This is what happens when your school lunch favorites become grown-up delicacies
We just published a post of ’90s snacks that’ll bring back the nostalgia like whoa (along with a craving for Dunkaroos), but we got to thinking: What do you do when childhood cravings strike, but you want something that’s not processed and packaged in neon colors and obviously not great for you?
So we compiled a list that will allow you to recreate the essence of your favorite elementary lunches – all grown up.
1. Cheese Straws
We like to think that cheese straws (also sometimes called cheddar pennies, so adorbs) were the original Cheez-It. Different shape, yes, but same cheesy, umami-laden spirit. Made with little more than flour and a good cheddar (heavy on the cheddar, by the way), they’re the perfect savory, airy cocktail hour snack.
Want to get extra fancy? Use gruyère instead.
2. Adult lunchables, aka Cheeseplates
What you’ll need:
A softer, creamier cheese like brie (pictured above) is utterly spreadable and a great complement to a crispy cracker. When looking for a great brie, look for a full-fat, high-fat content brie. Because, you know, that’s what makes it taste good.
If you like your cheese a little more pungent (read: “smelly”) like we do, Camembert, pictured above (which looks very similar to brie) is a great option. Of course, if you wanted to stay true to the essence of the venerable Lunchable, you can always go with a high quality cheddar.
If possible, get a log of salami that is not pre-sliced. Columbus is a pretty decent brand available at most grocery stores (it’s usually cheapest at Trader Joe’s) and is a mildly spiced, slightly peppery salami.
Alternatively, if you’re looking for something a bit lighter in texture and more delicate in flavor, paper thin prosciutto – cured pork leg – is as seductive as it gets. To splurge on a decently sliced prosciutto, go to Whole Foods or a butcher, if you can, where they can slice it up for your fresh – a few slices are all you need if you’re getting the good stuff.
You need a good, crispy cracker for this. Ritz was the heartthrob of our elementary school days, but we’re going to up the fancy to something a bit more refined. We like Carr’s Table Water Crackers because they’re thin, crispy, but still substantial – and they’re distributed at almost all major groceries. Of course, if you’re feeling like bagel chips or baguettes, we won’t stop you.
3. Grown-Up Carrot Sticks + Dip
This recipe takes the tenderness of carrots, adds some color by getting the rainbow variety, and throws in some Middle Eastern-influenced flavors (that are great to sprinkle on hummus) like za’atar, a blend of herbs, sesame seeds, and sumac.
And the dip has rosewater. Um, YUM.
4. DIY Fruit Roll-Ups
We can’t think of a food that’s more fun to eat. Except maybe those button candy things. Anyway, these fruit roll ups look a bit labor-intensive to make, but the actual recipe is quite simple.
Ugh, so cute.
5. Mommy’s Special, Boozy Pudding
We lovingly dubbed this recipe “mommy’s special pudding” because it’s boozy, NSFW, and represents one of the great privileges of being an adult.
Vegan bonus: if you’re looking for a dairy-free pudding recipe, we love this one. It doesn’t have booze, but you can drizzle in rum at your discretion. Because, rum.
Eat it with a plastic spoon for maximum nostalgic effect.
6. Healthy DIY Kool-Aid
Bet you’re thirsty from that pudding.
Is there a better way to wash it down than with Kool-Aid?! Grown-up Kool-Aid, that is. We’re totally impressed with this version, a no-sugar added bevvy that’s sweetened with actual stevia leaf and tinted with ruby red hibiscus. Yes, please. We can totally see this being a great base for sangria, too, if you wanted to get a little boozy with this.
Now, we’re off to make our adult Lunchables!