It’s that time of year again when the kids are heading back to school. I talk to a lot of mom’s and we all have the same challenge … what to pack for our kids in their lunchbox. I know myself how boring it is to eat the same thing day after day, and with a finicky kid it’s even more of a challenge to find something they’ll eat.
A good rule of thumb is to keep everything in small portions because schools don’t give kids a lot of time for lunch. Usually all they have is 25 minutes for lunch from the time they leave class, walk to the cafeteria, find a seat, open their food, eat, dump their trash, form a line and go back to class. Actual eating time is about 15 minutes!
Packing the lunch the night before is a big help, and gives me more time to think about what to pack and be a little more creative. During the morning rush to get out the door, the last thing I want to fret over is what to pack for the kids’ lunch!
I always keep those snack size sandwich bags on hand. They seem to hold the perfect portion size of whatever I’m packing.
Cookie cutters are one of my favorite tools to use in making a fun lunch! You can use them to turn sandwiches & cheese into fun shapes like a star, heart, dinosaur, etc.
I remember my mom making this for me and I’ve carried the tradition to my kids. Make “Bugs on logs”. All you do is fill celery with cream cheese or peanut butter and top with raisins.
Dipping! Kids love to dip foods! Pack vanilla wafers or graham crackers in with some yogurt for dipping. I’ve tried packing apple slices to dip in the yogurt but my kids don’t really like apples, but you might want to try it. You can also pack string cheese or rolled up slices of meat with honey mustard for dipping.
If your kids like canadian bacon or pepperoni, you can add those with some cheese and roll up in a tortilla instead of always using bread for sandwiches. These can also turn into another great item for dipping!
Cubes of cheese or string cheese are a big hit with my kids. I think they like to play with it more than eat it sometimes, but both pack nicely in their lunchbox. Sometimes I pack the cheese cubes with a cardboard stick (like you use to make caramel apples). Then the kids can “spear” the cheese and have a little fun that way.
Other small items that pack nicely in the snack bags are grapes, cherry tomatoes, plums, carrot sticks, goldfish crackers, pretzels, and chex mix.
I’ve also found that it’s cheaper sometimes to make my own version of packaged snacks snacks, such as peanut butter & cracker or peanut butter and cheese cracker sandwiches. The kids help me make them, so they not only have fun making the food but have fun eating it the next day at lunch.
My kids like trail mix, and I’ve found it’s cheaper to make my own. The kids also help with this and I let them mix up their own flavor using their favorite nuts, candy, and fruit. Of course I supervise to make sure their trail mix doesn’t end up being just a bag of m&m;’s!
Cherry or strawberry vine licorice is a favorite at our house, and the kids have fun eating it. I don’t pack the sticks in their lunch because I know all they would do it play with it and not get around to the rest of their food. So I cut the sticks into small bite sizes and toss them in a snack bag.
A great snack that cost about a $1.00 and is quick and easy is to make miniature muffins. All you need is a miniature muffin pan and the muffin or brownie mix. I make them up on Sunday and make about 4 dozen of different varieties and they last all week.
Don’t forget that presentation is a big part of the fun. Use colorful bags or colored saran wrap. I also use a lot of stickers and colored markers & (if time permits) let the kids write notes or draw funny pictures on their bags.
Hopefully some of these tips are new to you and will help to make a lunch your kids will actually eat … instead of trading their “yucky stuff” to some other kid for who knows what!