Thursday, September 18, 2008

Let's Do Lunch!

I've really been getting into preparing lunches for my kids this year. (Well, for Jackson anyway. The other kids have been mostly buying lunch at school.) What motivated me was meeting Biggie from Lunch in a Box at the BlogHer conference this summer. She's got a great site about all things bento. She has terrific pictures and instructions and ideas of healthy lunches packed in environmentally friendly containers. (Speaking of environmentally friendly containers, the lunch boxes from Lands' End are awesome for just this purpose! And I have one lunch container to give away to one lucky reader courtesy of Lands' End! Details at the bottom of this post.)

Well, I wasn't about to go to all the trouble Biggie does. I mean, I'd hate to lose my status as a total slacker. But I did want to make the kids' lunches a little more interesting than your basic pb&j sandwich and chips.

Here are a couple of my very simple ideas.


I made a quadruple batch of pumpkin muffins and froze a few dozen of them. Now I can just pull out a muffin and put it in a container in my child's lunchbox. It keeps their lunch nice and cold and thaws so it's ready to eat by lunchtime. Plus, it's a sweet, yet healthy snack. They're also great for kiddos (a-hem, Savannah) who don't like to eat a big breakfast. Just pop one in the microwave for a few seconds on defrost and you're good to go!

I send snacks to school in reusable containers like this one I found at The Container Store. These are organic Snikiddy Snacks in mac-n-cheese flavor.

Instead of a plain ole sandwich, I sometimes put fillings (in this case, it's ham, cheese and Romaine lettuce) in a tortilla, roll it up, and then slice it into bite-sized pieces.

I sometimes send yogurt with granola or other cereal than can be sprinkled on it. It's fun, tasty and nutritious. In my container is Kashi Go Lean Crunch.

I usually buy large containers of Stonyfield Farms organic vanilla yogurt and scoop out a portion into a Tupperware snack cup. I send fresh fruit along with it and the kids can mix it in.

Here's another cool container I found at The Container Store. I fill it with fresh veggies and Marie's ranch dressing or fruit and yogurt mixed with cinnamon and sugar for dipping. The kids love these!


I got tired of the kids accidentally tossing or losing my silverware so I started sending them with plastic spoons and forks a couple years ago. This year, trying to be green, I got each of them a set of these stackable utensils for school lunches only. I've drilled in their heads that they are to bring them home under penalty of death. But if aliens swoop down and steal their utensils, at least it won't be breaking up my set of silverware at home. I have a few of these cute ice thingys in different shapes, to keep their lunches chilled too.

Instead of a sandwich, try giving your child some tuna, chicken or egg salad with crackers to spread it on.

I found these Crayons in the organic aisle at my grocery store. Jackson loves these and unlike most juices, these are pear based instead of apple based. For those who are sensitive to the salicylates in apples, these are an awesome find!

I found these cute little Rubbermaid juice boxes at The Container Store too. I can buy large containers of juice and just pour some into this container for lunchtime. It's much cheaper and more environmentally friendly.

Another way to make your sandwiches fun is by using a cookie cutter to make different shapes. You could even put a face on them with ketchup (too bad we're out of it thanks to Brooklyn), mustard, cream cheese, yogurt, olives, or other veggies. Cut out pumpkin shapes or leaves in the fall, snowmen or Christmas trees in the winter, hearts, shamrocks, or Easter bunnies for other holidays.

Here's an absolute favorite lunch of both Jackson & Lexi - Annie's Homegrown mac & cheese . I just cook it up in the morning and spoon it into these thermal containers from Lands' End. The kids tell me that the mac-n-cheese stays warm until lunchtime. This is a great way to send soup, pasta, or leftovers with your child for a delicious, hot alternative to sandwiches.

And one of my readers will get a Lands' End lunchbox of their choice for FREE! Choose from half a dozen styles in a whole rainbow of colors! <---- check them out here. And, of course, like everything else from Lands' End, they're well-made and durable as well as stylish and functional. You can't go wrong.
So, leave me a comment here with your favorite school lunch idea and I'll choose a random winner on Wednesday, September 23.

508 comments:

1 – 200 of 508   Newer›   Newest»
Janice said...

I like to pack cheese cubes with crackers to replace a sandwich when I can't talk them into PB&J!

pednurse said...

I have picky eaters so I pack a lot of lunches....and strange ones at that. I use reusable containers as well. My kids love crackers (either wheat thins or club) and string cheese, along with apple sauce, yogurt, and a drink (which varies day to day depending on what I have on hand). And we couldn't live without those cool shaped ice packs (we have those too!) to keep everything cold enough to be both food-safe and tasty!

Leah C. said...

I like the Hot Stuff Lunch Box in Garnet!
Easy yummy lunch: Quesadillas with whole wheat tortillas and not-just-cheese filling: add chicken pieces or ground beef plus green peppers, tomatoes, and onions. yum! On the side are grape tomatoes and the ubiquitous baby carrots.

Jacqui said...

I love the idea of rollups instead of a plain old sandwich. Tortillas/wraps are so versatile. They are good too with a little cinnamon/sugar/butter on top and tosted in the oven. Jacqui F

Margee said...

First of all Dawn--I LOVE your healthy and green ideas. I may incorporate them into our repertoire. One thing my 9 year old likes is an apple sliced into thin slices and a container with sliced cheddar cheese. They taste wonderful together. Also, whenever I make her lunch, I always put in a (chocolate) hug and kiss to let her know I'm thinking of her.

SarahDragon said...

I pack my husband's lunch for work every day since my kids are not old enough for school yet, and he always wants the leftovers from supper the night before : ) Even though they have a microwave where he works, he always eats his lunch cold, and told me his co-workers asked about it the other day... He told them that he already knew what it tasted like warm : ) LOL!! He's a really quiet guy, and his favorite foods to take are things that draw his co-workers notice, since most of them are bachelors and don't get home-cooked meals... He had me fix mussels one time, and came home grinning about how everyone gathered around to watch him eat lunch and ask questions : ) I'm so blessed to have a husband who appreciates my cooking and has such a great sense of humor : )

Bev The Softball Mom said...

WOW, would love to win these. Awesome lunch ideas too! Thanks

ShellyBlake said...

Visiting Biggie's site also got my creative juices flowing...which isn't easy w/ a picky 8 yr old! Needing to send lunches daily for summer camp (our first time) we found that leftover tacos makes a great lunch! I use old butter dishes (so if they don't make it home, it's no loss) and heat up 2 portions of leftover meat. Then heat up two tortillas & wrap them in tin foil. These two go in their own lunch bag. Then the shredded cheese goes in a snack baggie & goes w/ a frozen Go-Gurt and a drink (& snacks) in a separate bag. Keeping them separate hopefully keeps the hot-hot & the cold-cold. After the success of tacos for lunch we're eager to try some new ideas! My son could totally use a new lunch box!

Nicole said...

We would love a new lunch box and I'm digging the thermos to!

~Nicole L.

Colleen said...

I would love to win this! My daughter's favorite lunch is cheese, crackers, and pepperoni OR salad. I love some of the ideas you shared and I need to buy thermoses so I can send in warm lunch with my girls.

Tricia said...

Well, we homeschool so the kids don't have to take a lunch every day. They just eat my leftovers.

However, they do go to an academic co op once a week.

The lunch at that place is ridiculously expensive so I send them with a lunch.

They're getting a little tired of PB&J. I'd love to win those thermal containers!

diddlesgirl said...

wow! you are such a good mom! one, becuase you take the time to make healthy fun lunches, and two, becuase your children actually eat them. last year my kindergartener would only take chicken nuggets (in a thermal container) or a grilled cheese sandwich, carrots, and apples or grapes. strangely, by the end of the school year (yes a whole year of this) he finally decided to just not eat lunch and throw the food away so that we wouldn't know. this year, he is eating in the cafeteria- he can throw their food and time away instead. (don't wory, he eats good meals at home, it's just that most of the food he will eat is not very transportable)

oh, pick me! maybe the realy cool lunchbox will convince him to try new foods?

