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September 16, 2009



I am going to be maniacally reading your comments because I just started making lunch, too, and it's HARD. I am also trying to unlearn what "makes a lunch" and focus more on the idea of getting some protein, some carb, and some fruit in to him. Today was a bagel with cream cheese, sunflower seeds, and apple slices. I have also sent hard boiled eggs, bean and cheese quesadillas (he doesn't seem to mind them room temp), and chicken nuggets (again, room temp). My other big thing is that I can't imagine eating the same thing every day - but I'm trying to get over that, too, since if that is what he wants and what he'll eat, what do I care?


Without knowing exactly what your kids like to eat, and why they dislike sandwiches it is a bit tricky to actually offer advice, but here goes anyway!

What about breakfast muffins?
Not getting completely away from the lunchmeat, but they sound tasty. If you stored them in the freezer, they should have thawed nicely by lunchtime.

Something I saw the other day was box that had several of those silicon muffin liners filling it, each liner had something different inside - so baby carrots in one, hummus in another, grapes in the last, with a piece of pita bread sliced up that could be dipped in the hummus.

I have these horrible memories of Sunday evenings when my mother would get me to make a weeks worth of sandwiches for me & my brother out of the leftover roast. They had to be individually bagged, and sealed, and put into a bigger bag, and into the freezer...then every morning assembling your lunch. It was so sensible, and I hated every minute of it...

Thinking of my mother, she once told me she used to make boiled eggs, store them in the fridge and then take one for lunch with a little salt & pepper for dipping. You might have to peel the egg in the morning, but if they would eat cold boiled eggs...


I hate packing lunches too but not being able to make sandwiches would crush me. Just this past Sunday I packaged all the sides for lunches for the week in Tupperware or bags. Things like applesauce, carrots, grapes, banana, apples, yogurt, cottage cheese, crackers, cheddar bunnies, pretzels, popcorn, granola bar, animal crackers and rice cakes. That leaves me to just make the main dish like Annie's canned pasta meals, chicken noodle with carrots soup, pb&j, sliced turkey in tortilla or leftovers. At night I make the main dish and pick two sides. If it I can I put E's in the microwave in the morning and put it into a small Thermos (she picked so should would have some interest in using it). E buys the school hot lunch at least once a week. I'm not thrilled that the school counts jello as a fruit and since I'm still packing lunches for the boys at the sitter I don't gat a break if she buys.

Breakfasts have been a struggle but I found they like hard boiled eggs better than scrabbled so that is a plus.

liz s

When my older two started pre-school and needed a lunch it was aweful. Not only did they need a lunch every day, but it had to be kosher (Jewish Community Center) and could not contain nuts (allergies) Work with me here is all I could think.

You can take a cold grilled cheese if she doesn't mind eating it that way. Make the sandwhich and then cool in the fridge. Its not the same, but it works.

Will they dip carrots or apples in peanut butter? You can put it in small containers or buy the overly prices snack size.

Cottage cheese and fruit is good. Snickolett had a post about lunches a while ago. Maybe try her blog and see if you can find it. Her twins were younger at the time, but there might be some good ideas.

Good luck. I hate packing lunches too.


It is hard and I have a moderately picky child as well.

Our school does not have the healthiest choices (this week included hot dog, pizza, and taco cup-fritos with taco meat and cheese) but I do allow her to buy hot lunch one day per week and she gets to pick which day (usually pizza or the day they serve breakfast for lunch). The other 4 days she gets PBJ usually twice and some lunchmeat/cheese (NOT a sandwich!) and maybe mac and cheese or buttered noodles in her thermos. In the winter she tends to want more warmer lunches so we may have mac and cheese, buttered noodles, hot dog, or chicken nuggets in the thermos as well. Occasionally she takes a grilled cheese-eaten room temperature or a quesadilla-also room temp.

For sides she will eat almost anything-except raw veggies but usually doesn't eat a large lunch. If I send more than 1 side, it usually comes home. Surprisingly, it is usually the "treat" (cookies. etc,) that comes back home. She will always eat her fruit or cottage cheese if I send that. I just try to make sure she has some protein, some carbs and some fruit and call it good. She has taken PBJ 3 days in a row now, oh well! :) I have a special cutter that makes it into 2 dolphins with a heart in the middle and no sandwich comes back home, she eats it all.


