Battling the Brown-bag Blues

You start out the school year with the best nutritional intentions: cooking upIMG_0084 homemade meals for your kids to take to school, squeezing fresh juices, and making sandwiches piled high with organic veggies. But for even the most food-savvy parent, lunchbox fatigue can set in, and you may find yourself grabbing seemingly convenient options that don’t necessarily pay off on nutrition. Packing lunch for the kids – and even the adults – doesn’t have to cause a frenzy as long as you create a “brown-bag friendly” kitchen.  Here, we offer some tips to help you keep your sanity on those chaotic mornings.

  • Keep standard sandwich fixings on hand: cold cuts, breads, condiments, lettuce, cheese, but mix it up with pita, bagel, hoagie rolls, and toppings such as avocado, sprouts, cucumber.
  • Stock staples for quick soups: vegetable or chicken broth, canned beans and/or crushed tomatoes, dried pasta, diced carrots, celery and onions. La Spiga chef-owner, Sabrina Tinsley, purees sautéed vegetables and stock, and adds pasta stars to make a soup that she loves for all the greens that she can hide in it and that her son and daughter enjoy because it tastes good.
  • Stock grab-and-go fruits such as apples, pears, bananas, grapes, oranges.
  • Cook with leftovers in mind. Make extra pasta or rice, roast an extra chicken, double the stir-fry or sautéed vegetables – all items that are easy to pair together for a bento-style lunch. (Look for bento boxes at Uwajimaya.)
  • Set the slow cooker before bed —you’ll wake up in the morning to some savory aromas, and the soup or stew will be ready for the thermos.
  • Pack smartly: use an insulated bag for cold items and a thermos for hot items. Consider ReUsies reusable sandwich bags and, if you’re looking for a “green” lunchbox, check out Goodbyn.