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Moms Talk: Brown Bagging it

What do you pack in your child's lunch box?

It is hard to believe the school year is here, and I am packing lunches once again. One of my favorite things about summer is not having to worry about "packing lunch" for 12 weeks.

On occasion my kids buy the hot lunch, but more often than not, I find myself making packed lunches. Both my kids have very different tastes when it comes to lunch. I have one child who could live on PBJ, while my other child is not a big fan of bread. I always tell my children that I am not a “short-order cook,” but I find myself catering to my children’s individual tastes when packing lunch. With the school year underway, I thought we all could benefit from some suggestions to spice up our children’s lunch boxes.

What are some tried and true lunch items?

What sort of containers do you use?

Are you more considered with healthy lunches or just ensuring you pack something your kids will eat?

What sort of beverages?

How many items do you pack in the lunch (Do you cover all the food groups?)

Does your child buy the hot lunch? How often?

Any suggestions for lunches that don’t require bread?

Does your child pack his/her own lunch? At what age can children pack their own lunches?

Jenny Harding September 08, 2011 at 02:42 AM
It's as challenging as fixing dinner to meet everybody's needs and likes, isn't it? I found that one of my kids gets sick of sandwiches, so I have found wraps are liked and eaten, and cracker-sandwiches too. I would like to pack veggies in their lunches but I got sick of seeing them come home uneaten.Therefore, I started packing the apple carrot squeezable sauce and they are liked and eaten. I sometimes throw in a Fruitable juice, which has fruit and veggies in it. For me, it's all about finding foods that are healthy that they will eat. I try to use containers and washable cloth bags, at least at the beginning of the year. I've noticed during the busier days of the year though I start grabbing for the plastic baggies.
Cari Cornish September 08, 2011 at 04:08 PM
My son hates sandwiches! Oh, how I wish I could just pack the kid a PB&J sandwich! At least he will eat cold pasta. I try to buy the Barilla Plus so it isn't just carbs but some nutrition too. It can be a serious struggle in our household!
Nell Getz September 08, 2011 at 06:03 PM
I feel like I'm packing my entire pantry in my kids' lunchboxes. I hate to think of them being hungry at school so I provide lots of options. I'm sure their teachers think I'm nuts but most days everything gets eaten either at school or for their snacks after school. With that said, I despise packing lunches...washing the fruits, cutting the crusts off, finding healthy things they'll eat...ugh! We use the apple sauce squeezers and stoneyfield yogurt tubes too.
Stephanie September 08, 2011 at 08:28 PM
OK I know the topic of this article is brown bagging it - and we do sometimes, the typical yogurt, pbj, cheese sticks, bagel sandwiches. But often my kids will ask to buy lunch and I let them. They have lots of options, meat & cheese sandwiches, bagel, pbj,or a hot lunch. With the lunches they get fresh fruit, sometimes a cheese stick, and always milk, which I'd always send. I was skeptical at first about "school lunch" but at Loker I went and ate lunch with my son and it was very healthy - in fact I found myself wanting for a cookie or a carby snack afterwards! At that time they'd let him go back for seconds (and sometimes thirds!) of fruit. At Happy Hollow my daughter loves the salad bar when it comes around, on which they have eggs, meat, etc, in addition to salady things. Consider it.
Amy Simmons September 12, 2011 at 01:38 PM
I swear by the Bento idea for kids' lunches. I, personally, use this one: www.laptoplunches.com. I've invested in some of their non-standard inserts, and have had to replace a few tops or bags here and there, but these boxes hold up. They allow me to give my kids several options at lunchtime. The website, itself, has tons of great ideas (with pictures in many cases!), and the boxes themselves come with an extensive idea book. I have one child who won't eat sandwiches, so this is perfect--she gets a mini-bagel, cream cheese to dip it in, some fruit pieces or veggie sticks, maybe some yogurt and a little container of maple syrup to stir into it. I've done some fun ideas like cutting bread or cheese or fruit slices into fun shapes for her (NOT on a daily basis--it's way too much work--but for an occasional surprise or treat), and I bought rice molds and hard boiled egg molds on Amazon (just search for Bento on Amazon and you find all sorts of neat ideas) because my daughter likes both of those, but now her eggs are shaped like a fish or a bunny or something equally fun, and I can make brown rice with a little melted cheddar in it once a week and mold it into stars or hearts and pop them in the lunch box during the week. This is a great way to make a homemade lunchable-type meal for your kids! I also do finger sandwiches or cracker sandwiches. My goal is to get some protein, carbs, and fruit into them in some shaper or form at lunch, and this makes that fun!
Brooklyn Lowery (Editor) September 12, 2011 at 11:56 PM
@Amy. Can you come pack my lunch? This sounds like way too much fun.
Amy Simmons September 13, 2011 at 10:40 AM
Anytime! I'll admit...the first few times it feels like a LOT more work, but once you find a few ideas that go over well with your kids, you get a system down and it's no harder than packing a PB&J!
Jeanne Brown September 13, 2011 at 08:02 PM
wow you guys are way too creative and I'm sure my kids would rather have you pack their lunches than me. The best I get is a PB&J on goldfish bread. I sometimes do the make your own lunchables or pasta in a thermos, but that's about as gourmet as I get. Thanks for the inspiration!
Jenny Harding September 28, 2011 at 06:53 PM
Okay, I just remembered something I saw last year in my classroom. One of the kids always came in with great ideas in her lunch box. One of my favorites was putting cupcake tins in a tupperware and filling each one with something different; peas, ham, cheese, grapes, etc. Clever Mom!

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