What to CookLunch

The Classic Sick-Kid Lunch

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If you like reading what Amanda feeds her kids, you'll love taking a look into what other people—both in the food world and the world at large—prepare for their own children (and occasionally their significant others and maybe even their pets). Prepare to be either resentful or appreciative of your own parents.

Today, Caroline Campion—the voice behind devilandegg.com and the co-author of Keepers: Two Home Cooks Share Their Tried-and-True Weeknight Recipes and the Secrets to Happiness in the Kitchen—feeds her sick kid. 

When it comes to school lunches, my two kids couldn’t be more different. My eight-year-old son, Conor, is strictly a peanut butter and jelly man (about as fancy as I get is to change up the flavor of jam and type of nut butter, and my one “trick” is to always swipe both sides of the bread with softened butter to keep the bread from drying out). 

More: Three ways to change up your usual PB&J.

On the other hand, my eleven-year-old daughter, Belle, loves everything in her lunchbox—from nori hand rolls with smoked salmon and Sriracha mayo, to last night’s spinach and ricotta ravioli, or homemade baba ghanoush with pita chips.

But sometimes, real life intervenes. Case in point: The lunch I recently prepared for Belle when she came home early from school with a stomach virus-bug-flu situation. You know those mornings where you’ve got big plans? Catch up on work e-mails! Prune the rose bushes! Exercise for real! Shampoo the dogs! Make banana bread! And then you get the call at 9:26 A.M. that your child is in the nurse’s office hugging a plastic garbage can?

So there goes the day’s big plans and with it, whatever I packed in the lunchbox gets nudged aside for the official Campion Family Sick Person Lunch Menu Plan. Once my daughter was through the rockiest parts of her bug, and tucked into the couch with the dogs and Head Hunters International on the T.V., I assembled a tray of what we consider the holy trinity of sick-kid lunch:

  • Saltines
  • Ginger Ale
  • Bananas

I always have the above three items stocked in the pantry—not because we’re felled by illness all that often, but when it does happen, it’s not like I’m going to drag a child who’s a pale shade of green to the supermarket. Plus, when is it a bad thing to have Saltines on hand? Need to assemble a quick cocktail snack to go with martinis and a nice wedge of cheese? Want something crunchy to crumble into that homemade tomato soup? Run out of crumbs for breading the chicken cutlets? Saltines are your friend. Ginger ale? Always refreshing. And bananas? Snacks, smoothies, and the aforementioned quick bread.

More: These four restorative recipes will have you—or your child—feeling better in no time. 

But back to the Saltines. To make them a bit more appealing, I serve them in one of the vintage enamelware dishes that I’ve taken to collecting at flea markets (dishwasher-safe, practically unbreakable, classic). Something about that retro presentation just makes the whole sick-at-home situation feel a little special...or at least not so awful.

What do you feed your sick children? Share with us in the comments below!

Photo by Caroline Campion

Automagic Spring Menu Maker!
Automagic Spring Menu Maker!

Tags: Not Sad Desk Lunch, Kids, School Lunch