The Homemade Lunchable

For what seemed like every day of an entire school year, S gave me the lowdown on the lucky bunch who had a Lunchable for lunch. Then, she would tell me in detail who got which kind. She coveted the Lunchable the way a little girl—and even big ones—covet a shiny Hello Kitty lunchbox.

So, I reminded her of the evils of highly processed foods, hydrogenated fats and high fructose corn syrup, but Kraft had her tightly in its grasp. “But it looks soooo fun,” she told me repeatedly. To which I responded: “The company that makes it wants you to think it’s fun. But it’s just food that’s bad for you.” She retorted, “Then why do my friends’ moms pack it for them?”

In short: because it’s easy and inexpensive. Busy moms can feed their kids lunch for an entire school week for less than ten dollars. And all they have to do is take the Lunchable out of the fridge and throw it into a lunchbox. Lunch? Check. It doesn’t get much easier than that. I get it.

One day, S was going on a field trip and her teacher requested that we pack a completely disposable lunch. My opportunistic daughter had an idea: “What about a Lunchable? Just this one time.” After all the begging and pleading, I caved. Secretly, I hoped she would hate it.

Later that evening, I found myself standing in front of an array of Lunchables. I turned over each one and read the nutritional information. I cringed; it was worse than I had thought. S had specifically requested the one with ham and cheese and crackers, accompanied with Oreos for dessert. What’s in a few crackers, slices of cheese and ham, and a couple Oreos? Brace yourself: 21 grams of fat and 1,070 mg of sodium. After hemming and hawing, I finally grabbed the box and tossed it in my basket.  After all, I had promised.

When S got home from school the next day, she told me, “I’m starving. The Lunchable was disgusting! I only ate the crackers and Oreos, because the ham was all puffy and watery, and the cheese tasted like oil.” I wanted to shout, “Hooray!”

S still liked the idea of the Lunchable, of piecing together your own meal, so it inspired me to come up with a homemade version. With some Late July and Back to Nature crackers, Applegate Farms salami and goat cheddar cheese, S can now have a Lunchable that’s delicious and good for her. To round out the meal, I included cucumbers, grape tomatoes and radishes. And I replaced the Oreos with some raspberries and cut-up nectarines. Packed in five minutes!

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