Because I refuse to send my son to school with a Lunchable. Or an Uncrustable. Or even a day-after-day-after-day homemade PB&J. Because I want my son’s lunch to be fun and nutritious, and I don’t think one must be sacrificed for the other. Because I don’t believe in “kid food” vs. “adult food,” just real food. And because I believe kids can enjoy and crave it.

Not that it’s easy. Or that my son is an eating angel. At the moment, nothing green goes past his lips. And red — especially tomatoes — is pretty suspect, too. Salad? I. Don’t. Think. So.

But I do my best. And most of the time we’re both pretty satisfied. Some days more than others.

This blog is a simple record of my son’s lunches. The good, bad and really ugly. Maybe it will inspire other parents. Probably it will inspire a bit of eye rolling.

71 Responses to “About”

  1. mamabel says:

    Love your site! I just started my 2 year old daughter in pre-school in the morning and day care in the afternoon since I started back to work. I am always looking for good, healthy lunchbox ideas. If you have any posts you would recommend for a 2 year old, I’m all ears. Thank you for sharing your creativity!

    • J.M Hirsch says:

      Thanks so much! This blog has been really fun. As for your daughter, my son inhaled hummus when he was her age. He also loved seasoned, baked tofu (the purchased variety), which I would just cut into sticks and let him gobble. Cheese, of course. And buy all sorts of cheese. It’s a good chance to expand and challenge what a kid likes. My son goes nuts for Parmesan, brie, gouda, etc. Guacamole is another good one. Nice and soft and easy to eat, super healthy. I’m sure I’ll come up with more, but that’s a great start.

  2. Melody says:

    I, too, love your site! I don’t even know how I stumbled across it. I’m not a parent but a non-traditional student going back to school for a complete career change … this time in the field of nutrition and one of my interests is making sure school kids eat healthy lunches. Anyway, you’ve got some great ideas here and your son is absolutely adorable. I posted a link to your blog on my Facebook page. I look forward to future posts!

    • J.M Hirsch says:

      Thanks so much. Healthy lunches are so important. Scary what some kids eat. Good luck with going back to school. If I had to do it over again, I’d consider the same thing.

  3. Moira says:

    Today I registered a very picky eater for Kindergarten and we had a conversation about what we could pack in his lunch. He decided green beans with ketchup and PB&J were all he would do. Then I saw the link from Food News Journal to here and I’m definitely going to bookmark it. I think we can definitely work in a lot of these recipes. Especially if I start making some of them for dinners between now and September. (BTW, what kind of lunchbox is that?)

    • J.M Hirsch says:

      Now… While I’ve never quite done green beans with ketchup, I am a total nut for ketchup. So I can totally support that one. For some reason my son has no interest in ketchup. Makes me think there was a wrinkle in the DNA or something… The lunch box is awesome. It’s a bento-style box. Totally dishwasher safe (a must!). Sold here: http://www.laptoplunches.com/

      • Denise says:

        With the lunchbox I saw in one of the pics that there was hummus and pretzels.. My question is did the hummus leak into the other side getting the pretzels soaked? I am a mom of 4 girls and coming up with lunch ideas is a tough one. I love your blog, I saw a friend post on FB. Thank you for sharing. :)

        • J.M Hirsch says:

          Thanks so much! Glad you enjoy the blog. Four girls… Wow. Now that is a lot of lunches. And I’m betting they don’t all love the same stuff.

          The hummus doesn’t leak through. It’s thick enough that it isn’t a problem. I do try to keep freshly washed fruit away from dry ingredients (I try not to pack them together even in divided containers) because I figure he water will drip off. But not a problem with hummus.

  4. JM says:

    Laughing about the Lunchables. I have three kids, two of whom eat fantastically. The other, well, is a Lunchables kid. As in, he boycotted lunch for weeks until I caved on the Lunchables. Ate them every school lunch for months. Happily, he got it out of his system and now is open to the better options I make him. We can try all we want to guide our kids, but some are harder than others. Love your posts regardless. :-)

    • J.M Hirsch says:

      I hear you. If it was as easy as just telling our kids what to do, wouldn’t life be so much easier in so many ways? My kid has a serious green aversion (except avocado). And don’t even get me started on tomatoes…

  5. Lunch Diva says:

    Just came across your site tonight. Really enjoying it. In an attempt to beat the lunch box blues, I challenged myself to come up with 108 different lunches this school year, and blog about it. Awesome to share the pain of packing—and blogging—about lunches with someone else :)


    • J.M Hirsch says:

      Thanks! And I just took a look at yours. Nice job. Like the creative ideas. You have some very well fed kids!

