Thursday, September 11, 2008

School Lunches SOS

We're on week 2 of school and I'm already out of lunch ideas. I'm not a fan of processed food, but find it inevitable, and try to minimize the sugar, AKA high fructose corn syrup. You know, fruit snacks, kid "yogurt" and oreos.

There's a hot lunch option in their school cafeteria that is straight from a frozen package or can. We fall back on this option when mommy wakes up late.

Here's my top 10 staples, the must buy in bulk from Costco sack lunch items.

Please, please, please add to the list. My children will thank you.

1. Sandwiches. (Turkey, ham or PB&J - bonus if you keep switching up the jelly flavors). I've tried egg salad, too. Not a hit.
2. String Cheese. Freeze it, then it thaws by lunchtime without getting floppy and soggy.
3. Sliced apple with peanut butter dip in tupperware.
4. Taco salad using last night's leftover taco stuff.
5. Cold pizza from Domino's from the night before.
6. Soup in a thermos.
7. Kashi granola bars - fiber AND protein.
8. Fruit leathers. No sugar. Still cause cavities.
9. Carrots or celery.
10. Misc fruit.

What fun things do YOU put in your kids' lunches that are healthy yet, pass the scrutiny of said children?


  1. OK Jodie, wanna feel like the best mom in the world???? You will after you see what I used to make for my kids for lunch. Mind you, I was a working mom, but there's no excuse......
    Every Sunday night I would line up 20 pieces of wheat bread. Spread half with peanut butter, half with strawberry jelly or honey, put the halves together, then put them each in plastic baggies. 10 sandwiches for the week! I'd put them in the freezer and every morning I'd pull two out, put them in lunch bags (one marked "N" and the other marked "S"), add a bag of chips, some kind of treat (ding dong or cookies) and an apple or orange. Do to my lack of imagination and time, my precious boys had to have the same lunch every day.... They never fussed about it (that I know of), but it's just one of many things that haunt me as I think back on my years of being a mom.... The funny thing? They still love me, God Bless them!
    So feel good about your're doing an awesome job!!

  2. Hey! My boys are not old enough for school yet, however I just read a posting on another blog about the same must be back to school time bringing it out! Anyway, it was the Sept. 12 post, I thought it had some helpful information.

  3. K - do the whole loaf thing, but what I do, is use my handy-dandy pampered chef sandwich cutter - same thing as the uncrustables - but WAY cheaper - and I can use my Adams PB and wheat bread. I line up the bread, literally put a dollop of BP on one, jelly on the other (it squishes just right when cut) cut 'em, zip-lock 'em and toss them into the freezer. Freeze grapes too - bonus if their still frozen by lunch time. :)

  4. Jodie--this is great--Sarah and I are on the Wellness committee at school--thinking of ways to inform our parents of healthy snacks and lunches. So I will love hearing the ideas your readers send you. Just some hints I still fall back on as a grandma--ANYTHING you make from scratch is better than packaged food. And what kid doesn't like homemade chocolate chip cookies? You can get real healthy and make bran or whole wheat blueberry muffins--what kid won't like a muffin. Using your own healthy ingredients is way better than the high fructose corn syrup in the store bought stuff. I know we are all busy, but once in a while anyway? Besides I know your kids love to bake with you, as do most kids!! My kids also grew up on PB&J and are still very healthy!! Another alternative to "lunch meats" (and I'm referring to the processed ones), is to buy a turkey breast, cook it 4 or 5 hours in the crockpot and then slice or chunk it up for lunches--delish!! Course I'm a big fan of carrot sticks and tons of fruit!! Celery with PB is always fun. Also I personally love PB or cheese slices on some healthy whole wheat crackers for a change from sandwiches. You can always throw in a chicken leg with a bread and butter sandwich for fun once in a while!!

  5. Oh man. Dreading the day I have to pack lunches. I'm lovin the frozen pb&j ideas. And I remember always getting a Ding-Dong in my lunch too. Man, kids these days have it rough. My dentist just told me that goldfish have lots of sugar. They are a definite no no for snack time. Shoot. Keep that list going.

    Here are my lame suggestions. Apple chips or popcorn could be fun. How about do a different kind of sandwich, like a wrap in a tortilla or use hoagie rolls or bagels instead of sliced bread.

