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Food

5 fresh ideas for back-to-school lunches

Lunch is served: Baguettes hold up well until lunchtime.
Baguettes hold up well until lunchtime.
(Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)

The kids are back in school. And if you are the lunch maker in your family, as I have been for years, you’re always on the prowl for new ideas to relieve the tedium of making the same things over again. These recipes will give you meals that you’ll want to eat too, whether at work or home. They’re neither boring nor too weird for the lunchroom, and they’re easy to pack.

Pan Bagnat
Pan bagnat is lunchbox-worthy.
(Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)

A pan bagnat loads a crusty baguette with tuna, potatoes and eggs, like a Nicoise salad stuffed into bread, all savory with capers and olives. It’s supposed to sit and soak so the flavors meld, which it can do just as well in a lunchbox as it can on a terrace overlooking the Mediterranean. Clearly, this one is for the kid who binges “MasterChef Junior.”

Jammy egg salad
Egg salad is even more fun to eat in tiny brioche buns.
(Pascal Shirley / For The Times)

Jammy egg salad sandwiches aren’t new food, if your kid has an aversion to that sort of thing, but instead an updated and much-better version of classic rubbery egg salad. Jammy eggs make the filling extra rich so lunch will feel like a treat.

Ramen
Noodles are always a hit.
(Leslie Grow )

Pesto pasta is an easy go-to that I’ve always found to be a winner even for kids in a no-vegetables-please phase. This tweak, which adds pistachios to the pesto and swaps ramen for Italian pasta, will be something you’ll want to make a portion of for yourself too.

Onigiri
Before tossing in a lunchbox, wrap the triangle-shaped sticky rice tightly in plastic wrap.
(Mariah Tauger / Los Angeles Times)
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Onigiri are the perfect compact meal: portions of sticky rice that are satisfying and triangle-shaped. You can vary the fillings endlessly, so if the kids like them, you have a world of possibilities ahead of you.

Marshmallow cereal bars
You can bring the whole pan of marshmallow cereal bars to a class party, too.
(Mariah Tauger / Los Angeles Times / Prop styling by Joni Noe)

If you’re looking for the perfect (easy!) bake sale treat, whip up these marshmallow cereal bars. They’re classic, but this version includes roasted marshmallows that will have everyone remembering summer campfires. Summer vacation may be over, but the fun doesn’t have to be.


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