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Sonoma Family Life Magazine

Good Eats

By Momma Chef

As the summer nears its end, we parents ponder the tasks the new school year will bring. Packing lunches is usually a dreaded chore, but it doesn't need to be. Here are some helpful tips for putting together a delicious, to-go meal.

1. Let your kids try out recipes instead of surprising them with a new lunch. As a food blogger, I do this all the time.

2. When I find something they like, I'll make that dish on a Sunday night, preparing enough for a few lunches. My kids' lunch favorites are Banana Muffins, Hidden Zucchini Muffins, Bourbon Chicken, and Crispy Corn Flake Chicken. Find the Banana Muffin recipe in the sidebar. See my blog,, for the others.

3. On Sundays, my boys and I will bake a batch of S'mores Brownies (also on We cut them into squares, wrapping each one separately, so they're ready to pop into lunch boxes throughout the week.

4. I also like to throw in individually wrapped bags of organic apple slices from Costco or Trader Joe's. Of course, a fabulous autumn activity is apple picking. (To taste some local beauties, go to the Gravenstein Apple Fair, August 11-12, 10 a.m.-6 p.m., in Ragle Ranch Park in Sebastopol.) When using fresh apples, make sure to cut them up in the morning, not before, so they don't turn brown before lunch. If stored properly, newly picked apples will last up to two months in the refrigerator.

5. Freeze a box of yogurt squeezers (my favorite is Stonyfield Kids organic strawberry) and include one in each lunch box. By the time noon rolls around, the yogurt will be defrosted but still cold enough to keep other food items cool.

Super Easy and Kid-Approved Yummy Banana Muffins

My kids love making these muffins with me. I usually add chocolate chips, which turn them into a lunch box-friendly dessert.

1 ½ cups whole-wheat flour

3 overripe bananas

½ cup honey

1 tsp. baking soda

2 large eggs

1/3 cup avocado or melted coconut oil

Place ingredients in a large mixing bowl and blend with a hand mixer for three minutes. Fill greased or paper-lined muffin cups half full. Bake at 375°F for 17-19 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center of a muffin comes out clean. Cool for five minutes.

Makes 16 muffins.

Karen Nochimowski is a mother of three active boys (ages 12, 8, and 5). Her recipes, available on, use no more than six ingredients and six minutes of prep time.