What Food Network Staffers Pack for School Lunch
These picks are 100% kid-approved.
Nobody likes a boring lunch box. That's why we asked our Food Network parents, kids and kids at heart to send in their favorite school lunch recipes. From cheesy sandwiches to veggie-packed pasta salads, these were the lunches they just couldn't get enough of.
Classic Grilled Cheese
On extra-special days, my mom would pack my brother and I grilled cheese sandwiches in our lunch boxes. She would make them in the morning, let them cool slightly and wrap them in foil — come lunch time, they were still chock-full of melted cheesy goodness! Though Mom never followed an exact recipe, Jeff Mauro’s Classic American Grilled Cheese (pictured above) is pretty close.
— Leah Scalzadonna, Associate Content Editor
Pasta Salad (With Hidden Veggies)
My son loves this wagon wheel pasta salad because A) he likes to roll the wheels right into his mouth and B) he thinks it’s yummy. I can make a big batch and it lasts the whole week, plus it’s a clever way to get him to eat veggies!
— Leah Brickley, Senior Editor, Culinary
DIY Fruit Leather 04:00
A Tasty DIY Snack
As a child, I loved fruit leathers, but my mom would limit how often she gave it to my siblings and I due to the junk in it. Nowadays, I make a homemade batch of natural fruit leathers with apple sauce for my nephew when he heads off to day care. My sister cuts it up to the portion she finds fit and it’s a daily treat. Watch how to make them in an episode of Viv's Tips.
— Vivian Chan, Culinary Producer, Digital
I have always been a fan of pasta salad as a full meal and I think it stems from the giant batches of pasta salad that my dad makes every summer. The first use of his pasta salad is a summer weeknight side, but then the leftovers were fair game for every other meal of the day, including packable lunches at the beginning of school when there were fresh tomatoes from the garden. This garlicky pasta salad is pretty close to what my dad makes, but he insists it’s not true pasta salad unless you’re using cavatappi, the giant corkscrew pasta shape.
— Julie Hines, Managing Editor
Aubrey’s No. 1 favorite packed lunch is quesadillas. Maybe it’s because she gets to layer the tortillas with her choice of fillings or because I let her hang out in the kitchen with me, snacking on all sorts of leftover ingredients, but she asks to have them in her lunchbox all the time. We make a big batch on Sunday night (gotta have enough for the week!) using a variety of fillings so that she won’t get bored of her lunch by Friday. Trisha’s method works perfectly for everything from deli turkey with Cheddar and bell peppers to crumbled chicken sausage with tomato and mozzarella. Just be sure to let the quesadillas cool completely before you pack them, otherwise the steam will make them too soft.
— Kristie Collado, Manager, Digital Programming
Secretly Healthy Snack Balls
Every time I pull out the food processor there’s a unanimous, "Can I help?" (No kidding, the food processor buttons are more popular with my trio than the powdered cheese packet in a box of mac and cheese, and that’s hard to beat!) My kids also love peanut butter and dried cherries, and I love sneaking a little extra fiber into their diet, which makes these Healthy Peanut Butter Balls a total win-win. Oh, and all three of them can have a turn using the food processor!
— Meghan Cole, Associate Editor