Dianne said...

If a school is a No Peanut zone, you could use SunButter (sunflower seed butter) instead. It tastes quite good.

Baby Tunnel Exodus said...

Oh No. If this is the "slacker" version I'm just Doomed. Please take pity on me and enter me in your contest even though I don't have a lunch box recipe. Clearly, I Need It. Blessings, Whitney

Anonymous said...

I send pretzel sticks stuck into cubed ham and cubed cheese like lolipops. In a tupperware container, they'll fit fine sideways, or if you half the pretzel sticks, they can even stand up. A fun way to get protein in! My 3 yr old loves it.

I also make bite sized sandwiches with mini-cookie cutters. I bought a set of little cutters from Pampered Chef that has a bunch of different shapes.

Also, trail mix is a life saver. A handful of any kind of cereal (cheerios, fiber one, puffins, whatever) with a handful of dried fruit and maybe some nuts or pretzels, or goldfish, yogurt covered cranberries. Pretty much anything goes as long as it's dry. It's a good way to get in the fruit and grain and the kids like picking out their favorite stuff for the mix.

Thanks for the suggestions, Dawn! I've enjoyed reading your blog for a while now. I only have 2 little ones, but some days they feel like 6! I love the way you obviously love your kids, no matter what kind of messes they get into. Thank you for being an optimistic rolemodel for all Moms!

Sarah H. from Austin

Angela said...

My son loves variety. Not having the same thing all the time. And though he's four he does like to eat, sometimes, and he doesn't eat breakfast so I put a fair amount of food in there.

Usually a 100% juice bag or box, or even the watered down juice capri suns, either a pbj sandwich or chicken nuggets or raman noodles (his preschool is awesome and will heat foods back up if you send them in a microwaveable container), fruit or applesauce, and animal crackers or saltines, depending on what we have.

I love finding the small apples at the store because its just the right size and less waste. We only do fruit snacks like one week a month as a treat. Chips are a rarity. He also really likes carrots or celery and any kind of meat. So if we have roast or chicken the night before he is all over it.

I love pyrex (he eats in his classroom with 3-7 other kids so things really don't get lost) for keeping his food in because we are trying to limit the plastic containers. BPA is part of the reason but more is as plastic is used we've seen that it slowly shreds around the sides and I don't want my kids eating plastic. But I know what works for one isn't meant for all.

I think more than anything my four year old LOVES having his lunch packed like a big kid. With options and variety. It works for us.

purple furry hazlenut said...

OK, now I feel like a dork, because I just commented on your previous post about salicylates, which you are obviously all over! Duh!

It's cool you can get snacks and cool drinks for those with sensitivities. I expect I'll be making and baking a lot over the next few years.

katie said...

Baked potatoes stay hot pretty well as long as you're not trying to store them next to a milk carton or anything. And if you like eggs, I've used this recipe with many variations in lunches: http://kalynskitchen.blogspot.com/2006/10/egg-muffins-revisited-again.html

SuburbanCorrespondent said...

Leftovers, warmed up in the microwave (we homeschool). But I can still use the lunchbox for my teen when he spends the day at the local community college.

This post made me hungry.

K. said...

We're not packing school lunches yet, but I like to take cold sesame noodles, or a turkey sandwich with pesto on it.

Tiesha said...

Ooh-great ideas! Thanks for the tips, and count me in on the drawing!

Black Sheep Dancing said...

I have to pack lunches for myself, so opening up a pretty little lunch makes my day. (Also a big fan of lunchinabox!)However, I'm lazy, so it'simple things like cutting things up small. Small things are cute. Besides, those bento boxes are small, so you have to get creative in your packing, although apparently if you smoosh your corn on top of mashed potatoes it grosses people out...

Stephanie said...

One of things we love here are dips, so I'll sometimes make a low fat spinach dip or a 7 layer dip and send those in the lunch along with whole grain bread (cut into small squares) or pita chips.

Always a huge hit!

Stephanie said...

What a cool mom you are! (I'm sure your kids would agree). :P If you're a slacker, then what in the world does that make me? I just give my kids money to buy their lunches so I don't have to hassel with packing them. Hehe.

Karen Lynn :o) said...

I have to be honest..I'm totally clueless when it comes to packing lunches. I really didn't know there was anything beyond the regular PB&J! I try to make well balanced meals, and end up packing so much that my kids can't get it eaten in time. I like to pack the single cups of fruit. And of course I put in a cookie, or some kind of yummy dessert!

Juliana said...

Lately, my 9 year old has been liking carrots with a side of peanut butter. An interesting combination, to be sure!

Erin said...

My kids prefer hummus instead of ranch dip with cut vegetables and cherry tomatoes. They also enjoy a hard-boiled egg (especially after reading "Ramona Quimby, age 8" this summer!)And some mornings I heat up Zoodles (do you have Zoodles in the states?) and pack them in a thermos.

We're not allowed to send PB at our school because of so many nut allergies... it's a weekend lunch for us now. I've heard "peabutter" is good, but have yet to try it.

Aemelia said...

I'm not super creative sadly. It most just sandwiches, carrot sticks, apple or banana and juice. I also send lunch with my husband who eats left overs. Only thing I really make is oatmeal raisen cookies my kids love them.

Kama
aemelia_eq at hotmail dot com

dorthyinoz said...

I love using the "Salad Shaker" from Storables. It is perfect for the salad lovers that hate soggy lettuce. My daughter stays at school between school letting out and color guard practice. It is pretty much family style dinning. A big batch of spaghetti is great for this.

Miss Brenda said...

My son hates variety. He has never eaten a school lunch. So every day he gets the same thing. A pb&j sandwich. (Just because I need variety sometimes I slice it diagonally. He probably doesn't eat it those days!) Cheez-it crackers. A diced peaches fruit cup. An oatmeal creme pie. A yellow delicious apple. And a pudding cup. Preferably chocolate, although he will eat butterscotch. He brings his lunch bag and his spoon home every day. I love that kid.

Angela P. said...

I made "homemade mom-ables" instead of prepackaged high fat lunchables! Easy and the kids love them. Another idea is to cook all white meat chicken nuggets that morning, place a paper towel in the soup thermos and the chicken nuggets inside. The thermos keeps them hot and the paper towel absorbs any grease that may be in them! :)

Cayla said...

I'm still in college, so I haven't gotten the chance to make a lunch for any kids yet! But the one thing I remember my mom doing for my lunches in elementary (and even into middle, I think) school was writing a note on my napkin, saying she loved me and to do well at school. Yeah, it's not food, but it's more memorable than any rainbow bread (yep, we had it), shaped ice packs, or sandwiches she sent me with!

zap1605 said...

We would love a new lunch box.

LauraLee said...

My big tip is that if I am packing lunches, I just have to make sure I do it the night before. I'm so not a morning person, and if I don't do it the night before, it doesn't get done at all. SO, I have it all set and ready to grab out of the fridge and into sacks or boxes. I loved all the new containers on the market now, thanks for sharing, Dawn!

Nadia said...

a HUGE hit in our house is a tortilla wrap(the sun dried tomato kind) spread with plain cream cheese and sliced up. they are gone in seconds.

it's been tricky coming up with lunch ideas since here in alberta you CAN'T send peanut butter due to allergies..and the big listeriosis outbreak has us totally banning sandwich meat..so we are getting creative!!

fourmonsters said...

Ooh, I, I mean, my son would love a Lands End lunch box!! I wish 'him' luck!!
Thank you,
Jody J. in PA

Lori said...

No comments about something interesting to send for your child, but I'm the kitchen manager at my son's school and the stuff I see! WOW! Kids who are already bouncing off the walls and bring energy or high-caffeine sodas to drink. Other parents send their kids with food that has to be microwaved, but don't teach their child how to use a microwave. One child cooked her hotdog for 5 minutes. Well, she set the timer for 5 minutes. I stopped it when I smelled it. Or the child who microwaved her sandwich that was wrapped in foil. Or the student who did his Mac & Cheese cup without adding the water. Smoke was billowing! (We can't be right there with each child.) Some kids eat straight junk each and every day. I love the healthy choices you have!

