Brown Baggin’ It

Well, they launched.  They made it.  They walked out that door, onto the bus (with only a little hesitation on Ms. Picky Pants’ part) and they are off to first grade.   I can’t flippin’ believe it.  Just yesterday I was using a food mill to grind their kale casserole (yes, I’m serious) and now they will be sitting at desks instead of tables… Oy. Honestly, we had a fantastic summer and I will so miss spending time with my little peeps, but I would be flat out lying if I said I’m not ready for a little quiet time now and again, time to work the paid job without taking time away from them, time to plan a meal without being interrogated about it simultaneously.  There are advantages to the return to school.

Of all the chores associated with the daily school grind, I have to admit that lunch preparation is not my favorite.  Apparently it’s not just me.  I’ve noticed that there is a lot of anxiety about packing lunch and what our kiddos are eating at school (well deserved in my opinion), so I thought I’d through together a little compilation of suggestions that Bigg Sis and I have shared as regards packing lunch for the littlest humans in our life, bearing in mind of course that all of these suggestions also work for the bigger ones, you just may need a bigger boat, as it were. So – ready to feed all the travelers in your life an awesomely healthful lunch?  I knew you were.  Let’s take it in stages…

Equipment

The first question I’ve seen a lot of from folks getting ready to send their kids to school has to do with equipment for lunches.  The old Speed Racer lunchbox just isn’t the thing anymore. For my twins, I’ve purchased pretty standard insulated lunchbags.  They each have a metal water bottles that have lasted about three years.  We also use a stainless steel divided container which I usually pack with fruit and veg. We also use either a reusable sandwich bag (Hello Kitty for her and Spiderman for him in case you’re wondering) or a Thermos for warm leftovers. Some sort of sweet nibble gets stuffed in wherever it will maintain its integrity the best.  Bigg Sis did a write up of lunch conveyance options that she investigated for my brilliant nephew and shares her research here.  There – now you have ideas about HOW to transport that food.  The next big anxiety area I saw was WHAT to actually pack.

For Nibblers

While both of my kids can be coaxed to eat a sandwich, one of them would much rather nibble her way through the day.  At times I try to accommodate this desire to the best of my ability.  I think the Lunchables industry is built around this tendency in children and I KNOW I can pack a more healthful, not to mention infinitely cheaper version of that whole shebang.

Bigg Sis on homemade Lunchables including recipes for tasty honey milk balls and apple oat muffins.

Nutty Lunch Dip makes a nice protein for kids to dip fruit and veg into.

Hummus: Baja Hummus, Garbanzorange Hummus, Navy Bean Herb Hummus

Sunflower Cheese

For Leftover Appreciators

Lentil Casserole

Sweet Potato Stew

Sweet & Sour Lentils

Kichadi

Sweets

As much as I like to limit the sugar-y bits of their day, I do send along something that qualifies as a “treat” in just about every lunch.  This policy gets violated by me when evidence mounts that the treat is being eaten first and there is inadequate veggie consumption.  Thus far this plan has worked quite well and we all seem down with the program.  While there approximately 8 million treats to buy at the store, I prefer whenever possible, to make my own treats for the kids as it gives me maximum control over what’s going in there.  Yes, it’s like that.  Judge away. If i don’t have anything on hand, I have switched out packaged cereal (generally 5g or less sugar) of a healthier sort. Here are a few of my kids’ favorite lunchbox sweets.  I’ll have to do this quickly as it’s making me hungry.

Gluten Free Blondies (bean based, yes I said bean based)

Sweet Potato Cookies w/ Walnuts and Dark Chocolate

Almond Joy Macaroons

If you need more options, check out the category buttons on the sidebar for lunchbox and treats.  We’ve got plenty of options to help you keep those little (or larger) bodies humming with good fuel.  Nothing helps us have a better day than filling up with the good stuff.  Have a great school year everybody!

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18 responses

  1. Here we go again!! I agree, my least favorite part of the return to school is packing lunch, although he is old enough to help, I still choose what goes in because he’s not convinced that I know what I’m talking about ;-). Today’s lunch? Leftover pasta, cantaloupe, cucumbers, and a couple of cookies.

  2. Ha, totally agree my least favorite thing is packing lunch too :) And my kid is only just starting kindergarten, so clearly I have a ways to go! But I’m all about ideas and I love the ones in this post. Thanks, and enjoy some no kid time – I will be too in a few weeks!
    -Dana

  3. Packing lunch was also one of my least favorite parts when my boys went to school. You want to feed them healthy, but they feel weird around the junk the other kids bring and feel they stand out. It was difficult some mornings to find that right combination. Although when I did I found my youngest son would be bribed to share his foods which meant I had to pack even more for him to share.

    You have great ideas here some I will use myself for lunches at home.

  4. Great tips! Packing balanced lunches that will be filling enough but small enough to be completely eaten by my super slow eater step-daughter is a chore! I have to look into your bean blondies – very cool!

    Kristin

    • My daughter is also a slow eater – haven’t quite figured that one out. Her twin brother claims she doesn’t make good use of her time: “always talking…” and there are hand motions that go with the accusation. Sigh.

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  7. It’s amazing how fast this summer went. This is full of great ideas and reminders, ones that you could post again in the winter when everyone is really feeling fresh out of ideas for those darn lunch bags!

    • Thanks! I’m also reeling at the speed of the summer. I feel like we’d just found our footing and then it was over. Guess I’d better get faster with my adjustments. ;-) Hope your back to school goes/went smoothly.

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  11. I just bought a Lunch Bots divided stainless box for my son’s lunch. so far it’s working great, and I feel like im able to get lots of good healthy things in his lunch without having to send along 4 or 5 mini containers of things. Im gonna look at your “snack” recipes too, cause I also like to give little treats in his lunch.

    • I’ve been really happy with our stainless. My daughter’s is on her second year – my son needed a new one because I left one behind on travel this summer. We use them all the time – in and out of school.

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