06 September 2012

Lunchbox Reform

Last week, Chef (and Mother) Kathryn Yeomans shared these ideas for back-to-school lunches.  This week she serves up some more fresh inspiration both written and live at our Buckman Market today, Thursday, September 6, from 4-6.  Details below!

Lunchbox makeover with Chef Kathryn

By Chef Kathryn Yeomans, The Farmer’s Feast

Part of the fun of making school lunch is in the packaging. Also, when food is kid-sized, it is not only easier to eat, but seems less daunting than a big, bulky sandwich. Those not-so-healthy pre-packaged lunches that let kids build cracker-pizzas and processed meat sandwiches are reminiscent of Japanese bento (“boxed meal”) lunches, in that each is an offering of little dishes, neatly divided into compartments. Obviously, a homemade lunch in this style will trump the nutrient content of the over-processed, over-salted, preservative-laden store-bought “convenience” food.

Much of the thrill lies in the little compartments of various items that can be assembled at lunchtime. You can acquire a traditional shokado bento box, which is divided into four compartments, or take the idea and come up with your own bento-style serving container. Fit little lidded containers into a larger container with a snap-on lid – it’s as easy as that. There are several companies that make compartmentalized lunch kits that work perfectly. And what goes into the little compartments? You can mimic the packaged lunch kits & fill containers with crackers, homemade tomato sauce, shredded cheese, and salami slices so that a pizza-type snack can be assembled, then add apple slices, raisins, & carrot sticks to round out the meal. Or you can create a more interesting lunch of little dishes. How about 1) a couple of grilled chicken strips with bbq dipping sauce 2) roasted potatoes and cauliflower with walnuts 3) bocconcini mozzarella 4) cantaloupe & honeydew melon balls (a melon baller is a simple way to add visual fun – make various sizes, and pack along a little spork for easy eating).

If the idea of 4 little dishes seems complex for a lunchbox, keep in mind that it’s a good way to use leftovers, and lots of foods can be prepared alongside the evening’s dinner – Having grilled pork chops for supper? Throw a piece of chicken or some veggies on for tomorrow’s lunch. Making spaghetti? Cook extra & make a spaghetti frittata that is delicious eaten at room temperature. Steaming green beans? Toss leftovers with a little lemon olive oil & sliced almonds for a marinated veggie side dish. The possibilities are endless.

Soup really IS good food – especially when homemade

Another easy school lunch idea – make one day of the week “soup day”. Vegetable-based soups can be made on the weekend (or pick up ready-made soups from market vendors), then heated in the morning, poured into a thermos, and toted along with cornbread or a roll, and dessert.

Need additional fresh, seasonal inspiration? Mealtime Makeover is a free cooking class held at the Buckman Farmers Market. Join us Thursday, September 6th from 4-6 p.m. for more ideas, recipes, demos and samples. We invite you to bring along the kids – there will be tasty snacks to sample & coloring sheets for them to work on while you watch the demo. The focus will be geared toward the wee ones, but the dishes will be adult-friendly as well (adults & kids all eat the same foods at our house). You’re bound to pick up an idea or two for your brown bag office lunch!