On Packing a Lunch

Lest my more loyal readers fear that I am wholly fixated on Babyman’s vegetable consumption, take heart: I am also pretty obsessed with lunchbox packing (and shoes, but that’s for another blog I suppose).

What is it about lunchboxes?  At the preschool level, at least, it means someone else (i.e., Babyman’s wonderful teacher) has a window into the weird world of his particular tastes.  I mean, with all the friends and activities and distractions at school, it’s not exactly an ideal place to test-drive new recipes.  But if I loaded his lunchbox with his favorites, it would look something like this: green pimento-stuffed olives (o.k., they’re martini olives) sliced into rings; fish chunks; black beans; peanut butter crackers; avocado chunks; chocolate.  This buffet would not only look bizarre but also presents the following challenges:

  • Avocado (and bananas) will turn brown if left too long (this will gross out the teacher);
  • Peanut butter or any nut products can pose life-threatening health risks to other children (this will anger the teacher);
  • Excessive sweets and salty foods are generally frowned upon in the preschool lunchbox (the teacher will think I am a bad mother who clearly doesn’t DVR Food Revolution).

So what does a good lunch look like?  Now that I am working full-time I must run the lunchbox gauntlet every day, usually sometime between 5:45 and 6:15am, during my first of three cups of half-caff, and let’s just say I’m not firing on all cylinders exactly at that moment.

I strive to include one of the following in every lunchbox: protein (ahem, “chicken”), fruit (freeze-dried bananas and mangoes from Trader Joe’s will fit the bill), starch (noodles, ravioli, pita crisps, tortillas) and veg (I’m a bit liberal with the definition here…hummus, beans, or avocado mixed with cream cheese and used as a sandwich filling).  I have not historically been creative in this arena, preferring to save my ambitious cooking for times when I will have the pleasure of joining Babyman at the table.  But a week is a long time to live on hummus and whole wheat tortillas, so it’s time to break out the big guns.

I do have one thing working in my favor these days, which is that Babyman has attained some level of competency with a spoon (when he feels like it, that is).  I was reading (memorizing) Healthy Lunchboxes the other night and had quite the “eureka” moment: soups and certain rice and potato salads are now an option!  Right-o, Ms. Grant!  And even better, I can make them in huge batches and give them to my husband for lunch too (did I mention I pack not one but three lunchboxes most days?).  But before I break out the slow cooker and make up three weeks’ worth of sausage and bean stew and sesame noodles, I better try them at home.  Following is my list of to-try lunchbox items.  Stay tuned…

Bean & Sausage Soup/Stew
Fried (Brown) Rice
Lentil burgers with hummus & yogurt “dip it”
Peanut noodles (not for school…of course…but a good dinner sub which might liberate sweet potatoes for lunch)


  1. Well I always knew you had a shoe fixation 😉
    If it makes you feel any better, Scott got in trouble in elementary school for telling other kids that his mom fed him chicken gizzards and heart and liver and other such healthy and experimental oddities.

  2. Hi there! I’m at work browsing your blog from my new iphone 3gs!
    Just wanted to say I love reading your blog and look forward to all your posts!
    Keep up the outstanding work!

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