Jenna started asking for Lunchables last year after seeing some of her classmates bring them for lunch. Not wanting to give her pre-packaged, highly-processed foods, I never gave in to the request. This year, she spotted the Revolution Foods brand of pre-made lunch kits at the grocery store and asked if we could try them. After reading the ingredients, which admittedly are better than Lunchables, I decided to buy a couple of kits even though I still wasn’t entirely comfortable with the pre-package food concept.
My daughter tried the first one at home over the weekend, mostly because I was curious about the contents of the box and how easily she would be able to assemble the pizza on her own. It turned out to be somewhat difficult. The pizza was packaged in three separate plastic bags, and she couldn’t open any of them on her own. But once we cut the packages open with scissors, I watched while she eagerly spread the sauce and sprinkled the cheese. Jenna loves to cook, and I realized that “lunchables” don’t just appeal to her because of their taste. She enjoys the experience of making her own meal. This got me thinking about how I could incorporate a similar approach into her school lunches, without resorting to packaged foods.
Since pizza was her favorite lunch kit, I decided to create a homemade version that would allow her assemble her own pizza at lunch time.
making the pizza crusts:
I use a mix of white bread flour and whole wheat flour for our pizza dough, but you can adjust according to your preferences.
Here is the recipe:
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1 1/2 tsp honey
- 2 1/4 tsp active dry yeast
- 1 cup whole wheat flour
- 2 cups white bread flour
- 1 tsp salt
Put 1 cup of lukewarm water in the bowl of an electric mixer and add the olive oil, honey and yeast. Stir until mixed and then add the flour and salt. Mix with the dough hook until it forms a ball. Place the dough on a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth – about 2-4 minutes. Place the ball in a lightly oiled bowl, cover and let sit for 1 hour. After is rises, punch down and knead for an additional 1-2 minutes.
At this point, you can roll the dough into individual crusts for baking or you can place the dough in the fridge for several hours to overnight. I like to separate making the dough and baking the crusts because I rarely have enough time to complete both parts in a single afternoon.
For the lunch kits, I separated the large ball of dough into 8 smaller ones, rolled them out (to approximately 1/8 inch thickness) and cut them into squares before baking so that they would fit into the squarish containers (see below). Next, I baked the crusts at 495 degrees for approximately 8 minutes.
Assembling the kit
I purchased this awesome container by Sistema because it is very kid-friendly and the compartments are well-suited to a pizza kit. The bottom compartment fits a 4-5 inch pizza crust and the top section includes a small container for sauce and a divided container for cheese and a side dish or additional pizza topping.
I conducted a taste test with my kids before giving them the kits for lunch and, although they were very enthusiastic about them, I was also told that my sauce didn’t taste as good as the sauce in the Revolution Foods kit. So, it looks like I still have some room for improvement.