6 Ways to Up Your Lunch-Box Game

Master Class

6 Ways to Up Your Lunch-Box Game

We asked six foodie friends for some attainable and nutritious ways to feed your child and your Insta feed.

Written By Olivia Villanti

Parenting real talk: Coming up with creative ways to spice up a picky eater’s lunch is a chore. Not only is there pressure to please your kid, but there’s also the thought that the teacher – or worse, a fellow parent – is quietly judging your selections. To unlock a little inspiration, we asked six foodie parents to share what they pack their littles.

FOR THE ADVENTUROUS EATER

Kale, Sweet Potato and Falafel Bento
Alissa Wagner, co-owner of Dimes & Dimes Deli
Mother of Henry, 2 ½, and Rowan, 1

Ingredients
Sweet potato falafel (recipe below)
Hummus
Crudités
Fresh fruit and almonds
Note: If your meal needs to be nut-free, substitute dried coconut.

Falafel Recipe
2 medium sweet potatoes, roasted and diced
1 cup wilted kale or other seasonal green
6 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 (15-oz.) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1/2 large yellow onion, finely diced
2 tablespoons garlic, minced
2 teaspoons fresh cilantro, finely chopped
1 teaspoon cumin
1 1/2 teaspoons ground coriander
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon salt
breadcrumbs to coat
Optional: 1 tablespoon moringa powder and/or 1 tablespoon ground flaxseed

Instructions: Place all ingredients (including add-ins, if using) except breadcrumbs in a food processor. Roll into two-inch balls and place in refrigerator to chill for 1 hour. Roll in breadcrumbs. Place on lightly oiled baking sheet and bake until golden brown.

Note: For a gluten-free version, substitute 4 1/2 tablespoons chickpea flour for all-purpose flour and roll in ground nuts or gluten-free Panko. Moringa powder is a great way to sneak into a picky eater’s diet a high level of plant protein, vitamins and minerals. Additionally, flaxseed is high in Omega-3s.

FOR THE PETITE GOURMAND

Antipasto Bento
Heather Moore, photographer
Mother of Penelope, 7, and Quinn, 4

Ingredients
Prosciutto and mozzarella wraps
Naan triangles
Fruit mix
Red bell peppers and carrots
Candied sunflower seeds

THE JUNK-FOOD ENTHUSIAST

Esquites & Queso Bento
Guillaume Guevara, owner of Miscelanea NY
Father of Lalo, 2 ½

Ingredients
Sliced jicama
Sliced avocado
Sliced queso fresco
Diced tomato
Esquites (recipe below)
Sliced oranges
A slice of lime
Tortilla chips

Esquites Recipe
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 cups of freshly shucked corn
½ cup of white hominy (canned or fresh)
½ vegetable stock
1 ounce of dry epazote
1 tablespoon of mayo
1 tablespoon of crumbled cotija cheese
Juice of ½ lime
Salt to taste

Instructions: Heat the oil in a non-stick skillet, and add corn and hominy. Stir once or twice and let corn char for a minute or two. Add vegetable stock or water, epazote and two pinches of salt then bring to a boil. Once boiling, turn off the burner and let cool. Remove excess liquid, then add mayonnaise, cotija/fresco cheese and stir. Taste, and if necessary, add more salt and stir. Buen provecho!

FOR THE BASIC-FOOD-GROUP FOODIE

Fish and Potato Bento
Laura González Fierro, founder and design director +ADD
Mother of Theodora, 2 ½

The Ingredients
Steamed tilapia filet
Steamed broccoli
Steamed potatoes with red and green peppers, onions, garlic, vinegar, olive oil and parsley
Grapes

FOR THE WHITE-FOOD DEVOTEE

Breakfast-for-Lunch Bento
Jane Reilly Johnson, co-founder of Wiley Body
Mother of Henry, 6, Wayne, 5, and Goldie, 1

Ingredients
Trader Joe’s Belgian waffles, cut in half
Cheddar cheese cubes
Fresh strawberries
Optional: Side of syrup

FOR THE TINY TRAVELER

Flight-Friendly Frittatas and Fruit Bento
Dulci Edge, art director Mother of Charley, 2 ½

Ingredients
Tomato, ham and sharp cheddar mini frittatas (recipe below)
Toasted cream cheese and jelly sandwich
Clementine
Berries

Frittata Recipe
3 eggs
Whole milk
Tomatoes, diced
Ham, diced
Salt and pepper

Instructions: Beat the eggs, then add the whole milk, salt and pepper. Pour the mixture into a mini-muffin tin, and add cheese, tomato and ham. Bake at 350° for 10 to 15 minutes.