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Another Week of Paleo Lunches! (Part 3 of 5)

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Another Week of Paleo Lunches! (Part 3 of 5) by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

Custom-made fancy lunches are fun, but in all honesty, my packed work lunches almost always consist of leftovers. Why should it be any different for the rest of the family? 

Today’s LunchBots Duo is packed with: My Sister’s Phenomenal Green Chicken, Roasted Rosemary Almonds, and crudités.

Another Week of Paleo Lunches! (Part 3 of 5) by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

I always make extra Green Chicken so I can munch on the leftovers. These drumettes make for an an easy and delicious grab-and-go lunch option. Go ahead and pack your lunchbox the night before; everything tastes great cold. (Of course, if you don’t share my love for cold chicken drumettes, you can always keep them in an insulated container like a LunchBots Thermal.)

And if eating leftovers means I get to sleep in a teeny bit more the next morning, that’s just icing on the cake. 

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Another Week of Paleo Lunches! (Part 2 of 5)

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Another Week of Paleo Lunches! (Part 2 of 5) by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

Who’s ready for another Paleo lunch idea? (If you missed yesterday’s box, read all about it, and also check out last year’s five-part series of packed lunches I made with Jackie Linder of LunchBots!).

Another Week of Paleo Lunches! (Part 2 of 5) by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

In today’s LunchBots Duo, we’re packing breakfast for lunch: Prosciutto & Egg Roll-Ups, Mini Cinnamon Apple Scone, and Mixed Fruit Salad.

Another Week of Paleo Lunches! (Part 2 of 5) by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

I know what you’re thinking: cold eggs?!? But these simple omelets make great wrappers, and they’re pretty darn good at room temp or cold. (I place an ice pack under my kids’ LunchBots.) In fact, Lil-O insists on eating his eggs cold, tamago-style (but sans sugar, soy, mirin, etc.). 

Another Week of Paleo Lunches! (Part 2 of 5) by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

Silverware is optional, but your fruit salad should really be portioned into a silicone cup or a separate compartment to prevent any juices from running into the rest of your food. I know it all ends up in the same place eventually, but I HATE soggy food.

Another Week of Paleo Lunches! (Part 2 of 5) by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

Wanna see how easy it is to put this lunch together?

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Another Week of Paleo Lunches! (Part 1 of 5)

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[UPDATED: My entire five-part series is done! Check out all the lunches here—and don’t forget to enter our giveaway for a motherlode of stainless steel LunchBots swag, too! (Entry deadline is August 28, 2013!)]

Another Week of Paleo Lunches! (Part 1 of 5) by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

Every year, it seems like summer ends just a little bit earlier. It’s only mid-August—Labor Day is still two weeks away!—but my kids are already back in school. (Just before his first day of kindergarten began, Lil-O announced to the kids clustered outside the classroom door that he farts out of his butt. This is going to be a looong year.)

Once again, we face the Dreaded Morning Scramble: a desperate race against the clock to get the boys scrubbed, changed, fed, and out the door—but not before getting their lunches packed. In the chaos of the morning, it can be a frustrating chore to make and pack fun, healthy, and easy mid-day meals. You know the feeling, right?

Another Week of Paleo Lunches! (Part 1 of 5) by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

With this in mind, I partnered last year with my buddy Jackie Linder of LunchBots—my favorite stainless steel lunch containers in the world—to come up with a week’s worth of Paleo-friendly packed lunch ideas. (Check out our five-part series here!) This year, we decided to put our heads together again to whip up another week of Paleo lunches.

Another Week of Paleo Lunches! (Part 1 of 5) by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

One thing to keep in mind before we kick off our new series of lunches: these are just ideas that are meant to inspire you to pack wholesome, healthful foods in your lunch boxes. Feel free to disregard the specifics, and pack whatever real foods you and your offspring will actually eat. After all, even if you’ve packed the most delicious and nutritious meal possible for your kids, it’ll all be for naught if it ends up in the garbage or traded away for a bag of chips and a can of soda.

Encourage your little ones to choose their own lunch items from your Paleo-friendly pantry and fridge. And have them help you make their lunches the night before. This way, the food you pack will actually stand a chance of getting eaten.

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And remember: lunches don’t have to be fancy. Lil-O still insists that his favorite packed lunch is cold scrambled eggs. (Weird, I know.)

Ready to read about a lunch you can pack tomorrow?

