When Sophie started kindergarten last year, the whole lunch-packing thing was pretty daunting. She found out quickly that her SF restaurant palate did not approve of purchasing school lunches, and apart from "pancake with sausage day," she requested home packed lunches every.single.day.
Apparently I was NOT alone in my reluctance to pack homemade lunches... I recently found out that 90% of parents surveyed would rather help with carpool or homework than pack lunches. What? Yes, I know. It can be a brutal morning routine... and yet...
Is packing a lunch so bad?
By the end of last year, (apart from the dragging myself out of bed every morning factor), I was secretly enjoying the lunch packing. I'm not going to lie- It took awhile (like the entirety of last fall, haha!) to get Sophie to approve of the my lunches -- "mommy, I was kind of hungry when I was done with my lunch. Can you add more tomorrow?" // "mommy, I had too much lunch and I had to sit for SO LONG to finish. Can you make it smaller?" // "mommy I love cheese, but not that kind in my lunchbox. I prefer the other kind..." // "My apple hurt my loose tooth!" // Kids are way too honest sometimes.
One day, it clicked. I was doing lunches wrong. Enough of the large sandwiches and whole fruit (apple, oranges, etc) ...I changed my formula, and started loving the packing process. It totally appealed to my childhood self to create meals in this new way... but more importantly- Sophie LOVED the changes, and was coming home happy with her lunches-- finally!
Here's what I realized: variety is huge for a kid. Chopping things to small sizes is almost always nicer for them. Small bites of good food, and having color and brightness involved are extra perks. My kiddos- thankfully- adore their fruit and veggies, so I include at least two per day in a small compartment. Sugary sweets aren't totally off-limits, but they're not recommended by the schools. That said, I like to include something for Sophie that is a nutritious sweet (her current favorite are these rasberry fig bars that check all the right boxes). Rolling lunch meat and adding a fun animal pick to secure them is a big win. The right crackers or a cheese stick can be added to round out the lunch, and we're all set!!
Today, and probably monthly throughout the school year, I will share a few lunch ideas with you. It's something I love, it's something I'm given feedback on daily (thanks Soph!), and it's an area I really do enjoy these days.
Here are just three meals from our week that are incredibly simple to prep, and would generally be well-received by the little ones:
- Salami rolled and secured with a pick.
- Crackers! These are brown rice crackers and I love them, but full disclosure: Sophie prefers wheat thins as her standard cracker. To each their own!
- Celery sticks! I often add hummus on the side of carrots or celery, but it definitely makes for more messes in the lunchbox.
- Rasberry fig bar.
- Tiny triangle turkey sandwich with one roll of extra turkey meat, secured with a food pick.
- Nectarine, cut.
- Snap Pea Crisps (I always stock these! They're a favorite around here)
- Raisins-- WF sells a big box that lasts much longer than those tiny ones.
- Greek strawberry yogurt with a couple berries (for things that should be chilled, sticking them in the freezer for about 30 minutes before school can keep them cool until lunch!). OR these cute ice packs are great!
Day 3: (more of a traditional lunch, which is great once or twice a week to add variety)
- Ham sandwich (for school, I keep sandwiches to meat, cheese, and mayo or mustard. Lettuce and tomato make the bread soggy by lunch, so it's best to skip!)
- Rasberries... I stock at least one berry in bulk for the week because they're a favorite lunch staple, and I switch between blueberries, rasberries, and strawberries weekly.
- Terra Veggie Chips with Sea Salt.
Whole Foods spoiled us with some fantastic snacks for us to try, and the CUTEST snack containers. They're collaborating with PBS kids to create adorable backpacks, lunch containers, lunch bags, and pencil box that are all made responsibly with the bright colors and patterns that kids adore. I let my girls pick their favorites and they were giggling with excitement to show their daddy when he got home.
ALSO- they give great lunch ideas and recipes for kid-friendly meals for the family on their website.... it's definitely worth checking out if you're in a food funk. :) How did I never know this existed?? It's full of amazing options.
Happy new school year!! Hope this helps the back-to-school process!
Post is not sponsored. Whole Foods provided products and food for our family to enjoy... all opinions are my own. x