What do you feed your kids for lunch?
I actually have this very same issue. Trying to stay away from packaged foods is nearly impossible with the lunch situation. I have the hardest time packing a healthy lunch that my kids will actually eat. I suspect many of you do also.
For one thing, my kids want what everyone else is eating. They really don't want to bring something strange to school for lunch. I go to lunch with my kids a lot and I see what happens to the foods that parents send that the kids are too embarrassed to pull out of their lunchbox. And it usually ends up in the trash.
I applaud any parent's effort to send a nutritious lunch to school and I think sending the alternative is, well, not such a good alternative.
I would love to hear from you on this topic. I need new ideas!
In the meantime, here has what I've been doing so far this year.
Here are non-negotiables for me:
- Water always.
- 100% juice boxes only.
- Whole grain bread without High Fructose Corn Syrup. There are about two brands out there in your mainstream grocery store. Trader Joes and Whole Foods do carry only this type of bread but I choose not to spend $4 on a loaf of bread. Just sayin'. I also use Naan bread, pita bread and whole wheat tortilla shells sometimes.
I saw this sweet little Kindergarten boy at lunch the other day with a tuna salad sandwich. Five year old kids at the table were already saying ewwww! Apparently, it starts early. Thankfully, he did not seem bothered by it at all - he was chowing it down.
- My children do not love deli meat so I only pack a deli sandwich a couple times a week. I try making chicken salad which my daughter loves but my son hates. I try to buy whole sliced turkey or chicken and give them the things that they love like Bologna and Salami only on occasion.
- My kids dislike mayo, so we use mustard.
- lettuce and tomato add a boost to the sandwich.
- Whole cheese slices - cheddar, mont-jack, provolone.
- I only use all-natural peanut butter - my kids have never known the difference. And only all fruit jams or reduced sugar jelly. Smucker's reduced sugar (not sugar-free) jelly has less sugar in it than many all fruit jams. Go figure.
- They want snack chips. So, I try to pack the lesser of the evils. I will pack real potato chips which, although they are fried, they do not have hydrogenated oils in them. I also pack pretzels a lot and tortilla chips. Doritos, Cheetos, Cheez-its and the likes are a rare treat as most of them have hydrogenated oils in them.
- I noticed a girl in my son's class that had homemade waffles for her snack. No butter or syrup - just the waffles - she ate them up and was so excited! We love the whole wheat waffles from Trader Joes or Vans waffles that you can find at your grocery store- those might be a good option.
- Air-popped popcorn with sea salt for a snack.
- I send whole cheese that I slice from the block. My kids seem to like this better than cheese sticks.
- Nuts - my kids will eat almonds and cashews. I realize many kids won't. You could make up your own trail mix and send that. My kids don't like dried fruit of any kind - I guess I've spoiled them with too much fresh! Here is an entire article from Family Fun about making your own trail mix.
Other things I pack.
- Organic yogurts with granola (Trader Joes has great granola and even a gluten free one) Here is a great link to homemade granola. And a video on how to make homemade granola bars.
- Red, yellow, orange, green bell peppers with hummus. My kids love vegetables so I am lucky in this regard.
- Raw broccoli, grape tomatoes, peeled carrots, cukes, and celery are always a hit with them.
- Cooked and chilled edamame.
- Pickles - not a fresh veggie but they love them.
- Both of my kids will eat a salad if I pack it in their lunch, so once a week, I do that.
- I also bought the Thermos containers and send leftover spaghetti, soup or mac & cheese.
- I have these little plastic containers from Tupperware called Midgets that I send with dips like hummus and peanut butter. I'm working on a homemade Ranch Dressing - any recipes out there? Dips seem to make my kids eat just about anything!
- Dessert - I try to send homemade goodies if I have them.
- Fruit salad or fresh fruit every single day.
- I will pack cookies. They are kids. Kids love cookies. I love cookies. Bonus if they are homemade.
So, that is about all I've come up with! Your turn - what do you pack for your kids lunches?
*updated: found this great post that pretty much covers mine and then some - wanted to share it with you because there are some awesome ideas here.
Packing a Lunch: Healthy Food to Go at Kitchen Stewardship
**More updates: Another great one over at Musings of a Housewife - School Lunches - be sure to check out the comments, too.
For more Works For me Wednesday ideas, head on over to We are THAT Family.