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School Lunch - Post your tips and tricks here

post #1 of 42
Thread Starter 
My kids attend public school and we have always purchased hot meals for them. I'm not excited about the school lunch menu, but I'm not completely disgusted by it, either. But my kids always beg for sack lunch. This year, I'm going to indulge them.

What do you like to put in a sack lunch? What things do you make ahead of time to make assembling lunches easier in the morning? Can they really take sushi like Molly Ringwald did in The Breakfast Club? If so, how the heck do you make sushi?
post #2 of 42
Making lunches is very easy for me - my kids make their own! :LOL

But to help out, I make sure there is cheese cut into slices; tomatoes, cucumbers, pickles cut into slices as well. Lettuce is washed and ready to go. Fruit is washed and ready to go. Choices of breads; buns; wraps. They choose their "snack" from the snack cupboard. Which is filled with for-school-lunch-only snacks like homemade muffins, cookies, etc. Basically, all they do is assemble.

Funny, now that they make their own lunch, it all gets eaten.
post #3 of 42
My school system relies heavily on "pick up" items for food. I don't find the choices healthy. So my kids are allowed to eat hot lunch just one or two days a week. The rest of the time, it's sack lunch.

We do lots of PB+J. Leftovers that eat well the next day. Chicken drummies, leftover steak and such. I always include an apple, a few carrots or some cheese. Raisins, oat bars, muffins, granola type things. We generally get the right combo of tastes good and also good for you.

The best part is to pack a note to your child. Sometimes rolled up with a hershey kiss.
post #4 of 42
Thread Starter 
That's a great idea. Mine are old enough to pack the lunches themselves, too.

I love the note idea, too!
post #5 of 42

I love the note with kisses idea!

DD1 starts Kindergarten in two weeks

post #6 of 42
I second the leftovers idea and third the notes! My dd's school is tiny and all the kids bring snacks and lunches every day and it can wear me out by Thursday night so it makes things a whole lot easier if she enjoyed her dinner that evening and I know I can put it in her lunch.

She's 5 so she's perfectly capable of making her own pb & j's if that's what she wants. She also has "control" over the snacks that go in. I pre-choose things and put them in her basket in the fridge.

And yes, if you have a fridge at school or a good insulated lunch bag with one of those freeze packs, you can certainly pack sushi!
post #7 of 42
Mostly, we do sandwhiches. I recently started having my ds (7) assembling his lunch. On the days that it is not a sandwhich, I pack leftovers from dinner, chicken nuggets, crudite and cheese, and I have packed Sushi.
post #8 of 42
We send lunch every day and I took lunch when I was in school. If the kids have access to microwaves(if you're okay with their use) then their choices increase alot. I make homemade pizza, send leftover suppers/take out, soup, cut up veggies, fruit, homemade snacks, crackers, cheese, yogurt, juice, water, choc. milk(unless she buys her own), hot chocolate. Pretty much if it can be eaten at home it can be sent to school.
post #9 of 42
I've always done DS's lunch the night before, I am not a morning person .
I use to send alot of things that could be reheated but, now I try to avoid that cuz I don't want DS eating "nuked" food. So, it's lots of sandwiches. But I can't use any nut butters so I have to be a little more creative. These are some of the things I've come up with:

sandwich fillings- cream cheese & veggies or fruit; bean spreads; BLT; meatloaf slices w/ ketchup or mayo; egg salad; salmon salad

sandwich alternatives- cold quesadillas; waffle sticks w/dip; pizza bagels; stuffed pitas; pita or tortilla chips w/ dip; spring rolls; sandwich roll ups (take crust off bread, roll flat with rolling pin, spread filling on bread, roll up, cut into bite size pieces)

sides- potato salad; coleslaw; raw carrots, cucumbers, brocolli, cauliflower; fresh fruit; cheese cubes/slices; yogurt; crackers; baked beans

dessert- homemade cookies; dark chocolate squares; fruit cobbler; puddings; carrot cake; sweetened popcorn w/ dried fruit; chocolate dipped strawberries; small slice of pie; fruit leather
post #10 of 42
Thread Starter 
I've seen fruit leather mentioned in sack lunch threads before. Do you buy your fruit leather or do you make it yourself?

What do you do to sweeten popcorn? I'll take some of that, please and thank you.
post #11 of 42
Originally Posted by chellemarie
I've seen fruit leather mentioned in sack lunch threads before. Do you buy your fruit leather or do you make it yourself?

What do you do to sweeten popcorn? I'll take some of that, please and thank you.

I buy mine, but I think you could make them if you have a food dehydrator.

To sweeten popcorn just use a sweetener in place of salt. I like coconut oil (unrefined so it tastes like coconut) on mine, you need at least a little oil to make the sugar stick to it. Then sprinkle on whatever sweetener you have (rapadura, date sugar, dehydrated cane sugar, etc.) You actually might be able to skip the sweetener all together and use ground up coconut meat or any kind of ground up dried fruit and just mix that together with the popcorn.

You could also make carmel or honey popcorn balls, but that requires more time than I have
post #12 of 42
After watching Jamie Olivers School Lunches, there's no way I would let the kids eat in a school caffeteria...even if we had that option.