ClistyB said...

hey nothing beats a good ol sandwich and a cup of Jell-O pudding, huh?

Mandy said...

We do a lot of wraps (sandwich with tortilla instead of bread) but my kids prefer them whole instead of cut up. Baby carrots and ranch dressing in little containers are also a big hit.

A favorite for my hubby was "Buffalo Chicken Wrap"-microwave shredded chicken, hot sauce and a bit of butter, add shreeded cheese and blue cheese dressing, roll and go-delish!

Cold pasta salad (add some shredded chicken to round out the meal) is a favorite of mine.

LaLa said...

Packing lunches can be such a chore...love the thermos idea...hot lunch, yum! Annslee likes apples and PB..eme too

Walking With Scissors said...

Thanks for the great ideas! I especially love the tortilla bites. :)

My son is new to taking lunches to school as he is in grade one this year. His favourite is mac n cheese in his thermos but also likes a plowman's lunch. Cut up slices of sausage, cut up cheese and crackers along with fruit or veggies. :)

Slack said...

I pack my husband's lunch a couple days a week. I bake homemade white bread on Sundays and use that for his pbj (I can't get him to eat anything else!). I also always slip in a note, just like my momma used to do for me (though hers were random and he gets one every time...as long as I remember).

Sarah Slack

Heather said...

I cook a pound of pasta, put it in a container in the fridge. Open a jar of sauce and during the week the kids can put pasta and sauce in a small container for lunch. I freeze leftovers in containers for their lunchs also. My kids like tofu dogs cut up into their mac and cheese (and it adds variety) My 14 yr old daughter likes salad so I found some great containers that store not only the dressing seperately, but also an ice pack and cutlery. IKEA is great for inexpesive cutlery, if they happe to lose it you didn't pay much! I would love the Lands End containers for homemade soup! Pick Me!!!!!

Emiliy said...

i used to be really picky (i mean REALLY picky) about my foods. I went through phases where I only ate certain colors. My mom had to get creative with food dye other wise I wouldn't eat my lunch.

Melanie said...

WOW!! What great ideas! This is the 1st year my daughter has had to take her lunch to school and I know she is getting tired of lunchmeat or PB sandwiches. I will definitely be using some of your ideas.

Stephanie E. said...

My kids are wanting to take thier lunch to school this year and I'm always looking for new and fun things for them. Instead of the plain ole pb&j. I like the roll up sandwiches. Another idea is to use bread instead of a tortilla. Just cut the crust off, flatten the bread, fill and cut. With bread it's easier to cut if you put it in the freezer for about 30 minutes first. My kids also love frozen go-gurts. Pita's stuffed with meat and veggies is a big hit, too.
Stephanie E.

Kaitlin said...

I don't pack lunches for a child (because I don't have one) but I pack mine quite often. When I don't like to go with the old turkey sandwhich, I always like a tuna egg salad either on crackers or on bread. Along with that, I like to add a yogurt or some kind of fruit. Generally that fills me up, but if I need something else, I'll have a little bag of peanuts mixed with raisins. Great for a snack in the middle of the day.

Manic Mom said...

Dawn? Dawn!?!!? Is THAT YOU!?!

WHO IS THIS IMPOSTER AND WHAT HAVE YOU DONE WITH THE ORIGINAL DAWN!??!

You know! The one who has like moldy strawberries hidden throughout the house and dry-crusted and moldy pb&j's under the beds ... This is absurd!

Where oh where has my Original Dawn gone?!?!

LOL!!!

Come on over to my house and make lunches for my kids!

Tukey was embarrassed to take salami and cheese roll-ups to school without the bread because he was afraid kids would laugh at him! WTF is that all about!!?!?!?

CRAZIES I TELL YA!

Manic Mom said...

Hey, and who is this Stephanie E. posting?!?!? It's NOT ME!!! Another IMPOSTER! HOLY WOW!

Kerri said...

That is some good ideas. Thanks I will have to use some of them for my daughter. I also like to send slices up apples and a small canter of penutbutter to dip them in. My daughter loves it.

Super Alto said...

My lunch tip? I make my kids pack their own lunches! That way, there aren't any complaints, and I'm fairly certain they'll eat what they find in their lunchbox.

They do have to follow certain guidelines, of course. Sandwich containing some sort of protein (no PB for the 4th grader, because the elementary school is nut-free), fruit, water or milk (usually chocolate), and one treat. I think my 6th-grader is slipping juice pouches into his bag instead of milk, but he drinks his milk at breakfast and dinner.

tanyaf said...

What great ideas! Would definitely jazz up the two or three lunches I keep recycling. (The ideas that is, not the actual lunch).

freebutterfly said...

I will definitely be copying this and keeping it for when my older daughter starts school next year! Thank you for passing on such excellent ideas!!

But really, your slacker title is rapidly slipping! ;-)

Vanessa

Joanna said...

Dawn, I wish I had some fun home-lunch tip to share, but I just don't! Maybe that's why I need this lunchbox...it can give me a much-needed boost to be a better "lunch mom". HELP ME!

DAWN said...

Oh my gosh, those are great ideas! I guess my favorite lunch idea is for my 10 year old to make his own lunch! That way he eats it anyway... As a treat, he gets 10 lunches a month from the cafeteria. Our schools cafeteria now has a salad bar with fresh fruit and salad daily...cool huh?

Cropaddict said...

My daughter often asks to take a lunch, but often when we have nothing that she would eat to send. That lunch box could be a great reminder for her to plan ahead.

zhcmom said...

I buy yogurt from Costco that still has a plastic lid, (not many from the store do these days) and use those in lunch. I don't care if they get lost.

If someone forgets a lunch bag, the next day they get pilot bread with cheese is all. They are motivated to bring that bag back home!

I have cooked up some chicken legs and freeze them. They thaw enough by lunch time and can be eaten cold. I also made some individual servings of fruit slush. The same thing... all nice and slushy by lunch time. My children have also liked a little bit of jello in their lunch, in the yogurt cup.

I got some ideas from a book called: Brown Bag Success.

Jen5253 said...

I was a strange kid in high school and I would buy jars of baby food to eat at lunch. But then I started reusing the jars to hold yogurt, homemade applesauce, soup, and lots of other leftovers. My mom was happy because I was eating leftovers, and I was happy because I was still a weirdo eating food out of a baby food jar.

Gator_Jen said...

Wow - there are some awesome ideas here!! My kids like triscuits & deli turkey. I also do sandwiches and cut them with large cookie cutters (my girls are 4 & 6) - the big heart is their favorite and really uses almost all the bread except the crust and tiny corners.

Cookie said...

NOt too healthy, but my son loves taking hot dogs for lunch. Then I try to balance it with a frozen go-gurt. It defrosts by lunchtime but is still cool. He says it's like having a popsicle :)

Shari said...

My lunch tip is make it easy! I pack all natural foods and I let them help pick what they want for the day. If it's their choice then they are more than likely to eat it.

Heather said...

My great lunch idea is to use some of YOUR great lunch ideas!
Thanks, you had a lot of them.
I do some of those things already, like filling my own containers with juice for the kids. I like the roll ups instead of sandwiches idea. I do that at home, I just never thought of doing it for school lunches. Duh!
My kids get sick of the same old apples & oranges so I try to send more varieties of fruit, even simple things like grapes & melon pieces are much more interesting to them.
I hope I win!
:)
Heather
hawdieann@yahoo.com

Brynn said...

One of my favorite things to pack is homemade "lunchables". We'll throw in some sliced lunch meat, cheese slices (cut into little squares) & some crackers. My boys LOVE when I do this.

Randee said...