    Now I just REALLY want a Ding-Dong!

  6. I love the idea of using left over dinner as taco salad the next day! Sometimes I boil chicken and cut it chunks to make certain recipes for dinner. I always save a portion for chicken salad sandwiches too. My kids like when I add nuts and grapes or apples to it.

  7. Love to hear that I am not the only mom out there who doesn't believe in Lunchables, etc! Some great ideas.

    One thing you can do is make Fridays a special day where they do get that thing they want but you don't want them to have all the time. A can of soda in their lunch. A candy bar. No sandwich. Lunch from the cafeteria Whatever..... It gives them a treat to look forward. And don't we all love treats?!

  8. Here are a few things I do to mix it up.
    Turkey and swiss cheese roll with crackers.
    Banana bread with PB&J
    Trader Joe's peanut butter pretzels
    Pumpkin bread TJ's box mix
    Trader Joe's sesame seed and honey almonds
    sugar snap peas (stringless)
    kid's cliff bars

  9. i SHOULD have a lot of suggestions for you since I'm in the cafeteria all day/every day. i'm bringing a piece of paper and notepad in with my ALL next week and i'll take notes for you.

    and you KNOW i will.

    the one things i've seen that i just love, is one dad (yes, DAD!) would cut up apples for his son, put them in a zip-lock and toss in some cinnamon. i thought that was SO COOL and his son just LOVED them.

    more thoughts to come as the week progresses.


  10. Anything is better in a tortilla! We make PB & Honey in a tortilla, cream cheese with cucumbers and ham, anything sandwichy can be turned into a wrap. Add fruit and chips, and voila.

  11. My kids are loving their sandwiches, crust included, since I started using whole grain white bread. Pretty much the same ingredients as the wheat, but with the "wonder bread" look. Even bought the wonder bread sandwich boxes so they wouldn't squish. Freeze go-gurts, or just send a yogurt with a little spoon. I have cute icepacks (flower and soccer ball). Also ranch dressing in a small tupperware with carrot "chips" (from TOP foods). They like to buy milk at school sometimes when they bring. Raviolis or soup in a thermos. And if I am really on the ball, I include a preprinted love/encouragement note of which I have purchased so many and always forget to stick in there!

  12. One thing my mom always did was freeze Capri Sun's and put them in our lunches. By the time we ate, it was still cold and slushy--one of my favorites!

    Also, might not be the healthiest because of the M&M's, but the trail mix from Costco is really good, and a fun treat for the kids. Or individual boxes of raisins.

    Quaker also makes different flavored mini rice cakes and my kids enjoy them as a treat.

  13. I'd be wary of something called "white whole wheat bread". Especially when there are so many delicious, nutritious real breads out there.

  14. So, as promised, I totally stalked kids' lunches today ...

    Ideas from the land of Cottage-Lake-Cafeteria ...

    Monday's report:
    1. meat & cheese kabobs (cut up little pieces of meat $ cheese and spear them on a toothpick). kids can help you make these!
    2. veges w/ranch dip
    3. watermelon, cut using a cookie cutter
    4. make-your-own Lunchable [gross & scary - what is in that meat?] sandwiches: whole wheat crackers or bread (again, could use the cookie cutters), pieces of meat, pieces of cheese. kids make their own cracker sandwiches

    That's all for today. The cafeteria was serving Chicken Nuggets so not many kids bought. It is a VERY popular lunch to buy. Again, a very scary thought.

    Hope this helps. Hope to have more ideas for tomorrow.

  15. Tuesday:
    1. Buy mini-bagels (I bet you can find whole wheat somewhere). Cute in 1/2. Spread pizza (or pasta) sauce on bagels, then cheese. Heat up. Let cool. Put in baggie for lunch the next day. Again, something kids can do.
    2. One girl had a tupperware container with yougurt and her mom put blueberries on top. Yummy and desserty but healthy at the same time!
    3. Another kids had meat & cheese kabobs. Today's mom bought plastic 'toothpicks' so she could reuse them. LOVE that!

    hope this helps.

    i'm actually having fun doing this. the kids keep saying "what are you writing?"


  16. it was pizza day in the cafeteria. too many kids bought lunch.

    not enough 'bringers' to get any fresh ideas.



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