Authors: Katie Sullivan Morford
For my girls
Text copyright Â© 2013 by Katie Sullivan Morford.
Photographs copyright Â© Chronicle Books LLC.
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form without written permission from the publisher.
The Library of Congress has previously cataloged this under:
Designed by Eight Hour Day
Photographs by Jennifer MartinÃ©
Food styling Karen Shinto
Prop styling by Leigh Noe
Chronicle Books LLC
680 Second Street
San Francisco, California 94107
My friend Pam, a mother of two, can practically turn out a dozen golden popovers with her eyes shut. Claire, also a mom, tackles even the most sophisticated recipes with the ease of a professional. And Suzanne churns out family dinners each night in such an orderly fashion, she could teach Martha Stewart a thing or two. But ask any of these Ã¼bercapable momsâor dads, grandparents, or other caregivers, for that matterâhow they feel about packing school lunches every day and you are likely to hear a groan, a sigh, or, quite possibly, a growl.
First off, packing lunch is a relatively thankless task; we aren't even around when the kids crack those containers open. Plus, filling a lunch box is booby-trapped with challenges: keeping some foods hot and others cold, preventing sandwiches from going mushy and fruit from bruising, figuring out what kids will like (and eat!), and doing it all in the few extra minutes of the day you really don't have. And that's not even taking into account the folks who have to work around a kid's food allergy or a ten-year-old who's suddenly gone vegan. Phew! It's a lot to cover. With three daughters of my own, I've packed roughly 4,000 lunches and counting. It's not easy, but I've learned a thing or two along the way.
This book brings together my expertise as a registered dietitian, food writer, and cooking teacher with my hands-on experience as a parent. My aim is to arm you with easy recipes and practical advice for lunches your kids will actually eat instead of toss in the trash.
All of the recipes are based on how we do things around our house. Good ingredients and simple preparation are the foundations of my cooking, with an eye to nourishing kids, not just filling them up. I rely largely on seasonal organic produce; sustainably raised eggs, dairy, fish, poultry, and meat; and whole grains. Convenience foods such as jarred applesauce and prepared soups fill in as needed. While I'm not churning butter from my own grass-fed dairy cows, I'm also not buying fried snack foods in bulk. It's a balancing act.
This book is a toolbox full of fresh ideas to help you break from the lunch-box rut that plagues the best of us. Most of the recipes are quite flexible, intended for tinkering to suit your family's preferences and whatever happens to be in your pantry. Capers too fancy? Use chopped relish. Tofu too “health foodie”? Substitute chicken. Chocolate chips not “health foodie” enough? Leave 'em out. Your child, your cooking, your lunches.
My hope is that this book is approachable. When it's not, please tailor the recipes to suit you. Whether your offspring is four or fourteen, the idea is that the
Best Lunch Box Ever
should inspire you so that making lunches can be a little more joyful and less of a chore.
WEEKDAY MORNINGS CAN BE DOWNRIGHT NUTTY.
On some days, the fact that you manage to pull a lunch together at all feels like a minor miracle, never mind if it has much in the way of nutritional value. And what does a nourishing lunch really look like anyway?
This chapter is intended to help you understand just that. Through practical nutrition advice and food safety tips, packing healthful lunches can become second nature, even in the chaotic rush of school-day mornings. I've included a comparison of traditional school lunches with new and improved versions to illustrate how little changes in ingredients can make a big difference in nutrients
(see Give Lunch a Makeover, page 17)
. Perhaps this will encourage you to make a few tweaks in your kitchen that result in more wholesome packed lunches.
BROWN BAG BASICS
Know Good Nutrition
There's no getting around the fact that pulling together a healthful school lunch is a worthy pursuit. What children eat during the school day puts a significant dent toward meeting their dietary needs, so you gotta make it count. While a bag of cheese puffs, can of soda, and salami on white might fill them up, it's not truly nourishing them. You can deliver those same calories with a lot more nutrition, which today's kids definitely need. Consider this: According to the USDA, the diets of more than 80 percent of kids between the ages of two and nine need substantial improvement. Yikes!
Here's what a nutritious, well-thought-out school lunch can do for kids:
â¢ Fuel their brains so they can focus in class.