Packing creative, healthy lunches

SEPTEMBER 1, 2009 It's that time of year again. Kids are going back to school. And unless your school has a full-service cafeteria, that means lunch is on you. We asked one of Center City's most popular cooking instructors, who is also a mom, how she does it.

If your child's school has a full-service cafeteria, experts design the menu and professionals do the cooking. If not, "Tag! You're it!".

Anna Florio runs La Cucina , of the coking school at Reading Terminal Market, is also a mom facing the many challenges of packing a lunch.

One of her secrets: visual appeal. People tend to think food that looks good will also taste good.

Also, don't ignore your child's likes and dislikes. No amount of culinary cleverness will make a child eat something he or she genuinely dislikes. But the good news is that you know those tastes better than anyone. "My kid likes to eat..." "...whole-grain rice cracker" That creation packs perfectly on a piece of waxed paper inside a one-pint soup container.

Other creative choices

  • kids like pasta, so try a pasta salad
  • You can roll chicken Caesar salad in a tortilla for a tasty wrap. Tuck in a few croutons for a crunchy surprise.
  • A brownie makes a great dessert.
  • Kids will eat fresh fruit, but nothing too large.
Apples will turn brown, so leave them whole. But oranges are tricky to peel, so it's best to slice them. Grapoes ad strawvberries are good, colorful choices. And you can pack them with cheese, another perennial kid favorite

A creative lunch keeps them interested.

For more about La Cucina cooking classes, call Reading terminal Market at 215-922-2317, or visit their website,

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