Chapel Hill Chef Offers Back-to-School Lunchbox Tips and Recipes


Published:

Chef Diggs and his daughters enjoy getting ready for school.

What’s in your child’s lunchbox? If you’re using recipes from last year and noticing that food is returning home uneaten, check out these tips from Chef Teddy Diggs, executive chef at Il Palio restaurant in Chapel Hill. Although he has formal training from the Culinary Institute of America, he still pulls parent duty packing school lunches for his two daughters. Here are this top chef’s top picks for getting creative with lunchbox fare so your child will look forward to opening that lunchbox. Plus, check out two recipes he uses for his girls.

1. Plan. Chefs and home cooks alike spend a lot of time each week planning what they are going to cook. School lunches should not be any different. While planning the weekly menu, asks your child to identify some of his or her favorite foods that he or she would like to eat for lunch. Encouraging your child to participate in the planning (and perhaps preparing) improves the chances that the lunch will actually get eaten.

 

2. Think outside of the (lunch) box. As good as a sandwich can be, it is only the beginning of possibilities for a school lunch “main course.” Pack hot lunches—such as dinner leftovers—to add variety and create a delicious school experience. Here’s a trick: In the morning, pour boiling water into a thermos and let it warm the container for a few minutes. Discard the water and add the food for an instant “hot pack” that keeps food warm all day! Left-over chicken meatballs are a favorite with my girls! Other fun recipe ideas? Try noodle soup, beans and rice and pastas or even a late breakfast with brown sugar and raisin oatmeal.

3. Plate It Pretty. The way that food is presented can affect a diner’s appetite—even with our kids. Take effort to keep the school lunches clean and organized. Securely wrap food and choose a lunchbox that reflects the personality of your child. And don’t forget to pack a personalized napkin note! (Below, Chef Diggs and his daughters ready lunchboxes.)

 

 

Diggs Family Oatmeal From Chef Teddy Diggs, executive chef at Il Palio

Serves 4-5

Ingredients

Water, 3 cups
Old-fashioned oats, 2 cups
Salt, 1 teaspoon
Unsweetened apple or pear juice, 1 cup
Walnuts, coarsely chopped, ¼ cup
Banana, mashed with a fork, 1 each
light brown sugar, ¼ cup
Golden raisins, ¼ cup
Ground cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon


Method

Bring 3 cups water to boil in heavy medium saucepan. Add oats and salt. Lower the heat to medium and stir until oats are softened and thick, about 5 minutes. Stir in the apple or pear juice, brown sugar, raisins and cinnamon. Reduce heat to low and stir in the bananas and nuts. Continue to cook for 2-3 minutes.

The oatmeal will stiffen a bit in the thermos, so it should be slightly looser than serving it straight off. Adjust the consistency with water as needed.
 


Chef Teddy Diggs’ Braised Chicken Meatballs Executive chef at Il Palio, Chapel Hill

Serves 5-6

Ingredients

Ground chicken; 3 pounds
Ground pork (optional); 1 pound (or 1 pound more of ground chicken)
Eggs, whole; 4 each
Milk, whole; ¾ cup
Breadcrumb, panko; 3 cups
Salt; 2 Tablespoons
Black Pepper, fresh course ground; 2 teaspoons
Extra Virgin Olive oil, ¼ cup plus ¼ cup to finish the plate
Crushed red chilies; 1 Tablespoon
Onion, Spanish, small diced; 2 each
Celery, small diced; 4 ribs
Carrot, large, small diced; 2
Garlic, minced; 2 cloves
Rosemary, fresh; 1 whole sprig
Thyme, Fresh; 2 whole sprigs
Tomato Sauce; as needed


Method

Place ¼ cup of extra virgin olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium high heat. Once the oil has come to temperature, add the onions, celery, carrots, garlic, thyme, rosemary and 1 tablespoon of the salt. Sauté the ingredients, stirring frequently so that the vegetables do not brown. After about 10 minutes, the vegetables will have become soft and will smell delicious. Add chili flakes and black pepper to toast. Cook for about 1 more minute. Turn off the heat and allow the vegetables to cool down in the pan.

Remove the thyme and rosemary sprig, although any of the leaves that came off during the cooking process can stay.

In a large bowl combine the milk, eggs, breadcrumbs and remaining salt. Add the ground meats and cooled vegetable mixture and combine with your hands until all ingredients are thoroughly incorporated. Cover the meatball mixture and place in the refrigerator until chilled.

Roll the meat mixture into desired ball size. This recipe yields about 36 balls for Il Palio.

