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Thursday, August 12, 2010

Lunchbox Ideas

My daughter is a picky eater. And she's going to be in school all day this year. Which means we have a problem. Lunch.

Now, I know I used to have to eat whatever the caffeteria was serving that day but I'm afraid trying that would just be a waste of money in this case. And that means we're going to have to pack a lunch for her. Every. Single. Day. So we may as well make it enjoyable for both of us, right? That's why I've been keeping my eyes open for any and all ideas and products to make packing a lunchbox easier and more fun.

I outfitted her with a cute lunchbox (had to be Hello Kitty - her collection just keeps growing and growing and growing...), containers, and an ice pack (really cute flower one, that I forgot to pull out of the freezer for the photo). I was happy to find some sandwich cutters in Target's dollar section. I have a bunch of fun cookie cutters that I use on sandwiches too, but I like how the sandwich cutters are designed to cover most of the slice of bread so very little goes to waste.

Then came the collecting of ideas. First, the food. I've become a little obsessed with food the last week or so - menus, lists, how to get the entire family to eat healthier and with more variety... I even made it the focus of our Book of the Week activities - more on that when we've finished them.

My list so far looks like this:
-peanut butter sandwich
-turkey slices (rolled up on toothpicks) with crackers and cheese (if I can find a portable kind Kate likes) or a tortilla
-breasticks and sauce
-yogurt and yogurt parfait (with granola and fruit)
-bagel and cream cheese
-chicken noodle soup
-celery and peanut butter
-add a veggie option: snow peas, carros, cucubers and dip
-add a fruit - thank goodness she likes pretty much any fruit
-nuts/trail mix
I've been told they have access to a microwave so that may open up some options too. I would have to make up some little Cheat Sheets so that she would know how to reheat different things.
And when things get boring and I need more ideas I want to explore the myriad creative combinations for Muffin Tin Meals and Bento Boxes. Wouldn't it also be fun to do a theme once in a while? Like everything is a certain color, or they all start with "C", shapes, holidays, etc.

Any other suggestions you have had success with that I should add to the list? Please share!

I have also found a TON of cute things to slip in the lunchbox to make it a little more fun.
-notes from home. These can be as cute or as quick at you want them to be. I found some really cute printable ones here and at other sites (I could kick myself every time I use something and don't write down where I found it). Some have preprinted sayings, some you fill in yourself. And there are some adorable "fruit labels" at with sayings like "you are the apple of my eye" that you can print on sticker paper and stick onto fruit.
-riddles and jokes
-mazes, word searches. Could even do a running game of hangman or tic-tac-toe
-cute drawings or clipart
-a photo from home (of family or maybe of the child doing something fun or silly that they will enjoy sharing with friends)
-fun napkins
-cute toothpicks - to use instead of utensils or as mini-kebabs for fruit or cold cuts
-fun muffin liners (to dress up containers for a little color), unique containers and baggies

I took some time the other day and printed out a bunch of things to get me started - notes (blank and preprinted), riddles (found these at, mini-quizes (found them here), games, clipart (mostly Dutin Pike freebies). I gathered a few stickers too, and stuck them all in a manila envelope that I will keep in the pantry so I can grab them once or twice a week.

So I guess we're all set. Wish me luck! :)

*Update 8/25/10
We're 2 days into the new school year and lunches are going great! Kaitlyn was so excited to pack her lunch all by herself first thing in the morning. And she ate every crumb! I was so happy!
One thing I did want to add: My best lunch idea yet was having Kate sit down and help me make up a lunch menu for the first week of school. I had her concentrate on including items from 3-4 of the food groups so that she got a good variety. And I have to say, this makes packing the lunch SO easy. Just a quick check of the list, grab everything and go. I also made sure I checked the list before shopping for groceries on Saturday so that I knew we would have everything on hand when the time came. Easy!

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