Posted by: Catherine | January 23, 2009

Emma’s School Lunches


Emma doesn't like sandwiches, so for school lunches I pack up a half dozen hors d'oeuvres like chicken-and-gouda sausages in puff pastry on skewers, pigs in puff-pastry blankets and chicken-brie-cranberry puff pastry pockets.

Emma doesn't like sandwiches, so for school lunches I pack up a half dozen hors d'oeuvres like chicken-and-gouda sausages in puff pastry on skewers, pigs in puff-pastry blankets and chicken-brie-cranberry puff pastry pockets.



What to do when your child doesn’t do sandwiches? No PB&Js (or anything between two slices of dough) for our Emma. We’ve solved the problem oh-so-successfully with frozen hors d’oeuvres from Trader Joe’s and Costco, all pretty much finger food, which is perfect for a kid who’d eat soup with her hands if she could. (And this from a littler girl, three or four, who had such tip-top table manners she was invited into the kitchen at Union Square Cafe in New York City!) I just bake ’em while she’s eating breakfast, add a piece of fruit and she’s ready. And, there’s another plus: When your friends pop over for a drink or tea, and all you have on hand are picked-at chunks of cheese nearing their rinds and tunneled-through wedges of camembert…just you pop into your kids’ lunch stash in the freezer. Nothing wrong with coming out with puff pastry knots filled with chicken, cranberries and brie! Here’s what I “serve” her nibs…

From Trader Joe’s:

dsc_00172Mini Chicken Tacos (Reader RecommendationI didn’t buy these because the photo on the box shows vegetables…thanks to Grace, who assured me they’re veggie-free, they’re now a favorite,  Emma loves ’em.)


dsc_24Mandarin Orange Chicken (Emma says, “Better than the Chinese restaurant’s.”)



dsc_0028Spanakopita (the only way Emma willingly eats spinach…wrapped in phyllo!)


dsc_00082Ham & Cheese on Puff Pastry (sometimes I combine with Spanakopita; she likes combo lunches)



dsc_00037Spizzioco di Pizza (bite-size; they also have individual cheese pizzas I buy on occasion, for a change)




dsc_00319Mini Chicken Empanadas (these are really good, the dough/crust the real deal)



dsc_00132Little Chicken Drumettes (Emma loves these…not so great, in my opinion, but I’m not eating them)



dsc_0006Chicken Shu Mai (Emma doesn’t like the dipping sauce, which Bruce and I save for roasted broccoli at dinner)




dsc_00211Meatless Corn Dogs (great for brown-bag field trips when you don’t want your kid to toss tupperware)



From Costco:

dsc_00161Smoked Chicken, Apple & Gouda Mini Sausage Wraps in Puff Pastry (they come on little skewers, so cute!)




dsc_0014Mini Quiches (a mix of Lorraine and Florentine) in phyllo



dsc_00011Pigs (some with cheese, some without) in a Puff Pastry Blanket



dsc_00231Chicken, Brie and Cranberries in Puff Pastry Pockets (Bruce and I love these…)



  1. Hey Catherine … since you told me about this, it’s made lunches a dream 🙂 … my girls also love the mini beef and chicken tacos from TJs …

    love this site … can’t wait to try some of the ‘big bite’ recipes …

    best – gb

  2. Thanks Grace. I saw those tacos, but it looked like there were vegetables in them, and Emma would spend the entire 20-minute lunch period picking them out. They used to have rolled chicken tacos, really taquitos, in the main frozen-food case and she liked those, but they don’t seem to carry anymore. ce

  3. no veggies in them … just meat … the photo merely shows you the “possibilities” that you could do with them … 🙂 … abby and cj LOVE the beef and really like the chicken …

  4. Great blog! Ok, does Emma eat these lunches cold or does she have access to a microwave to heat them up at lunch? Thanks for doing this! Its a real service to the lunch makers in all famlies whose kids now rebel after 6 straight years of peanut butter & jelly and turkey sandwiches.

    • Emma eats these fully cooked, at room temperature. She says she likes them that way, and the only one that is probably horrible–but I ask her repeatedly and she says she loves ’em–is the chicken shu mai. Even if she could nuke them…they’d be worse: You never want to put anything with pastry in the microwave or it becomes soggy. The good news is that Emma loves her lunches, never wants to buy them, they’re so 1-2-3 easy for me…so everyone is happy!

  5. Have you been able to find the chicken, gouda and puff pastry skewers recently? I loved these and I haven’t seen them at our Costco in months, was just curious if you new the brand name so I could try to find them elsewhere.

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