Kids who love Mexican food will enjoy premade quesadillas, available at most grocery stores — especially when they're packed with a snack-size container of spicy salsa. Warm them up before school, then wrap them in foil to keep the temperature up.

Supermarket sushi rolls — often prepared at Japanese restaurants and delivered to stores each morning — are a healthful, interesting and very easy lunch alternative.

Or add Indian flair to the lunchbox with carry-out dishes that work at room temperature, like Neopol Savory Smokery's curried summer rice salad.

Whether it's a small tin of salsa or a full-fledged Indian meal, one thing is certain: Ethnic flavors make that brown bag lunch a whole lot more fun.


The Rodriguez family cooks casual but complicated El Salvadoran and Mexican food at their Reisterstown restaurant, El Paraiso. They recommend this simple, but flavorful, dish for school lunches.

Makes: 4 servings of 2 flautas each

8 corn tortillas

11/2 cups of shredded chicken (from a store-bought rotisserie chicken)

3/4 cup queso fresco or cotija cheese, crumbled

2 tablespoons canola oil

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Toss the shredded chicken with the crumbled cheese until evenly mixed.

Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil. In a medium saute pan, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Fry the tortillas in the oil, one at a time, for 2-3 seconds per side. When done, place each tortilla on the foil-lined baking sheet, making two rows of four.

Evenly divide the chicken and cheese mixture between the tortillas, placing the mixture in a vertical line down the center of each tortilla.

Roll the tortillas tightly, placing them seam-down on the sheet. Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until the flautas are crispy and a golden brown color.

Let cool before packing for lunch. Send with salsa or guacamole for dipping.

Lamb and potato dolma

These easy-to-eat roll-ups, developed by Whole Foods, are fun. Plus, they're full of flavor and nutrients — especially when paired with Greek yogurt for dipping.

Makes: 6-8 servings

1 pound ground lamb