Here’s a quick and healthy lunchbox I packed for a day at a park.
Last Saturday, we went to Irvine Regional Park on the spur of the moment. One of the blessings of winter is that you can visit places on the spur of the moment and not worry about parking. But that also means that I need to pack something quick to head out the door before nap time hits.
As a fresh and new mom (like when Munchkin was less than a year old,) I was pretty strict about avoiding junk food. Junk food from parks and festivals were unthinkable, and I avoided giving refined sugar, processed food, and salty food as best as I could. But as time passed, I chilled out a bit. Just like how young kids fresh out of college are the hardest workers at a job, trying to go above and beyond with so much tension in the neck. And as you get more “experienced,” you learn how to pick your battles. You gotta chill out a bit to last long term. I also learned that one experience of super sugary soft serve isn’t going to ruin Munchkin’s taste palate for good. Yes, she loves those junk food, but she still likes her avocados and fresh strawberries.
Balancing Healthy and Junk Food
What I do these days is to pack a healthy lunchbox and serve it along with food-stand meals. As we do with most of our meals, we share the lunchbox- munchkin, hubs, and I- and also share some fries, nuggets, and hot dogs. (Sometimes, there aren’t many choices beyond that.) This way, I don’t have to pack an entire meal for the whole family, which could be quite intimidating. I also don’t like giving separate meals just for Munchkin, while her parents scarf down all the junk food. So this is my happy balance.
Cottage Cheese Salad or a Dip
This easy lunch box doesn’t require cooking other than boiling the eggs. You could mix everything and eat it as a salad, but Munchkin prefers food separated, so we used the cottage cheese as a dip instead. I packed a dairy-free cheese dip (pictured next to the eggs) for myself.
Have you tried Trader Joe’s “everything but the bagel sesame seasoning?” This seasoning is pure magic. Munchkin never liked any type of eggs until this day- boiled, steamed, fried, poached… nope nope nope. I was surprised to see her grab a boiled egg and not only taste it but finish it. Of course, I had to keep offering her eggs just to see if it was a fluke. At this moment, boiled eggs are the first thing she grabs from her plate. Never give up!
First Train Ride and Quack Quack
Munchkin rode a little train for the first time, and I loved watching her inquisitive face. When we passed by the pond full of ducks, she went “quack, quack.” It’s an automatic response whenever she sees ducks or hears the word “ducky.”
Here’s a few of my favorite products.
Grabease Utensil Set: These untensils are great for little ones just learning how to use a fork and a spoon. Nowadays, I mainly use them for on-the-go since they are so compact.
Bumkins Reusable Snack Bag: These lightweight pouches are great for packing utensils, bibs, towels, juices/milk, and etc. I also put my make-up in there.
OmieBox Bento Lunch Box: This is actually the very first bento box I bought for munchkin because of the thermos and the gorgeous sunshine color. I mainly use the thermos to keep cold items safe when we are out and about for a while. Munchkin still eats warm food at room temperature, so I haven’t tested very hot food in there.
(If you buy from these links, it won’t cost you a penny more, but I’ll get a small compensation. 😙)
Balsamic Cottage Cheese Salad
Deconstructed balsamic cottage cheese salad.
- 8 oz cottage cheese
- 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
- 1 tbsp honey
- 1 lemon juice
- a pinch of salt
- 5 tbsp olive oil
- 2 tbsp dried cranberries
- 2 medium carrots cut to sticks
- handful of cherry tomatoes chopped
- 1 egg boiled and halved
Place balsamic vinegar, honey, juice of a lemon, salt, olive oil in a container and shake vigorously to combine.
Mix the balsamic mixture with cottage cheese and cranberries.
Assemble the lunchbox with the cottage cheese mixture, carrot sticks, boiled egg, and crackers of your choice.