Friday, October 18, 2013

DIY Pizza Lunchables

I've been packing lunches for my girls for a long time now, and I admit they haven't always been the healthiest either. I'm not talking about sending lots of junk food, but I did rely heavily on Lunchables and other processed foods early on. What can I say? I'm a busy mom and the kids love them.

My mindset regarding food has changed drastically over the past few years. We still have a ways to go but my husband and I both aim to serve nutritious, wholesome foods to our girls. I try to cook from scratch as much as possible, purchase very few processed items and support local farmers.

So when my little first grader comes home from school and tells me about the other kids having Lunchables and how their moms make them Toaster Strudels for breakfast, it sort of gets to me. I feel bad, I don't want to deny them of treats and fun foods like that but at the same time I'd prefer them to not eat those things filled with unwanted chemicals. Plus they really add up on the grocery bill! It would be very expensive for me to purchase Lunchables for two kids each week.

The idea popped in my head to try making my own homemade version of these Lunchables. A lot of time I'll send meat with crackers and cheese so they already feel like they have one version. But these pizza ones are pretty cool I hear. I spent part of one evening this week making up mini pizza crusts using my favorite pizza dough recipe. As you can see, they're nothing fancy, they're not even perfectly round. But I know what's in them and they taste good, I can only imagine how much better than the store bought version. It also makes a lot, I usually get three regular sized pizzas out of my one batch of dough. This made close to 30 mini pizza crusts. Plenty for me to store in the freezer.

When I'm packing their lunches now all I have to do is grab a couple of baked pizza crusts; even if they're frozen they'll have plenty of time to thaw out before lunch. Add a little bit of pizza sauce, cheese and any other desired toppings to their container. I also sent a small spoon for spreading the sauce with.

Our first grader gave me two thumbs up which of course makes me happy. She did tell me it was a little messy preparing the pizzas, she did get sauce on the table which I'm sure is only to be expected. My next thought was to maybe send them already made, that eliminates some of the messes. I can pop them in the oven before school for about 10 minutes, just long enough to melt the cheese.

These will for sure be a keeper in our house. I'm always trying to come up with new, fun and healthy ideas for their lunches. Give these a try, I know your own kiddos will love them as much as mine do. Take a little bit of time on the weekend to prepare ahead, I bet even whole wheat pitas would work just as well. Cut them into circle shapes for the crusts. Let me know what you think!

DIY Pizza Lunchables

1 batch pizza dough
pizza sauce
mozzarella cheese
desired toppings such as: ham, sausage, pepperoni, peppers, olives, etc

Divide prepared dough into small balls, roll out onto a lightly greased baking sheets. Bake at 350 degrees for about 10 minutes or just until crust is starting to brown. Remove from oven and let cool on wire racks, repeat with remaining dough. I got close to 30 mini crusts out of my batch.

Store baked crusts in the fridge or place them in freezer bags, label and store in the freezer until ready to use. Crusts will keep in the fridge for a few days.

When ready to prepare lunches, add desired number of crusts to your container. Add in small amount of pizza sauce, cheese and any toppings you wish to put on the pizzas.

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