For the past two-and-a-half years, my family has been doing Taekwondo together. For a large chunk of that, my kids have been in different back-to-back classes, all scheduled right around dinner time. We could either eat way too early, way too late…or eat at class. And for a long time, that’s what we did. I packed up a full dinner, including a main dish, fruits, veggies, drinks, and sometimes a treat, and off we went. Each child would eat their own (individually-packaged, typically…we ❤ Bento boxes) meal while the other was in class. It worked.
After awhile, the strain of coming up with different, kid-friendly, portable, non-messy foods and also the seriously reduced all-family dinners became too much of a struggle for us, so now we eat way too early (because it works). But occasionally, when we’re running late and things just don’t come together on time, we still take dinner with us to class. Here’s a break-down of how I do it.
Also see my Tuesday Tip on 60 Ways to Use Mason Jars in Your Kitchen for some suggestions on things to pack that you might not otherwise consider portable. Invest in a couple of good Thermoses, Bento boxes, a few sporfs (spoon-knife-fork all-in-one utensils), reusable water bottles, and an easy-to tote cooler, and you’ll always be ready for dinner on the go!
- mini pizzas (on English muffins or biscuits) or French bread pizza
- mini meatloaves
- calzones or pizza pockets or rolls
- sandwiches (deli meat and cheese, nut butter and jam, BLTs, pulled pork, grilled cheese or pizza…) or wraps
- hamburgers, brats, hot dogs, or pigs in a blanket
- tacos (only if very, very well wrapped), taquitos, or burritos
- chili or soup in a thermos
- summer sausage, cheese, and crackers
- homemade lunchables
- cheese balls or mini cheese balls with crackers or mini toasts
- bagels & cream cheese
- Ramen (in a thermos)
- chicken drumsticks or fried chicken
- quiche (warm or cold), quiche muffins, or mini quiche tarts
- chicken nuggets or strips
- homemade Chick-fil-A sandwiches
- hand pies or turnovers
Veggie sides: Veggies are easier to pack in summer, when there is an abundance of fresh produce. As a rule, I stay away from frozen veg (especially the small ones, like peas and corn!). Packing a small jar of Ranch dip or hummus makes the veggies much more enticing for little ones.
- mini peppers, mini cukes, grape or cherry tomatoes, baby carrots
- cut veg: celery or carrot sticks, cucumber, zucchini or yellow squash, pepper strips, cauliflower or broccoli florets, sugar snap peas
- black olives (well-drained)
- layered salads in a Mason jar
- corn on the cob (cut ears in half to make them easy to pack)
- cowboy caviar, guacamole, hummus, or salsa with tortilla chips
- Caprese skewers (fresh mozzarella boccoccini, grape tomatoes, and basil leaves)
Fruits: The sturdier and more portable the fruit is, the better! You definitely don’t want to take fruits that are mushy, juicy, or that will stain. If you pack sturdier berries in a hard-sided container, they should be fine. Bonus points for adding a small container of fruit dip or peanut butter for dipping.
- apples or apple slices
- orange smiles
- mandarin oranges
- raisins, craisins, and other dried fruits
- melon wedges
- fruit skewers
Drinks: To keep your crew hydrated, whether it be at a picnic on a hot summer’s day, or to make sure they’re replacing sweat from sports practice, the ultimate tip is to pack plenty of water. Think double what you’d normally drink at home – being thirsty is no fun.
- water, lots and lots (bonus points for infused water!)
- lemonade or limeade
- iced tea
- fruit juice
- sports drinks
- sparkling water
- smoothies (in a thermos)
- hot cocoa (in a thermos)
Treats: Sometimes dinner portions just don’t cut it, especially when taking dinner to sports practice. Having hungry kids complain all the way home about being starving is not conducive to mom-sanity. Here’s a few suggestions for packing snacks to nip the whining in the bud.
- granola bars
- fruit snacks or fruit roll-ups
- yogurt parfaits (layer yogurt, berries, and granola in a thermos)
- muffins or scones
- mini dessert pizzas
- mini tarts
- graham or animal crackers
- soft pretzels
- lemon poppy-seed cake
- hard-boiled or deviled eggs
- snack mixes
- brownies or bars
- mini pies