  6. Mel says:

    Yum! Your son is a lucky little man.

    I don’t have kids, but I certainly hope my approach will be like yours if/when I do.

    Too many kids and parents eat junk or glorified junk these days!

  7. Darcy Pease says:

    I just love “High Flavor, Low Labor” and decided to Google you and see what else you have out there. I’m so glad I did! I have a 7 year old daughter in 2nd grade and try so hard to give her great options for lunch. Love your blog… I already have a bunch of new options for lunches. Thank you! Keep them coming, my daughter will thank you!

    • J.M Hirsch says:

      Thanks SO much! Really glad you enjoy the book. And glad to hear you like the lunch site. It was a crazy little idea that people have really responded to. Let me know how your daughter likes the new ideas.

  8. Dee says:

    I found your blog today by watching you on the Martha Stewart Show. I don’t have any little children at my house anymore, but I am going to love reading your blog and passing it on to my daughter for her daughter.

  9. Liz says:

    Saw you on Martha show and googled the site. Love it and all the awesome ideas. I have 4 teenagers and always looking for good lunch ideas. Thanks bunches! Does your son really eat all the stuff you put in his lunch? Seems like alot of food. Thanks again.

    • J.M Hirsch says:

      Thanks so much! Hope my little experiment helps inspire. As for the size of Parker’s lunch, I get that question a lot. That really is how much he eats. He is a normal weight, but has a huge appetite. I fear the teenage years…

  10. Danielle says:

    I came across your blog after reading an article in the “Great Schools” newsletter. I love it! I have two elementary aged children and I too keep them away from processed foods in their lunchboxes. My question is this: do you have a strategy or plan for your shopping? One challenge I find is keeping the fridge stocked with fresh healthy food. Seems like by the end of the week, we are left with the empty carbs or emergency can of soup.

    • J.M Hirsch says:

      Thanks so much! Gosh, I wish I was the sort of person who had time to plan my shopping. But that almost never happens. Generally, my approach is to shop sometime Sunday and buy fresh meat and produce to last the week. I’d prefer to shop more frequently, but I know that the reality of my life usually won’t allow that. So I buy a mix of produce — some delicate items such as berries that need to be consumed during the first half of the week, as well as some less perishable items that will last until the end of the week (things like apples, grapes, kiwi, frozen mango chunks, etc.). Same with vegetables. I get asparagus and greens for the start of the week, but longer lasting items like cauliflower and broccoli for the end of the week. With meat, I just try to buy packages with a “use by” date of at least the Friday. That about as much of a plan as I can muster. But I don’t make a schedule of meals. And I don’t shop with specific meals in mind. I just get the sorts of foods we like and sort out how to use them each day.

  11. Scott says:

    Great Site … I am glad that I found it. I have 2 kids and providing variety is an ongoing challenge. So, your daily lunch ideas is a great inspiration. One question though, do you take any special precautions to keep the foods refrigerated or do the LunchBots somewhat insulate the food long enough to get to lunch time? Maybe I am overly cautious, but I always worry about sending foods that should be refrigerated in the kid’s lunch boxes to sit around for 3 – 4 hours before lunch. Thanks for your thoughts.

    • J.M Hirsch says:

      Thanks so much. Glad you like the site. I’m also totally paranoid about food poisoning, so I do take precautions (especially with some of the crazy stuff I pack). The LunchBots don’t keep things warm or cold. Anything that needs to stay warm, I pack in a heated thermos. I made sure to buy varieties that are rated to keep things hot for at least five hours (most are labeled, so it’s easy to pick a good one). Items that need to stay cool get packed in the Lunchbots. I put everything in an insulated lunch box and add an ice pack right before I send my son out the door. That does a good job of keeping those items nice and cold.

