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The Lunch Bunch.

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.

Pasta Salad

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!

In addition, so many of my favorite food websites have collections of lunchbox recipes, like Food Network, Real Simple,  and Eating Well.

Happy planning, and if you have any great lunch box ideas, I would love to hear them!

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