This month, our BTDT Squad answers the following question:
What do you prepare for lunch for the kids?
***Think picky-eaters, slow eaters, what are some quick and easy ideas for school lunches? Do you prepare everything the night before, or the morning of?
Suvannah (Mom of 2 girls ages 5 and 2)
Maybe I have it easier for lunches since I am homeschooling. We have adapted the whole snack bin idea (from pinterest, Im sure you’ve seen it.) But the basic idea is to pre-make snacks/lunches ahead of time so its easy to grab. Ours includes pre-made baggies of, carrot sticks (or other veggie), cheese, meat (sliced turkey, or sausages), sliced peaches or apples, berries or grapes, crackers, or pop corn, and yogurt. (I *try* to buy low sodium and low sugar items) We switch out the snacks weekly for variety, and we allow the kids to pick their own lunches from the bin so they have some control of what they are eating. I try to ask the kids to grab something from each food group. An easy and fun way to ensure they are picking a good variety is to ask them to pick as many different coloured items as possible. Since we are home and have the option to have hot lunches, we often have soups or left overs from the night before for a quick easy lunch. Another fun thing for us since we are homeschooling is to have the kids pick something from our garden to snack on during the day. Its fresh, healthy, and fun since they get to harvest their own food!
A school lunch is my nemesis, because inevitably my daughter will complain that ‘I always make the same thing.” Also she is not really a sandwich kind of a girl so it is difficult to make her lunches. This year I vowed to organize myself and stay on top of making lunches so I was not scrambling to throw things together the morning of. I pinned tons lunch ideas off of Pinterest but alas it has not worked as I would have liked. However, I do have a few things that I have found along the way that seem to be consistent key items.
- I always send a couple of pieces of fruit. Right now I have tons of grapes and pears from my garden so that is what she is getting.
- Also I bought this great little container that has a spot for dip on the top and then I can put veggies in the bottom. This container always comes home empty of its contents.
- I have several re-useable lunch bags which I fill with items such as whole-wheat pretzels, gold fish crackers, shelled sunflower seeds, raisins,home-made cookies or banana bread.
- My daughter loves Edamame beans so they also make it in the lunch often and they are protein
- I found that freezing yogurt tubes help keep the lunch cold and then they become perfect temperature for lunch time.
- My daughter often will request odd items such as black olives and pickles so I have small container for those times.
Ultimately, school lunches are never my favourite things to make and I am willing to take any suggestions or ideas to fill up that lunch bag everyday.
Naomi (mom to three boys, age 9, 3, and 11 mnths)
Most of what our family eats is at home, because we home school. My middle son is super picky and eats like a little bird! I always make a meal plan two weeks ahead of time, and try to think of lots of interesting ways to get him to eat healthy. He tends to prefer small bite sized food to big pieces which seem overwhelming to him. Often we go on field trips that require me to pack a lunch, which I always do the night before so I’m not rushing around the next morning, super stressed out. I try to make it super kid friendly. Small bite sized food, such as cheese, crackers, tiny sandwiches, and lots of fruit and veggies are things that you will find in our lunches. It doesn’t have to take forever, but another way I make sure there are always lots of these things on hand is setting aside 30 min. when after I purchase groceries to cut everything up and put it in Tupperware or large Ziploc bags in the fridge. It makes my job so much quicker!
My daughter Sydney is a bit of a picky eater and doesn’t really like sandwiches so at the Vernon Teach and Learn I found a child’s lunch kit (the lunch laptop I think it’s called) and inside it came with several different containers, some with lids. I use this to make my own “snackables” idea for her lunches. Some of the things I put in for her are crackers, garlic sausage, her favorite dried fruit or fresh, yogurt, muffins, nut- free granola bar, etc. So far it has worked well and she has been eating most or all of the food I send with her. I always make lunches in the morning.
Oh lunch – one of the back-to-school routines I have not missed over the summer! I have a 6 and 4 year old so I am lucky and so far only have one lunch to make and then a small snack twice a week for my son’s preschool. For my daughter it’s fairly simple – she is not a picky eater and we are lucky she has no allergies, however, she is a slow eater so I have to be careful to not pack a large quantity of things such as pretzels as she doesn’t have time to eat them. I prepare as much as I can for both my kids the night before. Our mornings are hectic enough that making lunch/snacks is one less thing I have to worry about and it helps us a lot! The only thing I try to leave for the morning is her sandwich, if she takes one or anything I need to heat up in her container. I try to always make sure there is at least a fruit or vegetable in her lunch, something quick she can eat for her snack: cheese stick, granola bar, apple, her main lunch course: sandwich, soup, left overs from supper the night before and then one other filling food item. I don’t pack a “fun snack” everyday: cookies/treats but once or twice a week I will try to pack something special in her lunch along with a little note. Now that she can read it’s really special for her and I that she has a little note saying I hope she has a good day, how proud of her I am and/or that I love her. Lunches for us are not that bad, however, next year my tune may change when my picky little man enters kindergarten!
Here are some items I include in my daughter’s lunch kit!
– Sandwich OR Crackers/Cheese/Pickles OR leftover pasta
– Fresh fruit (grapes are a fave)
– Yoghurt tubes OR pudding OR cottage cheese cup
– Carrot Sticks
– Nutri-grain bar (or other granola bar – I try to include only one “processed” food item
– Fresh baking (when I have time!) such as cookies, or a muffin
– Juice box OR water bottle
Usually I’ll throw a few things together the night before, but finish it off in the morning, while the kids are getting dressed. If it’s a special season, such as Halloween or Christmas, then sometimes I’ll include a small “treat” in the lunch 🙂
I often take leftovers from dinner for the main part of the meal, which means I don’t have to come up with a gluten-free alternative to a regular lunch. For snacks, I make a nut/seed mixture, a piece or two of fruit and cheese/avocado/cooked carrots/cucumber spears/homemade fruit snacks (grassfed gelatin and juice…made to be much thicker than jello). I plan to use quinoa/pasta salad more often as well as taco rice. Moat of it is no fuss so I just grab and go when I leave the house, the nut/seed mixture (usually cashews, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, peanuts and goji berries) I have to make weekly/biweekly.
Don’t forget to check out our Harvest Special which contains a listing of all the family-friendly farm tours and activities for you to enjoy this harvest season.
Jodi is originally from Montréal, Quebec but spent a few years in Northern New Brunswick after graduating from University. She moved to Kamloops in the Spring of 2010 with her family and works as an educational assistant. Her 7 and 8 year old keep her really busy as they love exploring the area and enjoying what Kamloops has to offer!