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How much and what do you pack in your preschooler's lunch box?

post #1 of 31
Thread Starter 
Here is what is in DS's lunch for tomorrow:

3/4 of an orange cut into wedges (the whole thing didn't fit in the container)
1 kiwi cut up
1 cup blueberry yogurt
About a quarter cup of herring fillets (low sodium)
Two scrambled eggs
A small baggie of pretzels
1/2 cup of grapes
A few olives
A very tiny container of fruit juice gummy bears (maybe four or five total bears)

I usually send one or two fresh veggies, but am running a little low right now, but this is a pretty typical lunch for him. The food is divided into one morning snack and the rest for lunch.

I have heard twice now from his teachers that he has WAAAAYYYYY too many choices and WAY too much food. He usually comes back with some food, but not a lot. He might have half of his pretzels and some of his eggs left and possibly a tiny bit of fruit when I pick him up tomorrow. That is also very typical of what is left over.

Any tips on how to change up lunch for the better? What does anyone else pack for your preschooler? (he is three BTW)
post #2 of 31
They may be throwing out quite a bit of 1/2 eaten grapes, mashed up oranges, etc.

My kids (3 & 5) eat either a peanut butter & jelly or melted cheese sandwich most days. After they eat their sandwich, if they're still hungry (maybe half the time), they can have something else - typical choices are a piece of fruit, a hard boiled egg or some carrots. To drink, they have water or Kefir. Since they eat lunch @ about 11:30, they don't generally have a morning snack. Afternoon snack might be cheese & crackers, nuts, fruit or if we have it, beef jerky. My kids eat at home, but I would pack something similar were I sending them.

It does sound like quite a bit of food and choices. I might try to figure out if there's a particular issue to address. Perhaps so many choices are distracting so your DS is taking a particularly long time to meander through the lunch when the other kids are ready to get back to activities or something.
post #3 of 31
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rosehip View Post
They may be throwing out quite a bit of 1/2 eaten grapes, mashed up oranges, etc.

My kids (3 & 5) eat either a peanut butter & jelly or melted cheese sandwich most days. After they eat their sandwich, if they're still hungry (maybe half the time), they can have something else - typical choices are a piece of fruit, a hard boiled egg or some carrots. To drink, they have water or Kefir. Since they eat lunch @ about 11:30, they don't generally have a morning snack. Afternoon snack might be cheese & crackers, nuts, fruit or if we have it, beef jerky. My kids eat at home, but I would pack something similar were I sending them.

It does sound like quite a bit of food and choices. I might try to figure out if there's a particular issue to address. Perhaps so many choices are distracting so your DS is taking a particularly long time to meander through the lunch when the other kids are ready to get back to activities or something.
They don't throw anything out. If a child doesn't finish their choice, they just have the child put the lid back on and put it back in their lunch box. He does eat nearly everything in his lunch though, so I am a little worried about him being hungry. I would rather he come home with some food so I know he ate as much as he wanted, but at the same time, the teachers say it is too much.

Just can't quite figure it out.

Oh, and I WISH DS would eat sandwiches, but he almost never will at school. I have sent them in many times, and he will take one tiny bite, and then not touch the rest. I do try to include one veggie, one fruit, one dairy choice, one protein and one whole grain each day. Also, peanuts are not allowed, and he won't eat any other substitute. We have tried sunbutter, cashew butter, soy nut butter, and almond butter so far, and no go on any of them.

ETA: I also don't pack him a beverage. They supply either milk or water, whatever the child requests at lunch and snack. DS usually drinks milk at most meals there.
post #4 of 31
My dd is 4 and eats like that as well... I think if you think he is hungry and he will eat it, send it. I'd much rather get leftovers sent home than to have him go hungry.

Yesterday for dinner dd ate 3 scrambled eggs, a bowl of applesauce, and a whole orange. She wanted a "snack" about 30 minutes after that. She is a beanpole of a girl, I have no idea where it all goes.
post #5 of 31
My daughter definitely eats like that! Today at our homeschool preschool outing she ate a whole tin of sardines, veggies & hummus, strawberries, an apple, and shared some cherries with a friend with water to drink.
post #6 of 31
I would not change a thing if he is even eating close to all of it.
post #7 of 31
Quote:
Originally Posted by Pumpkin_Pie View Post
They don't throw anything out. If a child doesn't finish their choice, they just have the child put the lid back on and put it back in their lunch box. He does eat nearly everything in his lunch though, so I am a little worried about him being hungry. I would rather he come home with some food so I know he ate as much as he wanted, but at the same time, the teachers say it is too much.

Just can't quite figure it out.

Oh, and I WISH DS would eat sandwiches, but he almost never will at school. I have sent them in many times, and he will take one tiny bite, and then not touch the rest. I do try to include one veggie, one fruit, one dairy choice, one protein and one whole grain each day. Also, peanuts are not allowed, and he won't eat any other substitute. We have tried sunbutter, cashew butter, soy nut butter, and almond butter so far, and no go on any of them.