Another Week of Paleo Lunches! (Part 1 of 5) by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

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Zenbelly Paleo Popup

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Back when we lived in San Francisco — and before we had kids — the vast majority of our meals were eaten in restaurants around town. Henry and I voraciously ate our way through the city, slimming our wallets and fattening our bellies.

These days, restaurant meals are the exception and not the rule, so when we manage to escape for a night out on the town, I try to pick places with insanely great eats — even if the food isn’t always Paleo-compliant. 

But on Saturday night, a group of us nabbed spots at Simone Shifnadel’s Zenbelly Paleo Popup at Coffee Bar in San Francisco, where we dined on super-fresh, gluten/legume/dairy-free farm-to-table fare. Score!

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I first heard of Simone and her catering company, Zenbelly, when she launched a Kickstarter campaign to fund a community gluten-free kitchen. Since then, we’ve tweeted back and forth and we finally met IRL at the Weston A. Price conference last November. We instantly bonded over our mutual love of food (and sarcasm).

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So when I learned about Simone’s popup dinner, I bought tickets right away. I was amazed at her ability to pull together a Paleo Popup in just a few short weeks, transforming a Potrero Hill coffee shop into a chic, glowing hotspot for Paleo eaters to congregate over a hearty yet refined five-course feast.

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The ambience was perfect and the service was friendly and professional; if it weren’t for the big red “Coffee Bar” sign out front, no one would’ve guessed that the place is ordinarily a coffee-and-sammitch joint.

Ready for a peek at the food?

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Giveaway Time! LunchBots Clicks & Dips!

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**UPDATE: The contest is OVAH and the winner has been contacted! Thanks to all for entering the giveaway!**

As the family lunch-packer, I’ve tried every conceivable compact food storage container on the market — from plastic boxes to glass containers. For years, our kitchen was stocked with stuff I hoarded from Tupperware parties, but after learning of the dangers of plastic, I immediately replaced them all with Snapware glass containers and stainless steel LunchBots

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Recently, my friend Jackie — the creator of LunchBots — gave us a few sets of her new LunchBots Clicks. It was love at first sight. These stainless steel containers are completely leak-proof, lightweight, stackable, and dishwasher-safe. I was so head-over-heels that I immediately bought complete sets for the most important cooks in my life: my chef sister, my mom, and my mother-in-law.

Wanna try them out, too?

Thanks to LunchBots, I’m giving away a set of two small LunchBots Clicks

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…and a set of three LunchBots Dips!

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If you’re looking for a way to get your cave-children to eat more fruits and veggies at school, pack them a dunk-worthy sauce in a LunchBots Dips. (Or, if you’re like me, you may just want to use the Dips to portion out your macadamia nuts or dark chocolate chunks…)

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Like the Clicks, the Dips are easy for my kids to open and close. They’re completely leak-proof, too.

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Still scratching your head about what to pack in your LunchBots containers? Take a peek at the week of packed lunches that Jackie and I put together:

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Okay — ready to try your hand at winning these babies?

Here are the rules for the giveaway:

  1. Like LunchBots Fan Page on Facebook!
  2. Like Nom Nom Paleo Fan Page on Facebook!
  3. Subscribe to my email Newsletter!
  4. Leave JUST ONE comment at the end of THIS POST no later than Tuesday, September 4, 2012, at 9 p.m. PST, confirming that you followed Steps 1 through 3. (I’ll be checking, so no cheating!)

Simple, right? I’ll pick a winner at random, and Jackie’ll send you the goods. Unfortunately, you have to be a U.S. resident to enter. (Tumblr’s rules, not mine. Sorry, international fans!)

Good luck!

A Week of Paleo School Lunches! (Part 5 of 5)

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We all made it to the end of the week without packing any Lunchables, Doritos, or gummy-fruit-candy-thingies into our kids’ school lunches, right?

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Even if you did sneak some Frankenfoods into that My Little Pony lunch box, don’t sweat it — there’s always next week. Don’t get too caught up in Paleo Perfectionism. Just keep moving in the right direction, and make it your daily goal to feed your family (and yourself!) healthy, nutrient-dense, and lip-smackingly good food.

To wrap up our five-day series on Paleo school lunches, here’s another drop-dead simple meal.

Friday’s Lunch: Hard-Boiled Eggs, Chicken Apple Sausages, Cherry Tomatoes, and Grapes.