Sear the meatballs in a large pot with ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil. The meatballs should achieve a rich brown crust. Add your tomato sauce and a bit of water and allow the meatballs to simmer, covered for 30 minutes.

Garnish as desired and serve! Eat! Enjoy!

 

Edit ModuleShow Tags

Related Content

March 2018 Festivals in the Triangle

Welcome spring with these family-friendly festivals in Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill and surrounding towns.

Family Performances in the Triangle

Nothing beats theater and live shows for beauty, suspense, laughs and learning. Check out what's happening this month on local stages.

March 2018: Our Picks for Fun Family Outings

Carnival for the Kids, Jackie’s Puppapalooza Open Dog Show and Open House at NCSU’s College of Veterinary Medicine.
Edit Module

About this Blog

News, Fun, Deals

Parenting news, opinions, family fun, free offers

About This Blog

Karen Shore lives in Holly Springs with her husband and two sons. By day, she works at the Holly Springs Chamber of Commerce and by night, she's a cook, chauffeur, tutor, secretary and amateur therapist for her family. She will blog about family fun in the Triangle — including freebies and news that matters to local parents. Check back here Mondays and Thursdays for her weekday and weekend fun blog posts. 

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Calendar

February 2018

Run Club meets every Sunday at 8 a.m. in Midtown Raleigh or Wake Forest. Stroller friendly; children invited. 

Cost: $10/run or $100/annual pass

Where:
Optimist Park Community Center/Greenways
5900 Whittier Drive
Raleigh, NC  27609
View map »


Sponsor: FIT4MOM
Telephone: 919-348-0472
Contact Name: Missy Currin
Website »

More information

Join Mindful Families of Durham, a Buddhist-inspired spiritual community that supports area parents, caregivers, and their children in the practice of mindfulness and the understanding of the...

Cost: Free

Where:
Erwin Road
Durham, NC  27705
View map »


Sponsor: Mindful Families of Durham
Contact Name: Adam, Laura, Josh, Sumi
Website »

More information

Celebrate Black and African-American artists and stories. Ages 5-11 and caregiver.

Cost: Free

Where:
N.C. Museum of Art
2110 Blue Ridge Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27607
View map »


Website »

More information

Design, build and test a straw rocket that flies as far as possible, then scale it up to build your own stomp rocket. In partnership with NC State Engineering Ambassadors.

Cost: $7 ages 1 and older

Where:
Marbles Kids Museum
201 E. Hargett St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
View map »


Website »

More information

Participants develop their naturalist skills and understanding of local nature. Ages 5-8 with parent. Register online.

Cost: $8/resident, $10/nonresident

Where:
Stevens Nature Center/Hemlock Bluffs
2616 Kildaire Farm Rd.
Cary, NC
View map »


Telephone: 919-387-5980
Website »

More information

Join New York Times bestselling author and distinguished scholar Carole Boston Weatherford in this celebration of the poetry of music and musicians — from North...

Cost: Free

Where:
North Carolina Museum of History
5 E. Edenton St
Raleigh, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

Discover how animals prepare for cold weather and which ones hibernate during the winter months. Play games and take a short hike around the pond to look for signs of wintering...

Cost: Free

Where:
Historic Yates Mill County Park
4620 Lake Wheeler Rd.
Raleigh, NC
View map »


Telephone: 919-856-6675
Website »

More information

Learn about volunteer opportunities at the museum, meet current participants and ask questions about the application process.

Cost: Free

Where:
N.C. Museum of Natural Sciences
121 W. Jones St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
View map »


Website »

More information

Enjoy a performance from Chapel Hill's own Apple Chill Cloggers, a dance troupe dedicated to the performance, preservation and proliferation of music and dance from the southern Appalachian...

Cost: $3/person

Where:
Century Center
100 N. Green St.
Carrboro, NC  27510
View map »


Website »

More information

Chase away your family's winter blues on a winter scavenger hunt. Meet at the Bobby G. Wilder Visitor Center to receive a list of winter items that you'll need to find as fast as...

Cost: $15/member family; $20/nonmember family

Where:
JC Raulston Arboretum
4415 Beryl Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27606
View map »


Sponsor: JC Raulston Arboretum
Telephone: (919)513-7011
Contact Name: Elizabeth Overcash
Website »

More information

Applause! Cary Youth Theatre presents the tale of Scraps, who intends to go her own way until she happens onto an adventure that broadens her understanding of herself and the world around....

Cost: See website for fees

Where:
Cary Arts Center
101 Dry Ave.
Cary, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

Ages 6-10 create an animal puppet from a sock and learn simple ventriloquism techniques to make it talk. Register online using course code #215497.

