The Hungry Cat's David Lentz Schools Us on Packing Healthy Lunches
Peaches at the farmers market
The weekday ritual of trying to figure out what to pack for a kid's school lunch can be a common source of stress for parents. It's got to strike at least two keys: Healthy (for the kid) and quick (for the parent). So we asked David Lentz, chef-owner of The Hungry Cat and father of three young children with wife Suzanne Goin (chef and co-owner of Lucques, Tavern, AOC, The Larder at Maple Drive), for a few strategies on packing a simple and healthy lunch.
"It definitely takes planning," says Lentz, who recommends packing the night before. "If you do it the morning of, it's harder to leave the house on time."
Season everything: "I think it's one thing parents might not do," Lentz says. "We make popcorn, like Jiffy Pop, and flavor it with crab spice. The kids really like it. Our youngest just finished preschool and we've had to make snacks for the entire class. The kids went crazy for it."
Make yogurt dip with veggie sticks: "My wife makes a healthy crudité dip out of yogurt." Goin flavors the dip with spices and herbs, such as dill and black pepper.
Use wholesome luncheon meat: "Instead of buying pre-packaged lunch meat, we'll get a whole roasted turkey breast and slice it," says Lentz.
Try lemon juice on apples: The acidity in lemon juice will prevent apple slices from oxidizing, and therefore turning brown, too quickly for the most part, says the chef. Lentz adds that fruits are prepared in the morning to avoid spoilage.
Keep a supply of fresh fruits: "We go to the farmers market and load up on fruits. We always pack a ton of it; from a young age, the kids were given a lot of fruit to snack on."
Get the Food & Drink Newsletter
Our weekly guide to Los Angeles dining includes food news and reviews, as well as dining events and interviews with chefs and restaurant owners.