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Of course it’s easier to pack school lunches the night before, but sometimes we all get lazy or distracted after the kiddos go to sleep — Hey! America’s Got Talent is on! — only to find ourselves frantically scrambling around in the morning. But never fear: As long you have a few staples on hand, you can whip up this lunch in just 10 minutes.

Hard-boiled eggs — the quintessential emergency protein — are always in my fridge. You can make your own by following my instructions or, if you have it, the recipe for Perfect Hard Boiled Eggs in my iPad cookbook app. This is important: Don’t just boil ‘em to death. If you overcook your eggs, you’ll end up with an ugly gray-green ring around the yolks, and an unpleasant odor that’ll make your children the pariahs of the schoolyard. Perfectly-cooked hard-boiled eggs don’t stink!

Not interested in learning how to boil an egg properly? Then get yourself a bag of pre-peeled hard-boiled eggs at Trader Joe’s. Done and done.

Slice a few eggs in half lengthwise…

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…and sprinkle on a bit of salt (and smoked paprika, if you’re feeling fancy).

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While you’re making breakfast, toss a handful of pre-cooked mini chicken apple sausages into a hot, greased skillet to warm them up.

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Rinse off a bunch of grapes and cherry tomatoes and arrange them in a LunchBots Quad.

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The beauty of a partitioned container (like the Quad, Trio, or Duo) is that it can hold just about any combination of foods you can dream up. No grapes or cherry tomatoes? Try strawberries and celery sticks, or diced watermelon and baby carrots. If your kids aren’t fans of cold sausages, substitute cold cuts instead. Lil-O, my four-year-old, can’t stand hard-boiled eggs, but he’ll happily munch on the (cold!) scrambled eggs I pack in his lunch. I know — my son is weird.

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There you have it, gang: five simple, kid-friendly Paleo lunches, brought to you by me and LunchBots. If you missed ‘em, check out the lunch boxes from the rest of our series: Day 1, Day 2, Day 3, and Day 4.  

And this weekend, stay tuned for a groovy LunchBots giveaway!

A Week of Paleo School Lunches! (Part 4 of 5)

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Three down, two to go!

Yes, that’s right: We still have a couple more lunches to make before the weekend kicks off. By the middle of the week, I’m sure we’re all getting tired of packing meals, but we’re in this together, right?

Besides, I promise this lunch won’t take more than 10 minutes to whip up, and you can put it all together the night before. I love sleeping in — even for a teensy bit. Those extra winks can make all the difference between Nice Mommy and Mommy Dearest.

Thursday’s Lunch: Roast Beef Roll-Ups and Mixed Berries.

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First, grab a few slices of your favorite deli meat. (Make and slice your own roast beef, or buy your favorite brand at the store. I like the stuff from Applegate Farms.)

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Thinly slice some crunchy vegetables (e.g. bell peppers, cucumbers, carrots).

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Use a slice of meat as the wrapper and wind it around some veggies. Knot a sprig of chive around each bundle, and eveything’ll stay put. 

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Don’t sweat it if your kiddos aren’t keen on the specific meat and veggie combo I’ve suggested. Just come up with a combination that appeals to their palate. Experiment with turkey slices around avocado, chicken around apple sticks — the possibilities are endless.

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Add a LunchBots Dips filled with Dijon mustard — or guacamole, mango salsa (recipe in my iPad app!), or flavored Paleo mayo — so your kids can dunk their roll-ups for extra flavor.

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For a sweet ending to lunch, pack ‘em a mixed berry medley.

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Heed my advice and prepare everything the night before — and not just for the sake of the extra shut-eye. The stainless steel LunchBots Clicks will be cold when you take them out of the fridge, and if you stick them in an insulated lunch bag with an ice pack, they’ll stay chilly until your kids pop open their lunchboxes. LunchBots Clicks are completely leak-proof, so you don’t have to worry about berry juices soaking into the kids’ math homework Pokemon cards. Plus, the containers are super light and easy to open and close — even for my 4-year-old.

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Also: Did you know that LunchBots Clicks can be tossed into the dishwasher? I’m a lazy lady, so this may be my favorite feature of all.

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Okay, gang: Only one more lunch to go before you’re free for the weekend. And then it starts all over again, for weeks and weeks and weeks… But you’re up to the challenge, right? Right?

(For those of you new to this series of school meals by me and LunchBots, check out our lunch suggestions from Days One, Two, Three, and Five.)

