Best Lunchbox List

The search is over.

The best-ever lunchbox list is right here. No kidding around. Today I’m posting a week of kid-lunches, plus the grocery list that you’ll need to make it all happen (enough to cover three kids). This list contains 5 days of balanced, varied lunches, 5 delicious, crowd-pleasing meals. If you have staples in your home already like honey and ground cinnamon, which I included on the list, the cost is $4 per day, per kid.  

This list comes directly from my own kiddos - this is pretty much the “most played” list from their LaLa Lunchboxes. The lunches listed here are nut-free.

I use a service called Instacart for my grocery shopping and I love it! I can get groceries delivered to my house in under two hours, from multiple stores which is a huge bonus for pretty much anyone who has a life, let alone kids and/or a job. Ever realized you’re out of something at an inopportune time? Or that you have to get items from more than one store but only have time for one? Enter Instacart. 

Without further ado, here’s a super week of kid meal planning and you can instantly access the grocery list that you'll need to make it happen on Instacart. Now all you have to do is let your little ones choose this stuff with the LaLa Lunchbox app, which you can download for free throughout the back to school season! Here's a sweet bonus: Instacart has offered LaLa Lunchbox fans $10 off groceries plus free delivery (for new customers). Awesome, right? The discount will be applied at checkout. (scroll down to the bottom to immediately access the Instacart grocery list, already compiled for you)

Monday
I used to make my own hummus before the big kitchen accident. For now, I’m still a little appliance-shy and I buy hummus. Both of my daughters love hummus and it's a healthful and easy go-to food for lunch. 

Tuesday

Years ago, our babysitter made these delightful strawberry-carrot combos. My daughter fondly called them ‘lollipops’ and the name stuck. Years later, the kids are still psyched to eat these. (scroll down to save the lollipops image to download to your LaLa Lunchbox Food Library). I'm happy to pack Applegate products in my children's lunchboxes (and to feature them in our apps) thanks to their commitment to antibiotic free, chemical nitrate-free meats. 

Wednesday

My son might single handedly be keeping the yogurt industry alive. This granola is his new favorite yogurt-topper.

Thursday

The shopping list includes a basil plant. Why? Well, my daughter is a total green thumb. Our basil plant is lush thanks to her and as a brown thumb myself, I get huge joy out of this, not to mention big, fragrant basil leaves whenever I want them. It's good to grow your own herbs and for some lucky folks, it's easy. My daughter occasionally munches on the leaves, which I find hilarious so I figured I’d pass the basil plant happiness your way.

Friday

Friday’s lunch pulls together all of the leftovers from the week. Make pasta and use up that bell pepper and those baby carrots. Throw in some basil. Add lemon zest. Boom! Deliciousness. The recipe is right here, and you can download the image below and add it to your LaLa Lunchbox Food Library. If your hungry little monsters have gobbled up the pepper and/or the carrots, pasta with basil and lemon is fabulous too. 

 

Download the images below and add them to your LaLa Lunchbox Food Library! 

Granola

Granola

Lollipops

Lollipops

Basil

Basil

Pasta w Carrots and Peppers

Pasta w Carrots and Peppers

Want these items immediately added to your shopping cart and delivered in 2 hours or less? Voila, here's the Instacart list: 

Any other questions? Just shoot me an email: food@lalalunchbox.com, I’d love to hear from you!
-Gillian 


Pasta with Carrots and Peppers

I don't know about you, but by the time Friday rolls around, I've had it. These feelings hit me like a ton of bricks on Thursday night, at which point, I typically make an easy dinner in boatload quantities so that there's enough for lunch leftovers Friday. Usually there's pasta involved and it works beautifully (except with carbonara, which is gobbled before there are leftovers and is best when served immediately). 

Pasta with Carrots and Peppers

I've compiled the best lunchbox list: a week-long meal plan for kids' lunch, complete with the grocery list that you'll need to make it happen. Day 5 is a Pasta with Roasted Carrots and Peppers. The dish uses the remaining vegetable ingredients from the week of lunches and has a hint of lemon that makes it bright and tasty when served warm or cold. Admittedly, kids are game to try pretty much anything if it's mixed with pasta, which made it easier to throw in the unused veggies here. We've had this many times and though I've tried it with whole wheat pasta, the kids don't really like it. My son has pretty much declared a war against "brown pasta." Taste preferences vary and I'm okay with that and I'll be honest, by Thursday night, I can't fight it anyway. 

For this pasta, first I preheat the oven to 400 and slice the remaining carrots and peppers. I spread them out on a baking tray lined with parchment paper and drizzle with olive oil. 

After about 15 minutes in the oven, the carrots and peppers are done and can be set aside to cool. 

