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Try These Grown up Versions of Classic School Lunches

If you have kids, you might already be eating the lunches they leave behind. Hey, you made it, you should get to enjoy it, too. If not, though, you’ll still remember all the carrot sticks, string cheeses, and peanut butter sammies from years and years of school lunchtime. Just because we’re adults (kind of) doesn’t mean we stopped loving spaghetti and red sauce, though! In honor of September—the perennial back to school month—we’re going back in time to recreate our childhood classics, but a little more grown up.

Turn that PB&J into an AB&P

The peanut butter and jelly sandwich withstands time for a reason: It’s insanely easy to make, satisfying, and perfectly sweet-salty. No surprise, then, that adults and kids alike can always get down with a PB&J. But, with the arrival of almond butter on the scene, it’s quite simple to jazz up this school lunch. Swap in a hefty whole wheat for your typical white, and use a decadent blackberry preserves in place of grape jelly. So, keep eating your PB&J, but feel a little more adult about it.

A different kind of ham and cheese

The humble ham and cheese is always ripe for reinvention since there are myriad varieties of sliced meats and cheeses out there. We’re improving upon the basic version by embracing some of our favorite Italian ingredients: ethereally creamy burrata, salty prosciutto, and ciabatta bread. If you’re feeling fancy, drizzle over a little olive oil before you close the sandy. Now that’s a lunch you’ll be dreaming about all morning.

Make tuna salad better

Tuna salad can be a polarizing sandwich filling; those who love it are staunch supporters, those opposed are, well, really opposed. But, instead of the original, overly-mayo’d thing, we’re taking inspiration from Mediterranean flavors. Use the highest quality oil-packed tuna you can find, and stir some chopped olives, sun-dried tomatoes, lemon juice, and onions into it. Add chopped parsley and a little olive oil, and serve on hefty multigrain brain or over lettuce.

Grown up pasta salad

Leftover pasta is always an excellent lunch, and can be warmed up or eaten cold (who doesn’t love cold pasta?). In this perfect work lunch, we’re embracing an old go-to (aka spaghetti and meatballs), and turning it into picnic fave: pasta salad. If you’re thinking of a bland, heavy side dish, think again. Cook up some of your favorite pasta and toss with a little olive oil and plenty of chopped basil, parsley, and maybe a little fresh oregano too. Chop up some provolone along with a flavorful salami, a few peppers and tomatoes, stir it all in, and chow down.

You can still eat a bagel for lunch

A fluffy bagel spread with plenty of cream cheese is perfect any time of day, and lunchtime is no exception. We’re bringing some freshness to the deli dish with herbed cream cheese, chopped cucumber, tomato, and a little sun-dried tomato for a salty depth of flavor. If you still prefer a simple bagel and schmear, we won’t judge. It’s so good.

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