6 Ways to Up Your Lunch-Box Game

Master Class

6 Ways to Up Your Lunch-Box Game

Need some back to school lunch inspiration? 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.