We have done colored theme lunches (or dinners even)...like Mac and Cheese in a thermos, carrots, cheese cracker with cheese snack pack, orange starburst (can even add orange juice to make it complete). Pasta with butter and parmesan cheese (in a thermos), banana, milk (at school, vanilla wafers, cucumbers.

amy said...

My favorite lunch tip is to put something frozen(like a blueberry muffin) in my hubbys lunch and its a nice cool snack when he gets to work... of course, you already knew about this one... :)

Amanda E.

Kendra Field-Bennett said...

We spend 2 hours each day in the car...transporting kids to and from school. The lunchboxes would be a lifesaver for us. To keep the lunch fresh, you can freeze a juice box and it thaws by lunchtime and keeps everything cold.

Aly said...

I have been eating up (har, har) your lunch ideas! My 3yo started preschool M/W/F and I have to send "nutritious" lunches. When the kid only eats PB&Honey or Mac n' Cheese, it's hard to get creative.

Great tips from you and your readers. There is hope!! Thanks bunches.

Lauren said...

I don't pack lunch for my kids, yet. But I do pack dinner for a hungry husband who works the night shift. He really likes rice, so I often send him with rice and pork chops. But a container to keep it hot would be great!

-Lauren A.

Anonymous said...

I'm supposed to feed them? Now you tell me...
~Erica
ebrown926@comcast.net

Laura said...

I've been reading your blog for a while now but this is my first time to comment. The stories about your kids crack me up so thanks for sharing!

My two boys (13 months apart) are teenagers but I have one that struggles with self-esteem and his weight. He wants to try to eat healthier lunches but it's hard to find stuff that he's willing to take because he doesn't want his friends making fun of him. I've been looking for ideas so I loved this blog! The muffin idea was great, I hadn't thought of that one. I have tried the tortilla roll-ups with chicken salad and lettuce though and he really liked that.

One thing I try to do is that if I use toppings for sandwiches that will tend to make the bread soggy (tomatoes, pickles, etc.) I will send it in a separate container. I also always grab extra condiment packets when we go to restaurants (mustard, etc.) so they can add that later as well.

Thanks for the ideas!

Jennie said...

I kind of thought I was a creative, healthy lunch-packer type until I saw your photos and read some of your ideas, Dawn. Now I feel like a lunch do-do! And you are packing WAY more lunches that I am. You win lunch-mom-of-the-year, from what I can see!

Nothing is more frustrating to me than wasted food or time (mine) so I have learned to only put things in my kids' lunches that they will definitely eat. Example. I think, "Hmm. Yogurt would be a nice addition to the usual fare." It comes home uneaten and has been sitting at room temperature all day. Now it is lumpy and has to be thrown out.

Another thing I struggle with is the influence of all the "junk food" lunches out there on my kids. They come home begging for white bread sandwiches (they've had wheat bread since they were crawling), bags of Oreos, cheesy Pringles, etc. And because I won't buy or pack these things I am mean and boring.

Anyway, back to the lunch drawing board for me! I am newly inspired...

Shere said...

Wow Great ideas! I could use some fresh ideas too as my first grader doesn't like Peanut butter! I LOVE it!

I usually do a sandwich, or crackers/cheese/meat, or very occasionally a lunchable. On the side is fruit (usually apple, banana, grapes, applesauce,cantaloupe, strawberries) , always yogurt or cottage cheese, soemtimes string cheese too. She doesn't always get a treat in there either. Milk or water to drink.

I could really use one of those thermal things to pack hot foods (she loves pasta, mac n cheese, hot dogs , nuggets, etc..kid staples).

I'd love to win! Thanks for the nice give-aways you do Dawn!!

~Issy said...

Okay, my little one is too young for school, but i do pack my husband's lunch. I often get a phone call when i do something 'cute' like take his sandwich and cut it into a jig-saw puzzle (Isabel, it's hard to look manly eating a jiz-saw-puzzle sandwich) or make him ants on a log (you know, celery with pb and rasins). His employees, however, have great fun with my lunches and all want to "see what you have today". I'm just practicing for my daughter's lunches!

Wraps are really good for lunches-turkey, cheese and spinach with a bit of spicy ranch dressing is my husband's favorite. You can make a wrap out of anything-i've done it with rice and chicken, etc.

But of course, my husband's favorite? pb and jelly. :)

Enter me, enter me...i've never won anything! ;))

Ahuva said...

We do sandwiches with American cheese, scrambled eggs, or cream cheese or else a soy dog in a bun. That with some veggies and they're good to go.

Patty said...

Leftovers warmed in the microwave. My hubby teaches at our children's school and will do this for them.

Liligurl said...

Oh I want that, it would make life easier..i usually send yogurt, fruit, chips, and a sandwich.

kirine said...

Last year my 4 children were entirely burnt out on sandwiches. So I started doing roll ups instead. Their favorite - Chicken BLT rollups. How to make it - Slice up a chicken breast that's been grilled/baked into long strips, place those in the middle of a tortilla. Add bacon, lettuce and tomatoes. Fold the tortilla at both ends (top and bottom), and then roll it up from left to right. No muss no fuss. Another idea a friend of mine gave me is homemade pesto and pasta.

Noël said...

As a teacher, I have to say that my favorite idea is the frozen muffin. A lot of times I see kids with the frozen ice pack, and the condensation's gotten napkins and notes wet.

Steph said...

Wow, you have some great ideas for lunch! I've never done anything nearly as cool. I think that YOUR ideas are my favorite. :-p Especially those neat containers that are made for things with dip! Wow! :)

betsey said...

I only let my kids buy lunches 1-2 days a week, so I pack a lot of lunches.

My daughter's favorite? A small container of hummus, with pita triangles for dipping. Carrots and other cut-up veggies are fun to dip, too.

I always make everything the night before, unless I'm sending something hot. I put the packed lunchboxes in the fridge, and in the morning I just slip in an icepack and put it in the backpack. For some reason, making lunches in the morning is just too overwhelming.

Judy K said...

I've found that just using a different shape of bread, like a hotdog roll or hamburger bun, makes the same old sandwiches seems "freasher" to my son.

Jessica said...

One easy idea to keep your apple slices from turning brown: after you slice, put the apple back together and slide a rubber band around it.

Love those lunch boxes and all of your great ideas! Thanks, Dawn!

PS: I think heaven is a little bit like The Container Store.

beckyy said...

Wow Dawn! Thanks, this post couldn't have come at a better time. My 7 yo daughter has decided she won't eat sandwiches anymore. This has left me in a quandry over what food to send in her lunches! Thanks for the great idea about crackers with salad spread--so simple, yet I couldn't think of that on my own!

Sara said...

Wow! You put a lot of effort into that post! Thanks for sharing!

Kira said...

I make a natural peanut butter and low sugar jelly sushi for my kids.
I put the PB&J on a piece of whole wheat bread, roll it up tight with cling wrap and then cut it the next morning.

Amanda said...

You make packing lunches seem fun. I used to cut sandwiches with the cookie cutters, but I can't get over all the waste that's left not matter how hard I try to eke out every last bit that I can. And thanks for the reminder that I wanted to get some pumpkin bread for the weekend. It's like crack in our house this time of year.

Niki said...

I have been really into making lunches this year as well. The cool part is that my sister's kids have started asking if I would make their lunch too, my sister must not be doing such a good job, lol. My son's favorite is a PB and fresh fruit sandwich (raspberries, apples, bananas, strawberries, etc...) with a drizzle of honey. I was sending them to school with a lunch and letting them buy milk at school. Well then I learned that a tiny carton of milk is costing me 50 cents a day. I decided to buy reusable containers. Not an easy task, I looked at the type you posted but I know the straw would disappear and I would be replacing them daily. My solution was to purchase a pack of Welch’s single serving juice. It was a pack of 6 bottles of juice, each 10fl oz, and I first served them the juice in it but now we reuse them for our own juice/milk. They hold up to repeated washing in the dish washer as well as freezing. Cheaper too, I spent 3 dollars on the six pack at Target, now I have one in their lunch and one in the freezer for the next day.