Cost: $3

Where:
Wilkerson Nature Preserve
5229 Awls Haven Dr.
Raleigh, NC  21714
View map »


Sponsor: City of Raleigh Parks, Recreation and Cultural Resources
Telephone: 919-996-6764
Contact Name: Wilkerson staff
Website »

More information

Take the family to this play that explores what led to the Greensboro Sit-ins in the 1960s. A brief question and answer session, led by Pastor/Professor Charles Brooks, follows the play...

Cost: Free

Where:
Poplar Springs Christian Church
6115 Old Stage Road
Raleigh, NC  27603
View map »


Sponsor: Poplar Springs Christian Church
Telephone: 919-559-6018
Contact Name: Shalon Maxile

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Celebrate Tell a Fairytale Day by enjoying a nature-themed fairytale or two. Create a fairy to take home or leave in the sensory and nature play garden’s fairy village....

Cost: $4/person

Where:
Durant Nature Preserve
8305 Camp Durant Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27614
View map »


Website »

More information

Examine animal mounts, skulls, tracks, scat and more and observe animals in action on an around-the-pond hike. Ages7-14. Registration required online. 

Cost: $6/child

Where:
Historic Yates Mill County Park
4620 Lake Wheeler Rd.
Raleigh, AL
View map »


Telephone: 919-856-6675
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

See the play produced by students, who created the set design, stage make-up, choreography, costumes and masks, and more.

Cost: Free

Where:
The ArtsCenter
300-G E. Main St.
Carrboro, NC  27510
View map »


Website »

More information

See a screening of "Fattitude," a feature-length documentary that exposes how popular culture fosters fat prejudice, and then offers an alternative way of thinking. Lindsey Averill and...

Cost: $25/person

Where:
Mission Valley Cinema
2109 Avent Ferry Rd .
Raleigh, FL   27606
View map »


Contact Name: Lindsey Averill
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Children delight in discoveries of shapes, colors and textures in nature. Ages 1 and older with parent. Registration required.

Cost: $8/resident, $10/nonresident

Where:
Stevens Nature Center/Hemlock Bluffs
2616 Kildaire Farm Rd.
Cary, NC
View map »


Telephone: 919-387-5980
Website »

More information

Children delight in discoveries of shapes, colors and textures in nature. Ages 1 and older with parent. Registration required.

Cost: $8/resident, $10/nonresident

Where:
Stevens Nature Center/Hemlock Bluffs
2616 Kildaire Farm Rd.
Cary, NC
View map »


Telephone: 919-387-5980
Website »

More information

Learn to prepare a meal inspired from Mexico. Register online. Choose course #109616.

Cost: $35/resident, $46/nonresident

Where:
Herbert C. Young Community Center
101 Wilkinson Ave.
Cary, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

See the play produced by students, who created the set design, stage make-up, choreography, costumes and masks, and more.

Cost: Free

Where:
The ArtsCenter
300-G E. Main St.
Carrboro, NC  27510
View map »


Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Children delight in discoveries of shapes, colors and textures in nature. Ages 1 and older with parent. Registration required.

Cost: $8/resident, $10/nonresident

Where:
Stevens Nature Center/Hemlock Bluffs
2616 Kildaire Farm Rd.
Cary, NC
View map »


Telephone: 919-387-5980
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

A wonderfully kid-paced hour featuring music, play and dancing with toddler stars singing on the mic at Cotton's gently amplified & participatory music show. Children delight in...

Cost: Free with admission

Where:
Pump It Up Raleigh
10700 World Trade Blvd, #112
Raleigh, NC  27617
View map »


Sponsor: Pump it Up
Telephone: 919-828-3344
Contact Name: Owner/manager Kellie Paterson McHugh
Website »

More information

Kids enjoy an hour of yoga connected to the movie, "Sing," pizza and fun while parents enjoy a night out.

Cost: $35/child, $20/additional child

Where:
Little Guru Kids Yoga and Creative Arts
215 Glenwood Ave., Suite A
Raleigh, NC  27603
View map »


Sponsor: Little Guru Kids Yoga
Telephone: 919-720-4921
Contact Name: Jen Bluestone
Website »

More information

Learn about owls and take an evening hike in search of them and other nocturnal species. See what their homes looks like, and take home instructions on how to build an owl box....

Cost: Free

Where:
Lake Crabtree County Park
1400 Aviation Pkwy.
Morrisville, NC  27560
View map »


Sponsor: Lake Crabtree County Park
Telephone: 919-460-3355
Contact Name: Carol Cunningham
Website »

More information

Enjoy a contemporary spin on Shakespeare’s whimsical tale of fairies, lovers and woodland mischief. Purchase tickets online.

