If you’re on Pinterest or read any blogs from the parenting world, chances are you’ve seen gorgeous shots of lunchboxes, packed with loving care, creativity and healthful foods.

Ever wonder what they look like after the school day?

Here’s a little before and after from my house.

This is the BEFORE.  You’ve got some pear slices, butter leaf lettuce, avocado, Lunchbox Meatloaf, roasted sweet potato rounds and some coconut flakes with dried cranberries.  Oh, and ketchup.  Can’t forget the ketchup.

And here’s the AFTER.

I could have predicted this because my kids largely follow a pattern.  My son (5) always eats his fruit, eats most of any starchy food I provide, is hit or miss on the green veggies, and nibbles at his protein.  My daughter (4) eats her protein more frequently than her brother, will always eat her starchy veggies, usually eats her fruit, and rarely eats her green or yellow veggies.  (She also always, always uses up all her ketchup!)

I have found a direct correlation in their afterschool moods and attitudes and the amount of protein they have consumed.  The picture above is of my son’s lunchbox, and he was super happy this afternoon up until right before dinner.  I knew he had eaten a larger than normal portion of his protein.

Every mom I know struggles to offer her kids foods that will nourish and fill her kids’ bellies and yet has a high likelihood of actually being consumed without her presence.  I hope to offer you all some ideas along the way.  Please share your hits or misses below.

Meanwhile, here’s the recipe for the Lunchbox Meatloaf pictured above.  It is a very mild-tasting meatloaf.  (I find that strong-smelling foods are best left for at-home consumption.)  I promise to share my at-home meatloaf recipe soon – it is awesome.

Lunchbox Meatloaf

  • 1/2 TBSP + 1 tsp high quality fat (butter, ghee, lard)
  • 1 TBSP finely chopped leek (you can use onion, too)
  • 2 cloves garlic, pressed
  • 1/2 lb grassfed beef
  • 1/4 c pumpkin puree (I used homemade but imagine store-bought would work well, too.)
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • salt + pepper to taste
(You also need a skillet, a medium size mixing bowl, and a 6 cup muffin/cupcake tin.)
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Heat skillet to medium heat.  Melt 1 TBSP fat in skillet.
  3. Add leek.  Stir frequently.
  4. Add garlic.  Continue to stir, lowering heat as necessary to prevent browning.
  5. When leeks and garlic are translucent, remove from heat and set aside.
  6. Place beef in medium size mixing bowl.  Salt and pepper to taste.
  7. Add lightly beaten egg, pumpkin puree and 1 tsp fat.
  8. Work with your hands until fully mixed.  (I wear non-latex surgical gloves when I make meatloaf so I can really get in there.)
  9. Add leeks and garlic.  Continue to work with hands until all ingredients are combined.
  10. Put about 1/4 cup of mixture in each muffin cup, mashing the mixture down as much as you can.
  11. Cook at 350 degrees for 20 minutes or until internal temperature reaches 165 degrees.
  12. Let cool before removing from tin.
As always, if you play with this recipe, please share your substitutions below so others may benefit!


11 Responses to “A Little Before & After + Lunchbox Meatloaf”

  1. on 26 Oct 2012 at 8:13 amcarmen

    How do you make your ketchup? the Paleo comfort foods recipe? I LOVE that!

  2. on 26 Oct 2012 at 8:19 amKristine Rudolph

    I get the Bodacious Tomato Ketchup from Vitacost! 😉 It is honey sweetened with only 3g sugar. Plus it comes in a bag, which means I can eke out every last drop. At the rate my daughter inhales it, I wouldn’t be able to keep up on my own!

  3. on 30 Oct 2012 at 7:02 pmhot Nai Nai

    So easy..so quick…soooo good. Only problem is you have to eat more then one!!!

  4. on 30 Oct 2012 at 7:16 pmKristine Rudolph

    I am glad you liked them! Yes, I would say an adult portion is 2. The kids only got 1.

  5. on 01 Nov 2012 at 11:05 amJoy

    I am trying to decide between lunch bots, planet box and Ecolunchbox. What do you think?

  6. on 01 Nov 2012 at 11:21 amKristine Rudolph

    I use the Eco and lunchbots for snacks and the Planet Box for lunches. Love them all, so I don’t think that helps you very much! 😉

  7. on 01 Nov 2012 at 9:58 pmSandi

    I made this tonight for my protein-averse 4 year old and got the belly rub/”yum” sound sign of approval. I didn’t have the pumpkin or leeks so I used some wheat germ, ketchup and onions instead. I’m now mad that I didn’t make more with the other 1/2 lb. and freeze them. My only complaint is that the top was kind of greasy and not so pretty. But it all tasted OK and was consumed, which is what matters.

  8. on 02 Nov 2012 at 9:56 amKristine Rudolph

    Yeah, my meatloaves are not beautiful. 😉 My protein averse elder child also enjoys this, so I had it on good authority that finicky kiddos would enjoy it. Out of curiosity, why did you add wheat germ?

  9. on 02 Nov 2012 at 10:03 amSandi

    Even though this had egg, I thought it still needed something else with binding qualities. I preferred wheat germ over bread crumbs.

  10. on 02 Nov 2012 at 10:15 amKristine Rudolph

    Check out the comments on my farmers market post. It’s a back and forth with a mom of a child who has celiac about how frequently we “glutenize” things that don’t really need it. Meatloaf has always fallen into that category for me.

    I follow a whole foods vegan cookbook author and LOVE her work, but I have a tendency to un-veganize her intentionally vegan recipes. I guess it’s karma that someone would re-glutenize my un-glutenized recipe!

  11. on 05 Nov 2012 at 1:58 pmSandi

    I hadn’t even thought about the gluten issue since that’s not a dietary concern of ours. (Should it be? That’s a different discussion.) I’ll check out that other thread that you’ve mentioned.

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