  12. Kristen says:

    Do you plan to publish a book?

  13. Sara says:

    Where do we find the recipe for the whole wheat cardamom cinnamon muffins? They look super!

    • J.M Hirsch says:

      I’m happy to post it. I just modified a basic blueberry muffin recipe. But give me a day or two and I’ll write it up.

  14. Joanne says:

    Great blog and book. Can you recommend any blogs that are good inspiration for adult lunches?

    • J.M Hirsch says:

      Thanks so much. I don’t know of any blogs specific to adults, but I think most of the idea here would translate. Well, you probably don’t need to come up with cute Star Wars-inspired names for your sandwiches… But whatever works for you!

  15. Sara says:

    Pan-fried ravioli or tortellini…could this be done from frozen or does it need to be fresh?

    • J.M Hirsch says:

      Hmmm… Good question. I’ve never tried it with frozen, though I don’t see why it wouldn’t work. It probably would just take a bit long in the pan. I’d do it at a low heat so that the insides have time to thaw and melt before the outside gets too browned.

  16. RhondaRhonda Hebert says:

    Thank you for your great blog. It has expanded my mind in terms of lunch ideas and my son gets many compliments from his teachers about his great lunch and snack! I love your ability to use leftovers and fancy ingredients.

    • J.M Hirsch says:

      Thanks so much! I’ve always wondered what my son’s friends make of his lunches. I’m guess they either covet them or are thankful every day in every way that I’m not their dad!

  17. Samantha Lee says:

    Hello from Malaysia. Just found your blog and I’m amazed by your creations.

  18. Angela says:

    I just discovered your blog when I was looking for thermos ideas. I have had a great time reading your through it and was sad when I got to the end of it. You seem like a great dad and I love your honesty about your son being a demon sometimes, lol. My son starts Kindergarten next month and I have no idea how I’m going to get it together enough to make his lunches every day. The things you send your son sound amazing! Can you adopt me?! :) Thanks for sharing all the great lunch ideas!

    • J.M Hirsch says:

      Thanks so much! Really glad you enjoy the site. But don’t be sad… It’s hardly over! I’ve got the rest of summer camp to feed him… Then third grade! As for your son, have no fear. Start with leftovers and don’t be afraid to pack unusual things. As for my little demon… Check out today’s posting in a bit.

  19. Cara says:

    Thanks for all the ideas on your site. My challenges are the opposite of most – trying to get more meats and carbs in my 5-year-old herbivore! I’ll definitely be appropriating ideas from your site to try to tempt him.

    • J.M Hirsch says:

      We just need to somehow merge our children! I think Parker would live on steak if I allowed him… No. I know he would.

  20. Jessica says:

    I am so happy to have stumbled upon your site while searching for “stainless steel lunch containers” online. My only child starts kindergarten next month and I’ve had a ridiculous amount of anxiety in anticipation of packing her lunches. She is insanely picky. I love your philosophy on lunches for children, and is in line with changes I’ve been making at home including more focus on real food. Just today (in our local health market) I asked her to pick out ANY green veggie she’d like to eat. No dice. It will be a challenge, but you have given me a lot of hope! Thank you SO much, and am looking forward to trying your ideas.

    • J.M Hirsch says:

      Thanks so much! The lunch routine can feel daunting, but it’s easier than it can seem. And I feel your pain about green veggies. I finally got my son to embrace lettuce, though only as part of Caesar salad. But I’ll take that victory! Good luck with kindergarten and thanks for stopping by!

  21. sam says:

    do you prefer metal or insulated lunch bags? what are better for the kinders?

    • J.M Hirsch says:

      Actually, I use both. I prefer an insulated bag for the lunch box itself. But for the actual container the food goes into (which then get put inside the lunch box), I prefer metal. They are easy to clean, last forever and won’t stain.

  22. CrystalAnn Jones says:

    i simply love this. I have my little nephew who i take care of and well lets just say he doesnt like school lunches. so this just might help out. thanks!

    • J.M Hirsch says:

      My pleasure! And so glad you enjoy the site. Enjoyed my three-day weekend. But back to the lunch box trenches tomorrow… And good luck with your nephew. Knowing what I do about school lunches, I don’t blame him!