Cost: $10-$15

Where:
Kennedy Theatre
2 E. South St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
View map »


Website »

More information

Dr. Elliot Engel will examine the bizarre and turbulent life of Poe to uncover the roots of his unique genius. Using anecdotes, analysis, and large doses of humor, Professor Engel will bring to...

Cost: $27 general admission

Where:
Raleigh Moravian Church
1816 Ridge Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27607
View map »


Sponsor: Joel Lane Museum House
Telephone: 919-616-8873
Contact Name: Lanie Hubbard
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Join Brier Creek Commons and the North Carolina Association of Educators to celebrate Read Across America with a Brier Creek Green Eggs & Ham Breakfast. Breakfast is $6 and begins at 9...

Cost: $6/person

Where:
Barnes & Noble, Brier Creek Commons
8431 Brier Creek Pkwy.
Raleigh, NC  27617
View map »


Sponsor: American Asset Corporation
Contact Name: Erin Tharpe
Website »

More information

Participants develop their naturalist skills and understanding of local nature. Ages 5-8 with parent. Registration required.

Cost: $8/resident, $10/nonresident

Where:
Stevens Nature Center/Hemlock Bluffs
2616 Kildaire Farm Rd.
Cary, NC
View map »


Telephone: 919-387-5980
Website »

More information

Ages 13 and older with parent learn to navigate the college admissions process. Register online. Choose course #110862.

Cost: $5/resident, $6/nonresident

Where:
Middle Creek Community Center
123 Middle Creek Dr.
Apex, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

Take the family for a variety of activities and games including two sledding hills and plenty of snow for all the action. Also enjoy cornhole and life-sized chess or enjoy the...

Cost: Free

Where:
Waverly Place
Cary, NC  27518


Website »

More information

Kite lovers can enjoy a day of kite flying, contests, music, concessions and more. All ages. Registration begins at 12:30 p.m. The rain date is March 4.

Cost: Free

Where:
Bond Park
801 High House Rd.
Cary, NC  27511
View map »


Website »

More information

Select Sitters provides an opportunity for parents to meet with and have short 4-5 minute interviews with 8-10 pre-screened babysitters. All sitters in attendance have been interviewed, have...

Cost: Free

Where:
Snickerdoodles
3721 Lynn Rd #112
Raleigh, NC  27613
View map »


Sponsor: Select Sitters
Telephone: 919-561-6233
Contact Name: Kara Varnell
Website »

More information

Explore the historic heart of downtown Raleigh on a walking tour of Fayetteville Street. Tours highlight the people, places, architecture and political movements that have shaped...

Cost: Adults (18+) $10; Youth (7-17) $4; Children (6 & under) Free.

Where:
City of Raleigh Museum
220 Fayetteville St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
View map »


Website »

More information

Enjoy a contemporary spin on Shakespeare’s whimsical tale of fairies, lovers and woodland mischief. Purchase tickets online.

Cost: $10-$15

Where:
Kennedy Theatre
2 E. South St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
View map »


Website »

More information

Learn about outer space and extraterrestrial life. Ages 7-12 with family.

Cost: See website for fees

Where:
Morehead Planetarium & Science Center
250 E. Franklin St.
Chapel Hill, NC  27514
View map »


Website »

More information

Enjoy dance performances, community vocalists, a pre-show princess gathering, silent auction and more. Proceeds benefit the Me Fine Foundation, a local organization designed to provide...

Cost: $12/adult, $10/child

Where:
Stewart Theatre
2610 Cates Ave.
Raleigh, NC  27695
View map »


Sponsor: Stage Door Dance Productions
Telephone: 919-720-3036
Contact Name: Chasta Hamilton
Website »

More information

Enjoy a contemporary spin on Shakespeare’s whimsical tale of fairies, lovers and woodland mischief. Purchase tickets online.

Cost: $10-$15

Where:
Kennedy Theatre
2 E. South St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
View map »


Website »

More information

Online registration opens for PAGE of Wake County's Super Saturday event on April 28, which features enrichment workshops for gifted students. Register for morning sessions, 10 a.m.-noon...

Cost: $20-$25/session

Where:
, NC


Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...
Edit Module

Magazine

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Directories

Edit ModuleShow Tags Edit ModuleShow Tags

Annual Guides

Education Guide

The 2017-18 Education Guide offers 660 education resources in the Triangle, including area preschools, private schools, public school systems, charter schools, boarding schools and academic resources.

The Triangle Go-To Guide

Our debut Triangle Go-To Guide connects you to family fun resources across the Triangle. Plus, find out who our 2017 Readers' Favorites are.