Friday, September 10, 2010

What's in the Lunch Box?

{These are my girls' lunch boxes, packed and ready to go}

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
  • milk
  • 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)
Fruit/Veggies (sometimes I'll include ranch dressing for dipping the veggies):
  • carrot sticks
  • cucumber slices
  • radish slices (weird but true)
  • lettuce
  • cherry tomatoes
  • apple sauce
  • blueberries, strawberries
  • grapes
  • slices of cantaloupe, watermelon, pineapple, apple
  • clementines or orange circles
  • raisins/Craisins
  • bananas
  • fruit leather or "simply fruit" fruit roll-ups
  • granola bars - homemade or store bought
  • muffins
  • trail mix
  • pretzel chips
  • tortilla chips
  • 'healthy' crackers like whole grain Ritz or goldfish, Triscuits
  • peanut butter crackers
  • graham crackers
  • pop corn/kettle corn
Once in a while I will stick in a couple of cookies, a handful or M&Ms or a couple of Starburst for a treat. But not every time.

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:

Trainer Momma

Salt and Chocolate (lots of great comments)


Weekly pictures of lunches from Wendolonia


Bobbi said...

I should take note too. I buy my lunch way too often. :)

Oh, and Mountain High is my favorite yogurt. I was told once it has the highest levels of probiotics of all yogurts on the market. Don't know the validity of that tho....

Just one question: are the girls allowed to bring nuts to school? Here in Texas at most schools, nuts (including peanut butter) are banned from school lunches because of peanut allergies.

Janell said...

Bobbi, here they seem to handle peanut allergies on a classroom by classroom (or school by school) basis. There's no one in Mia's class with the allergy, so they are allowed. But I know there's another first grade class with a peanut allergy, and I'm pretty sure peanut butter is banned in that classroom.

Lucky for me, because Mia is a HUGE fan of PB, and it's one of the best ways I can get some protein in her!

Bobbi said...

Do the kids not eat in the cafeteria together or do they eat in their classroom? I think they ban PB in the cafeteria, so the poor peanut allergy kid doesn't have to sit alone during lunchtime.

p.s. I brought my lunch to work today! Bagel Thin with ham & cheese sandwich, apple, and Luna bar for dessert. :)

Janell said...

The kids do eat in the cafeteria, and the girl with the allergy eats at the same table with her class--it's just banned from that class's table. So there's PB in the room, just not right by her. I know in many schools, they just ban it completely.

That sounds like a yummy lunch!