ETA: I also don't pack him a beverage. They supply either milk or water, whatever the child requests at lunch and snack. DS usually drinks milk at most meals there.
Then I wouldn't sweat it. I might say this to the teachers - that since he's eating most of it, you're happy to keep sending it, etc.

Did they say why they were concerned about the variety/amount? Strikes me as odd if there's not an issue of tremendous waste or something.
post #8 of 31
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rosehip View Post
Then I wouldn't sweat it. I might say this to the teachers - that since he's eating most of it, you're happy to keep sending it, etc.

Did they say why they were concerned about the variety/amount? Strikes me as odd if there's not an issue of tremendous waste or something.
They didn't say why they thought it was too much food, but they did say that he has "a million choices". She did mention that he takes a long time for him to eat, but nap is directly after lunch, and the children are asked to pick up their own lunch, put it back in the fridge and go get on their nap mat on their own. If he takes a long time, he is cutting into his nap, but he is starting to drop them anyway. I am not sure if he is being loud at the table so others can't sleep, or if that is even the issue. I think the teacher just really dislikes the lunches I am packing. Lots of children have a lunch that is more typically the following:

Chicken nuggets
chips
some sort of cut fruit

Or:

Sunbutter and jelly sandwich
yogurt
carrots and hummus

They really tend to only have three or maybe four choices. Not much food IMO, but maybe I am off base with what kids should eat.
post #9 of 31
My kids seem overwhelmed by more than about 3 items at any given meal, so that is what I feed them. For lunch, we typically do a peanut butter sandwich or cheese/bean quesadillas, then a veggie (say, cucumbers), and a fruit (usually a banana or blueberries or strawberries or whatever). They drink water. Any more than 3 choices, and they start playing instead of eating. Odd, but whatever.

but...it sounds like your son doesn't have that problem, so I probably wouldn't change much about your lunches.

Sorry you're having troubles!
post #10 of 31
I agree with PPs if he's eating it then I'd keep sending it.

I wonder if they are having an issue with the number of containers. I know mine still need help with opening theirs and I guess it could be a pain if one child had so many to deal with. Would he still eat OK if some of the things were mixed so there were less lids to deal with.

I do remember sending DD to preschool with a pot of dip for her carrot sticks. They wouldn't let her eat it till she finished her sandwich and salad. I guess they thought it was yogurt. It took me a while to work out why it always came home untouched. I think they are just used to kids having a sandwich and not much else.
post #11 of 31
Quote:
Originally Posted by Pumpkin_Pie View Post
They didn't say why they thought it was too much food, but they did say that he has "a million choices". She did mention that he takes a long time for him to eat, but nap is directly after lunch, and the children are asked to pick up their own lunch, put it back in the fridge and go get on their nap mat on their own. If he takes a long time, he is cutting into his nap, but he is starting to drop them anyway. I am not sure if he is being loud at the table so others can't sleep, or if that is even the issue.
as a former preschool teacher, I can almost guarantee that the variety is the issue over the quantity, for the reason you've just stated. He likely is getting overwhelmed when it comes time to put it away and he may be slow to start eating because of so many choices, even though he does eventually eat it all. Also I've heard of studies showing that humans are more likely to overeat when they are provided with too many choices. While he may be ready to drop a nap, if everyone in his class is expected to rest on their cot at nap time, it may be that the teachers need him to be on his cot before they can start taking their lunch breaks (this was true at one school where I taught). On the other hand you don't want your child going hungry just for the convenience of teacher's breaks. I would try packing larger portions with slightly less variety and see how he and his teacher's respond.

By the way, when I pack a lunch for dd this is what I pack:

2-3 servings fruit/veg (ex. orange and apple, or orange and carrot sticks, or banana, apple and broccoli)
1 main dish (ex. grilled cheese sandwich on sprouted wheat bread or nitrate free hotdog or sausage, or cut up pieces of leftover steak or chicken)
1 serving of yogurt or cheese

I don't ever put in carbs like pretzels or crackers though because I feel like she'd eat those empty carbs instead of a healthier choice. My dd also eats that as both her morning snack and her lunch and then if there is any leftover that's the first thing I give her for her afternoon snack as well.
post #12 of 31
If the number of containers is the issue, I wonder if it would be better if you had something like this lunch box where there was only one lid to put on. It could be done quickly and then you could just fill each of the spots and that would be it rather than having an unlimited number of things?

His lunch sounds really healthy so I wouldn't change what you are sending him, just maybe how you are sending it. Or cut out some of the little things like olives, gummy bears, pretzels or whatever.
post #13 of 31
Quote:
Originally Posted by wife&mommy View Post
If the number of containers is the issue, I wonder if it would be better if you had something like this lunch box where there was only one lid to put on. It could be done quickly and then you could just fill each of the spots and that would be it rather than having an unlimited number of things?

