September brings cooler air, an end to the lazy days of summer, and the beginning of the lunchbox packing season for parents all around. As the mom of three kids myself, ages 13, 7, and 5, I’m pretty sure that the number of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches in my lunch-making history number in the thousands. This year, I’m looking forward to mixing it up a little bit with some help from Catherine McCord and her new collection of recipes in Weelicious Lunches: Think Outside the Lunch Box with More than 160 Happier Meals.
McCord is well-known online for her Weelicious website, mostly focusing on homemade baby and toddler foods. With her new recipe book, McCord switches gears and provides information and ideas for a variety of yummy lunchbox-friendly meals, keeping an emphasis on fulfilling children’s nutrition needs while also making lunch fun. In the first section of the book, several topics are addressed, including the merits of packing hot and cold items in a lunchbox, as well as some how-to tips, strategies for picky eaters, and working around food allergies. In fact, a six-page chart includes every recipe in the book and marks which are gluten-free, nut-free, egg-free, and/or dairy-free. McCord also lays out the core necessities of a “perfect lunch,” which she defines as a balanced lunch that includes a fruit, vegetable, protein, and carbohydrate every day.
The second part of the book includes the recipes, and these are sorted together in the following categories: Salads, Soups, Sandwiches, Pizza, PB&J (my kids say yay!), Main Events, Veggies, Dips and Spreads, Snacks, and Desserts. The recipes in each section have an introductory paragraph that shares a personal tidbit from McCord about her own connection with the recipe, or gives a helpful hint about preparation. The ingredients and total servings are clearly listed in the side margin, and the directions follow the intro paragraph in a numbered list. Some of the recipes are fairly basic, which for someone like me (read: not overly culinary!), is helpful for practical reasons, while still helping me to make good decisions about appropriate foods to provide for my kids’ lunches.
The PB&J chapter is simply delightful, offering fun ideas for different types of sandwiches (see the apples on the top right of the cover?), as well as other healthy and slightly decadent ways to use any type of nut butter and jelly, jam, or preserves together. My kids will have fun with many of these recipes, I’m sure.
Two-thirds of my kids fall squarely into the “picky eater” category that McCord addresses in the beginning of the book. With one of them already a teenager, I’ve just about given up on making drastic changes to his diet, but I was happy to see several recipes in here that my boys just might give a go. My strategy is going to be to give this book to the kids along with a stack of sticky notes and ask them to mark the pages that look interesting to them, and we’ll go from there!
If you’re looking to add some creativity to your child’s lunchbox, check out Catherine McCord’s Weelicious Lunches: Think Outside the Lunch Box with More than 160 Happier Meals. I believe that fans of her website will be happy to see her ideas extended to feeding older children, and people who were unfamiliar with her collection (like me) will be delighted to find a wide variety of ideas to help with the lunch packing routine.