Lunch - the bane of my existence. Seriously. I've got the pickiest eaters. They do not eat anything that is lunch box friendly. One eats string cheese, but only cut up into small circles on Ritz crackers. The other won't eat cheese at all. She'll eat a jelly sandwich (no peanut butter here) but needs to assemble it herself, as it gets "way too soggy" if it's done ahead of time.
Will your kids eat leftovers? You could heat them in the morning and then put them into a thermos and they'd stay warm. I have a friend who used to grill her kids veggie hotdogs and put them in a thermos and send a bun.
Mine buy lunch almost everyday - but their school does a salad bar/deli option and that's what they get. They aren't huge protein eaters to start with, so I just try to force the protein into them at home.


I have had to pack lunches for my kids every day for daycare since they were 18 months old! It was very intimidating until I bought the Laptop Lunches bento system. I know you weren't enthusiastic about them, but I love them!

It takes the guesswork out of it for me because I know that some of the containers always get the same thing (fruit, veggie, etc.) & others get varied each day. I can easily see what they are getting & what's nutritionally missing. Plus, it's very satisfying to fill up the little containers, I don't know why (our ziplock back bill has gone way down too). If I had to pack a lunch for work, I'd get a purple one for myself!

We bought the original system but found that the flatware fell apart after frequent dishwashing. We also recently found that Crocodile Creek brand of insulted/padded lunch boxes fix the Laptop Lunch bento system perfectly & I stick a frozen cold pack in, zip it all up, & the boys can carry them with the handle - so I recommend not buying the entire system, just the exterior box & a couple of interior container sets per kid and then buying your own freezer packs & lunch box separately. I'm not sure if the new system they offer (Bento 2.0) is the same dimensions, so you might have to measure. We saw both the Bento boxes & the Crocodile Creek lunch boxes at our local Whole Foods recently, but I bought everything online.

The Laptop Lunches website also has a bunch of ideas for filling the Bentos.

Laptop Lunches original bentos: http://secure.laptoplunches.com/AMAZING/items.asp?Cc=BENTO&iTpStatus=0&Tp=&Bc=

Crocodile creek lunch boxes: http://www.shopatron.com/products/category/476.

Also, I liked this link (warning, sandwiches!): http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/products/wholedeal/lunchbox.php


I had to pack my own lunch in K, with some help from mom but every week I got to pick out one new thing to try in my lunch (teh school didn't have hot lunches except once a week and it was a BIG DEAL!!) I haven't had to pack lunches for my kiddos yet but wanted to share anyways.

I do have a trick since I saw cottage cheese mentioned more than once. If the girls don't like the texture of it (I used to hate it) make jello, and in the step where you can add fruit add cottage cheese instead or in addition to. The large curd was actually better for me in it! (plus it's a "treat")

jen w

crackers with cut of slices of cheese and turkey pepperoni (like a lunchable but cheaper!), bagels with cream cheese (I get the mini bagels). Those are my main choices for my non sandwich eating kid. The other kid (who will eat a sandwich) usually gets PB&J or PB&honey. I then add a fruit (apple, grapes, or applesauce), and a treat (small like a cookie). That usually seems to be enough. Sometimes they get a gogurt, but they don't always eat them. My daughters friend brings this every day: muffin, drinkable yogurt, grapes, pringles. Guess she won't eat sandwiches either! Neither of my kids are big on hot lunch, ugh!


I am guessing I have packed 1700 lunches during my kids schooling so far (one in 7th grade, one in 5th and one in 2nd).... but I have no great or really original ideas! (Sorry!) My boys buy at least once a week... and I have to say I LOVE the days that they buy just because it gives me a break. My daughter never buys.... ever.

My sons usually get a PB&J or turkey & cheese sandwich (usually a half sandwich on whole wheat bread), pretzels or fishies, fruit (apple slices, banana, grapes, strawberries) and water. Sometimes I'll mix it up for the youngest (he's more willing to try things) and make PB& honey roll ups- flatten a slice of bread, cut off the crusts, spread it with PB& honey, roll it up and cut it into little wheels. He's gets a whole sandwch worth of food but doesn't realize it is a sandwich! I also make pudding and put it into individual cups with lids and keep them in the fridge for a treat. (Since my middle child won't drink milk, he gets some calcium this way! And I could just buy pudding snacks but I hate the waste of pre-packages individual foods.) For my daughter, she gets either a sandwich, a wrap (hummus, spinach and shredded carrots or chicken strips, honey mustard and spinach) a spinach salad with strawberries, walnuts, craisins- I pack the dressing and the croutons seperately so nothing gets slimely. She'll also take yogurt, fruit, crackers, granola bar. Will your girls eat a granola bar? I figure the fruit and cereal bars are similar to a pb&j sandwich. A friend of mine makes "carrot slaw"- shredded carrots with a bit of ranch dressing mixed it.

