Back to School…Already?

I know what you’re saying, “But Sally, it’s only July!”

No joke. My kids start back to school mid-August, and it hit me: I have to fix lunches for BOTH of my children this year. Of course, you may be asking why I don’t just let my kids eat in the cafeteria. The cafeteria is a possibility, to be sure, but their nutritional choices aren’t always great.* Moreover, when confronted with healthy vs. unhealthy, my son often chose the latter–he’s a kid. So, sue him.

Then we have the peanut butter problem.  My kids can’t take peanut butter–or any type of nut butter–sandwiches to school.  While I respect the need to protect those with serious allergies, that leaves me with some type of meat or cheese as my best bet for protein–and I’m paranoid about the need for refrigeration. You can see my problem here–I need to think outside the box. I need lunches for kids that are

  • healthy (of course!)
  • economical (no $ trees in our back yard)
  • kid friendly (remember the princess)
  • require minimal amounts of refrigeration (I do put ice packs in the lunch box)

Here’s what I have so far: I have found the organic milk boxes which are a significant improvement over Capri Suns albeit expensive. Both kids will eat baby carrots and fruit. Sometimes they’ll eat cheese, but it tends to get soggy in the lunch box.

So, Healthy Writers and Readers, I’d greatly appreciate a little help with this conundrum. Any thoughts?

*Disclaimer: To all the lunch ladies out there, I don’t blame you for such choices–you have budget restraints, and I love you for the magic you can make with the materials you’ve been given. I taught for 8 years, so you lovely cafeteria ladies have my undying devotion.


14 responses to “Back to School…Already?”

  1. Gina says:

    Charlie’s school has a healthy lunch requirement, so I can share a few of our tips. The Foogo thermos is awesome at keeping lunch warm so we use that to send Annie’s organic Mac n cheese, leftover spaghetti or other warm proteins. Sandwiches (including soy butter and jelly or meat and cheese) can be frozen ahead of time, making morning easier and keeping the meat cold longer. For sides we tend to include things with dip (blue chips with guacamole or carrots with hummus). Frozen applesauce tubes or yogurt tubes are great and tend to thaw to a perfect temperature by lunch time. And for some reason my kids love salted edamame so we throw some of that in at times. Looking forward to seeing other ideas!

    • Sally Kilpatrick says:

      These are awesome ideas, Gina! I wouldnt have thought to freeze the yogurt or the sanwiches–do you put cheese on those? And I’ll be on the lookout for one of those thermoses, too.

  2. I don’t have kids, Sally, but my husband does take his lunch to work now. About once a month we make a huge pot of homemade vegetable soup and freeze it in individual size containers. So he grabs a piece of fruit and a frozen bowl of soup on his way to work. Now, he does have access to a microwave whereas I’m sure your kids don’t, so the thermos idea is way better for the kids.

    Maybe you could include some whole grain crackers, dried fruit and pasta salad.

    • Sally Kilpatrick says:

      I’m going to have to investigate the soup in a thermos option. Oh, and I have been jonesing for some veggie stew.

  3. Donna Alward says:

    My youngest doesn’t have access to a microwave either, so everything is either cold or in a thermos. Sometimes soup or leftover pasta goes in a thermos. My eldest is in jr. high and has a microwave, so sometimes she takes leftovers.

    I used to freeze yogurt ALL THE TIME for the girls and they loved it. I also bought ice packs. Thankfully the girls like sandwiches, and they DON’T like mayo much so there is less worry about things going bad between 8 and 11:30. 🙂 I just make sure I use whole grain bread or wraps, real low fat cheese and not processed, and sliced meats like turkey or ham and not salami or pastrami or other heavier processed stuff. Wraps or pitas make a nice change from regular whole wheat bread. 🙂

    Craisins are a fave. Also chicken caesar salad with dressing on the side and an ice pack or a frozen juice box to keep things cold.

    • Sally Kilpatrick says:

      Thanks for the suggestions! I can see that I need to expand some horizons for my babies! (Read here, I can’t get the older one to eat salad) That said, I could sneak some lettuce into a sandwich wrap…

  4. Angi Morgan says:

    To reassure yourself about the temperature, make some lunches ahead of time and see how warm things get. That might ease your mind.

    I’m a huge craisens fan. They have them in all flavors now.


  5. Hey Sally! No real ideas for you but I’ve actually been pleased with my son’s school lunch program. Yes, they have other options for them to choose from, but he does a pretty good job of making good choices. It also helps that the way I pay for his lunches lists exactly what meals he eats throughout the week. Kind of nice… 🙂

    Oh and school starts here on Monday. Bleh…. I am definitely not ready, but then again, mine is much older and he’s been doing a lot of extra stuff for us around the house.

    I’m betting you will get a ton more writing done if Her Majesty is going this year????


    • Sally Kilpatrick says:

      I’ll double check the menu. Right now, he decides each morning what he wants to eat–I only have control over whether or not he can get ice cream or other treats. Mean mommy that I am, that privilege has been denied, but I do buy him an ice cream any time that I join him for lunch. : )

      And, yes, more writing will get done this year–Lord willin’!

  6. Sandra says:

    Fruit cups, Apple sauce cups, grapes, blueberries, strawberries, bell pepper strips, sliced cucumbers, Celery sticks, cheese stick (requires ice pack)… I hope I remember these next month!

    • Sally Kilpatrick says:

      How do you get the kids to eat bell pepper and cucumber? I feel a sense of accomplishment that they eat broccoli, green beans, and tomatoes. Oh, and the big one will eat an assortment of beans, too.

      As for the little one? *sigh* She marches to the beat of a different drummer.

  7. Pamela Mason says:

    Sorry I’m late to the party. But I’m a mom who’s packed 2 lunches for years & years because of budget & because my boys don’t like the cafeteria food.
    Everybody’s tips are so great & I have little else to add except for dried fruits & leathers.
    Those Betty Crocker fruit rollups? You can get a dehydrator & make them yourself (I know… I’ll make them for you) and you can dry bananas for banana chips, apples, etc. My boys loved it, & if you can pick up the dehydrator cheap at a yard sale, it’ll pay for itself fast.
    And if you can make cereal bars instead of cookies – like Krispie treats, but you can make them w/cheerios – that’s a better alternative to the processed cookie snacks. Less sugar, less ingredients, and more grains.
    Good Luck!

    • Sally Kilpatrick says:

      I will have to look into this when I have the kitchen to myself. I don’t have a dehydrator, but I think I know someone who does. I have actually thought of making protein and/or cereal bars, so I’ll have to look into this option, too. One of my biggies is to avoid High Fructose Corn Syrup as much as possible. I’m pretty sure it has a large part in the obesity epidemic, and my kiddos don’t need to subsist on chips and Twinkies. Thanks for the great advice. ; )

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