A Week of Paleo School Lunches! (Part 3 of 5)

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It’s like clockwork: As the weather turns chilly, my kids start bugging me for hot lunches at school. I know — those little guys are so entitled.

Good thing I’ve got a hearty and comforting meal that can be quickly assembled in the morning.

Wednesday’s Lunch: Zoodles & Meatballs with Pineapple and Strawberry Kabobs. 

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Start by using your handy-dandy julienne peeler (or mandoline slicer, spiral cutter, or plain old vegetable peeler) to shred your zucchini into noodle-like strands the night before or while the coffee’s brewing in the morning.

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Once you’re ready to cook the zucchini noodles, toss them in a hot greased skillet with salt and pepper…

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…or just season and nuke them for about a minute or two (that is, if you’re cool with microwave cooking). Alternatively, you can quickly blanch them in salted water.

For the super-simple meatballs, just grab a package of your favorite bulk Italian sausage, and roll the meat into small balls or patties. Fry them in a pan…

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…until they get a nice, crusty exterior. (In a pinch, you can pan-fry some cut-up pre-cooked Italian sausage instead.) 

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Heat up a splash of Paleo-friendly marinara sauce (Rao’s is my favorite) and stir in the meatballs and zucchini. Once everything’s piping hot, place the contents into an insulated container like a stainless steel LunchBots Thermal.

I love my LunchBots Thermals for keeping hot foods, well, hot. The part of the lid that comes into contact with the food is made of stainless steel as well, so your kids’ hot lunches don’t come into contact with any plastic.

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(Need more deets on how to prepare zoodles and meatballs? My recipe is here.)

Pineapple and strawberry kabobs can be a fun, juicy treat to rounds out the meal. Skewer the fruit and pack them the night before in a small, leak-proof LunchBots Clicks container, and you’ll be all set to go once the zoodles are ready. (Of course, if you suspect your kids’ll use the pointy sticks as weapons in the schoolyard, just pack some loose fruit instead.)

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You can cut up a fresh pineapple, but I usually just buy a box of pre-diced cubes at Trader Joe’s. I’m lazy like that.

A well-balanced lunch, don’t you think?

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Believe it or not, this simple lunch for Wednesday is probably the most complicated it’s going to get all week. If you’re like me, by Thursday, you’re sick and tired of making “fancy” grub to pack for your kids. Never fear: Both of the remaining lunches in this series are incredibly easy to throw together, and use items you probably already picked up at the grocery store.

See you tomorrow!

(If you’re just tuning in to the LunchBots / Nom Nom Paleo series on Paleo school lunches, be sure to check out our meals from Monday and Tuesday!)

[UPDATED: Thursday’s and Friday’s lunches are up, too!]

A Week of Paleo School Lunches! (Part 2 of 5)

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Whose kids work themselves into a snit when their lunch foods commingle?

Mine! Mine! Mine!

I get where they’re coming from. As a young lass, I’d freak out upon opening my lunchbox and discovering that my fruit had slid into a pile of chicken. I think we can all agree that strawberries shouldn’t taste like salty bird.

Luckily, we’ve got a couple of LunchBots Trio containers on hand for our persnickety kids.

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The dividers in these sleek, sturdy stainless steel containers make it incredibly easy to throw together bento-like boxes for the little ones. Plus, they remind me to add some variety into the kids’ lunches. I like to fill the two large square compartments with equal portions of protein and veggies, and to save the treats for the longer, narrower section — though all three compartments are actually the same size, so I guess I’m just fooling myself.

Here’s today’s kid-friendly lunch:

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Tuesday’s Lunch: Simple Chicken Salad, Blanched Carrots and Broccoli, Paleo Trail Mix, and Flavored Mayonnaise.

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Chicken salad is super-simple to assemble and extremely versatile.

First, make the dressing by mixing a dollop of homemade Paleo mayonnaise with a dab of Dijon mustard. Check out my mayo-making video here. (Too lazy to make your own mayo? This one comes highly-recommended by Liz Wolfe, though it’s proving a bit difficult to track down these days.)

Season with salt and pepper to taste, and if your kiddos don’t mind green specks dotting their food, toss in some minced herbs like chives or Italian parsley.

