Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Lunch Box Ideas

If you have a child who just started school or is going to soon and you are as freaked out as I was for packing their lunchbox (nut-free!), then this post is for you! I don't know why I was so nervous about it. But the school guidelines were saying things like, "leave the crackers, cookies and chips for an at home treat" (What!?) and "We are a nut-free school. Nuts of any kind are not allowed on school grounds" (Wait, no peanut butter?) and my favorite, "Try to include vegetables, fruits, protein and whole grains with every meal" (they know this is a 4 year old right?). So anyway, needless to say I was a little worried about what to pack and if there was anything to pack and if Princess was going to starve her first year of Pre-K. So I did a lot of research.

My first big find was Weelicious. Not only does she have great recipes for family meals, she has tons of ideas for what to pack in your child's lunch. And she provides a photo of her child's packed lunch. How convenient is that?

The next big thing that I found was Laptop Lunches. They sell adorable bento style lunch boxes that all fit snugly inside a regular lunchbox. Its so nice because you can compartmentalize all of the pieces of your child's lunch and keep everything from spilling! Plus, how cute are bento boxes anyway?

The third (and my favorite) discovery in my search for lunchbox serendipity was this book:
It has tons of great ideas and divides it into sections by types of food, i.e. Chicken, Beef, Fish, Sandwiches, Noodles, etc. It even has a chapter devoted to fast and easy options (like single serve pre-packaged mini hummus and peanut butter) and leftover remakes. I love it because it is all really healthy and balanced. It makes me want to make myself a lunch like that every day. Another great thing about it is that you can mix and match pieces from different lunch ideas in the book, as it is also bento style.

Here are some lunch ideas that I have come up with for the Princess so far. (Sorry about the picture quality) To be honest she hasn't eaten most of it (she is SUPER picky)...but I'm hoping if I just keep at it, eventually she will get hungry and just try something!
First day of school. Heart shaped turkey and swiss sandwich was a definate must. Baby carrots with hummus for dipping. Popcorn, lightly seasoned with cheese powder (I also sprinkled on a little water for it to stick). Applesauce. I believe all she ate that day was the popcorn. :)

Raspberries, Parmesan garlic bagel crackers, cut figs and "Peanut" sesame noodles. I made these with sunflower seed butter (which has been my savior) and omitted the usual spice. So far she doesn't know the difference between sunflower seed butter and peanut butter. She ate the raspberries that day and the noodles when she got home from school.

Strawberry and cream cheese sandwich on whole wheat bread, mandarin oranges, tomato Pretz sticks, roasted butternut squash with maple syrup drizzled over. She ate the mandarins and the Pretz sticks.

Quick and easy "Alfredo" noodles (an idea from the Lunchbox Blues book. Basically, noodles, butter, cheese and black pepper), frozen grapes and mango applesauce (from Target). She ate the noodles.

Gluten free pot stickers with soy dipping sauce, chia seed pudding with honey and cinnamon and Ritz cracker, sunflower seed butter sandwiches. She ate 1 cracker sandwich.

Turkey and swiss sandwich. (you could also try a tuna sandwich) with grapes and plain greek yogurt drizzled with honey and graham crackers crumbles. This was her lunch this morning, so I'm not sure what is eaten yet!

Hope these tips and ideas have helped to inspire solutions to your own lunchbox worries! Good luck!

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