My daughter, Avery, is heading to kindergarten this fall. For the first time ever, she will be wholly responsible for consuming her lunch. To you, it might not sound like a big deal for a five-year-old to be in charge of eating her lunch. What follows is Exhibit A of why I don’t trust this child to eat her lunch when I am not there.
Here is a typical lunch-time conversation between me and Avery Jane.
AJ: Mom, have I ever told you that my pinky on this hand is my favorite pinky?
Me: Really? I like that pinky, too. Eat your lunch.
AJ: Mom, what do you like better, ice cream or baby bats? (I’m not making this up.)
Me: Ice cream. Take a bite of your sandwich.
AJ: I made up a new knock-knock joke.
Me: I love your knock-knock jokes, but why don’t you eat your lunch?
This is a mere snippet. She can go on like that endlessly. Sometimes I find myself wondering if her sandwich is going to mold and disintegrate before my very eyes whilst she chats away. Accordingly, I am trying to arm myself to make her school lunches be the most appealing they can be. And, yes, I have considered including a note saying “EAT YOUR LUNCH.”
I have been racking my brain about what I can pack in that lunchbox to entice my chatterbox to eat. My little one loves pasta, so I tossed together a quick and lunchbox friendly pasta salad that covers the basic food groups. I literally scrounged around my fridge and used what I had on hand, which means it will be slightly different each time I make it for her lunch. I tossed whole wheat rotini, cubed cheese, diced grilled chicken, edamame, and shredded carrots together. I added the smallest amount of olive oil I could get away with – enough to keep it from being dry but not enough to make it oily – and drizzled a scant bit of balsamic over the top. The test kitchen gave this dish its stamp of approval (and swears she would eat this if I pack it for lunch). This is by no mean a “recipe” because it’s just stuff I threw together, but I used four cups of cooked pasta, a cup of diced chicken, a cup of edamame, half a cup of shredded carrots, half a cup of cheese cubes, and half a tablespoon of olive oil.
I have also been doing a lot of internet browsing for lunch ideas, and there are so many blogs with good lunch ideas. Here are a few of my favorites:
Weelicious – has many great family meal ideas, school lunches included. I love the idea of using pancakes and waffles to make sandwiches.
Peanut blossom – has thirty days of lunch recipes. Impressively, there are no sandwiches, and the recipes are nut-free.
Spoonful – has visually creative lunch ideas, as well as after-school snacks!