Chef Matt Stowe gets it.
He’s a successful chef, the Director of Culinary Operations of the Joseph Richard Group and also a dad. So how does he balances all? by making time-consuming weekday chores into quick tasks that reduce waste, keep his kids happy and proved great family bonding experiences.
“As a parent, I understand that packing school lunches is a lot like cooking for the same customers every day,” said Stowe. “One sure-fire way to make that job less stressful and less time-consuming is to use some of the same tools and techniques we use in professional kitchens.”
So how does he do it? Here are Chef Stowe’s top ten back-to-school lunch tips:
- Meal planning: Plan your meals for the week on Sunday. Get the necessary groceries, then prepare the food and portion the quantities to avoid having to do the same thing every day. Adhering to a meal schedule will help parents stay on track when things get busy during the week.
- Juice box ice packs: Freeze water bottles or juice boxes the night before so they can double as an ice pack to keep food fresh.
- Make lunches at night, instead of the morning: Mornings can be a rush, so keep the stress levels down and pack meals the night before. Using leftovers from dinner for the next day’s lunches will make life more manageable.
- “Bento Box” lunch containers: Use bento box/tv dinner-style steel or plastic containers that have different sized compartments under one lid. They cut down on packaging and allows for including different foods.
- Slow cookers: Make slow cookers work for you! Chili, chicken thighs, pot roast and bolognese are examples of great things to make in a slow cooker. Simply add the ingredients in the morning and dinner will be ready by the time you come home. Nothing to do but serve and enjoy!
- Have the kids participate: Include children in the lunch making process, so they can see the variety of healthy food choices they have. Making the lunch colorful will appeal to their senses. They will be more likely to eat their lunch every day.
- Meatloaf muffins: Turn your favourite meatloaf recipe into muffins. Just mix as you normally would but use muffin tins instead of a loaf pan for easy individual meatloaves that fit perfectly into a lunch box.
- Boiled eggs: Hard boil eggs at the start of the week. They are a great source of protein and are an easy addition to any lunch.
- Food selection: Try to pack foods that you know your kids will eat, rather than what you wish they would eat. It will cut down on waste, cost, and ensure your little one isn’t trying to learn on an empty stomach.
- Eat out: Treat the family to lunch or dinner at a restaurant as it is a great way to expose children to new dishes and ingredients, as well as different ways to prepare nutritious foods they already love. Enjoying food adventures is a nice way to expand your family’s food knowledge and thirst for curiosity.
— Matthew Stowe (@ChefMattStowe) March 18, 2014
For more information on Chef Stowe, or the Joseph Richard Group, go to their website.