Saturday, November 2, 2013

Cookbook review: Beating the Lunch Box Blues by J.M. Hirsch

Tired of the same old peanut butter sandwiches in your lunch box? Want something healthier for your kids than those processed lunch kits? J.M. Hirsch felt the same way and decided to do something about it. He challenged himself to make lunch more interesting for himself and his family. As a result, he began a blog called Lunch Box Blues where he chronicled the school lunches he created for his son. Eventually his idea took off and thus Beating the Lunch Box Blues was born.

Beating the Lunch Box Blues is not so much a cookbook as a place to find inspiration. It's a flip book of sorts. Look through the pictures and discover how you can transform leftovers or find which convenience foods will actually make for a healthy, satisfying lunch (hummus, anyone?).  Every page contains full color photographs of a  new and creative way to map out a delicious lunch every day. 

Now to be clear, Hirsch is not an advocate for the Pinteresting of lunch here. In the very first paragraph he declares, "if you're one of those people who somehow finds the time to craft sandwiches into cutesy animals, or carve cheese into flowers and hearts... Congratulations! And good luck with your therapy. Now go away." Beating the Lunch Box Blues is anything but cutesy. It's practical and takes the drudgery out of packing your family's lunches.

But just in case anyone reading this review is saying to themselves, "But I like my cookbooks to actually have cooking in them," do not fear! Hirsch includes 30 dinner recipes that can easily be transformed into delicious lunches the next day.

Some of my favorite suggestions from the book are:
  • Using frozen items such as puff pastry or phyllo cups to create different vessels for leftovers (my personal favorite use of puff pastry was to create pinwheels with ham and cheese)
  • A honey brie sandwich: sourdough bread, a schmear of brie, and a crunchy, dripping hunk of honeycomb
  • A mac and cheese grilled cheese
  • Add pesto to grilled cheese
  • Make extra pasta for dinner and use the extra for pasta salad the next day
  • Place hunks of feta on pita bread and drizzle with honey
  • Since cut apples brown when exposed to air, cut an apple in half, core it, spread peanut butter over the cut side and then dunk in grape nuts or granola. 
An example of a page from Beating the Lunch Box Blues

Beating the Lunch Box Blues is the first book to be published under the new Rachael Ray Books imprint and I'd say it's a slam dunk. I look forward to seeing what more Ray has in store for her readers and fans.

Beating the Lunch Box Blues by J.M. Hirsch
Published: September 3, 2013
Publisher: Rachael Ray Books
Pages: 208
Genre: Cookery
Audience: Adults
Disclosure: Library Copy


  1. Oh this sounds good. I hadn't heard of this blog before, thanks for sharing.

  2. This book sounds so practical and the ideas are so creative. I used to send my daughter to school with a bento lunch box and the food looks so pretty in the little compartments. I think she would like the mac n chz grilled cheese!
    Thanks for sharing this one :)

  3. I'm ordering this RIGHT NOW. I laughed out loud at the "good luck with your therapy" comment. My husband is soooooo bored with his packed lunches. I need ideas. I need this book.

  4. Love the title. Not cutesy, but still plenty attractive.

  5. This would be a great gift for someone who is still making school lunches.

  6. I've seen this 'cookbook' twice now, and all of the comments are positive! I'll have to see if my library is stocking it. I usually don't have any trouble with lunch ideas - I'm a salad and soup girl and never have any trouble putting them together. But quick dinners! Those slay me. So I might appreciate that part of this one.

  7. Now this looks like a book I'd definitely like to get my hands on. I'm always looking for inspiration for interesting things to take to work for my lunch.