoned hamburger, sour cream and lots of tomatoes. It’s easy since I usually have hamburger already cooked up and in the freezer, I can just add a few spices.

  26. For breakfasts, I try to make a double batch of pancakes or waffles when we have time for a “family” breakfast on the weekends. Then I place the leftover pancakes and waffles in the freezer. Voila! Homemade toaster waffles and pancakes. We actually reheat them in the toaster oven, though, after a minute or two on “defrost” in the microwave. We are big muffin eaters, too. I have four muffin recipes that we rotate: blueberry muffins with a streudel topping, raspberry muffins, banana mini muffins, and pumpkin chocolate chip muffins. My two year old son loves to help me bake! These go great with a boiled egg or yogurt in the morning. My son loves boiled eggs, so I usually just boil up 6-12 eggs each week and put them in a bowl in the refrigerator for us to enjoy with our breakfasts. Just wish that my son had learned that eggs don’t come automatically boiled BEFORE he learned how to open the refrigerator door by himself… And of course, we also eat $0.50-$0.99 boxes of cereal and oatmeal. We also enjoy the benefits of an Aunt Millie’s bread outlet down the road from our house, so English muffins with jam and bagels with cream cheese are a regular part of our breakfasts.:)

    For lunches, we are mostly leftover-eaters, but we also have a weekly chicken nugget lunch, and there is the occassional quesadilla or grilled cheese meal. Quesadillas are a great way to use up a few tortillas and leftover taco meat/cheese! My son likes them even better than PB and J! When I pack up food after dinner each night, I package it into one-serving meals, with any sides or condiments packed into small containers and placed with the appropriate entree in the fridge. This way my husband’s lunch is virtually always “packed”–all that he has to do when he opens the fridge is decide what sounds good for lunch that day and place it in his lunch bag!

  27. Since I can no longer have my beloved PB&J (diagnosed in my twenties with a peanut allergy), one of my most regular lunches is a bowl of plain yogurt dressed up with either honey and banana, or berry jam and frozen berries with a drop of vanilla extract. It is best with a homemade muffin or something like that on the side. But when I haven’t had time to bake that week, I’ll often grab crackers or pretzels. I do still do sandwiches, too, though! (Ham/turkey, cucumber, and cream cheese is yummy.) And I saw the new SL bread and thought it looked interesting.

  28. I think I’m going to focus my freezer cooking focus on items that can be made for lunch. It seems around noon I’m always standing in the kitchen wondering what I’m going to make for lunch! (Fishmama, maybe you could focus your freezer cooking on lunches so that I could just copy you?? 🙂 )

    • Jessica Fisher says:

      Haha! You’re funny! But, yes, I am doing extra for that purpose and including stuffed focaccia which “should” be an easy lunch.

  29. danielle young says:

    I LOVE pb&j sandwiches! I have homemade strawberry and raspberry freezer jam that I use with crunchy pb. Can’t think of many things more perfect than that! YUM!

  30. I LOVE the heel of the bread! Love it. But I hate PB&J, lol. I’m a turkey sandwich girl.

  31. A fast lunch is string cheese, apple & crackers or Laughing Cow cheese with dried blueberries & crackers. Some days I heat up leftovers.

  32. My favorite lunch recently is what I call a cutting board lunch. The biggest advantage is that I can immediately get something on the high chair tray for my growth-spurting 20 month old. I haul out of the fridge and fruit basket whatever looks good and start cutting it up and eating it along the way: cheese, cooked ham, crackers, apples, oranges, carrot sticks, sliced peppers, whatever! The kids really like it and it gives them a lot of fruit and veggie options, too.

  33. I like to make batches of burritos, quesadillas and pb&j sandwiches, flash freeze them and keep them individually wrapped in freezer bags in the freezer. I can take down what I need to send in my husband’s lunch if I don’t have enough leftovers to send (he usually needs two meals and a couple of snacks to get him through long days). It also comes in handy if I need something quick for our lunches at home.

    One recipe I really like for this is Addictive Sweet Potato Burritos.
    They sound weird but are absolutely delicious.

  34. That’s a great trick with the heel of the bread – I never thought of that! I usually use the heel of the bread for croutons.

  35. Kids and DH take a packed lunch each day. Sandwich, fruit, cracker/chips/pretzels, cookie (kids get milk at school). I prefer leftovers of some sort or something warm. I’ve also been known to “sneak” the heel upside down in a sandwich too, shhhhh! 😉

  36. My son is allergic to peanut butter, so we don’t have it very often around here. I musst admit I was a little disappointed when we discovered he was allergic because PB&J is such an easy lunch! I’m glad you addressed this topic because I need more lunchtime ideas :).

  37. My 2 year old is not the biggest sandwich bread fan, so I do a lot of whole wheat tortilla lunches..and breakfasts! Yesterday we did chicken quesadillas with an extra chicken breast I grilled with dinner the other night. I then use whatever shredded or block cheese I have around, some chopped tomatoes or salsa, a little chahula hot sauce and some chopped onions. Yummy…make it extra ooy gooy for the kids with lots of cheese

  38. We have a variety of lunches. It may be sandwiches, soup, quesadillas, leftovers, or just about anything. We are not too picky.

  39. I love making tuna cakes for lunch. Not much work and my kids eat them up!

  40. It seems to us that sandwiches are a very inexpensive meal. Weekday lunches are nearly always sandwiches. We do PB&J on the days my soon doesn’t have homeschool PE. One of the boys we carpool with has nut allergies. On these days we do meat & cheese sandwhiches. Usually pretzels and fruit on the side, sometimes yogurt for my oldest who has a bottomless stomach.

  41. Lot’s of times I have leftovers from the night before or a sandwich. Lately though I have been freezing different things like homemade french toast and having that

  42. I usually serve leftovers. But when it comes to pb&j, each child likes it different. One no j, one adds banana, one uses fluff instead of j. Sometimes I like no p mixed with corn syrup and no j.

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