The School Lunchbox: Now Fresh and Green (as in healthy not eco). Eat Me!

If dinner is a never-ending occupation, then school lunch is too. I do not know of a trick to get an empty lunchbox home from school. I do know I feel satisfied when ev eats a healthy lunch. Here are a few alternative lunch ideas I have noted from ev and pals’ snack/lunchbox hits:

  • Wraps  From tortillas to mountain bread, ev loves them rolled with melted cheese, spread with pureed beans like burritos (thinly to avoid ooze), or, like little friend Bea eats, with cold cheese and ham.
  • Pancakes Little flapjacks are a snack staple for us. I like the idea of milk, butter, eggs, flour and minimal to no sugar all-in-one. Homemade is always a plus with great recipes from buttermilk to scotch, even ricotta.  Breakfast makes leftovers for a change!
  • Steamed Veggie Bites  My friend Stef steams broccoli florets for her kids’ lunch. They eat them all up.  Ev does too.  A few drops of olive oil, drops of lemon (just a few!) and a pinch of salt leaves an empty container every time. Try carrots, green beans or your child’s favorite veggie (don’t forget the pinch of salt).
  • Carrots, Celery and Dip  These classics may be obvious, but the how could turn the yuck to a munch (nothing like a grainy mouth full of stalks and roots). Peel the outer layer of celery to lose the strings. Cut both thin and short for little mouths (see post in lunchbox series).  Opt for organic carrots with tops still on; you may find carrots sticks more often in your lunch too.  A tasty hummus will dip nicely.

Try new food ideas at home first!

ABCs of: The School Lunchbox

Since I do have to prepare one everyday, my goal is to minimize my effort and maximize lunch success (eaten). Some thoughts as I make the lunchbox:

1. Put yourself in ev’s shoes. If she has snack after a hot and sweaty romp on the playground, what would she enjoy most? Juicy melon bites. How about after a cold romp on the playground? Grapes and cheese bites. What does she enjoy eating most at home? Pasta!

2. Choose seasonal/regional over variety (when possible).  To eat seasonal foods IS to be varied. Where did all the pressure come from anyway to have a multi-colored, multi-ethnic DAILY-changing menu.  How do summer nectarines and peaches from Chile make sense when we have winter citrus and star fruits in Florida?   Each season offers a nice array of color, and, somewhere along the way, I heard a renowned doctor state that consistency in food is a good thing.  Did I mention that ev brought fusilli pasta EVERY day this week to school!

3. Neat and Trim.  Just the right amount in just the right size for ev’s little hands and mouth seems to go down better.  The stainless steel minis by KidsKonserve are perfect for small things like olives, cheese bites or whatever little munchies yours prefer.

Small veggie sticks become crunch in no time!

The Star of the Season

We found our star fruit at a local gardener's market stall

Talk about a fun fruit for kids and all you have to do is slice! How beautiful is the color, and how refreshing and delicate is the flesh after fall’s apples! For holidays, star fruit season peaks at just the right time of year!

(Eat at room temperature, rather than cold, for a more aromatic taste.)

Autumn’s Apples and Caramel

I’ve noticed how I avoid apples as a snack for ev. Probably because I, myself, find them so boring. Or, probably, because they have become as staple a fruit as rice is a grain. They are always available. The thing is, apples are really delicious in season, and lately, we have been munching on the macintosh variety like they’re going out of season. I decided that our fruit bowl will be home to Autumn’s pomme only during the fall; that, ev could find apples just as interesting as summertime cherries if we enjoy them in their peak.

To welcome fall’s fruit, caramel apples have been in the back of my mind since the first days of autumn. I read this recipe on the Babyccino Blog and have made them twice now.  Even though ev prefers swiping the caramel drippings and piercing the apples with as many bamboo sticks that she can manage (we could do a porcupine apple craft ), I’d say they’re a hit!

Porcupine

The School Lunchbox: Take the Sippy Cup Challenge!

I dare you to drink your water from the coolest plastic kids cup you can find in your kitchen cabinet. Do it for an entire day every time you are thirsty. Take the sippy cup challenge. Then, tell me these pioneers of food containers don’t rock!

KIDS KONSERVE We use the stainless steel containers. I don’t know how we managed without them. And I’m pretty sure I noticed this treasure on Pottery Barn Kids shelves.

EARTHLUST How inspiring is the story and how nice is the art on the bottles. How do you choose just one?

CROCODILE CREEK I love the bold, colorful prints on the water bottles. Wash with baking soda and hot water for fresh tasting water every day!

ev & pal toasting their steel

Our modern life demands quick and convenient, often compromising the normalities from a day when lunch hour was really an hour and nap was even a word. Unless you live in a part of the world where such blessings still exist, you, like myself, hope to finish breakfast at the table instead of the car, to eat from containers that don’t taste like yesterday’s lunch and to drink from water bottles that don’t taste like dishwasher. Thankfully, these alternatives take the edge off munching on the go.