Hey #stashersquad, meet Chef Carla Contreras! She's a mama, a professional chef (seen on season 12 of Chopped), and founder of the online cooking school Cook+Chop, which is launching in NYC this September. She packs the most amazing lunches and snacks for her little ones, so read on!
I found Stasher bags about six months ago and have been obsessed ever since! Having two toddlers and trying to carry glass jars for all their food on the go was insane to say the least! Here is a sample day of how we use Stasher bags in our daily lives.
Our day with Stasher Bags:
9 p.m.: The night before: I pack Ella and Massimo’s lunch, Banana Burritos, Apple Slices With Date Caramel, and Cheese Sticks With Dried Cranberries and Pepitas.
9:15 p.m.: The night before: I freeze a banana and 1 cup of greens for my matcha smoothie. Having it in one bag ready to go is key! I also put all my dry powders, like matcha, chia seeds, and collagen powder, in my dry blender.
5 a.m.: Before my kids get up: I work and write. I often pull a grain-free granola bar from the freezer. Stasher bags are amazing for keeping food fresh in the freezer!
7 a.m.: Breakfast: Often the night before, I will wash and cut fruit and put it in a Stasher bag with a dry tea towel. This will keep the fruit crisp and fresh. My kiddos eat oatmeal and yogurt most mornings.
7:30 a.m.: After breakfast: I pack Ella’s food with an ice pack and put it in her bag for school.
7:40 a.m.: My breakfast: I make my matcha smoothie. I toss my Stasher bag of ingredients with my almond milk, blend, and we are ready to go!
10 a.m.: Snack time: Ella eats her bag filled with cheese, crackers, cranberries, and pepitas at school. Massimo eats his after I get him from playtime.
12 p.m.: Lunch: Massimo and I get Ella from school and go to the park or library. I bring Banana Burritos, Apple Slices and the Date Caramel. My kiddos are huge fans of Stasher bags picnics. They love having their own bags!
1:30 p.m.: Snack before naptime: This can change daily, but I use them for everything from homemade popcorn to fresh fruit or maybe even a healthy treat I am testing.
2 p.m.: My lunch: I usually make a huge salad. I eat before or after I put the kiddos down. I work during their naps. I use Stasher bags to store veggies that I have cut like sliced cucumbers or carrot ribbons. They are super convenient for meal prep.
4 p.m.: Afternoon snack: When the kids get up from their nap, they are starving! I pack whatever we have, like fresh fruit, some almond butter, and pretzels, and we head out. On the weekends, we love to drive out to local farms. I may pack a sandwich if we aren’t going to be home for a real sit-down dinner.
6:30 p.m.: Dinner: This changes all the time and depends on what I am testing or styling for clients or my Instagram.
8:30 p.m.: Treat: I often love a chocolate chip cookie dough ball with a warm cup of chamomile lavender tea latte. It’s my favorite way to unwind after a long day.
9 p.m.: Get ready for the next day! I repeat the first two steps I outlined above. It makes our mornings run so much more smoothly!
I am always looking for ways to eat food on the go! We go to the park, the library, drive out to farms on the weekend. These travel well and my kids love them. I put a small drizzle of honey, but feel free to skip it or add your favorite jam. (Serves 2)
2 tortillas of your choice
1 banana cut in half
2 tbsp. nut or seed butter, divided
1/8 tsp. honey, per tortilla (optional)
1/16 tsp. hemp seeds, per tortilla (optional)
1/16 tsp. cinnamon, per tortilla (optional)
- Lay the tortillas on a flat, clean surface like a cutting board.
- Add 1 tablespoon of nut or seed butter to the middle of the tortilla and spread around to make an even layer. This will be the “glue” that keeps the tortilla together.
- Cut the banana in half and place in the center of the tortilla.
- Add the honey, hemp seeds, and cinnamon to each tortilla.
- Roll up like a burrito.
Apples Slices With Date Caramel
Your apple slices will depend on the size of your child. My kids like thin pieces. My son, Massimo, does not like the skin. You can peel it if you wish. The juice is to prevent the apple from turning brown. (Serves 2)
1/2 cup pitted dates, about 6 Medjool dates
1/2 cup boiling water to soak dates in
2 tbsp.. tahini or your preferred nut or seed butter
1/16 tsp. sea salt
- Soak the pitted dates in a bowl (I use a liquid measuring cup) with the boiling water for 10 to 15 minutes. Reserve the liquid (pour back into measuring cup).
- Add the dates, tahini, sea salt, and 1/4 cup of the reserved water to a blender or food processor and blend. If it is too thick, add 1 tablespoon of water at a time to loosen it up.
- Serve with apple slices.
- Store in the refrigerator up to one week.
Chef Carla Note: To keep apple slices from turning brown, toss them in 1/4 tsp. to 1/2 tsp. orange or lemon juice.
Cheese Sticks With Crackers, Cranberries, and Pepitas
This may seem like a no-brainer recipe. I have had parents ask me where to get cheese sticks with less waste. The dried fruit and pepitas are optional and can vary depending on the age of your child. Think about how you can customize this and use it as a template for yourself or family. For me personally, I love two hard-boiled eggs + the cheese, the pepitas, and the cranberries. The recipe can be doubled or tripled as needed. (Serves 1)
1 ounce of your favorite cheese (my kids love gouda)
2 tsp. dried cranberries
2 tsp. pepitas
5 to 10 crackers
- Cut the cheese into sticks and place the rest of the ingredients into a Stasher bag.