  23. Karin says:

    Do you make your own BBQ sauce? If not what is your go to brand? thx

    • J.M Hirsch says:

      I have a great recipe for BBQ sauce, but I often don’t have time to make it (not that it’s hard to make, but you know how it is…). So I often end up buying OganicVille Tangy BBQ Sauce (which is made with agave instead of corn syrup). My recipe for BBQ sauce is this:
      6-ounce can tomato paste
      1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
      1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
      1 teaspoon soy sauce
      2 tablespoons cider vinegar
      3 tablespoons olive oil
      3 tablespoons red wine (or white wine, beer, apple juice, water, whatever)
      3 tablespoons brown sugar
      1 teaspoon ground cumin
      1 teaspoon cinnamon
      1 teaspoon garlic powder
      1 teaspoon kosher salt

      Mix it all together and enjoy!

  24. Arlene D says:

    I just purchased your book last week (on Kindle) and absolutely LOVE it. Everyday it’s an inspiration that I look to and taking in ALL the amazing ideas that are so simple to put in use is actually fun.

    We made the Alfredo the other day and my son loved it! He was so thrilled with it that we had more for supper, with shrimp, the next night.

    Thanks so much for writing this book. I am in love.

    • J.M Hirsch says:

      Thanks so much! Glad you’ve enjoyed the book! I love the Alfredo. I’d eat it every day if I didn’t need to wear pants. Parker loves it, too. Even our cats love it. Parker thinks it’s the best to offer a strand of it to one of the cats, who slurps it down in a flash.

  25. Cathy says:

    I, too, have your book on kindle. Love it!

    What cooking blogs do you read?

    • J.M Hirsch says:

      Thanks so much. I haven’t seen the Kindle edition, so I’m glad you like it. I’m at the airport in Baltimore at the moment, but once I’m home I’ll put together a list of sites I read.

  26. Molly says:

    I just stumbled onto your blog and I LOVE IT! Go dad!! I make my daughters lunches almost every day (with her help) and we really try to be creative while keeping it simple and healthy!(oh and different) My daughter is nine (almost 10)and she loves to cook too. I will keep in touch with your blog for sure!

  27. Jill says:

    I’m so inspired by your blog! I’m a new mom (my son’s 11 months old) and we’re just starting the food adventure… When his pediatrician gave the go ahead to start feeding him solids I was a little grossed out by store-bought baby food. I’m mean meat puree in a squeeze tube… ick! If I won’t eat it there’s no way I’d feed it to him! So, when it makes sense, I have him eating what I eat (or at least a version of what I’m eating) so he gets to experience a variety of tastes and textures, and so I’m not cooking multiple meals and driving myself crazy. Anyway, thanks for the inspiration!

  28. Keitha says:

    I have spent almost an hour pouring over your lunches and drooling over the recipes. Everything looks delicious! I now know what I am making for dinner for at least a week.

  29. Eugenia says:

    Please, please, please, help for kids with allergies. My son is allergic to peanut (we stay away from all nuts as a precaution) and eggs.

    • J.M Hirsch says:

      Sorry! Not ignoring you. Have just been swamped and wanted to wait until I could give a thoughtful response. Stay tuned. But in the meantime, check out this post I did for a not-peanut spicy peanut dipping sauce for veggies that I wrote for Rachael Ray’s site.

      • Eugenia says:

        Thank you so much for your response. I appreciate your acknowledge. I almost cried. I have written a few people to please give some guidance for food allergies. Peanut butter seem to be the panacea. But when you have a picky eater who avoids creamy texture or anything that looks “black, green or any other color” like for example pepper or condiment he can’t stand it when he sees any herbs in his food… pathetic I know. I never was like that. I ate oysters and rabbit when I was growing up. I tried everything once. My son doesn’t. But his peanut and egg allergies are very real. And I have to avoid that. When I say avoid I mean no pancakes or anything baked. He throws up with pancakes or waffles and things like that. Even a little bit of egg will be a no go. I will check the recipe right now. Thank you, thank you thank you…

        • J.M Hirsch says:

