I send Margot away from me a few days a week and she takes a little piece of me in her hot pink butterfly lunchbox. It is a tangible way I get to participate in her day. I love making school lunch.
My mom packed me amazing lunches, with a handwritten note every single day, through high school. This, I am sure, influenced my doing the same for my daughters. Thanks, mama. A few months ago, I started posting some of bug’s lunches on instagram (#bugslunch) and have loved the conversation they’ve generated about making lunch in the busy morning hustle of getting out the effing door on a school day.
A few things:
- I don’t experiment with new foods in school lunches. I want Margot to eat well during her active day and I don’t risk her not liking something. I make safe choices using foods I know she loves.
- I find it to be very easy to pack without waste. We use a variety of containers, mostly jelly jars and reusable snack bags (I like Snack Taxi). This year, we invested in a Thermos and it is such a game changer to be able to pack hot items! (edited to add: we also use ice packs for the yogurt etc.)
- One of my most frequently asked questions: How do you get your kids to eat that? It’s true our kids happily and willingly eat most anything. I don’t have a formula for making this happen (or know if it’s anything we did or didn’t do) but I can share our approach. I wrote a post here: kids and food bravery.
- Laying out the food for photos has helped inspire me in lunch-packing! It’s fun to curate a little pile of healthy, beautiful food for my daughter.
- My kids find it irresistible that I arrange the food before packing (even when I don’t photograph) and this has created a new practice in our home: I set out snacks on the counter after breakfast every morning and my kids help themselves throughout the day. This! Has been so awesome.
- tofu, maple roasted vegetables (leftover from dinner), tortilla chips, apple
- egg noodles with olive oil and parm, raisins, beets, almonds
- crackers with peanut butter, sharp cheddar cheese, corn, plain yogurt with peaches and honey
- pizza (leftover from dinner), cherry tomatoes, dried seaweed, plain yogurt with maple syrup, corn
- quesadilla (cheddar and cucumber yogurt spread), spinach, cottage cheese, peanuts & raisins, fish gummis
- tofu, hard boiled egg, carrots, apple, ants on a log (celery almond butter & raisins), lemon wafer cookies
- beets, green zebra tomato slices, blueberry kefir, raisins & peanuts, oatmeal with apples, cinnamon, maple syrup & rice milk
- peanut butter & plum jam sandwich, salad (spinach & carrots, salad dressing on side), lentil soup (leftover from dinner)
- yams, carrots & cucs with balsamic vinaigrette, plain yogurt with apricot jam, apple, chocolate pretzels
- tuna sandwich, pickles, avocado with olive oil, peaches, plain yogurt
- cheddar cheese quesadilla, beets, apple, avocado, plain yogurt with honey
- almond butter & peach butter sandwich, carrots, fruit leather, beet carrot soup, dried seaweed
- corn chowder (leftover from dinner), pumpkin cranberry rolls, pistachios, dried seaweed, banana
- yam coconut rice (leftover from dinner), salad (dressing on side), carrots & celery, plain yogurt, kisses
- cheddar cheese, peanut butter & apricot jam sandwich, almonds, fruit leathers, yogurt with maple syrup
- corn chowder (leftover from dinner), sourdough pretzels, tofu, beets, yogurt with peach butter
- quesadilla (manchego cheese and lentil soup), beet carrot soup, peaches, pistachios
- cheese quesadilla, salad (spinach, bean spouts & carrots; dressing on side), dried cranberries, almonds & chocolate chips
FOOD BRANDS + SOURCES WE USE:
tofu: our three favorite brands: Totally Organic (made in Montana), Surata and Wild Wood (purchased at out local grocer)
egg noodles: Country Pasta (made in Montana, purchased at Costco)
tortilla chips: Casa Pablos (made in Montana, purchased at out local grocer)
honey: varies, easy to get locally produced sweetness (purchased at out local grocer)
peanut butter: our two favorite brands: Adams and Maranatha (purchased at Costco)
almond butter: Maranatha (purchased at Costco)
bread: Birdman (made in Montana, purchased at out local grocer) or Dave’s Killer Bread (purchased at Costco) or we make it (breadmaker recipe links on recipe page)
tortilla: Indian Life or Trevino’s (made in Montana, purchased at out local grocer)
dried seaweed: my kids LOVE this (me? notsomuch). I bought it at Costco but the packaging is insane. We now buy in big sheets from our local grocer.
beets, peaches and corn: from our home preservation stash
yogurt: Nancy’s plain whole milk yogurt (purchased at out local grocer; really want to make our own! we eat so much yogurt)
kefir: Nancy’s (purchased at out local grocer)
cheese: our favorites: Tillamook Sharp Cheddar, Manchego (all purchased at Costco), Montzarella (made in Montana, purchased at our local grocer).
winter lentil soup (I used that recipe, adding garlic and vegetable stock. I puréed a batch for the kids as they didn’t like the chunks. I hugely recommend the recipe.)
maple roasted vegetables
beet and carrot soup
peanut butter yammy coconut rice
pumpkin cranberry biscuits
fig bars (not shown in the lunches above but is a favorite around here)
Whew, that was a lot of hyperlinking. What do your kids eat for lunch? Please share your ideas and recipes in the comments. I’m always looking for foodie inspiration (a wonderful website my friend keeps: Made Your Lunch.) These two hungry, colorful kids say thanks in advance.
Margot: drawing, “Mom, I’m feeling concerned I don’t have enough red.”
Ruby: from the other room, “Mom, it’s ok I put on some of your lipstick?”
Ugh, not looking forward to making lunch every day next year when my oldest starts Kindergarten. I am so not creative. This year, lunch is optional at preschool and since I have to make lunch for myself and my other daughter I have only let her stay three times so far this year. Every time I pack peanut butter and jelly, apple slices and a veggie. I am concerned about other options spoiling in her lunch box during the morning, perhaps a little too much. I don’t let anyone else prep raw meat or chicken in my kitchen for fear of contaminating surfaces and making us all sick.
Thanks for the great pics and inspiration! Sorry I don’t have anything great to share. 🙂