Pros: Waaaay too good
Rating: 5 out of 5
Review book (published 2013) provided by Chronicle Books
Best Lunch Box Ever: Ideas and Recipes for School Lunches Kids Will Love by Katie Sullivan Morford is the next stop on my quest to find easy, delicious lunches that my husband can take to work with him. Let’s be honest–I want delicious leftovers to have for my own lunches, too. Luckily most of the recipes in this cookbook make two to four servings at a time, and are also easy to multiply or make repeatedly should you so desire. (It’s perfect for a parent who wants to feed multiple kids at once.)
My criteria: the meal has to be easy to store and transport, easy to eat without any special equipment or instructions on the other end, and delicious. Bonus points for being something that can be made the night before and packed up in moments the next morning. This cookbook delivered in spades.
There are some recipes that are perfect for a lunch-sized sealed plastic container. There’s a sesame noodles recipe that was out of this world, and meant to be eaten cold. I sent some with my husband and happily scarfed the rest down myself. Because it calls for 1/2 cup baked tofu pieces, I highly recommend making it for several days in a row so you can use up your tofu. Also, bake it a night in advance, because it requires a little time in the oven. The sesame sauce from this one is just delightful–nutty, toasty, and a little bit sweet. Another favorite is the curried quinoa salad. It includes dried cranberries, toasted almonds, and tangerine segments. Again it takes a little prep, so most of it is best made in advance. It’s also an easy recipe to multiply or make repeatedly, and it’s so delicious that I just loved having enough to have my own lunch of it at home.
Sandwiches are a staple of lunch boxes, and I expected the sandwiches in Best Lunch Box Ever to be good but not ground-breaking; sandwiches aren’t my favorite food in the world. Instead, the sandwiches are surprisingly delicious. I didn’t expect hummus as a spread to make so much difference in a cucumber-and-turkey pita. There’s also a sandwich made with smashed chickpeas and goat cheese that’s delightfully tangy and nutty. Homemade ranch dip made a great accompaniment to additional raw veggies.
All of the wonderful recipes I’ve mentioned so far are just the ones we tried out. There are plenty more that look fantastic. A chapter of sandwiches includes a smoked salmon sandwich, an ‘anything goes’ -salad sandwich (tuna, chicken, etc.), and a grilled cheese made with a waffle iron. A salads chapter includes a cobb salad, taco salad, and a slaw. Wraps and roll-ups include one I have to try: dates and cream cheese on lavash with celery and spinach. Also a ‘pita pizza’, and a sweet potato quesadilla. There’s a leftovers chapter that recycles leftover cooked noodles, rice, quinoa, etc. into salads, fried rice, noodle soups (to go into thermoses), and so on. A chapter of fruit and veggie sides includes various treatments of melon, berries, tropical fruits, and dips. “Crunchy Extras” is good for homemade granola bark, as well as cheese straws, cinnamon wonton crisps, and microwave popcorn. “Goodies” provides a few sweet extras for occasional treats, such as cocoa-dusted almonds, cherry oatmeal bars, pretzel cookies, and gingerbread mini-cupcakes. Obviously these are all just examples; there are plenty more recipes where those came from.
There are also afternoon snacks, as well as reminders of the various things you should include in each lunch, lists of good pantry foods to keep on hand, things you can make the weekend or night before. Also hints for keeping lunch boxes clean and hot/chilled, some nutritional notes, a list of lunch box-friendly fruits and veggies by season and sources for lunch box supplies.
All in all, this cookbook is well worth the investment!