Try these stress-free lunch, breakfast recipes for school, office

Photo by Mark Boughton  --  Treat kids heading back to school to Elvis' Peanut Butter and Banana Sandwiches. For a healthier meal, use whole wheat or multigrain bread. Substitute milk for the soft drink and carrot or celery sticks for the chips.
Photo by Mark Boughton -- Treat kids heading back to school to Elvis' Peanut Butter and Banana Sandwiches. For a healthier meal, use whole wheat or multigrain bread. Substitute milk for the soft drink and carrot or celery sticks for the chips.

With school back in session, mornings can be hectic for the family. There never seems to be enough time for a nutritionally balanced breakfast, plus the task of packing lunches.

After-school activities often lead to make-do dinners. But, there’s hope for pulling a family meal together easily and for whipping up quick lunchbox options for both children who take their lunches to school and their parents.

The winning recipes in the 2013 Healthy Lunchtime Challenge provide ideas for family meals that children will like since the contest is for youngsters ages 8 to 12. The contest was originated and funded by Epicurious to promote healthful eating among America’s youth and is part of the first lady’s “Let’s Move!” initiative.

Some of the winning recipes are gluten free, including one for pizzas with crusts made with cauliflower and another for turkey sliders.

August is National Sandwich Month. Celebrate by packing sandwiches plus sides for both school and the office. Choose a classic like a tuna sandwich or check out creative suggestions in cookbooks.

In the cookbook “In a Snap! Tasty Southern Recipes You Can Make in 5, 10, 15, or 30 Minutes” (Harper Collins, $24.99), Tammy Algood offers lunchbox options for taking the stress out of the before-school rush and ideas for putting dinner on the table in a short time.

Her recipes for Elvis’s Peanut Butter and Banana Sandwiches and Pronto Pimento Cheese Sandwiches are fun choices. They would be more healthful if made with whole-wheat or oatmeal bread, but most youngsters — and some parents — will prefer Algood’s choice of white sandwich bread.

Add some carrot or celery sticks, slices of tomato or cucumber, and fruit to round out the lunch.

Nutritionists say milk or water, not soft drinks or fruit juices, are the best drink choices for children.

Here are some recipes to get you started on taking the stress out of that morning rush.