I don’t usually pack school lunch. My children are grown ups now, with children of their own. So the only time I have to even think about this is if one of my grandchildren sleeps over and the next day is school and then, because it is not a task I am familiar with, I have to ask a lot of questions.

When I need advice like this I call on an expert:

My daughter Gillian, mother of three, healthy food person and entrepreneur who developed an app for exactly this: lunch.

Her mealplanning app is called lalalunchbox. She blogs about it at The app, which helps parents and children plan and pack healthy lunches together, empowers kids to select a week’s worth of lunches in advance (and then generates a handy grocery list for parents) has been critically reviewed and has become a best seller. You can check it out here.

 And by the way, the app is free for the entire back-to-school season.

I asked Gillian about lunch recently, to do this particular post and my question was timed perfectly because she was just getting her daughter Lila’s camp lunch ready. She and Lila, using the LaLa Lunchbox app, had picked a mozzarella cheese sandwich and grapes. 

Beyond involving kids in meal planning, Gillian believes that children are more likely to be excited about what they eat when those meals are visually appealing. One of her favorite tricks is to cut sandwiches into smaller cubes and skewer them on to lollypop sticks (such as Wilton’s) which you can buy at craft stores. 

You can see the final result in the first photo. The others give you a step by step on how to make this fast, easy, simple, pretty and tasty sandwich for when you need to pack a lunchbox.

La La Lunchbox Mozzarella Sandwich Kebabs

2 slices whole wheat bread

1 tablespoon olive oil, approximately

several slices (about ¼-inch thick) fresh mozzarella cheese

several fresh, whole basil leaves

skewer sticks

whole red seedless grapes

Place one piece of bread on  cutting board. drizzle the olive oil on top. Place mozzarella slices on top. Layer some basil leaves over the cheese. Place the second slice of bread on top. Cut the sandwich into 9 pieces. Skewer the smaller sandwich pieces on the skewers, alternating with the grapes. Makes one serving

An InLinkz Link-up

Gillian’s new App, Lalalunchbox, is a big hit. Kids all over the world, it seems, and their parents, are using it to help them pick stuff for lunch. (And the App also sets a shopping list up for you.)

Naturally, I’m thrilled for her. And happy for all those people out there who use it and have a chance to talk with their kids about the food they bring to school. And the App is fun to use too.

It also prompted a conversation about lunch with my trainer this morning because while I’m working out, as I’ve mentioned here before, Robbie and I talk about food practically the whole time I am doing pushups, squats and running up and down the stairs.

We talked about “retro-lunch.” You know, the kind of stuff we took to school or ate at home (I walked home from school at lunchtime) when we were kids. His Mom sent things like meatball sandwich (two of them) plus an apple or other fruit, “something crunchy,” like Doritos, and something sweet, like chocolate chip cookies.

My Mom made a sandwich, like salami or cream cheese and jelly or leftover roast beef. But my favorite was her Toasted Cheese, hot if she was home, cool and waiting for me on the counter if she wasn’t. No fruit as I remember. Or anything crunchy or sweet. Snack was for when I got home at the end of the day at 3:30, always milk and cookies.

I still make Toasted Cheese the way my Mom did. Two or three slices of American cheese on each of two pieces of bread, then broiled (these days in the toaster oven of course). Eaten open-faced.

Very often she left the sandwich in the broiler a few seconds too long and burn bubbles appeared on top of the cheese. I didn’t complain about that. In fact, I thought it added to the flavor.

Still do.

Here’s how I make the Toasted Cheese, which, by the way, you can put in a kid’s lunchbox as a sandwich (I’ve done that for my grandchildren), by slapping it together like a regular sandwich.

Toasted Cheese

2 slices whole wheat or multigrain bread

1 tablespoon butter, optional

4-6 slices, approximately, American cheese (or cheddar slices)

tomato slices, optional

Slather the bread slices with butter, if desired. Place 2-3 slices American cheese on each slice of bread. Top with a slice of tomato if desired. Toast in a toaster oven until hot and bubbly, or longer if you like blackish-brownish burnt bubbles on the surface. Eat open-faced or place the centers together for a traditional closed sandwich. Makes one sandwich.