First, I want to announce the winner of the Stella Bain giveaway. Congratulations to Anna from Diary of an Eccentric, who won a copy of Anita Shreve’s latest novel. Thank you to everyone who entered – this was a very popular giveaway!

Second, happy Christmas break! If you’re anything like me, you’re enjoying a slightly less hurried pace, fewer things at home that need to get done (like homework), and the joy of having two weeks off from making lunches. I pack my 9 year-olds’ lunches every morning, and it is one tasks that I don’t look forward to. I have a hard time coming up with creative, healthy foods to pack day after day, and I end up always resorting to the same tired lunches, which has to be pretty boring for my kids. I try to get a protein and a fruit in every day to balance out the carbs, and I am mindful of sugar, but I’m sure the nutritional value of the lunches I pack could be improved.

To the rescue… J.M. Hirsch’s Beating the Lunch Box Blues. Hirsch is the national food editor for the AP and blogs at Lunch Box Blues, where he chronicles the lunches he packs for his son. Beating the Lunch Box Blues is full of ideas for lunches that are definitely better than the lunches I pack, but not out of the realm of the possible. Hirsch describes the book as “a cookbook-meets-flipbook approach to thinking about lunch, allowing you to page through fresh, healthy ideas for awesome, affordable meals”.  He opens with a few ideas to save time – making too much dinner so that leftovers can be packed the next day, trusting crazy ideas like pretzel sandwiches, embracing the thermos, and involving the kids in the whole process.

What follows is like an annotated Pinterest board of lunches that you can peruse and try based on your own aptitude and your kids’ tastes and special dietary needs. I love that some of the lunches are things you might not think to pack in a lunchbox – steamed dumplings, couscous and veggies, tortillas with cheese and corn, shrimp cocktail, or cucumber sandwiches. Hirsch doesn’t bother with recipes – he assumes people know how to make the few-ingredient dishes he features – but he does include beautiful photos that provide guidance about what to pair the lunches with and how to pack them.

The proof is in the pudding: my daughter went through the book and put a post-it on every page that had an idea she liked. Here is what it looks like now:


If, like me, you’re slogging through the mid-year lunch rut, I *highly* recommend picking up a copy of Beating the Lunch Box Blues. It is totally worth it. (You’ll probably even be inspired to pack these lunches for yourself.)

Thank you Simon & Schuster for the review copy of Beating the Lunch Box Blues!