It will be wonderful when school lunches finally make the nutritional grade, but until then most of us will try to pack healthful lunches for our children to take to school. These recipes will help you do that while adding variety and all sorts of new flavors to your child's diet.
In the interest of sustainability we encourage you to try cooking seasonally. In the fall in the northeastern United States, look for crisp apples, squashes, root vegetables, and dark, leafy greens like kale and Swiss chard. In winter, the focus will continue to be on the greens and root vegetables of fall, but it's also a great time to break out the bags of dried legumes. They're a wonderful source of protein for your family, and as the weather grows cooler there is something about stewed beans that makes you feel like you're gearing up to cozy-in for the winter. Spring is the hardest time of year because it's too early for most fruits and vegetables. It does, however, bring us the first of the the season's greens. Asparagus is on its way, early spinach is tender and sweet, lettuces are growing, and so are fresh herbs like parsley, chives, sage, cilantro and oregano. When we start considering spring recipes, they're usually a blend of the last of the late-winter harvest and the produce we're able to get at the beginning of the warm season. Of course, if you live in the warmer climates of California, Florida, Texas and Arizona, not only does spring come earlier, but by April or May you'll see early peas, first of the season squash and even some broccoli, broccoli rabe and romanesco (a broccoli/cauliflower blend), not to mention strawberries and rhubarb.
In most states, kids are on break during the summer, which may take the focus off healthy eating because there are no lunches to pack and grabbing something on the run might be easier with a more hectic household. Don't let it be that way! Summer is the time to really get the family involved in cooking because there is no better time for fresh local produce. Everything is at its peak. Melons, berries, summer squashes, a huge variety of greens — and there is such a plethora, you can even get busy canning for the winter months. When you find your garden overrun by tomatoes and you can't eat your way out of your backyard, pick a huge bunch and start putting things up. Freeze berries and corn stripped from the cob. Peas and beans freeze beautifully as well. Make some jams and freeze a pie or two to have as a nice winter surprise. Get the kids in the kitchen or out on the back porch with you and give them each a job. They'll love shelling peas and husking corn. And get them out into your local berry patches to pick their own. They'll likely eat their weight in berries as they pick. If you don't have the time or space for your own garden, check around and see if you can get your kids involved in a summer gardening club like The Magic Garden Club. You'll be amazed by how much they will enjoy planting and tending their own garden.