Chef and tv personality Christine Tizzard has pro kitchen skills but that doesn’t mean she’s immune to packed-lunch fatigue. The mom of two recently published her first cookbook, Honest to Goodness: Everyday Recipes for the Home Cook, where she confesses, “I hate packing school lunches. There, I said it.” We feel you, girl. Here are the five things Tizzard keeps on hand to lighten the lunch grind.
“Leftover cooked pasta stores very well in the fridge,” says Tizzard, “So typically whenever I make a pasta dish I cook extra, toss with a little olive oil to prevent sticking and store in a sealed container in the fridge.” Use the cooked noodles warmed up with a sauce or cold, with diced veggies and a dressing, for pasta salad. Tizzard recommends the same make-extra move when it comes to grains like quinoa.
Who wants a soggy salad? Nobody, that’s who. Rather than leafy salads, Tizzard prefers to toss together more robust veggies, such as broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, radishes and fennel. “Any salad I make the kids for lunch has to be wilt-free. It’s hard enough convincing my kids to have lettuce in their sandwiches let alone hope that they will eat a salad. Raw vegetables that stay crunchy are your only hope.”
Sure, homemade is best, but when time is tight, store-bought items can be life savers. A long-time nay sayer, Tizzard has come to rely on salad kits for her kids. They’re so easy that older kids can assemble them solo. “In a pinch, a premade chicken Caesar salad kit also makes for a super-easy chicken Caesar wrap in the morning.”
Canned tuna is the backbone of a well-stocked pantry. The versatile protein can be used in salads, sandwiches and even pastas. Tizzard recommends water-packed, light tuna. “Specifically skipjack: It is lower in mercury and higher in omega-3s.”
Popcorn is the ultimate blank canvas for flavours—both savoury and sweet—and makes a perfect school-safe snack. Tizzard goes old school and buys plain kernels and pops them in pot on the stove. She recommends gussying it up with butter and fresh herbs, cinnamon sugar or chili and Parmesan.