Back to school means back to packing lunches for the kids every day. I don’t know about you, but I get pretty lazy during the summer when it comes to planning lunches. Hubby comes home for his lunch break, so we usually all eat together. About 30 minutes before lunch, I wander into the kitchen and throw something together with whatever we have. I get a general idea for the week when making my weekly meal plan, but because there is no deadline, I tend to get lazy. When school starts again every fall, I go back to packing two lunches for the kids to take to school and I need lunchbox ideas for every day.
Feeding a picky kid
When Lil’ Wheezy(7) was in preschool, he ate a peanut butter and jelly sandwich every single day. Every day, no exceptions. A PBJ is a kid staple and while not really healthy, also not terrible. Use whole-grain bread and go easy on the jelly. Peanut butter is ideal for a kid who isn’t a fan of meat. After a year, he was willing to try other things and on the first day of kindergarten, he asked for sushi.
Not all kids outgrow being picky overnight like he did. Sniffles(9) was much more gradual. At five she had a list of about a dozen foods she was willing to eat. Now at nearly twice that age, her list of 12 is foods she won’t eat.
There is no fix-all way to turn a picky eater into a foodie, but if you keep trying and be patient progress will come.
We have no restrictions from the school on what can be sent and my kids have outgrown their own allergies. I mostly send things that can be served at room temperature or chilled with an ice pack. Sometimes the kids request soup or chili though. I also try to include at least four of the five food groups every day. At school, they only ever drink water. Here is a week of lunchbox ideas.
- canned tuna (mixed with a tablespoon of Greek yogurt), Triscuit (or store brand) whole-grain wheat crackers, homemade pickle slices, half of an apple (sliced)
- PBJ sushi, dye-free yogurt in a tube (like Chobani), Annie’s Homegrown organic snack mix, carrot sticks
- pasta salad with whatever we have on hand, like nitrate-free pepperoni, beans, cheese, raw bell pepper, red onion, broccoli, tomatoes, olives, avocado, etc. Just chop everything (except the pasta, of course) very small and toss it with a little dressing, such as Italian or oil and vinegar.
- vegetarian sandwich wrap (or I might substitute a slice of nitrate-free lunch meat if I don’t have hummus made), seasonal fruit salad
- leftovers. Hubby and I will eat leftovers for lunch at home too. If there is something the kids loved, I usually pack it in their lunches the next day. Lots of things can be eaten cold even if they were hot the night before. A thermos will help keep things hot, but some foods sweat in a thermos and become soggy.
- Monday- nitrate-free pepperoni with cheese slices and Triscuit (or store brand) whole-grain wheat crackers, carrots and celery with hummus
- Tuesday- tossed salad with a combination of lettuce, cheeses, and raw veggies in Italian dressing; bread; grapes
- Wednesday- cold pasta with pesto or red sauce; bread; a banana
- chicken noodle soup in a thermos; saltine crackers; applesauce
- leftovers again. It’s always different for the kids, but for the person packing the lunch it is easy and can be repeated as much as necessary.
Find out what containers I use in my fabric lunchbag DIY tutorial. Plus, print off these free lunchbox notes and tuck one in your child’s lunch for a mid-day surprise. After school snacks are also just as good in lunchboxes. Some days, I just put several little containers of snack items.
What lunchbox ideas are your kids’ favorites?