How John Donohue of Stay at Stove Dad Packs a Lunch

John Donohue, a New Yorker editor and the writer behind the blog Stay at Stove Dad and new book Man with a Pan, shows us how he packs a healthy school lunch for his two girls, ages five and seven.

I have two girls, ages five and seven, and making lunch for them on school day mornings is always a pulse-raising race against time. I've been lucky so far because they don't mind eating almost the same thing ever day. This makes my life easier, but it also pains me—I love to cook a wide variety of food for them for their other meals, but doing so for school lunches is not something I've mastered yet.

The staples have been a sunflower-butter sandwich and a red-pepper humus sandwich (each girl has her preference). I make them with whole-wheat slices from Bread Alone--they make one of the few loaves without added sugar. I keep it in the freezer, and on mornings when I need to make sandwiches, I start with the frozen bread. It defrosts magically, and tastes as fresh (or almost) as the day I bought it. I usually cut the crusts off, and I always include peeled and sliced carrots for some extra nutrition. I'll add a few baked Goldfish or other crackers for fun, and sometimes I toss in a bit of dark chocolate as a surprise (or a little note; once I got a hand-written reply with a frowny face from my eldest telling me I'd given her the wrong crackers). Last year, my sister-in-law gave them Laptop Lunch bento boxes, and that has made the packing easier. I no longer waste plastic bags, and I feel good about that. The lack of variety, though, is something I'd like to work on!


  • Sandwiches (humus or sunflower butter)
  • Peeled carrots
  • Goldfish or other fun crackers
  • A piece of dark chocolate (every so often)


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