This year is my first year packing school lunches. Last year Mia was in half-day Kindergarten and there was no need. And since Dee's new preschool is three mornings a week and dismisses right after lunch, I now have two lunches to pack. I admit the novelty hasn't worn off yet and I still think it's kind of fun. I like to pack healthy foods that I know they will like and that will remind them of home.
My take on the school cafeteria lunch (an option for Mia) is this: I'm okay with it now and then, when there's something she really likes on the menu. But I feel that the nutritional value of the food I'm sending with her is higher than the cafeteria food. Luckily she's usually only interested in what they are serving in the cafeteria about once a week, so it works out fine.
On thing that complicates lunch packing is that my girls could hardly be more opposite when it comes to their taste in foods. There are lots of things on my list that Dee will eat and Mia won't, and vice versa. And at Dee's preschool they will heat up food, but Mia doesn't have that option.
To help prevent lunch-packing burn-out, I have compiled this list of yummy, healthy, lunch-box friendly foods that I can refer back to:
- Sandwiches of course - PB & J or PB & H usually - on whole grain bread
- granola (with yogurt)
- mini bagels with cream cheese
- tortilla wrap (with meat/cheese or pb&j)
- 'healthy' crackers like whole grain Ritz or goldfish, triscuits
- leftover dinner rolls or breadsticks
- homemade baked goods - muffins, banana bread, etc.
- granola bars
- pretzel chips
- whole grain dry cereal
- Yogurt (I like this kind) and granola
- string cheese or cheese cubes
- cheese rolled up with meat and and secured with toothpicks
- hard boiled egg, peeled and sliced
- cream cheese (on bagels - I'm also going to try on cucumber slices)
- Nuts: pistachios are a big favorite, peanuts, cashews, trail mix, etc.
- hummus (for dipping veggies or pretzel chips)
- turkey dogs
- chicken nuggets
- lunch meat (turkey usually) rolled up with cheese and secured with toothpicks
- peanut butter (on a sandwich or as a dip for carrots/apples)
- carrot sticks
- cucumber slices
- radish slices (weird but true)
- cherry tomatoes
- apple sauce
- blueberries, strawberries
- slices of cantaloupe, watermelon, pineapple, apple
- clementines or orange circles
- fruit leather or "simply fruit" fruit roll-ups
- granola bars - homemade or store bought
- trail mix
- pretzel chips
- tortilla chips
- 'healthy' crackers like whole grain Ritz or goldfish, Triscuits
- peanut butter crackers
- graham crackers
- pop corn/kettle corn
As a side note, I try to use a lot of tupperware as opposed to baggies that have to be thrown away.
And for fun, here are a few other moms' takes on what to pack in the lunch box:
Salt and Chocolate (lots of great comments)
Weekly pictures of lunches from Wendolonia