Anonymous said...

Hi Dawn, I was just wondering if you pack lunches for the kids everyday or do you pay for hot lunches too? How much do you spend a week for the school's lunches? My son goes to a school here that cost the most for a lunch at 2.80 a day. Kristine in Michigan.

Mandy B. said...

I put my daughters juice box in the freezer. It keeps her food cold and by the time lunch rolls around, she still has a cold drink.

jenn said...

My kids love a salad with diced chicken in a little Tupperware. I found little individual serving-sized salad dressings at the grocery store.

Becky in MI said...

Those Thermos containers look great....I've never had good luck with any I've bought locally keeping the food remotely warm. Our elementary has 2 donated microwaves for the kids to reheat their lunches if they want. Mostly my son likes sandwiches, fruit and a few chips or cheeze-its.

grits404 said...

we do lots of cheese and crackers...i have ultra picky eaters. my little one doesn't like sandwiches and is allergic to pb so she eats a nurtipal bars--smores flavor only, of course. luckily she eats lots of fruit but the nutripal bars make feel a *little* better about her lunches.

puppies said...

One of my daughter's favorites is Chicken Caesar Salad- Romaine lettuce, chicken breast strips (often leftovers) Caesar dressing, Parmesan cheese and croûtons. It means lots of little containers, but it gives her a great, delicious, healthy lunch!

Patti said...

Love the suggestions! I pack, peanut butter and nutella for my protein-deficient, I hate all things that are considered dinner-ish first grader. Leftover would never cut it! A meat sandwich or roll-up, no way. Even yogurt got a big thumbs down. So she thinks she is getting chocolate and peanut butter (and what's not to love about THAT!!!) but she is getting two servings of her much needed protein, a fruit, a reusable bottle of water, a little love note and somedays I even toss in a sweet treat for dessert!

Anonymous said...

Haven't been packing lunch, just fruit for snacks (for husband). I pack him three or four fruit and or vegetable servings a day, I need a lunch box for myself, I decided that I need to pack mine also because I can never find the time during the day to fix some for me;)
Kathy

Rebecca Prochniak said...

If I make cupcakes or cake, I will slice the cake sideways (parallel with the frosting) and put the bottom on the top. That way you end up with a cake sandwich with frosting in the middle and you dont lose your frosting when you package it up for school!!

I must admit, this is a trick I learned from my best friend's mother while WE were in school, but I still use it to this day! It's fantastic and you always have your frosting. ;)
Becca P.

debbie said...

Two years ago I found laptoplunches, I bought 3 of them for my girls and love them! I also started sending them with wraps but I use spinach for a little added nutrition to the lunch. They have definatly saved me money as I am not buying the baggies all the time. Great ideas, I may steal a few from you!

Hey Teach! said...

My first grader has a weird habit of eating cold foods. I don't mean like sandwiches I mean yesterday he wanted a leftover ham and cheese calzone...cold. Usually he wants a slice of leftover pizza...cold. I haven't introduced him to my sister's favorite..cold mac and cheese yet but I am sure he'd love that as well. He eats lunch at school about four out of five days but he really likes bringing his lunch when I promise to write him a note. Since I also teach at the school where he goes, I can always sneak in at snack time and stick one in if I forget.

suzanne said...

we pretend we have lunchables, use our own cracekrs, cheese and pepperoni, sweet treat and they get their own milk.
i will try the cookiie cutter idea, one of my boys "hates" sandwiches, which makes packing and lunches at home a chore!
sue c

Alicia From De said...

I have picky eaters, My oldest was the only one packing, and his meal consits of pb&j All the time, My yougest was just given a spot in the all day kindergarten program, so that makes paking for 2! Im always looking for new lunch Ideas, thanks Dawn.

Megryansmom said...

Good Morning!

Head over to my blog to pick up your award and thanks again for all the smiles.

Janis said...

Love the reusable container ideas, I'm ready to do my part and get rid of baggies and brown bags! I suppose a lunchable is the worst thing to admit to sending to school but we've been without electric for a few days due to a storm so is that a reasonable excuse?? :-)

Michelle L. said...

WOW! You are extremely creative with your lunches and I'm impressed that your children eat some of those items!

My kids make their own lunches too, but you did give me some cool ideas even for my dear husband!

Michelle L.

Karen (tylerkm@roadrunner.com) said...

My son has several food allergies (including milk, peanuts, & pork), so he can only eat the school lunch 4 out of every 20 days. So, my Kindergartener is taking his lunch most days. There is only so much you can do with Beef Bologna and turkey. So I started cutting cute shapes (stars, hearts, leaves, pumpkins, etc.) using mini cutters out of the bologna and sending them with crackers. He loves it and it makes it a little more exciting for him.

Candy said...

What a great post!! My 3rd grader loves to take soup in his thermos. I just warm it up in the morning and it is still warm for lunch. I know he would love the tortilla roll-ups I will have to send that one day soon!

Christy said...

I have a very picky eater but my husband usually packs them pudding, cheese stick, bread or crackers. My most important point is that my HUSBAND packs their lunches - I don't pack them at all - I am usually still sleeping.
Christy

Nicole M, Delaware said...

My oldest started kindergarten this year and I am always stuck for lunch ideas!!! Thank you!!! My best lunch idea- freeze GoGurts and pack them! They taste like ice cream and the kids think they are awesome. Plus, I have a phobia of spoiled items int he lunch box so this helps keep it cool and I do not need to worry about it getting warm. Could use a new lunch box..............

Tina V said...

My 6 year old daughter is too busy socializing at lunch to eat, so finding something that she can actually finish between stories is our challenge. I've found that finger foods work best for her instead of sandwiches and such. One of her favorite things to take is cut up pieces of ham. I buy a ham steak at Whole Foods Market, cut it up in bite size pieces, pack it with some grapes or strawberries, a cheese stick, drink and of course the most important part of the lunch, the treat, and she's good to go!

Kathy said...

I would love to win too. My fav things to pack are actually packing tricks. Freeze applesauce and it will keep lunch cold and thaw before lunch. if you like mayo or mustard on you sammie, spread it between teh meat and cheese so it does not touch the bread and make it soggy. Pack the lettuce and tomato seperatly and then add at lunch.

Anonymous said...

Dawn,
I really enjoy reading your blog. It helps me to feel somewhat normal! I also have 3 boys and 3 girls ranging in age from 3-12. We are a home schooling family so are together 24/7. It is a real blessing, but at the same time really crazy. We also have diet issues. I have one hyperactive child that cannot have sugar (in any form) or MSG (most of your processed foods). I also have a daughter that battles thrush and cannot have sugar either. The joys of cooking at my house are limitless! I do not have to pack lunches everyday, but do have to pack whenever we are out and about. I love your ideas and can't wait to try some. Thank you for all you do on your blog!
Mother from Ohio

Irishmama said...

My oldest son likes bean burritos, so I will make them up in the morning and sometimes it will fit in a thermos to stay warm, but just wrapping in foil works too. Also kabobs.....chunks of chicken, grapes, pineapple, cheese all on a skewer.....

Christine T. said...

Thanks for helping me widen my horizon for school lunches for my 4th grader! She prefers to bring lunch, since there isn't much time for eating and standing in line for lunch...
Something we are doing this year, for her lunch, if I have left over pancakes, instead of bread, I use those, and make her a peanut butter and fluff or jelly sandwich. (luckily our district puts all the kids with peanut allergies at one table, so the other kids can still bring in peanut butter), and we keep the breakfast theme, with some orange juice in one of those juice containers that you had shown, and a piece of fruit, and I sneak in something small (a kiss or other little goodie) to let her know I was thinking of her. My kids also love that smart food cheddar popcorn, so, I pack that for snacks for my 4th grader and kindergartner.
My 4th grader has a Lands End Lunch box, it is on it's 3rd year and still looks brand new! It is an awesome lunch box and they have really cool patterns. I would love to get one for one of the other 2 kids! (I probably wouldn't have to buy them another one until they go to college- it is almost indestructable)

lk said...

wow Dawn! excellent motivation. my dd typically gets the hot lunch at school, which may or not be as nutritious as we would like! i'll have to try some of your ideas! by the way, we LOVE pumpkin muffins. it's that time of year again! YUM! Michelle H. Iowa

Darcy said...

