If you’re just joining us for the Kids in the Kitchen Series, be sure to check out last week’s challenge where we shared some tasty breakfast treats. This week, we’re working on lunch! If your kids are tiring of the same old lunch sandwiches, let’s change things up a bit and get them involved with their lunch choice. A panini bar is a great way to host an afternoon of family fun! (In truth, the panini bar makes regular appearances on our dinner menu as well – it’s a great option for the working mom who wants to serve a hot meal but doesn’t have a lot of time. I’ve also been known to sneak a hot panini for breakfast!)
The best part about a panini bar is that you can always switch it up. We lay out everything in the fridge in a huge spread and then the choices begin! Emily usually takes the orders and then I help her prep. She cooks them in our panini maker (Best invention ever! This is an affiliate link for the one I have – don’t feel led to click – it’s just there if you want it because I really think this product is awesome!) and then serves them up like a waitress in our own little family restaurant. Some things you’ll need:
- Assortment of bread – We’ve used white, wheat, tortillas, homemade, rolls, bagels, pitas…whatever happens to be on hand.
- Assortment of meats – Ham, turkey, roast beef, pepperoni, roasted chicken (See The Bird Word Series!)…whatever you like!
- Assortment of cheese – We always have cheddar and provolone on hand, but often take it up a notch with pepper jack or fresh mozzarella (my fav!).
- Assortment of toppings – Tomatoes, basil, roasted red peppers, hot peppers, avocado and bacon have all made appearances on our panini menu.
- Assortment of condiments – Mayo, mustard, hot sauce, ranch dressing…lots of tasty options here.
The opportunities are truly endless. Everyone loves getting to have something a little different and choosing their own toppings per their tastes, but you don’t feel like you’re prepping separate meals for everyone. It’s quick to set up, quick to prep and quick to clean up. And the best part is that a panini bar requires some input from every member of the family, so it’s a great activity to get everyone chatting and interacting in a combined effort to create some tasty together.
We’ve made BLTs, club sandwiches, mozzarella caprese yummies (YES!!!!), grilled cheese…seriously, I can’t think of a food that doesn’t taste better after it’s been pressed in the panini maker. It’s like my own little homemade Panera! Emily feels super independent and in control getting to prep and cook, and I love getting a bit of a break from being in charge of mealtime.
Do you have an awesome sandwich that you think would be killer in the panini maker? Please share! I’m always looking for new ingredients to include in our panini bar. And be sure to link up any awesome panini recipes below and check out what the other gals made this week!