          Without knowing more about your son’s likes and dislikes, it’s hard to give concrete advice. But I will say that with my sometimes picky (and always vegetable-averse) son, I have found sauces to be a huge help. For example — I will make either American chop suey (ground meat and pasta with a tomato-based sauce) or chili, but for the sauce I will puree vegetables into the sauce. So for either I will take tomato sauce, jarred roasted red peppers, some steamed carrots, etc., and puree them all. This also lets me season them without it being obvious (herbs, garlic, etc. all get pureed in). The result is a smooth, uniform sauce that tastes delicious. Then I add either ground meat and canned beans for chili, or ground meat and pasta for chop suey. Delicious, easy and the leftovers pack well in a thermos for lunch. Either also would be delicious over a baked potato.

          • Eugenia says:

            I am so not creative while cooking, it never occurred to me to just blend everything. He loves baked potatoes, making a little chili without showing too much of the seasonings but rather just a smooth sauce just might work. I was going to ask you, my sister was visiting and made Spinach lasagna. I want to send to my son for lunch. Looked at your book to see if there is a way to pack it that you might recommend but I didn’t see anything. Would just a thermo be enough? I just don’t want it to get all mushy. I also looked at the recipe you told me. I loved the idea but when asked the doctor about sunflower seeds, he said that I should stay away from those as manufacturers usually process seeds and nuts in the same plant they do with peanuts so there is a high risk of cross contamination. Is there any replacement that is not “seedy” or “nutty”. Just curious. The recipe sounded delicious.

          • J.M Hirsch says:

            I think lasagna in a thermos would be fine. I send various pastas that way all the time. As for the sunflower seeds… My best suggestion would be to read labels. Many company that make this know that people with food allergies are buying them. So they label them to clearly say whether the spread was made in a facility that handles other nuts. Worth checking. Meanwhile, I’ll ponder other alternatives.

  30. Eugenia says:

    I almost forget, are you going to make a new book for next year? Thank you for taking the time to answer me. I know you are very busy. I really appreciate it.

  31. Gena says:

    To answer Eugenia- my son has food allergies. He used to be allergic to ALL top 8 allergens. He is considerably better now, with nuts & eggs being the main offenders. I puréed most everything when he was little & even now, he LOVES soup. Any kind, creamed, stock-based, etc. think the consistency was something he liked. He also hated dips, sauces, etc but he does love ketchup & soy sauce. He will dip carrots, tortillas, corn chips (although he does like salsa now), whatever in either ketsup or soy. Sounds gross but since he is limited, who are we to say. And if it gets him to eat veggies, whatever. He also LOVES cookie butter (who wouldn’t?!?), which is the consistency of peanut butter but merely blended cookies. Hope this helps=}

    • J.M Hirsch says:

      Thanks for pitching in with answers! Best advice usually comes from folks who have been through it! And cookie butter?!?! Yum!

    • Eugenia says:

      Thank you for your advice! I was reading your post about your kids’ allergies and it sounded like my son. He loves soups and he loves ketchup which for me it almost counts like a veggie.

      Today I am sending Michael corn on the cob. I bought one of those mini corns on the steam bag and heat them today. Cut them in medallions and put them in a container. I am sending him hummus too. It was his idea about the hummus. So let’s see what he does. I read somewhere in this blog about the corn on the cob and while it seems that it wasn’t eaten, I thought it was brilliant so I am trying it out today. Thank you all for your responses. Can’t wait for new book.

      • J.M Hirsch says:

        I hope the lunch went well! It sounds great. I don’t know why the corn on the cob wasn’t a bigger hit with my guy. But I’ve since found that if I cut it raw off the cob and turn it into a “salad” he gobbles it up. Who knew?

  32. Anna Smith says:

    After going through your blog, choosing a lunch box for kids isn’t a big deal anymore. I would say a few more words to help them get the best product. Apart from going for the type of material used, selection of the shape and design of lunch box is equally important. Parents can get small food containers with separate compartments to hold different foods out into different sections. This lets them have more control over the nutritional value of each part of the food in such a lunch box. Lunch box looking like an animal or a fruit has a greater charm for kids to share the taste with their classmates.

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