I like to cook. Sometimes my daughter likes to eat.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Inside the Lunchbox

And what do I feed MZ for lunch? My previous post outlined how I pack (protein, carb, veg and fruit, bento-style). I used to love leftovers but she does not, so most of these are "purpose-built" lunch items. Pesto, marinara, black bean soup and applesauce are made in batches and frozen in portion sizes, which means my freezer looks a bit similar to those days when I was making baby food in batches -- the ice cube trays are getting a second life (large ice cube trays from Daiso, 1 x marinara, or 2-3 x soup = lunch.

"Main dish" items include:
  • Sandwiches: tuna salad (with capers, celery and red pepper when I have time), egg salad, salmon salad (with sweet pickle relish and celery), tofu salad (Greens Cookbook recipe with capers). I'm trying to get her to eat a cheese sandwich, cream cheese/sunbutter and jam, or sunbutter/grated carrot sandwich, but no luck so far.
  • Hard boiled egg with seasoned salt
  • Smoked salmon and cream cheese pinwheels on lavash bread
  • TJs Baked tofu cut into "sticks" with hoisin sauce for dipping
  • Tofu dog or garbanzo burger with catsup
  • Salmon rice balls (onigiri with leftover rice and canned salmon)
  • Cheese quesadilla or veg refried beab and cheese mini-burritos (requires heating)
  • Mashed potato cakes with cottage cheese and parmesan (when we have leftover mashed potatoes)
  • TJs Edamame potstickers (heat and place in a heated thermos jar, they will be warm at lunch)
  • TJs vegan split pea soup, M. Bittman's quick homemade black bean soup (in the thermos, I avoid brothy soups because of the mess factor but the thicker bean soups work well)
  • Homemade marinara with w/w pasta or couscous and TJ's meatless meatballs
  • Cheese tortellini with pesto and peas
  • Sesame soba noodles with baked tofu cubes and green onions
  • Mac'n'cheese (make it in a rice cooker, freeze individual portions)
  • Hummus or edamame dip and carrots and/or pita/crackers
  • Cheese cubes, shelled edamame and crackers (she likes gruyere, gouda or parmigiano chunks)
  • Soy butter and carrot, celery or apple slices
  • Yogurt cup with granola to add
  • And here's a recipe for ham-n'cheese pinwheels that I've never tried
Veg sides include lightly steamed vegetables (especially broccoli, snap peas, string beans and asparagus) or raw cherry tomatoes, red pepper slices, cucumber circles, carrot, celery or jicama sticks, or frozen peas (which thaw by lunchtime and keep the lunch cooler) or nori seaweed strips (I use individually portioned seaweed packets as the big sheets get soft by lunchtime). She will eat cucumber slices dressed with rice vinegar, salt and ginger, but other than that she won't eat the veg if I "salad it up."

Some alternative side starches:
  • Newman's Own spelt pretzels
  • TJs lentil curls "crackers"
  • Kashi multigrain crackers
  • TJs soy-flax rice crackers
  • Nori seaweed-wrapped brown rice crackers (Nijiya Market in Japantown)
  • Pea Crisps
  • Potato salad (with leftover boiled or roasted potatoes)

"Treats" are usually store-bought because I'm not much of a baker, but if someone makes cookies, she'll see a few in her lunch:
  • TJs tapioca
  • Kozy Shack chocolate pudding
  • Fruit juice jello (homemade from knox gelatin package instructions)
  • Honey for dipping the fruit (usually apple)
  • Frozen applesauce cup or frozen "yogurt squeezer" (which thaw by lunchtime and keep the lunch cooler)
  • Yogurt-covered pretzels
  • Pop chips, TJs Baked "chee-tos" or Multigrain tortilla chips

Also, so far there is no ewww factor and the kids seem to introduce each other to new things (fortunately not Lunchables), although a number if not all the girls in MZ's class swore off grapes for a while this year. A sign of group think to come, I'm afraid...

Please share what your kid loves, I get bored of what I make.


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