Katie Morford is a food writer, a registered dietician and a mother of three children. These qualifications show in her book. I've read lunch box books before that made me balk. The recipes were complicated, or I found myself thinking, "Sure, my kids will eat this in theory, but at the lunch table under the watchful eyes of their peers? Not so much." Katie gets it. Her ideas are simple, healthy and varied enough to appeal to any child. Think you know it all? Even the most advanced lunch providers can get into a rut, and Best Lunch Box Ever can get them out.
• Who wrote it: Katie Sullivan Morford
• Who published it: Chronicle Books
• Number of recipes: 75
• Recipes for right now: Pretty much all of them. I mean, we have to eat lunch, right? The "Crunch Extras" and "Tide-Me-Overs" are good any time. Basics like DIY microwave popcorn are fun.
• Other highlights: Best Lunch Box Ever has plenty of tips to help you begin (or restart) your lunch box routine. The lists are helpful. A lot of it is common sense, but it's nice to have everything in one place. "Fill Your Arsenal" tells you everything you need to have on hand in the freezer, cupboard and fridge to churn out great lunches like a pro. "Plan Ahead" offers great tips on timing to establish a peaceful and healthy lunch routine. The "Dirty Dozen" and "Clean 15" are helpful to anyone with a budget trying to decide which organic foods are worth the extra expense.
The eco-friendly suggestions are really doable, and Katie puts plenty of age-appropriate responsibility on the kids. She suggests that by middle school, they can do it all themselves. In my personal experience, this is true, though I appreciate the reminder, because my husband and I definitely fall prey to the easier-to-just-do-it-myself trap. Following Katie's advice will establish the routine long before middle school.
Most of the recipes are really, really easy. In another cookbook, this could be a fault, but for kids' lunches, it's great! Some of the recipes have fun twists (see: Waffle Iron Grilled Cheese with thin slivers of tart apple). One of my favorite sections, "Leftovers Made Over" offers a recipe for Teriyaki Fried Rice recipe that could be whipped up right after dinner the night before, using leftover rice, in the time it takes the rest of the family to clear the table and do the dishes. Each recipe offers "Make-Ahead Notes."
The bright photographs by Jennifer Martiné will help younger children get excited about the meal to come. Also? They inspired me to think about making lunches that are more visually appealing.
• Who would enjoy this book? Parents who are new to the lunch box scene, or just new to making more than one lunch, trying to make it work for kids with different tastes. Katie has three kids. She gets it. Parents — just like me! — who are guilty of packing the same old lunches will find it inspiring. I plan on having my crew pick recipes for themselves. I'll go to the store and they can do the prep. Adults without kids might even enjoy perusing a copy at a friend's house. (I can't wait to make the date, cream cheese, celery and spinach roll-ups for myself. Yum!)
Find the book at your local library, independent bookstore, or Amazon: Best Lunch Box Ever by Katie Sullivan Morford
• Visit the author's website: Katie Sullivan Morford
Apartment Therapy Media makes every effort to test and review products fairly and transparently. The views expressed in this review are the personal views of the reviewer and this particular product review was not sponsored or paid for in any way by the manufacturer or an agent working on their behalf. However, the manufacturer did give us the product for testing and review purposes.
(Images: Anne Postic)