I have been very into making sandwiches consisting of a whole wheat wrap with a variety of toppings and some light ranch dressing. I need some containers that won't leak so the Lands End ones were good to see. Thanks for your blog!

Erin Weber said...

I always pack a whole piece of fruit. Most always, he doesn't finish it during snack, and will have the rest during regular lunch time. I also like to cut hi sandwiches in cute shapes, like stars and hearts.

Merci said...

I'm totally not creative at packing healthy lunches - thankfully, we homeschool and I'm WAY more creative about healthy lunches to make at home. But we do co-op a couple of times a week, so lunches are necessary ... my favorite healthy lunch is tuna and crackers with fruit on the side. I also switched to real peanut butter a while back and of course we always use whole wheat bread. Does that count? :)

Kylie said...

Thanks for all the tips. I have been trying to find a way to spice up lunches... and to be green! This was right on time, and I would LOVE a new lunchbox!

Janet said...

My sons favorite lunch is a bean burrito. Warm it up in the morning and wrap in tin foil and put in the thermos. He says it's still hot at lunch time. Another one is to put a hot dog in the thermos and it is still warm at lunch time. Love the suggestions!

imtcbbaby said...

As fancy as I get is either sliced apples w/ peanut butter, or pb&j w/ one slice wheat, one slice white, cut on a diagonal. Sherry S

barefootinhighheels said...

Love the pumpkin muffin idea! I like changing around the whole sandwich idea with the tortilla wraps, or even a chicken salad with some crackers.
Thanks!

Anonymous said...

Well my daughter isn't picky at all so she actually enjoys eating the school lunches (this might change after 3 yrs of the same thing). My son is very picky but likes PB&Honey and raisens to take.

I loved your muffin idea thou and might have to try that.

Heather
melody806@yahoo dot com

liz simmonds said...

mac & cheese or rice in a thermos is our girls favorite lunch item.
we freeze a half full water bottle overnight & then fill it up the rest of the way in the morning so it stays cold and food in the lunch box stays cold.
the lands end lunch box has a special thermos holder to help hold in heat or cold!

Diana said...

I would love to have the hotsutff lunchbox in clear blue for my son. And by the way, if this is your idea of being a slacker then I'm a complete loser!!

Diana G.
Romeoville, IL

Amyb99 said...

I use a lot of your tips already, but have been using juice pouches rather than a refillable juice container - love this idea! It will definitely be so much cheaper and can add a big variety of juices, including the V-8 fusion we all love so much.

My son loves strawberries & other fresh fruit so when it is in season, I buy extra to freeze and then throw a few pieces into a snack bag or container and by lunchtime, they are slightly thawed and ready to eat! He loves them.

Marcea said...

Wow great ideas! I do take shortcuts and use ziplock baggies often. I suck. The lunchboxes just not big enough for tupperware for everything. The daycare will warm up their lunches so that isnt a biggie but I am sure I will have to get creative when they start all day in school. (1st one started K half days now)
I do give variety but not very creative like you posted. Thanks for the ideas!

amybee said...

Skewer tomato, cheese, meat, etc. for a sandwich alternative.

~melissa p. said...

I love the mac-n-cheese idea. My daughter has been asking to eat a hot lunch since it is getting cooler here but thought the hot lunches are healthy I'm told they don't taste great. (my daughter is a pickie eater and why pay the money if she is not going to eat it, right) I was struggling to come up with somehow to send something warm for lunch. Thanks so much for the awesome tips!!!!

Anonymous said...

My daughter is only 2 but loves for me to make her "picnic lunches" for her to carry around all day. She loves PB&J cut into different shapes. I also make my husbands lunch everyday to save money and so he can eat on the go. ~Allison in Ponder Tx

little.birdy said...

I am a graduate student and have been so keyed up that it's hard to get down whatever I bring for lunch. I think it's time to try some bento. ;) Thanks for the idea, Dawn...I really need to get more and healthier food at lunch!

CC said...

My daughter loves "alternative" lunches (other than the usual sandwich, etc). I love making cream cheese "sandwiches" - cream cheese in between whole grain crackers with fruit/yogurt on the side. And, she loves making her own "lunchables" with crackers, cut up meats and cheeses - so much cheaper and healthier to make it ourselves!! : )

Anonymous said...

My kids take lunch all summer too, as they go to camp. I try to get them to help decide what they take. Cold quesadillas is a big one for them; so I just make alot when we have them for dinner; makes my life easier. My son also likes cold fried chicken with corn bread. My daughter likes certain pasta dishes cold. PB and cold cuts get old after a while.

Michelle said...

I've got some picky eaters, but they each get a set of choices that they can eat. I make up a large sheet of paper with around 10-15 choices they they can have (mixed main, veggie, fruit, etc) and they choose (and cross off) some from each category that goes into lunch. That way they get some variety in their diet, plus they're making the choice. They think it's fun.

Oh, and frozen grapes are wonderful! They tend to stay frozen for a long time, and the wee ones like eating them better frozen now than regular (I blame the State Fair; yes, they sell frozen grapes there) and it keeps everything else cold, too!

I love love love that lunchbox. Way cool!

Donna L. said...

Gosh, you're nice to pack lunches....my kids have to pack their own.......

Grammy said...

Thank you for these ideas. I will pass these along to my daughter who has to pack lunches for her 2 growing boys.

Rhonda said...

My daughter loves to have hot soup in her lunch, with crackers, fruit and lemonade.

Robin Brodeur said...

Hi Dawn, love your ideas and I'd love to win one of your give-aways. We do a lot of similar things as our kids bring their lunches. We use left over from the night before, reusable containers, etc. But really, my trick for making the lunch prep super easy is to give my husband a little bit of extra lovin' so he'll get up early and take care of it all for me. Works like a charm ;)

Carli said...

I love the thermos. Soups are a great way to get my kids to eat veggies they wouldn't otherwise eat--and it's "souper" easy to do leftover soup for lunch the next day with a slice of homemade (or not) bread. I too am a also a huge fan of muffins. Love your blog by the way--it helps me feel like a "normal" mom.

Heather said...

My kids are too little for school but I think your ideas are awesome. My husband likes to pack his lunch in a grocery bag so I would love to win a new lunch box for him.

HeidiV said...

Yesterday I read about a mom who finely chops spinach and chicken and mixes it with spaghetti sauce. Then she makes mini pizzas with the enriched spaghetti sauce and her toddler is clueless! I'm trying that next!

Heidi, Florida

Karen M said...

I don't have kids yet, but what I remember from elementary is my mom sending a lot of bags of small amounts of food - a few chips, 2 cookies, fruit...you get the idea. For those looking for non-peanut spreads, I like Nutella on wheat bread, and it works as a sweet also. =)

Rebecca said...

I've bought stainless steel bottles for my kids drinks - I never liked putting anything acidic in plastic, plus there's no plastic taste! LLBean is now selling them in 12, 18 and 27 oz, but you can also get them from enviroproducts.com and klean kanteen makes them as well (kk is also making them for LLBean). I even bought one for my husband's lunch box!

Lisa said...

I acquired several forks, knives and spoons at Goodwill to use when carrying lunches. So, if the silverware is lost it won't break the bank but I have real silverware to use.

I make pudding and jello in re-useable plastic cups and include those in my son's lunch.
Lisa

Kyra said...

Great lunch ideas. The local schools around here are trying to encourage the "green" idea. Losing items is the number one problem. Thermos is a wonderful idea for a cold day.

CrunchyCon said...

