Pack ‘Em Up!

Reviews by Kristina Sepetys

Raise your hand: Who out there loves cooking, but preparing and packing school lunches…not so much? Maybe I’m in the minority, but the day-in, day-out effort of finding something nourishing that can be quickly prepared in the busy morning hours to entice a child’s palate can be a challenge. Leftovers are always good. But best of all is finding recipes for appealing, accessible, and healthy items that will tempt kids to explore their culinary likes and dislikes, experiment in the kitchen, and create their own meals. I’m a big believer in the old adage, “Give a kid a fish and feed her for a day. Teach her to fish and feed her for a lifetime.”


The Best Homemade LunchesThe Best Homemade Kids’ Lunches on the Planet:
Make Lunches Your Kids Will Love with More than 200 Deliciously Nutritious Meal Ideas
by Laura Fuentes
(Fair Winds Press, 2014)

With seven chapters, recipes to suit every age, and sections to record likes and dislikes, Fuentes presents nearly a full school year’s worth of simple, healthful recipes for lunches and breakfasts. Recipes include entire lunch meals that are gluten-, soy-, and/or nut-free. The author, founder of the healthy school lunch site,, shares recipes like Smashed Chickpea Sandwich, Baked Raviolis, and Oatmeal Raisin Granola Bars.


Best Lunch Box EverBest Lunch Box Ever:
Ideas and Recipes for School Lunches Kids Will Love
by Katie Sullivan Morford
(Chronicle Books, 2013)

Quick and simple solutions for wholesome, balanced meals developed by a registered dietitian, mother of three, and award-winning blogger. The 65 recipes are easy, delicious, and packed with nutrients for well-rounded lunches and snacks like Deconstructed Caprese Skewers, Easy Cheesy Thermos Beans, Pesto Pita Pizza, Cinnamon Wonton Crisps, Parmesan Kale Chips, and Crispy Applewiches. Colorful, close-up photographs will appeal to children and adults.


Special Day CookingSpecial Day Cooking, a Life Skills Cookbook
by Beverly Worth Palomba
(Special Day Publishing, 2013)

This excellent book has grown out of Palomba’s long tenure developing and teaching a life-skills curriculum at San Ramon High School for people with developmental challenges making the transition into independent living. It will appeal to people with autism, Down syndrome, ADHD, ADD, and other disabilities as well as young people who simply want to learn to cook on their own. All 60 recipes, presented in large type with concise, easy-to-follow instructions, can be prepared with only a microwave, toaster, or blender and a plastic knife in one hour or less.


Dining Hall HacksUltimate Dining Hall Hacks:
Create Extraordinary Dishes from the Ordinary Ingredients in Your College Meal Plan
by Priya Krishna
(Storey, 2014)

If your college-bound California foodie child is worried about the quality of dining hall fare, tuck this book in with the lava lamp and beanbag chair. Using 100 basic foods available in most college dining halls, Krishna offers instructions for creating 75 tasty dishes like Eggs Carbonara, Asian Lettuce Wraps, Black Bean Hummus, and Peach Cobbler. The author, a recent graduate of Dartmouth College, created dishes from the à la carte dining hall offerings and documented her discoveries in a weekly column for her school newspaper. She currently writes for Lucky Peach.


Trip to DeliciousAlice Waters and the Trip to Delicious
by Jacqueline Briggs Martin
(Readers to Eaters, 2014)

A charmingly illustrated biography of Alice Waters, written for children, chronicles her “Trip to Delicious,” a search for healthy, nutritious, and sustainable food. Some tips from Ms. Waters: Grow your own food (If you grow it and cook it yourself, you’re going to want to eat it); taste and taste again—who knows what you’ll like; always eat in season; if something is truly delicious, you don’t need to eat so much to be satisfied; and cook with your friends!