Today’s lunch packed for you by… Rachael Ray

Easy lunch ideas: From Rachael Ray -- omelet, bacon and salad with vinaigrette.

Here’s a woman who not only totally gets my lunch packing philosophy… She also totally gets how to play to the foods Parker loves!

And how to use those foods to lead him to the foods he should love a little more.

That’s why  I was so thrilled to do “Beating the Lunch Box Blues” with Rachael. She gets the give and take that families today need to wrestle with, and that if you give a little, you get a little.

And the photo of her lunch she sent in for today’s post is a great example of all of that.

She starts us off with an omelet. Not only are omelets fine places to tuck veggies for the kids, they also are easy to prep. And easy to prep too much of. When I make Parker an omelet for breakfast, I always make double what he’ll eat. The other half goes in his lunch.

The same goes frittatas at dinner and quiches any time of day.

And by the way, omelets — like quiches and frittatas — are great warm or cold. They’re really all the same ingredients. If you want them warm, pop them in a wide-mouthed thermos. Otherwise, any container will do.

Rachael then has a side of Parker’s favorite food — bacon. It’s a smart enticement! A little bacon can go a long way to getting kids like Parker to embrace the part of the meal they may not love — but need to eat more of — the salad!

By the way, look closely at Rachael’s salad. Notice how moist it is? That’s because it is thoroughly dressed. This is another great tip that Rachael gets — and one I learned from some chef friends of mine.

Never drizzle dressing over a salad. You end up with the top layer of ingredients doused in dressing, but the lower layers are dry.

Instead, place your dressing the in the bottom of the bowl, then add the greens and toss until each and every leaf is thoroughly coated. The salad tastes remarkably better. And using this trick truly was what made salads tolerable for Parker.

And by the way, my go-to salad vinaigrette is pathetically simple. And delicious. It’s great for kids because it is spiked with jam, a sweet enticement. Here’s my recipe:

Berry Vinaigrette

Start to finish: 5 minutes
Makes about 1/2 cup

1/4 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 tablespoons strawberry or seedless raspberry jam (fig jam also is good)

Combine all ingredients in a bowl and whisk until thoroughly mixed. Alternatively, combine them in a jar with a tight-fitting lid and shake like mad. Any extra can be refrigerated for several weeks.

Meanwhile, the Buy Lunch, Get Dinner Free! giveaway continues. There are about 15 free copies left of my last book. So head over to Amazon and preorder “Beating the Lunch Box Blues,” then forward your order confirmation to and I’ll send you a free copy of my last cookbook, “High Flavor, Low Labor.”

And for anyone who preorders two copies of “Beating the Lunch Box Blues,” the folks over at Rachael Ray Books will toss in a copy of one of Rachael Ray’s last books, either “My Year in Meals” or “The Book of Burger.”

FYI — I know I’ve been slow to respond to folks sending in their purchase confirmations. It’s only because the email system for that address is so crazy. Fear not! If you’ve sent it in, I’ve seen it and you are down for the free book. They should be shipped out in the next day or so.

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18 Responses to “Today’s lunch packed for you by… Rachael Ray”

  1. SinoSoul says:

    Fig jam dressing! Hello, brilliant and soooo seasonal! Though this means I’m going to have to pilfer the fig jam I’ve been saving for the baguette

  2. Becky Ralls says:

    I love the idea of salad, but would you send it already dressed? Just wondering if it would be wilted by lunchtime.

    • J.M Hirsch says:

      Depends. It depends on how early I was packing it (a few hours should be fine). Also depends on the types of greens I was using. For delicate greens I’d probably pack the dressing on the side and pack the greens in a container large enough so he could drizzle the dressing over it, close the greens container, then shake to coat everything really well. More robust greens — romaine or arugula, for example — you could dress early without trouble.

  3. Sara says:

    Yum balsamic and berries go so good together. The vinaigrette
    looks very simple–thanks again for the recipe. :)

    I saw RR stack frittatas as a cake & place a salad on top once for one of her shows. She’s a one-of-a-kind chef! Cool how you made yours look like a pizza slice–think you two are on the same groove.

    • J.M Hirsch says:

      Actually, she did that. The photo was sent in by Rachael. But I’m still thrilled to be working in her shadow!

      • Sara says:

        Oops, fooled! I should read a little more closely perhaps. Her lunch looked just as creative as yours! I say your a great RR protégé.

  4. That berry balsamic dressing looks fantastic!

    • J.M Hirsch says:

      It is so good. Strawberries and balsamic go so well together, it was just a natural for the dressing.

  5. Daniela says:

    Do you still stand by the Lunchbots thermos as the best wide mouth option??? Any other one? Thank you

    • J.M Hirsch says:

      I do. It’s the only wide-mouthed thermos I’ve used and I do really like it. It holds just the right amount of food for my guy (which means a fair amount).

  6. Janice says:

    Why don’t you have a pic of the actual lunch Parker ate? Cause that’s RR’s lunch…

    • J.M Hirsch says:

      Ha! Good catch. I had a rare respite from my little monster today. He spent the day with his grandparents. So I don’t even want to think about what he ate for lunch. No fear — he’s back in my clutches tonight and lunch will go on tomorrow!

  7. Sara says:

    We looove salads (and raspberry!) so I wrote down your vinaigrette recipe. Cross my fingers!