My daughter played “What food am I?” in preschool the other day. When I came to pick her up, her teacher gave me an odd look. “What happened?” I asked. “All of the kids had to describe what kind of food they were today,” she began. “Most kids said apples, celery, oranges, hamburgers, tomatoes, etc., but your daughter told us she was a mix of quinoa and gooseberries…”
Good or bad? I wondered to myself. Probably some of both.
In my mind, that definitely tells me I’m going to be “that mom,” the one whose kid constantly feels embarrassed about. And “that mom” was originally my mom: the mom who dares to be different when, among other things, it comes to packing a school lunch.
My mother lovingly packed soggy, lopsided and sometimes grease-stained paper bags carrying oddball sandwiches or various leftovers from dinner.
Delicious? Totally. Awkward to eat? Totally. Not like any of the other kids’ lunches at a time when you did not dare to be different? Totally.
What was a classic lunch for me?
School is officially in session, and just as kids may stomp their feet in protest all the way to the bus stop, so, too, might moms and dads as they face another daunting year of keeping their little learners full and healthy. As you think of the new school year and wonder how you’ll be able to do it all, look to Food Network’s Back-to-School Headquarters to help you make the grade. Each week in September FN Dish will share can-do weeknight meals, easy lunchbox picks, after-school snack strategies and more from our best collection of recipes and tips.
Earlier this week, Food Network hosted a Facebook chat with our very own Food Network Kitchens on all things back-to-school. Though questions ranged from how to fix healthy lunches to how to get out of a PB&J rut, more than a few of you asked for lunchbox picks for your decidedly picky eaters. So this week’s classroom lesson is all about feeding your fussiest eaters lunches that they’ll gobble up in no time.
The key to packing for picking eaters is variety. No kid — or grownup — wants to open his or her brown paper bag to find yet another turkey and cheese sandwich, cut in the same four squares, nestled next to another apple and juice box. If sandwiches are just about the only thing your little one will eat, try giving them made-over versions of their favorites in order to keep lunch interesting. Food Network Magazine’s Ham Pinwheels (pictured above) are five-minute sandwiches that feature deli ham and cream cheese rolled into a soft tortilla. Cut into easy-to-eat pinwheels, these wraps may offer the simple change in presentation that your child needs to be excited about new foods.
You can never have enough ideas for school lunches. In honor of back-to-school season, Summer Fest contributors are gathering together to share their favorite recipes at our Communal Table.
Today, browse through recipes that will put a smile on your kid’s face and make their friends envious at the lunch table. But don’t forget to treat yourself — we’ve got back-to-school recipes for adults, too, like this Spicy-Korean “Ramen” Noodle Soup from Jeanette’s Healthy Living and Cashew-Curry Chicken Salad Sandwiches from This Girl Can Eat.
Tidy Mom: Cinnamon Raisin Swirl Peanut Butter Cookies (pictured above)
Made by Michelle: Almond Butter and Banana Sandwiches
Chez Us: Healthy Tuna Salad
And Love It Too: Healthy Lunchbox 2012: The Ultimate Collection
Napa Farmhouse 1885: Back to School Roasted Chicken Legs
Bacon and Souffle: Gruyere Grilled Cheese With Apple Salad
Zaika Zabardast: Fresh Corn Cakes With Black Bean Salad Tossed in Cumin Vinaigrette
Haute Apple Pie: Edamame Hummus
Feed Me Phoebe: Deviled Egg Salad Sandwiches
Creative Culinary: Margarita Watermelon
Big Girls Small Kitchen: Swiss Chard Turnovers With Parmesan and Pistachios
Weelicious: Tandoori Chicken: From Dinner to the Lunch Box
School is officially in session and just as kids may stomp their feet in protest all the way to the bus stop, so, too, might moms and dads as they face another daunting year of keeping their little learners full and healthy. As you think of the new school year and wonder how you’ll be able to do it all, look to Food Network’s Back-to-School Headquarters to help you make the grade. Each week in September FN Dish will share can-do weeknight meals, easy lunchbox picks, after-school snack strategies and more from our best collection of recipes and tips.
This week we’re kicking off the new school year with a classroom party of sorts. We’ve once again partnered with family and friends to host a Communal Table in celebration of all things back-to-school. In this virtual recipe swap, we’re exchanging a mix of kid- and adult-friendly meal ideas, lunchbox must-haves and more.
See what our friends are bringing to the table
The first day of school has come and gone, and now it’s time to go grocery shopping with school lunches in mind. Just as adults do, kids crave variety, options and creativity in their everyday meals and especially in their lunchboxes. This year, avoid untouched lunches and hungry, unfocused kids by replacing tired selections with new and fun choices sure to please even the pickiest eaters.
Switch up the predictable rotation of turkey-cheese and peanut butter-jelly sandwiches with Ellie Krieger’s kid-approved Rainbows and Butterflies Pasta Salad (pictured above) from Food Network Magazine. Made with whole-grain pasta and loaded with veggies and calcium-rich cheese, this colorful salad will be a welcomed surprise in a lunchbox that’s usually filled with soggy sandwiches.
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When I first wrote up my outline for this blog, back to school dinners seemed a sensible choice given school starts this week for many families around the country. Nowadays, we all seem to be running short on time. People rely on meals out of boxes and bags, thinking there’s not enough time to cook. I wanted to offer you tips and ideas for making weeknight cooking easier.
Then something happened to change my perspective and outlook.
My husband died suddenly.
When I say suddenly, I mean just that. He was helping our daughter ride her bike, told her he needed to sit for a moment, then keeled over from a massive heart attack. Some of you, perhaps many, probably know about this already given the amazing show of support and love that has filled the food community.
So, why am I here talking to you all about back-to-school dinner ideas?
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