September 16, 2014
Someone one the One Hungry Mama YouTube channel recently asked me for more make-ahead school lunch recipes. You know I’ll never refuse you ideas when you ask for them (speak up and ask away!), so I whipped up these easy Ham and Cheese Muffins.
This savory muffin recipe is a fresh take on the classic ham and cheese sandwich. Not only is it tastier than a plain old sandwich, it can also be made ahead of time. How many sandwiches can you say that about?
This recipe is as basic as it gets: a simple muffin batter with shredded cheddar and diced deli ham folded into it. With your ingredients, two bowls, a whisk, and a spatula, you’ll have fresh muffins in 20-25 minutes flat.
Make a big batch and let all of the muffins cool completely before packing them up for storage. Save muffins that you’ll serve within 24 hours on the counter, within 2-3 days in the fridge, and within 6 months in the freezer. Any muffins kept on the counter or in the fridge are fine in ziplock bags. I like to individually wrap muffins in plastic wrap before popping them in a storage bag for the freezer.
If you plan your school lunches ahead of time, you can transfer the muffins you’ll need from the freezer to the fridge the night before. Otherwise, pop these babies straight from the freezer into the microwave or conventional oven to defrost. Just keep in mind that the conventional oven will take longer; we don’t usually have that much time on school mornings!
One last tip: the muffins will warm up as they defrost and, for food safety, you’ll need to let them cool before closing them up in a lunch box. I keep this quick by microwaving the frozen muffins in short intervals until they are just defrosted all the way through and not yet piping hot.
Now that you have a handle on these savory muffins, here are some other fun and easy make-ahead school lunch recipes:
This is great made the night before, especially if you have leftover ground beef from dinner.
Like the Ham and Cheese Muffins, these can be baked way ahead of time and stored in the freezer.
Make one of these dips on the weekend to have on hand for school lunch, after school snacks, or even dinner!
Ham & Cheese Muffins
makes 1 dozen muffins
(can be shared with kids 10+ mos)*
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 eggs, beaten
1 cup milk
1/4 cup (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted & slightly cooled
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese, plus more for garnish
1/2 cup diced ham (about 6 deli slices)
Fresh black pepper, for garnish (optional)
1. Preheat oven 400 degrees F. Line a 12-cup muffin tin with paper or silicone muffin cups and set aside.
2. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt.
3. In a separate bowl, combine egg, milk, and butter. Add these wet ingredients to the dry and mix lightly (e.g., with a wooden spoon, not a mixer) until well combined. Once the batter is smooth, fold in cheese and ham.
4. Spoon batter into muffin cups, filling them about 3/4 of the way. If you like, sprinkle some more shredded cheese and freshly cracked black pepper on top. Bake for about 17 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the muffin comes out clean. Remove muffins from the oven and allow to cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then remove from the pan and finish cooling on a rack. See notes above on storing these.
*Note: These also make a wonderful early finger food for beginner eaters who are safely managing small pieces. Just break a cooled muffin into age-approrpriate bite sizes and serve!