Kid-Friendly DIY Taco Salad Lunchbox

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Hands down, taco night is the favorite night of the week at our house. My kids love the DIY factor of assembling their own tacos, and I love the “no complaint” factor. Did I forget to mention, my husband and I love tacos too? It’s a win-win for everyone! This love for a weeknight dedicated to tacos led me to come up with this recipe for DIY Taco Salad Lunchbox Bowls. After all, if kids love tacos at dinner, why not put a fun spin on it and let them assemble their own taco salads at lunch?

The beauty of this recipe is that you can let your kids pick out their own favorite toppings ahead of time by choosing 1 protein, 2 or 3 veggies, 1 whole grain and 1 or 2 toppings. Then all you need to do is pack the ingredients in individual containers, and let them do the rest of the work! As an added bonus, these bowls are nutritious and well-balanced, so the only thing you need to do to round out the meal is add some fruit on the side.

DIY Taco Salad Lunchbox Bowl

Prep Time: 8 minutes; Cook Time: 2 minutes; Total Time: 10 minutes

1/2 cup cooked ground beef

3 teaspoons water

1/8 teaspoon dried oregano

1/8 teaspoon ground cumin

1/8 teaspoon chili powder

1/8 teaspoon paprika

1/8 teaspoon salt

1 cup shredded lettuce

1/2 cup chopped tomato

1/5 avocado, chopped

1 ounce corn tortilla chips, crumbled

1 ounce shredded cheese

Heat skillet over medium heat, and add ground beef, water, spices and salt. Stir well to combine, and cook mixture for 2 minutes, then remove from skillet. Place in a thermos to keep warm; or store in refrigerator until ready to serve, and heat in microwave for 1 minute before placing in thermos.

Chop lettuce, tomatoes and avocado, and place in lunchbox storage containers. Shred cheese and place in a separate container, and place tortilla chips in another container.

Pack all containers* plus thermos in an insulated lunchbox, along with a fork.

*Make sure one of the containers is large enough to serve as the mixing and serving bowl for tossing all of the ingredients together, and to eat out of.

Note: Make recipe as above, or let kids choose their own DIY ingredients from the following lists: protein (instead of ground beef, try ground turkey, shredded chicken, crumbled tofu, or beans); whole grains (instead of tortilla chips, try cooked brown or white rice, or cooked quinoa); vegetables (instead of lettuce and tomatoes, choose chopped sweet bell peppers, chopped cucumber, cooked corn kernels, and/or chopped jicama); toppings (instead of cheese and avocado, choose Greek yogurt, chopped black olives, ranch dressing, pepitas or salsa).

Per serving (1 DIY Taco Salad Lunchbox Bowl): Calories 484; Fat 33 g (Saturated 11 g); Cholesterol 80 mg; Sodium 628 mg; Carbohydrate 29 g; Fiber 6 g; Sugars 7 g; Protein 27 g

EA Stewart, MBA, RD is a registered dietitian nutritionist specializing in wellness and GI nutrition. In addition, EA is the creator of The Spicy RD, which features delicious gluten-free recipes made from healthy, seasonal ingredients.

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