Book Review: “Beating the Lunch Box Blues”

I found Beating the Lunch Box Blues by J.M. Hirsch several years ago while looking for interesting ways to change up my brown bag lunches. I must say that this collection of recipes is quite a gem.

At the time of publication, Mr. Hirsch was the food editor for the Associated Press. He was also dealing with a picky nine-year old son who refused to accept PB&J’s every day for lunch. While acknowledging the limitations that most parents/full-time workers have in preparing lunches for themselves and their children, Hirsch came up with some innovative ways to make meals interesting and easy to prepare.

Pluses: Beating meets my primary requisite for a good cookbook: Lots.Of.Photos. Even better, Hirsch bubbles in useful comments and directions amid his artfully staged pics:

Another plus: Hirsch includes examples of dinner time meals that can be packed for lunch the next day. He is careful to describe # of servings for each recipe. Below, you can see Hirsch’s recipe for Roasted Chicken Thighs with Garlicky White Beans. Easy to make, and interesting ways to use the leftovers. I cooked this dish myself; it’s not bad.

Finally, I love Hirsch’s innovation in deconstructing classic sandwiches and remaking them into salads. Below is just one example of many:

Minus. Hirsch recommends using a heated Thermos for meats, pastas, and other relatively dry dishes listed elsewhere in his book. In my experience, even the most effective Thermos works best with liquidy foods like soup, stew, and brothy noodles. Otherwise, the food just doesn’t stay warm over a long period of time. I would suggest using a Crockpot Lunch Warmer to heat meats, pastas, pizzas, sandwiches, rice dishes, etc. in this book. Please see “Gadgets” under my Category section for information re: the Crockpot Warmer.

If you are interested in purchasing Beating the Lunch Box Blues, it is sold hardcopy on amazon.com.