DSC07281.JPG

Meanwhile, bring a pot of water to boil, add pasta and cook as directed. As the pasta is cooking, tear some fresh leaves off of your basil plant (basil is included in the Best Lunchbox List) and slice thinly. Drain the pasta once it has finished cooking and in a mixing bowl, drizzle with olive oil and salt to taste. Add zest from about 1/2 of a lemon, sliced basil and gently combine. Toss in your roasted veggies and there you go! Perfect for dinner and for lunch leftovers! 

I used Instacart to get the groceries I needed for this recipe. They were part of an entire week's worth of the best lunchbox foods for my kiddos. Here's a sneak peak into that grocery list... you can order and have your groceries delivered in 2 hours! Don't forget to use this coupon to get $10 off your first grocery order and free delivery! 

Here's the recipe made with whole wheat pasta

Here's the recipe made with whole wheat pasta

Pasta with Carrots and Peppers

Ingredients
2 cups of baby carrots, sliced lengthwise into quarters
1/2 red bell pepper, sliced
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 cups of dry pasta
6 leaves of fresh basil, sliced thinly
Zest from 1/2 lemon
Salt and pepper to taste

Method
Preheat oven to 400. Place vegetables on parchment paper, drizzle with one tablespoon of olive oil and roast for approximately 15-18 minutes. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool. Meanwhile, bring a pot of water to boil for the pasta. Cook as directed and drain. Add 2 tablespoons olive oil, salt and pepper to taste, basil and zest from 1/2 lemon and combine well. Toss in the roasted veggies and mix so that the flavors all play nicely together. Voila. 

 

Favorite Granola

People and tastebuds are funny. My daughter can't stand peppers unless they are roasted, and happens to love roasted red pepper hummus. My son is anti-cheese *except* he loves macaroni and cheese *only* if it is made by my mother. He is kind of anti-dairy except for the fact that he could consume his body weight in yogurt every day. Food is like politics and religion in a way. We all draw our lines in the sand somewhere. I'm okay with that. 

My son is occasionally a purist with his yogurt but lately he's been game to add some texture with granola. I developed this super easy recipe that frankly, it's so easy, he could make himself if push came to shove. It's been a big hit! I've now made it several times and we've switched up the dried fruit for some variety. 

Granola

Ingredients
2 cups rolled oats
3 tablespoons coconut oil
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons honey
1/3 cup chopped dried fruit of your choice

Method
Preheat the oven to 375. 
Combine the oats, coconut oil, cinnamon and salt in a large bowl and mix well. Spread out on parchment paper and drizzle with honey. Bake for 14 - 17 minutes. Once cool, add dried fruit and toss well. 

The Healthy Kids Virtual Summit

I've been asked to participate in the Healthy Kids Virtual Summit and I'm thrilled to be part of such a vibrant, mission-oriented crew of people. The Healthy Kids Virtual Summit is a free video interview series that has been put together by Jamie Boggeln, a mom and entrepreneur who is looking to better her own children's future. The series includes interviews with teachers, parents, doctors, nutritionists, healthcare professionals, entrepreneurs and others who work with children with a shared goal to make fitness and nutrition exciting and to empower families to make lifestyle changes.

Jamie is on a mission and I am proud to be a part of it. Some of the topics covered in the Healthy Kids Virtual Summit include: 

  • Finding new meal planning strategies
  • Getting the family motivated to move
  • Feeding picky eaters

The Healthy Kids Virtual Summit is free and easily accessible. You can register for free here and check out the fantastic 21 interviewees that Jamie has curated. Look out for my interview on July 18.

Happy viewing!  


Union Square Farmer's Market

The Union Square farmer's market is one of my favorite places to visit in the City. The people watching is out of sight: some folks stroll through (especially tourists, families and caregivers with young children) and others race through at breakneck speed (like those who work in restaurants and have to quickly get specific ingredients back to the kitchen). 

The people who come to Union Square to sell their foods are uniformly friendly and willing to answer any questions. For example, I spoke with a cheese monger about why his cheeses were not organic. His animals are not fed hormones ever but if an animal gets sick, it is given antibiotics to get well. During that time, the milk from that animal is never used in the production of cheese but because of the administration of antibiotics, his cheeses are not able to be labeled organic. 

 

 

My kids love going to the farmer's market to see what's in season and to have little snacks along the way. On our most recent visit, the kids and I devoured over a pound of sugar snap peas and a pint of super sweet tiny strawberries. 

image.jpg

Here's just a small sampling of our farmer's market bounty. I'm going to use the rosemary later this week to season a white bean salad with roasted garlic. We'll fly through those eggs in a day or two (most likely scrambled) and the rest of the produce will be eaten raw. It's really hot outside today so I'm particularly excited to have fresh, wonderful foods that don't require my oven.