Not Your Ordinary School Lunch

Food Network stars reveal their kids' favorite lunchbox treats and dish out the secret recipes.
Related To:
RnB_Pasta_Salad-011f.tif

RnB_Pasta_Salad-011f.tif

FOOD STYLIST: VIVIAN LIU PROP STYLIST: MOLLY FITZSIMONS

Ellie’s Bright Bites
Leave it to Ellie Krieger, host of Healthy Appetite, to make sure every color on the fruit-and-veggie spectrum ends up in her daughter’s lunch. The recipe name, Rainbows and Butterflies Pasta Salad, comes from the multicolored vegetables and, of course, butterfly-shaped pasta. Bella, who turns 7 in September, likes trying to get every color into each bite, Ellie says. “Drop in a blueberry yogurt or my Blueberry Punch so they’ll get all the colors.”

Salad_Bag_Cut_Out-017f.tif

Salad_Bag_Cut_Out-017f.tif

FOOD STYLIST: VIVIAN LIU PROP STYLIST: MOLLY FITZSIMONS

Jamie’s Bag of Tricks
Jamie Oliver has fought to improve school lunches in his native Britain, and he follows his own advice when he’s making “pack lunches” for his daughters. Steal some tips from the father of three: Poppy Honey, 7, Daisy Boo, 6, and Petal Blossom Rainbow, 4 months.

Make lunch interesting with a salad bag: Take a plastic bag, decorate it with stickers and fill with veggies. Teach the kids to add the dressing to the bag, then shake it over their heads to toss the salad — they can mix it right at the table!

Include one fruit juice box, not from concentrate. Freeze it to make a “lunch-box fridge” to keep food safe while it sits in the coatroom — by lunch, the drink is like a slushy.

The worst thing at lunch is a soggy sandwich. Try this trick: Spread butter edge to edge to “waterproof” the bread before adding the meat and fillings. Use funny cutters to shape the sandwiches.

Turkey_Chili-017f.tif

Turkey_Chili-017f.tif

FOOD STYLIST: VIVIAN LIU PROP STYLIST: MOLLY FITZSIMONS

Tyler’s Food in a Tube
As a father of three (Miles, 13, Hayden, 2, and Dorothy, 1), Tyler Florence has plenty of tricks for getting kids to eat well, like a high-concept lunch box: He stacks the meal in an empty tennis-ball canister. Just chill a small can of all-natural ginger ale or a bottle of water and place it at the bottom of the tube, then add an apple or a bag of popcorn, and the sandwich. “Customize it with stickers, and you have a cool lunch container for a healthy meal,” he says.

Turkey_Salad-010f.tif

Turkey_Salad-010f.tif

FOOD STYLIST: VIVIAN LIU PROP STYLIST: MOLLY FITZSIMONS

The Neelys’ Meal for Teens
Pat and Gina Neely’s two daughters, Spenser, 20, and Shelbi, 14, make their own lunches these days, but Gina has fond memories of packing special treats for the girls. “Spenser was a fan of fruit cups or sliced Granny Smith apples, and Shelbi always wanted a Fruit Roll-Up. If they helped me with a dessert, they would take leftovers to share with their friends,” Gina says. “And we’d always put little notes in there: ‘I love you’ or ‘Good luck on your test.’” Like most kids, the girls often wanted a turkey sandwich. Here’s how Gina and Pat put a twist on it:

Photographs by Hallie Burton

Keep Reading

Next Up

Kitchen Dos and Don'ts with Guy and Hunter

Follow these kitchen safety tips from Guy Fieri and his son Hunter to keep the focus on what's really important: spending quality time together and cooking delicious family meals.

Baking with Kids

Your kids will have a blast making delicious desserts with these fun tips.

Cooking with Kids Without Going Insane

A nutritionist and kids' cooking teacher shares tips for cooking with little ones without losing your mind.

5 All-New Recipes Kids Can (and Will Want to!) Make

Are your kids inspired by the tiny chefs on Rachael vs. Guy: Kids Cook-Off and the impressive contenders from Chopped Teen Tournament? Then it’s time to let them get their hands dirty in the kitchen.

How to Safely Include Kids in the Kitchen

A kids' cooking teacher and nutritionist shares tips for cooking with different age groups.

Load Up the Kids' Lunchboxes for Back-to-School

Food Network’s guide to kid-approved lunches and locker-friendly foods makes cafeteria glee an everyday affair.

Feast Your Eyes on the 11 Best Thanksgiving Side Dishes

While the turkey often gets all the glory at Thanksgiving dinner, it's the side dishes that turn the turkey into a full meal.

When Food Gets in Costume: Edible Takes on Creepy Halloween Things

As you're putting the final touches on your costume creation, pick from our fleet of spooky, creepy and Halloween-y food creations that look just like real things.

Sip on These Seasonal Pumpkin Cocktails Right Now

Hey, pumpkin spice lattes shouldn't be having all the fun. Shake up these festive pumpkin cocktails all seasonal long and plan on them as you prep for Thanksgiving.

Get Set for a Fifth Season of Fright-Night Spooktaculars on Halloween Wars

Get the latest details on the upcoming brand-new season of Halloween Wars, premiering Monday, Oct. 5 at 9|8c.
More from:

Cooking with Kids

Latest Stories