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!
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.
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!