Thermos of home made soup was always a hit with dd last year. Mostly chicken vegetable noodle. I would also buy her those "just add water soups" about once a week because all her friends had them (I bought mine from the HFS and made sure there were only natural ingredients in it). Her favorite was black bean and couscous. She was allowed to bring almond butter but not peanut, so she had almond butter sandwhiches. Dried fruits, leathers, seeds, bagels, w.w. bread sticks, lots of fresh fruit and vegetables. I would actually send her a snack tray to school full of lots of wonderful snacks, she loved it. I used a small divided tuperware container. She only ever wanted water to drink.
post #13 of 42
Oh how I needed to read this thread today. *sigh*

Lemme preface by saying that we have entirely revamped our way of eating in the past year with baby steps. My dd (she's 9) has always bought her lunch at school but I'm really opposed to that continuing. I also have 2 younger ones starting school this year so money spent for school lunches would be quite a bit. The little ones love taking their lunch though so that's not an issue. However, my dd is fighting me tooth & nail, every step of the way on this. I'm only 2 weeks into school and I'm nearly ready to give in and let her be the only one that buys her lunch. I am just at a loss on how to make this work. On one hand I don't want to be demanding where food is concerned and create issues that don't have to be there but at the same time, it's really important to me that these awful eating habits don't continue. Her biggest issue is temperature of the food. Everything that is supposed to be hot is cold, and everything that is supposed to be cold is hot by lunch time. She also didn't like the ice packs because they sweat inside the lunch box and get things all "funky" as she said. I knew she'd have the most trouble accepting the changes but this fight is getting ridiculous.

I'd love any other advice you guys have. I'm gonna try some of the ideas for lunch that were posted.
post #14 of 42
Thread Starter 
Jennifer - Will she agree to only buying lunch two times a week? Maybe three times a week before winter break and then two times a week after? Then next year you could do twice before and once after and gradually get her out of the habit of buying lunch?

You can get those little pocket coosies (you know, for cold drinks) and tuck the cold packs inside one of those or freeze a container of water, tea or juice and slip that inside the coosie to prevent moisture wickage.
post #15 of 42
What if she made her own lunch. The foods she's complaining about would be her choices and if she complains then you could gently remind her that she choose that particualar item. Freezing juice boxes is a great ice pack too and by the time lunch comes the juice has thawed and is cold for drinking. Putting food items in divided storage containers with help with the "sweat" issues.
post #16 of 42
I'll definitely try the juice box idea and her making her own lunch. Maybe if nothing else we'll go to her buying one day a week. I think I could live with that.

post #17 of 42
This is a helpful thread. My three will be starting school for the first time in September so this is new territoury for me. We bought insulated lunchbags with two sections so we can separate cold and room temp foods. I bought a thermos last night, but just one to start. I'll let them take turns with it before I put out the money for three - they hold so little due to the insulation. I can see sending beans in them (my girls love dipping tortilla chips in warm beans and then putting cheese on top) but it wouldn't hold enough soup to satisfy any of them. I also bought a bunch of small containers to fill with yogurt - a little more work but less $$.

I have a feeling my kids will eat some bread or toast for breakfast and after school but probably won't take it with them - it kept coming home from their week at daycamp this summer. I'll just keep making healthy/yummy muffins to send!
post #18 of 42
Here's a great link: http://www.laptoplunches.com/

I have nothing to do with this company or the website, but they have a lot of good lunch ideas and the lunchbox they sell is really cool - everything is self-contained so you don't need to use any wastefull baggies.

Mamm to Scott (15), Katie (13), Karlie (11), Kimmy (4), and
baby #5 due February 2006 - wife to HandyMatt
post #19 of 42
my DDs love leftover ravioli in lunch. No sauce, just plain and finger friendly. Whole wheat, odd cheese, tortellini sometimes. Tuna salad gets eaten if I add crackers and a small knife for making "sandwiches." Yogurt does not have to be ice cold; it holds up pretty well til lunch. (no fridge or heating available...) Marketing is key -- they'll try anything that's rolled up and cut into pretty pinwheels. I also collect clearance party napkins.
post #20 of 42
I pack my son's lunch every day. For two weeks this summer, one of his summer camp's provided the lunch for an extra cost, and I decided to do that just to save me making lunch for two weeks of the year. While it was somewhat convenient, it is less than stellar nutritionally speaking (i.e. hamburgers/hot dogs, pasta, pizza, chicken nuggets/fries (this one is particularly bad) and no fruit or veggies).

I'm back to making his lunches, and I'm glad. He is not a super adventurous eater, but his pickiness has gotten a bitter better as the years go by. He's 7 now.

Here's a list of what goes in, not all at once, but mixed up:

Bagel with mustard and mayo, turkey, roast beef or ham, etc., and lettuce; pickle; pear, apple, grapes or strawberries; organic cereal or granola bar (I read the label to check on sugar content and no hydro oils); small bag of Goldfish (with no hydro oil); little box of organic raisins; no colour added natural fruit snacks; blueberry/fig newtons; organic oatmeal cookies; leftover sausage with organic mac n cheese; leftover homemade pizza; yogurt (I try not to give him those tubes that are so popular bc of all the sugar and other crap in them); sliced sausage and cheese with crackers; cut up carrots or celery; "ants on a log" (celergy with peanut butter and raisins); peanut butter and jam sandwich; and lastly, very occassionally, I might include a candy.

I used to give him 100% juice boxes, but he stopped drinking them, so now I just give him a tupperware water (look for plastic #5 or a glass bottle).

Don't give water in those hard plastic containers (#7) or reuse bottle water containers because of toxicity leaching into the water. California is thinking about banning #7 plastic because of that. They make baby bottles from that hard plastic and those popular Nalgene bottles are made from it.
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