I will also be reading all of the comments here because I too could use soem inspiration!!


I haaaaate packing lunches! Especially b/c the four year old won't eat foods that should be hot/warm (pasta, fish sticks, etc) if they arent piping hot! so for him:

yogurt or
honey sandwich or
cream cheese on french toast (those eggo slices)

cheese stick
cucumber slices

and either a pudding cup or vanilla wafers or something snacky.

my 6 year old will eat fish sticks, veggie chicken nuggets (morningstar farms) and mac n cheese in his lunches too, so he's got a few more options. also will eat cheese on bread. he likes steamed carrots, and already has to bring two veggie or fruit snacks for snack time, so i dont feel i NEED to put another one in his lunch. our school hto lunches are okay- hot dog, pizza, chicken, pasta, but they all come with a bottle of water, fruit and either pretzels or chips. so not too bad...

and both kids rooms are peanut free this year. again.


Carrots (or other veggies) and dip; yogurt/granola/fruit to mix themselves; cold noodles with sesame (if they like that); soupless cold chicken soup (cold cooked chicken and veggies).


My son LOVES mini pita bread stuffed with bean dip (sounds gross, but actually pretty good for you!) and some grated cheese! If you are at home, you can heat them, which I think is better! Lots of protein!


I too, detest packing lunches (my husband and I usually split the work 50/50 so I get a break). Whenever, I get back an empty lunchbox at the end of the day I feel like I have won some sort of mothering test. I often simply give him leftovers of whatever we ate the night before along with some fruit and cheese just in case he refuses to eat the "main dish". One thing that helps is that he generally doesn't care if things are room temp - actually I think he prefers things that way. Non sandwichy ideas that are popular here:

-Cold cereal: pack some cereal in a bowl with a lid, pack a small container of milk, have child pour the milk on at lunch.
-Penne with a light coating of marinara
-Cheese or veggie enchiladas: http://www.mendolo.com/2000/01/01/layered-vegetable-enchiladas/
-"Breakfast for lunch": waffles (or french toast), veggie sausage, fruit
-Rice noodles stir fried with veggies/tofu

My son isn't into eggs but if your girls are then things like fritattas and quiche can be made ahead and then frozen in individual portions that you can just pop into the lunchbox the night before (to dethaw).

Cool that you are getting to volunteer in the classroom. I love it when I get to spy (I mean, volunteer) with my son's class.


I am going to be using these comments for lots of ideas! I hate packing lunch too, and try and get the bulk of it planned out on the weekends. M only eats ham sandwiches, which I agree are not an every day option. This is the first year she can buy lunch, and I have gotten her to do it on average 2 days a week (yeah!) Last year when I had no buying options, sometimes I bought frozen spanikopita (sp?) from costco and also the frozen mini quiches, cooked them and then sent them in in her lunch room temperature. She also loves the Mystic frozen Pizza from costco, and I will send two slices of that in her lunch sometimes as a treat to be eaten at room temperature. Mini bagels with cream cheese are also a staple.

For sides I try to send one fruit-like item (apple sauce, actual fruit, dried apple crips from costco, mandarin oranges in a cup if they are on sale) and one crunchy item (pretzels, goldfish, popcorn, etc.)
I also need to pack an afternoon snack and for that I usually send a string cheese or a granola bar. Also, I freeze gogurts and put them in the lunch box frozen and they defrost before lunch. This usually goes in on a day when I am hoping to keep something as chilled as possible, like lunch meat.

B has no lunch buying option and no way of reheating or keeping things cold. He is also a lot pickier, likes less pastas and soups and wouldn't touch the appetizers I send for M. He gets PBJ, mac and cheese in a thermos, pizza, chicken nuggets and leftovers he likes in a thermos. He loves pancakes and hates syrup, so sometimes I send pancakes in a baggie and he eats them at room temperature. I just had the idea for him to roast a bunch of chicken legs, freeze them, then put them individually in a baggie and hopefully they will thaw out by lunch (will test ahead of time first).

One thing that I always do is write them a brief note on their napkin daily. This is wildly popular, and last year when M was beoming a good reader, her teacher said it really helped because she looked forward to being able to read her napkin herself every day.

Thanks for this post!


hey lind,
my mom used to pack trail mix that covered most of the food groups. will they eat any of this?
fruit: raisins, dried pineapple
protein: peanuts, cashews, almonds
bread: pretzels
dairy: cheese cut in tiny cubes

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