30 August 2012

School Lunch – It’s More Than Elementary!

By Chef Kathryn Yeomans, The Farmer’s Feast

Once again, the season is upon us parents wherein we face the conundrum – what will go into the school lunch box?

School lunches can be fresh, healthy and fun! Photo by Amanda Frankel

Let’s start with the facts. It has to be healthy. It has to be filling. It has to be eaten (no point in going through all the trouble if it’s not accepted). And just as important, at least as far as kids are concerned, it has to be fun. Whew. That’s a lot to live up to, especially after a long day of work, football practice, ballet class, chess club, play dates, homework, and homemade dinner.

Believe me, I’m a big fan of tried & true lunchbox standbys – a pb&j fits all of the above criteria, plus it’s a no-brainer. Slap it together – done. But a few weeks into the school year, even peanut butter & jelly aficionados will tire of the same ol’ sandwich day after day.

Luckily, for Farmers Market shoppers there are plenty of options! Many market finds are ready-to-eat. Fresh fruits & vegetables gleam brightly from every nook & cranny of the market. Slices of red, yellow, purple, & green bell peppers are sweet & crisp, and perfect for little fingers to grasp and dip into humus, guacamole, or salad dressing. Fresh nectarines & pears can be accompanied by vanilla yogurt dip, lemon curd, or nut butter. Meat jerky, pepperoni sticks, and wedges of cheese travel nicely with a crusty roll or package of crackers.  Nuts & dried fruits are easy treats, and a honey stick or bit of honey comb makes for a fun dessert.

Let your kids help pick out items they like at the farmers market. Photo by Lisa Teso

Next time you take your tike to market, explore the options together. Go on a snack scavenger hunt. Many vendors have samples that you can try together. Let your child tell you what they like, and open up a discussion about healthy choices for lunches & snacks. Kids will appreciate being a part of the selection process, and you will have the comfort of knowing that they will want to eat what you’re tucking into their lunch boxes.

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!