Book Review: Beating the Lunch Box Blues by J.M. Hirsch

I discovered this book by reading the blog Lunch Box Blues. Which is how the book began, as a blog.  If you’ve been reading here for a while you know that I find lunch… well, tiresome.  Anything, I thought, to give me a little inspiration.

Beating the Lunch Box Blues is inspiring. It’s beautifully photographed– every page is a feast for your eyes.  The text is short, and I found myself missing J.M. Hirsch’s delightful prose (read here for my favorite post).  But the concept is sound: lunch doesn’t have to be the bologna-sandwich-on-wonder-bread and an apple I remember from my school days.  Instead, Hirsch’s lunches are creative, nutritious and beautiful… and all of them are quick to prepare.  My favorites are the recipes for One Dinner, Two Lunches (Rosemary Garlic Roasted Chicken with Dripping Good New Potatoes, anyone?)

Of course, I come to this book without the pressure of a lunch box (or 6) which have to be packed every morning, but I still struggle with lunch.  Being home, I actually have to see my kids’ disdain for another quesadilla or sandwich. (I know: first world problem.)  But I think these recipes will be easily adapted for lunches at home. They are quick, made from great ingredients, and beautiful, especially in little containers.  I think my half of Moriah’s occasional desire to “go to school” is simply a craving for lunch in bento boxes.

Here’s a bit of Hirsch’s philosophy:

When it comes to healthy eating — for ourselves and our kids — the equation is really pretty simple. Eat real food in reasonable quantities and you can pretty much eat as you like. Easy to comprehend. Harder to follow through on. Harder still is teaching that equation to children, particularly the first part. Real food. Despite all the progress of the past 15 or so years in getting more people to cook and eat more real food, the reality is our culture is saturated by corporate messaging that points us in the exact opposite direction. And much of that messaging is aimed at our kids. Because kids are easy targets. And the purveyors of processed foods know we all just want to make our kids happy. And sometimes we just want 5 minutes of peace.

My dad looked at the little bento-style boxes I bought for the kids’ lunches this year.  “They don’t hold much, do they?”  And this is the challenge.  I am hoping to hand Beating the Lunch Box Blues to the children and letting them prepare lunch.  The recipes here are clear, easy, and beautiful.  I am hoping that they catch the vision of good food, reasonable amounts, and variety.

I offered to review this book.  In exchange, I received a pdf of the galleys. All opinions are my own. And yes, I am buying the book.


5 thoughts on “Book Review: Beating the Lunch Box Blues by J.M. Hirsch

  1. FUN! What kind of boxes did you buy? I have a Laptop Lunches Bento Box for H. We got it last year when he was going to Options. He loves it. I don’t know why I never thought to use it for everyday lunches. Maybe I should get a couple more for the other kiddos? I’ll have to shop around.
    The book & blog look great. I’m sure I can use up all my computer time looking at bento lunches. 😉

      • I’ll keep an eye out. The Laptop Lunches box is too expensive (IMO) to buy three of them. We don’t have King Soopers here. Only a Texas chain called HEB, plus a Whole Foods and a Trader Joe’s. I got the Laptop Lunches box at WF in Denver, so it’ll have to be Target or HEB probably.

    • He shows what he packs each time. My kids really love the little containers: SweetP filled one with dip, 1 with carrots and broccoli, and 1 with apricot halves. The larger part she filled with noodles. It worked well this week.

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