My 4.5 y/o daughter makes her own lunch. Usually a pepperoni sandwich, applesauce and a cheese stick. She can either buy milk at the school or she takes a Motts for Tots. I love those!

Gigi said...

Your blog brightens my day, can't wait for the book to come out.

A comment for the moms whose kids are too young for school: I used to pack 'lunches' for my kids when we did car trips when they were little. They loved it and felt like 'big school kids'.

I am looking forward to picking up some new ideas from this thread. I am going to order those thermoses, it will make winter lunches much easier.

Mabunny said...

Well Nicole usually wants a sandwich/chips/drink/small dessert.
Sometimes she goes for spaghetti-Os with meatballs or plain mac and cheese.
She does occasionally like a cheesestick and crackers on the side, but shes mainly a sandwich chick, and does not like tuna, so that is NOT an option.
If we have apples or grapes she likes those for dessert instead too, and I know she won't trade those since she loves them!

Sharon said...

My daughter loves it when I make her a nutella sandwich. We also have just introduced her to sandwich wraps, which she just loved. New week I am sending a flatbread sandwich with Ranch Cream cheese and Roast beef rolled up. Yum! I like introducing new things on the weekend so I know whether or not she will eat it. We tend to pack her a lot of non-perishable snacks so she can eat according to her appitite. We have had issues with her not eating much because of the ADHD meds she is on. But I love all these new ideas I have seen.

Cat-a-holic, Laila and Minchie said...

Oh my gosh, Dawn, what great ideas! I take my lunch to work and was wondering if I could hire you to make my lunches for me?

Peggy

My Kids' Mom said...

I pulled out the seldom used bread machine and made bread sticks with Italian herbs and chopped up pepperoni right in the bread. Then I put a little jar red sauce in a small bowl for him to dip. Add a piece of fruit and some water and he's good to go. The bread sticks weren't too hard, and froze well, so I'll be doing this one again.

We're aiming for zero trash lunches this year.

Carrie said...

My kiddos help pack their own lunches that way we can agree on healthy choicces and they will eat it because they put it in there. My daughter won't eat sandwiches so we have to be creative with peanut butter, crackers, apples, etc.

Lisa said...

I've been trying out some cool bento box ideas! I don't have any of my own pics, but I like sites like http://lunchinabox.net/ for inspiration!

(The Lands End lunchboxes look great!)

Moon said...

My gosh, I can't imagine all the tupperware you need to wash every single day just due to the kids' lunch meals. Eek!!!

marie said...

I like packing breakfast for lunch. Pancakes with cream cheese and fruit. That is always a hit.

marie said...

I like packing breakfast for lunch. Pancakes with cream cheese and fruit. That is always a hit.

Anonymous said...

Hi Dawn,

What great lunch ideas for the kids! I am always on the quest for new lunch ideas for my 5 kids.

I have on occasion taken yogart (in the container, squeeze tubes, or small drinkables) and I freeze it overnight. When my kids are eating lunch the next day, the yogart is still very cold and sometimes it is slightly frozen which gives the kiddos a yummy frozen treat.

Also, soups are fun things to pack in a thermos for lunch but I also pack favorite leftover dinner meals for lunches such as stroganoff, pasta salad, and Rigatoni casserole. My kids love it and it's a filling meal.

Hey,how is Clayton doing in preschool? Has he shown off his bubble blowing skills?

Thanks for the daily laugh!

~Lisa K, formerly of San Antonio but now from Dallas, TX (my home town)

jerilynne said...

I too do the "roll-up's" but us in Hickerbillyville call them wraps..kids of all ages love my wraps..little do they know what I put in them is healthy for them..it's a nice trick to play!

Monique said...

Wow they have some really cute lunch bags! I looove the little mini tote, but those character ones are pretty gosh darn cute too!

As for lunch, when I was in highschool I used to bring ricecakes with peanut butter on them... basically a PB Ricecake sandwich.

Julie B. said...

One of my favorite lunches is this... I buy the cheddar cheese rice cake snacks... they're like "Rice Quakes" or something like that... with the smaller "chip size" rice cakes. Then I take my lunch meat and cheese and make my own "lunchables" sized pieces, put the cheese and meat into one bag, and the rice cakes into another, a cup of yogurt, some granola for crunch, and a container of juice or water that I had put in the freezer the night before. It doesn't usually freeze COMPLETELY solid by morning, which is good, because it would never thaw enough by lunch time, but it keeps EVERYTHING cold until lunch time.

I also like to have veggies and dips, apple wedges, etc... on hand to toss into the lunch sack as well. That way, there's something to snack on on the way home, so there's not a mad rush to the fridge when they walk in the door after school.

Sandra said...

Dawn, I don't have a single lunch tip that would in any way add to yours. The only thing that I do is buy blocks of cheese which I slice and then send with crackers. See, I told you, nothing to add...yeah, she'll eat PB&J, ham & cheese but the poor kid gets tired of them too! Lately, I've just given up and I'm just telling her to buy lunch at school! Love your blog!

Lyndsay said...

Oh I wish my 3-year old would try any of these great ideas!!
Our staples are PB&J (if pre-school was peanut free I think she would starve), grilled cheese, chicken nuggets and potato 'smiles' stacked in a thermos, alphagetti, cheese pizza, or a hot dog. This weekend I'm going to have her try mini-bagels with a bit of cream cheese. I've got my fingers crossed!!

Christina Marie said...

My DS is allergic to PB and turkey sandwiches get old pretty quickly, so honestly, my favorite lunch idea is a leftover cold piece of pizza from the night before. Keeps me from having to think of sandwich ideas.. and hey, who doesn't like cold pizza the morning after?!

Tara L. M. said...

Our fave is hummus that the kids help me make in the food processor, with cut vegies. They also love Sunflower butter and jelly (they are at a NO PB campus as well) I also want to recommend the plastic juice box holders from One Step Ahead. My 2 yr old has trouble not squeezing the juice all over herself - the holders are an outfit saver.

Sam and Brian said...

My son just started preschool, so this post is wonderful, I love all the ideas, thanks! I'm a big fan of the Smucker's PB&J, otherwise my son pulls the pb & j apart and makes a big ol' mess. But when I send him a ham or turkey cut in the shape of a heart, he eats it just fine. I include fruit and chips and one cookie. I told him the first day he had to eat ALL his food to eat the cookie and so far (gasp) it has worked. Thanks again for the great ideas Dawn!

Jenni said...

I've been experimenting more this year with the kiddos lunch. Big hits have been: Marinara sauce and bread stickers for dipping, chips with salsa, and homemade lunchables (crackers, deli meat and cheese). I usually throw in either some yogurt, veggies w/ dip, fruit, applesauce, pickles, pudding, etc. Almost everything goes in reusable containers, occasionally I'll have to use a plastic baggy if another container just won't fit.

However, I LOVE those containers that you have. I searched all over the place for containers to use for dips and such as the beginning of the year and had a hard time finding anything. I finally asked my mom and she gave me some mini tupperware that she's had forever. But I'd like some cuter containers.

Also...I just remember as I was typing this that I gave the kiddo yogurt but no spoon to eat it with...dangit.

Karen said...

I've been having a difficult time making lunches for my kids. They get tired of the same sandwiches but your tortilla idea is great and I hadn't thought of that! I usually make them a sandwich and then they pick our stuff to go with it. We have chips, cheezeits, rice krispie treats and hohos. I know, not so healthy, but they eat all three meals at home so I know I can make up for it at breakfast and dinner.
They have no cafeteria in their school so they have to bring lunch every day.

Hally said...

It's never easy to try and make sure the lunchbox comes home empty (because the kids ate their lunch) but we use a lot of frozen juice boxes to keep the food cool. A favorite in our house is ABC Salad. We use alphabet noodles to make a pasta salad with ham/turkey/cheese cubes. I love the crayon drinks, going to look for those ASAP.

