I am not a fan of January. It's the month that makes me feel incompetent; it makes me doubt my deepest, most ingrained skills. I have no gumption, and that extends to making lunches. The other day I fantasized about filling the kids' lunch bags entirely with popcorn. Maybe burying a full can of Coke in the popcorn. It would be like a nutritionally defunct treasure hunt. The kids would love it, to be sure, but the lack of protein and vitamins would result in a mood crash that would hurt me in the end. So I made pasta salad instead.
It didn't go well. I chose to boil shell-shaped pasta and when I rinsed one of the shells with cold water to test whether it was cooked enough, there was sneaky, sneaky boiling water hiding in the shell. NINJA water, that spilled onto my tongue and lip burning me painfully.
"I liked that pasta salad, Mom, but what was that weird stuff in it?"
"Oh, those were mama's taste buds baby. I didn't need them any more. Apparently."
Still, the pasta salad was good. I find that it's a nice break from sandwiches and thermos fare. And it's super flexible. Just boil some noodles (quinoa or rice would work too) and then chop up whatever veggies you have on hand and throw them in. Leftover chicken or salmon gives it a nice protein boost, if you have any. Then you can either mix in some bottled salad dressing (I used Renee's Greek) or you could mix up your own with a little olive oil, balsamic vinegar and a touch of sweetness - honey, sugar or even maple syrup would work.
Isn't that easy? And here's the best part: We're one lunch closer to spring.