In Good Taste

Lunch Box Confidential

David Dopkin gives up pointers on packing back-to-school lunches.

By Jane Marion | August 26, 2014, 12:56 pm

-Photo by Christianne Page
In Good Taste

Lunch Box Confidential

David Dopkin gives up pointers on packing back-to-school lunches.

By Jane Marion | August 26, 2014, 12:56 pm


-Photo by Christianne Page


Need some lunch-box inspiration for the start of the school year? We turned to David Dopkin, managing member of Miss Shirley’s Café (who also works with sister operation Classic Catering) for some tips and tricks on making the middle meal of the day the talk of the cafeteria table.

“Dare to be different,” advises the father of two (Jordana, age 6, and Graham, age 4). “In our house, we have fun with Ants on a Log (raisins on cream cheese on celery sticks), which was my favorite from my mom when I was growing up. I also like decorating a paper plate to include in a lunch box for kids to eat on. Include a fun note on an index card with stickers to brighten their day.”

The best way to get your kids out of the peanut butter-and-jelly on white rut?

Dopkin advises having kids “take ownership of their lunch.” “Instead of dreading packing late at night, have your child pick the fruit, shred a carrot with supervision, and use a cookie cutter to cut the sandwich,” he says. “My kids thoroughly enjoy being little chefs standing on their stools with aprons and chef’s jackets and hats.”

Here are Dopkin’s other creative suggestions for making lunch your kids favorite subject. 

Leftover naan bread pizza with pico de gallo and whatever protein is in the fridge: “Instead of doing a regular pizza, why not use naan?” says Dopkin. “Our family loves Indian food.”

Sunflower butter and jelly on a tortilla: “This is a new take on PBJ to mix things up,” he says.

Sliced fruit and grapes: “Use skewers or toothpicks and skewer blueberries, strawberries, and pineapple,” he says. “It’s a fun way to make sure your kids eat fruit.”

Mixed fruit parfait: “Use a small disposable clear cup and add layers of fruit and Greek yogurt,” he says. “It’s fun for the kids to see the different layers they helped create.”

Homemade granola with dried fruit: “It’s another way to introduce different grains. I did not grow up eating Wonder Bread.”

Hummus with pretzels to dip: Any types of dip work well for kids who don’t traditionally like fruits and vegetables. This is a lot healthier than French fries and ketchup and kids love to dip things."

Crepes: Crepes are easy to prepare at home. You can make them sweet or savory, and they can be eaten cold at lunch. 

For more words of wisdom from David Dopkin and a peek inside his kitchen, look for our At Home With . . . feature in Baltimore's October issue. 


Meet The Author
Jane Marion is the food and travel editor for Baltimore, where she covers food, wellness, beauty, and home and garden.

You May Also Like

In Good Taste

Annabel Lee Tavern Closing its Doors This Weekend

Owner shares memories of his beloved tribute to Edgar Allan Poe.

Food & Drink

Sip Tips: May 2017

Celebrate the season of dirt under the fingernails with these organically grown libations.

Food & Drink

Lawn Party

Whether it’s an extra-long lunch break or start of the weekend, enjoy a picnic with these Maryland-made treats.

Food & Drink

You Are Here

Scenes from the Bel-Loc Diner and UnPub 7 at the Baltimore Convention Center.

Food & Drink

Holding Court

Asian Court gets a new address in Ellicott City.

Connect With Us

Most Read


Smooth Ride
Handlebar Café brings a West Coast vibe to Fells Point.

Cinema Paradiso
The Maryland Film Festival is no longer a hidden gem. But will it be ruined by success?

Del Yeah!
DelFest is Western Maryland’s bluegrass Bonnaroo—and its best-kept secret.

The Great Outdoors
52 places to hike, bike, and paddle without leaving town.

The Baltimore Area's Best Swimming Holes
Take a dip and cool off at these local swimming spots.