The New and Improved School Lunch: Shake It Up With a Snack

When it comes to packing our five year old’s school lunch, as much as we’d like to be rolling up Vietnamese summer rolls (an honest goal) and other holdable, global goodies, most of the time it’s a rushed affair, sometimes bordering on an afterthought. But we do our darndest. Sure we lean on that protein and carb mainstay the PBJ (whole grain bread, natch. organic everything else. not bad, right?). We’ll throw in some trans-fat-free (the standard these days, I hope) crackers of some sort. Always some fruit (apples, pears, tangerines, and grapes these days). Maybe some crudite, which usually goes uneaten.

But following a recent adult/kid sunday cocktail play date party, we had some luxe leftovers: some mixed olives from a great cheese shop, as well as some world class cheeses (hey, in the rare event that we throw a party, we’re not about to go off half cocked. we were serving top shelf booze, so why not have some standards with the cheese?). So the next day we decided to kit out my daughter’s school lunch with a bonus snack: a good cheese. While my omnivore daughter would’ve preferred a three-cheese cheese platter of triple cream cow Brillat Savarin, some artisanal Cali goat cheese, and a good chunk of manchego, we knew that the creamier cheeses could’ve made for a messy lunch time, so we singled out the hard manchego to take along: no melting, no mess, but just one super-satisfying salty-sheepy chunk of Spanish goodness. She was thrilled. Since then, we’ve thrown in some chunks of parmesan. Maybe next time a few cornichon. No better way of making the most of party leftovers than giving them to an appreciative gastrokid.

So, gastromoms and dads, we know there must be other creative ideas for good, healthy, portable, not-too-quickly spoilable snacks for the lunchbox. Please share. And (this is a bit of a tall order) if you’ve got something with the all healthyness, portability, and appeal of the PBJ, we’d love to know.
—Hugh

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5 Responses to The New and Improved School Lunch: Shake It Up With a Snack

  1. Hi – just thought I’d let you know about my blog which is updated weekly during term time in Australia and is dedicated to lunchbox packing, heavily influenced by Vegan Lunchbox but minus the Vegan and a bit more influenced by the organic and the local farmer’s markets here in Melbourne, Australia.
    The blog contains all different info but if it’s just the ideas that may be of use then the link to the Flickr slide show may be the most useful:
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/81648690@N00/show/
    It may well err too much on the side of Vietnamese spring rolls to be relevant here but thought that I’d let you know as the consumers of these lunches are my 5 year old son and his 2 year old brother :o)
    Love your site – best wishes,
    Melissa

  2. Audra says:

    Edamame is my favorite toss in. I will occasionally pick up some brown rice rolls and make a mommy version of the bento box in one of those handy dandy seperated tupperware containters.

  3. Sarah Bennett says:

    found your site by chance….love it and thought just good old plain olives would make a welcome, quick addition to any lunchbox. Yes, yes I know it’s an “acquired” taste, but start with the herb-cured, provence, black type and work your way up to the garlic stuffed green ones. My 5 and 2 yr old fight over bowls of them.. but failing all that, start with them in a tomato-based pasta sauce which is a great intro to the world of the olive.

  4. chanie says:

    we’ve done cottage cheese or hummus on bread as a good way to get the carb/protein thing in. sometimes will buy or make small rolls to change from the sliced bread. also small containers of hummus with pita chips, or cottage cheese with crackers or cornbread (which feels more like cake to them than bread). yogurt with a bag of granola to sprinkle on.
    i’ve made empenadas and frozen them to then defrost and send in – easy to hold. same with burekas.
    as for snacks to throw in – olives are a hit over here, as are a handful of nuts.

  5. One of the cheeses you mentioned was goat cheese. I grew up eating home made goat cheese and home made whole grain crackers. This brought back memories of my childhood.

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