Today’s post gives tons of quick tips for packing lunch for your kiddos! Thank you so much to our lovely Guest Blogger Amy for your valuable input!
Every Mom who has packed a lunch knows, it never fails that the kids will change what they want to eat in a millisecond based on what their fellow students have. This is the worst when you are trying to use less processed foods. If lunch is the area you are working on, I have some ideas for you.
I pack lunch for my 4 year old 4 days a week and my 1 year old twice a week. They get very similar but not exact lunches (the 1 year old can’t eat raw carrots, the 4 year old has decided opinions.)
Here’s my formula:
- 3 veggie or fruit items: Cucumbers, carrots, berries, oranges (especially mandarins and clementines!), apples (coat them in a bit of orange juice after slicing to prevent browning), snow pease, sugar snap peas, cooked broccoli, cauliflower, olives, chick peas / garbanzo beans, black beans, melon, pineapple. You can use canned, look for ones canned in juice instead of syrup. All of these have made their way into the lunch box at one time or the other.
Mom tip: If fruit snacks are your kiddos weakness, go for blueberries. They’re similar in size and shape.
- 1 Carb: Popcorn (for the older set), plantain chips, Terra chips, bread (sandwich, plain, garlic knots, you name it!), crackers, pasta, rice, whole grain goldfish (because food envy), Faro, Barley, Buckwheat, oatmeal, pretzels.
Mom tip: If you child is afraid to try things like barley, call it “barley rice” so it has a familiar name.
- 1-2 Proteins: Cheese sticks, almonds, cashews, sliced cheese, yogurt (check the content!), tuna, egg, nut/sunflower butters, edamame, lentils, cottage cheese, pease, soba noodles, quinoa, beans, hummus
Mom tip: Combine your categories! Quesadillas, sandwiches, cottage cheese with fruit, yogurt with fruit, smoothies, hummus and pita or pretzels make for a tasty spin on classics.
- 1 drink: I mostly send water in reusable bottles but every once in a while I send a juice box. I avoid apple because of the sugar content and tend to get low sugar 100% juice, but we are currently on a lemonade kick so I send that. (Boxes are just for the 4 year old, 1 year old just gets water, because mess!)
Mom tip: Let them pick their water bottle if possible. Less complaining about other’s juice boxes if they have a cool Spiderman or Elsa or just a favorite color water bottle.
For me, as you may have noticed, I can’t pack meat. No poultry or beef, I can only send fish due to school restrictions. These are great options if you can send them. Look for lower sodium options, and especially those that look like they are made from real turkey breast and roasts. Roll them up with a slice of cheese. Cut them and make skewers with veggies. Have fun with it!
A favorite of the four year old, is an interactive lunch.
- One of her favorites is making her own rice rolls: I send small seaweed sheets, sticky rice and julienned vegetables.
- Build your own tacos: Black beans, shredded cheese, avocado, tortillas and toppings.
- Mediterranean feast: pita, hummus, tzatziki, lettuce, falafel, olives
- Pasta bar: Pasta, peas, parmesan, a little sauce.
These are the days I get an empty lunch box!
I think Bento boxes have saved my lunch brain. They give me compartments so I can visually see that I need to put in a variety. There are so many great options out there, ranging from $14 for 4 to $50 for 1. It is up to you and your preferences. I use a Goodbyn Heros and Pret a Paquets. Other recommendations: Easy Lunchboxes, Yumbox, Planet Box, Ice cube trays (if it is for home), and many more.
Optional accessories for consideration: silicone cupcake liners, bento food picks, insulated tub for soups.
You can see that it is a loose formula and gather from the pictures that there are things that children consistently eat. Do you have questions? Different concerns? Curious about whether a certain lunch box is going to work? Let me know! I have access to a large group of bento packing mavens and can look up anything you want to know.
Have more quick tips for packing lunch? We’d love for you to share your great ideas in our Facebook PFF Community Page.