Lunchbox ideas

School lunch is a go.

School lunch is a go. by Sarah Henning

The kiddo has been talking about bringing his lunch to school for more than a year.

In the days before he started preschool, he asked if this is the year he could bring his lunch. We said no (because of school policy), but that he could bring his lunch in kindergarten.

I sort of suspected that eventually his enthusiasm for bringing his own lunch would wane. But it didn’t during all of preschool. Or in the days leading up to kindergarten, where he got a chance to bring his own lunch to a camp he was attending. And it hasn’t waned (yet) now that he’s an actual kindergartener.

It’s funny, because I remember wanting school lunch. Mostly because it (sometimes) contained things I didn’t often get at home: pizza, french fries, etc. More than that, I remember collecting quarters specifically so I could buy a la carte goodies my parents wouldn’t let me have such as ice cream, cookies and Little Debbie Nutty Bars.

I can’t delude myself into thinking my perfect little boy won’t do this too, no matter how interested he is right now in eating fruits and vegetables. Kids are constantly learning about themselves and the world around them through their experiences. And experience includes food.

I’m not going to put my kid in a food bubble until he’s 18.

But I will make his lunch. For as long as he wants me to.

Which might be until next week or might be until he’s old enough to drive. Hard to tell. But while I do have control of his lunchbox, I’d prefer good stuff go in there.

But I don’t want him to feel deprived either, which is why he always (so far) gets a treat to go along with his basic sandwich/fruit/vegetable trio.

So, one week he got our favorite little chocolate chip cookies (above). Another week, he’s gotten these cookies, which he actually likes better, even though they’re pretty ugly. But even an ugly cookie is a tasty cookie. I’ve also been giving him some special muffins, which I’ll share next week.

But first. The best ugly cookie ever to go in a lunchbox. And, yes, I’ll make them for him through his 18th birthday and beyond.

I feel good putting these in his lunchbox. They’re healthy, taste good and might even stave off his eventual career as a small-change thief with a soft-spot for junk food. Or not.

The Healthiest Cookies Ever (Recipe from

1 ½ cups raw walnut halves

1 cup medjool dates, pitted (about 12)

¼ teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 flax egg (1 tablespoon ground flax or chia seeds plus 3 tablespoons water)

½ cup dark chocolate chips (optional)

Preheat the oven to 350 F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silpat. In the bowl of a food processor fitted with an “S” blade, process the dates and walnuts together until a crumbly texture is formed. Add in the salt, baking soda, vanilla and flax egg and process again until the batter is relatively smooth. Add in the chocolate chips and briefly pulse, just to combine.

Spoon the batter onto a lined baking sheet, and use your hands to gently flatten the cookie dough. (Tip: Wet your hands with water to prevent sticking.) Bake for 12 minutes, or until the edges are slightly golden. Allow to cool on the pan for 10 minutes, then transfer the cookies to a wire rack to cool completely.

Serve immediately, and store the leftovers in a sealed container in the fridge or freezer for best shelf life. These cookies should last a week in the fridge, and a month or more in the freezer.


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