His lunch sounds really healthy so I wouldn't change what you are sending him, just maybe how you are sending it. Or cut out some of the little things like olives, gummy bears, pretzels or whatever.
That is an awesome lunch box.
post #14 of 31
Quote:
Originally Posted by lyterae View Post
That is an awesome lunch box.
I know! I want it but can't justify the cost at the moment.
post #15 of 31
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by wife&mommy View Post
I know! I want it but can't justify the cost at the moment.
A co-worker of mine bought one of those and brought it in to show me, and I wasn't as impressed with it in person. The little clippie things on the sides look like they will eventually break off, and there is no way to replace them, so once those go, the whole thing is no good. Plus, the outside case was not as vibrant and colorful as the website shows. It looks like the fabric bled all over the place when they put whatever the waterproof coating was on it. Pretty blah IMO, plus it is really pricey. Great idea though.

I think I am going to limit the number of small things in his lunch box, but still offer him at least one choice from each food group, plus a treat of some kind. I tried to make his portions larger today, and he still came back with about the same amount of food. I am thinking I just need to ignore the teacher's grumblings and go with what is working for him for now. He is actually moving to a new classroom in two weeks, so I can re-evaluate then.
post #16 of 31
Quote:
Originally Posted by Pumpkin_Pie View Post
A co-worker of mine bought one of those and brought it in to show me, and I wasn't as impressed with it in person. The little clippie things on the sides look like they will eventually break off, and there is no way to replace them, so once those go, the whole thing is no good. Plus, the outside case was not as vibrant and colorful as the website shows. It looks like the fabric bled all over the place when they put whatever the waterproof coating was on it. Pretty blah IMO, plus it is really pricey. Great idea though.

I think I am going to limit the number of small things in his lunch box, but still offer him at least one choice from each food group, plus a treat of some kind. I tried to make his portions larger today, and he still came back with about the same amount of food. I am thinking I just need to ignore the teacher's grumblings and go with what is working for him for now. He is actually moving to a new classroom in two weeks, so I can re-evaluate then.
Oh no that is a bummer about the lunchbox! But if you like the idea, there are other brands if that might work. Yay for moving classrooms, maybe that will help.
post #17 of 31

I would not concern myself with nutritional comments from a pre-school teacher, that is, unless she happens to be a nutritionist.  I would however ask her if it is somehow causing her a problem.  Perhaps she feels that she must try & get your child to eat some of everything you provide. 

 

My only request would be that the teacher not allow the children to eat their dessert (if any) first.

 

My 4 1/2 son is in school from 8a to 5p & currently swimming for 30 minutes a day.  Here it what I provide him everyday:

 

  1. Sandwich (either PB&J <or> meat (chix etc.) with lettuce)
  2. Fruit (either non-sugar apple sause <or> whole fresh fruit)
  3. Raw Vegetable (3-4 small carrots <or> edamame <or> 4 slice of bell pepper)
  4. 1 string cheese
  5. Juice & or water
  6. 1 cookie
post #18 of 31

You know how much your kid eats so I wouldn't worry about the quantity you're providing.  Maybe more of fewer of the foods?  I'd for sure ask what exactly the problem is so you can address that instead of trying to guess what the teacher is having a problem with.

 

 

post #19 of 31

Can you use larger containers and combine multiple items?

 

I send DS the following:

Main dish with a veggie in a container

cut up fruit and avocado bowl

yogurt cup

Banana (most of the time) and small orange

 

He eats all of it.  I recently started sending larger portions and he finishes it all.  When he doesn't get to the banana or orange at lunch, he has it for snack.

post #20 of 31

On the lunchbox front, we use bento boxes or Laptop Lunchboxes (http://www.laptoplunches.com/ ). We pack with a zero-waste philosophy in mind, meaning no single serve items or unnecessary packaging, and we use only cloth napkins, real cutlery and a reusable water bottle.

 

Our schools will not heat foods, and refrigeration is not supplied (though an ice pack takes care of that more often than not), so that can limit choice. We are also vegan and will not consume any processed food products. A typical lunch for my three and five year old looks a bit like this:

 

Green salad with strawberries, blueberries and raw cashews and a citrus dressing (packed on the side to keep soggy greens at bay)

A cup of fresh, seasonal fruit or piece of whole fruit

A cup of plain cultured soy milk

Homemade date and oat bar

 

OR

 

Gazpacho (in a stay-cold thermos)

Pita wrap with homemade hummus, cucumbers, shredded zucchini and summer squash and carrots

Sugar snap peas

raw nuts and seeds mixed with some raisins
 

OR

 

Cut carrots, celery, cucumbers

Homemade whole grain pretzels

An almond and miso dipping sauce

A cup of cut fruit or a piece of whole fruit

A lentil and corn salad

 

We also do rice balls, veggie sushi rolls, hot soups in the winter with a chunk of bread, different grain salads and pasta dishes. I don't see anything wrong with giving kids small portions of assorted foods. While we don't promote waste, I also don't like it when my kids come home with an empty lunchbox, meaning that they did not get sufficient food for that day! And you know, appetites vary with weather, activity level and snacks.

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