Rachel said...

i'm curious about your mention of saliclylates. i'm in the process of trying to sort out what my 3 year old is reacting to (because it's obviously something, but we've yet to identify a pattern). so of course i googled it immediately (since apple juice is something she absolutely cannont have) and it sounds probable. we're finally getting referred to an allergist here in the near future and i'm going to be sure to bring that up. thanks so much for stuff like that. i can't tell you how many times your blog has provided some random tidbit of information at exactly the right time for me. you're a real blessing!

Anonymous said...

Don't forget about the ever-popular peanut butter and lettuce sandwich! And for that non-sandwich alternative... white rice with butter and brown sugar sprinkled on top - YUM!

Denise ~ Paper Ponderings said...

I have an 18 yo very large ds that loves salad. I buy a cheap salad pack, a 38 cent dressing packet, chop up some cucumber and cherry tomatoes (put those in a ziploc or other container), put in a bit of shredded cheese, and he's got a wonderful salad for lunch. He loves it when I do that and it makes lunch for him about $1.38.

COLLAMER.ELAINE said...

My son loves it when I pack triscuits and pepperoni instead of the boring PB&J. The triscuits are actually more nutritious than I thought they would be. I also pack grapes or baby carrots too. I could really use that cooler bag, and I'm not being very green and going through tons of little sandwich bags....

Mary G said...

I love the reusable juice box! My son doesn't eat sandwiches and is allergic to milk and peanuts, so I have to be creative sometimes too. I send Chicken Nuggets in his thermos. (He says the Tyson ones last better than the Costco ones...)

CB from BG said...

DD loves taco salads in her lunch (just lettuce & tomatoes, then I crunch up some nacho and put in a baggie, add a little cup of ranch - she tosses and yummo). You can also make a batch of taco meet and then just freeze it in individual baggies to heat and toss in as well.

Lisasunny said...

I cut cheese, lunch meat withmini cookie cutters into different shapes and they can build there one sandwiches or cracker stacks....

My favorite...I love to put a note
INSIDE the sandwich..so when they bite it..they get a little Love from mom...

My son he often finds a little plastic lizard inside his lunch..sometimes inside the sandwich, inisde the yougurt or
just mixed in with chips or veggie stick...I then willf ind the lizard in my sock drawer, on my toothbrush etc...way fun and no calories!

Cathy said...

My children get boring lunches. Yogurt, sandwich, fruit and milk money. The very worst school lunch idea was what my mother sent me. I used to get a jar of Gerber baby food dessert packed in my lunch daily. A million years ago, their baby foods were jammed with sugars and it tasted like a pudding, but my mother thought it had to be healthy because it came from Gerber.

cathy at domesticpsychology dot com

Che said...

I make homemade applesauce, freeze it in individual containers, it keeps the lunch cool and is lovely treat at lunch.

Daphne Hughes said...

I pop a bag of microwave popcorn, let it cool and then divide it into ziplock snack baggies for a quick take to school snack.

You have absolutely awesome givaways. Please enter me :)

Daphne H.

Pamela said...

I'd love to win one of the thermos'! My 7 yr old JUST asked this morning if she could have some of the pasta that we had last night for dinner. Since she eats lunch at 1 pm this year, I told her it wouldn't be very hot by lunch time. This would be perfect :)

Amelia said...

What great ideas! I don't have kids in school yet, but I pack my husband's lunch everyday and it sure gets boring (for both of us!) Those Land's End lunch bags look great!

Karen said...

Hard boiled egg, peeled, or how about almond butter on celery?

Karen

Lucydolls' ramblings said...

How do you get them to BRING THE LUNCH BOXES HOME?????

jrod0973 said...

Wow, you are an awesome mom! I wish I was as creative as you! My son would love to bring Spinach (yes, he is 8 yrs old and loves cooked Spinach!) to school for lunch and that thermos would work wonders for him!
I love your blog! Thanks!
Jill

rebecca said...

Bagel and cream cheese, pick me pick me pick me!
Rebecca

Michelle said...

LUNCHABLES...quick and easy for us working mama's. I'm gonna try to do better this year though and LOVE your ideas.

janetcc said...

Do work lunches count? I bought a "Curves" salad bowl from Avon -- it has an attached container for dressing, and a popin/out ice thingee in the top. Love it.

Cheryl Vetter said...

Great ideas Dawn! Thanks for sharing. I also find that anything in a wrap gets eaten (and there are a lot of things you can hide in a warp!) Pick me!!

Kathleen said...

I'm pretty much a slacker at packing lunches, so I have absolutely no cool ideas for you. Except to say that my mom used to pack lunches for me and would write notes to me on the napkins. I always loved that.

Danderella said...

The best thing I ever did was put her on a lunch "Schedule" It goes like this: Monday = Sandwich, Tuesday = Soup, Wednesday = Alphaghetti (or Ravioli), Thursday = Pizza day (school order, I paid for the whole year!) and Friday = Nacho's and Salsa.

I know it isn't the healthiest, but then there is no fighting about what to have for lunch and it makes grocery shopping much easier!

Anonymous said...

Hey, Dawn! Great pictures and ideas - thank you!

My daughter takes the same thing practically every day for lunch. Soup in a thermos, string cheese, grapes, a couple of cookies and a juice box. The only time this changes is when we have some totally awesome leftovers to replace the soup (this rarely ever happens ;)).

I know she'd LOVE to have a new Lands' End lunchbox!

Donna W. in PA :)

Six-Pack Momma said...

My daughter hates sandwiches. Her favorite lunch is chips and salsa. To make it a little more nutritious, I make a mini five layer bean dip. At the beginning of the week, I open a can of beans, and divide it between five little containers. I layer it with cheese, olives, sour cream, gucamole, and olives. And I put some chips in a bag (or other ocntainer) add some fruit, a water bottle, a cookie, and voila!

Olivia Michal said...

Those are great! I want one!

AuntyM said...

Your lunches are so artistic! Love all your ideas!

I froze the juice container and put it in the lunchbox to keep everything cold, and the juice is thawed by lunchtime.

Margaret S.

Kate said...

Pasta salad is a big favorite for lunches.

Cheese cubes and apples with peanut butter are another hit.

KLM said...

well, i pack lunches, but they're for work not for school for my husband and me. my little thing i do is I freeze at least one water bottle (yeah, i'm not green) the night before. when he opens his lunch, everything is still cold and he has very cold drink.

SuperSuz said...

My youngest likes to take cereal for lunch :-) Pack milk in a thermos and cereal in a bowl-type container and he's good to go! There's other stuff as well but that's the main course. I'm not brave enough to send a real spoon though!

Caitlyn said...

Great lunch ideas- especially the mac & cheese in a thermos. This is WAY more popular than soup...

Keren said...

I am going to have to show some of these ideas to my daughter. The only thing I can get her to agree to take for lunch is a yocrunch. She doesn't do sandwiches or anything cold that should be eaten hot (like macaroni).

I'd love a lunch box!
-Keren R.

Rick said...

Woah!!! Mother apparently like to blog about making lunch. I think you should stick a Slim Jim or two into his lunch. The way I figure it the Manna from the Bible must have tasted like a Slim Jim. They taste heavenly. Wouldn't you agree?

Super Blogger Girl! said...

I love doing roll ups like yours! You can buy sun dried tomatoe or avocado wraps to add a lot of color to them too, just for fun!

friedrichfamily said...

Well, you asked for school lunch ideas. I don't have kids that go to school yet, but I'm a teacher, so I have school lunches for myself! I like crackers and sliced cheese, and apple wedges with peanut butter to spread on them (I keep a jar of peanut butter at school, but it would be easy to keep a permanent container in a lunch box. Yum! I also like bringing a potato baked in the microwave in the morning and put in an insulated container so it stays warm, and I bring my toppings (like ranch dressing) in reusable containers.

And, I'm in need of a lunch box, because I take my lunch to school each day in a plastic grocery bag. I recycle them of course, but an insulated bag would be awesome! Thanks for entering me!

Jacque said...

I've been wanting to do Bento style lunches for my kids for awhile now! So neat.

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