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Once the dressing’s ready, add cubed leftover chicken (cooked, of course). My Recipe Index offers a bunch of ways to make chicken, including Julia Child’s Classic Roast Chicken and Slow Cooker Roast Chicken and Gravy. In a pinch, the ready-to-eat rotisserie chicken from the grocery store is fine. (I do it all the time. Shhh — don’t tell anyone.) If you’re feeling fancy, add finely diced apples and toasted slivered almonds, too.

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You can either whip up a batch of your own Paleo Trail Mix or grab a handful of your favorite purchased one. The Double-Os are fond of dried Bing cherries, so I toss a few on top as well.

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Raw veggies are a quick way to round out the meal. My picky kids, however, aren’t fans of the raw stuff, so I blanch ‘em ahead of time and store them in the fridge. Simply bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, dunk in the vegetables for about 30 seconds, fish ‘em out (not with your fingers), and chill the veggies in an ice bath. Blanching the vegetables doesn’t just make ‘em more tender — it also makes the colors pop. If you’ve got a bag of desiccated baby carrots at the bottom of your crisper, blanch ‘em and no one’ll be the wiser.

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Crudités are always better slathered in a creamy dip, so I spoon flavored mayonnaise, homemade guacamole, or Asian Almond Salad Dressing into a LunchBots Dips container. Remember, packed lunches aren’t just for kids, so feel free to go crazy with the Paleo condiments!

One last tip: You can make and pack everything into a LunchBots container the night before school and stick it in the fridge. The chilled stainless steel container (supplemented with a reusable ice pack if you so desire) should keep the food cold in your kid’s bag until lunchtime.

Don’t forget to check out Monday’s lunch and stay tuned for the rest of the week’s schoolyard eats!

[UPDATED: Wednesday’sThursday’s, and Friday’s lunches are now ready, too!]

A Week of Paleo School Lunches! (Part 1 of 5)

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With summer at an end, our kids are already heading back to school, eager (sort of) to cram their heads full of Very Important Knowledge and Valuable Life Skills, like the capital of Maine, the square root of 9, and how to run away from bullies. (Answers: Augusta, who cares?, and as fast as humanly possible.)

But how should we, as parents, fuel our children’s brains and bodies for the classroom?

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Sure, nothing’s quicker or easier than chucking packs of Snackables, Go-Gurts, and Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups into backpacks…but I’m guessing none of us are eager to sacrifice our offspring’s health for the sake of convenience.

Still, convenience matters. Not many of us can devote hours each day to crafting five-star meals to cram into Batman lunchboxes. What we need are easy and healthy school lunches for our kids, right?

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So starting today, I’m teaming up with Jackie Linder of LunchBots—maker of my all-time favorite stainless steel lunch containers — to offer you a full week’s worth of simple Paleo school lunch ideas.

Ready to roll up your sleeves?

Monday’s Lunch: Prosciutto-Wrapped Frittata Muffins & Apple Slices with Nut Butter.

Like all the recipes we’re presenting this week, this one’s pretty straightforward. Follow the recipe on my blog (or on my iPad app) to whip up a dozen of these hearty, savory, eggy muffins for Sunday brunch or dinner, and save a few to pack for the next day’s lunch.

Here’s a kid-sized portion of frittata muffins and apple slices in a LunchBots Duo:

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Don’t have cherry tomatoes, mushrooms, or spinach handy? No problem. These miniature frittatas can be stuffed with whatever veggies and/or emergency protein you have handy — from ground beef and broccoli to bacon and kale.

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Wrapped in crispy prosciutto shells, these muffins are perfect for kiddos who love eating with their hands. (In other words, EVERY CHILD I’VE EVER MET. And some adults, too.) Bonus: No dirty forks to wash!

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Throw in a sliced apple, and fill a little LunchBots Dips container with your favorite nut butter (almond butter’s a current fave — as is Mee Nut Butter). Your cavekid’ll spend all of lunch period having a good ol’ time making gooey apple-nut-butter-sandwiches. (For those of you who asked, I put the apples in a silicone baking cup.)

Of course, if your school’s a tree-nut-free zone, substitute sunflower seed butter, or just sprinkle some cinnamon on the apple slices instead.

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Easy peasy lemon squeezy, right?  (Speaking of which, don’t forget to squeeze a bit of citrus on the apple slices to keep ‘em from browning before lunchtime!)

Stay tuned for the rest of our series on Paleo school lunches — and trust me: you won’t want to miss the giveaway at the end of the week!

[UPDATED: Check out Tuesday’sWednesday’s, Thursday’s, and Friday’s lunches, too!]