With my kids starting school tomorrow, I thought it would be great to get some ideas saved for future reference here. This year, Elise has informed me that she doesn’t want to eat sugar for the whole school year in exchange for money to buy clothes. (Score! I have to buy them clothes anyway, so this is somewhat of a freebie for me!) So all of these ideas will be sugar-free.
I have a little cooler that I bring with me in the car when my kids have gymnastics. I pack it with fruit, cheese, crackers, nuts, etc and take the kids that are waiting with me to the park for a picnic so we don’t have to do a fast food run.
First things first, having the right storage is a big help. Last year, my friends were talking about food jars. Something I’d never heard of. I was so happy to fork out the $12 or whatever it cost (I remember it being somewhat pricey at Target by the coolers and thermos stuff). It has totally saved me from fixing sandwiches every single day. And with the Great Harvest bread that we like at $5 a loaf, I've definitely saved money with this little investment.
This is what the food jar looks like:
I pop in some leftovers in the microwave when I am fixing her lunch, then stick it in the food jar. At lunchtime, it is still nice and hot. I use the food jar for soup (which my kids absolutely love), and for cold items like frozen berries and yogurt.
The other items I love are the 1/3 cup sized gladware containers. Often they have them in the checkout aisle at Wal-mart on the side by the hand sanitizers, Kleenex and Carmex. It is just the perfect size for applesauce, cottage cheese, yogurt, salad dressing, dips, peanut butter for dipping apples, hummus, oil and vinegar, strawberries, kiwi, grapes, blueberries etc. I love that they don’t leak! Elise loves oil and vinegar to dip her bread into. So I can just pour a bit into these, and it fits great.
I also bought some partitioned containers for making our own lunchables. They look like this:
I use them with wasa crackers. My kids will eat those, some people think they taste like cardboard. I am a big fan though! I love them. And they are very low calorie and whole grain.
I use the shallow sandwich sized containers for salads. Elise just started liking salad. She loves Ceasar salad, so we’ll be making those a lot I think.
Here is Jared's lunchbox from Costco. The girls like their cute ones best, but this one is highly functional, and Elise will just have to use it until hers comes:
Some ideas of things to pack--Leftovers are definitely the quickest thing to pop into the food jar:
• Chicken Ceasar salad (dressing separate so it doesn’t get wilted)
• Rice, corn and Beans bowl—salsa, avocado, cheese
• Sweet Potatoes
Other main events:
• Turkey sandwich with cheese avocado and tomato
• Peanut butter and honey sandwich
• Chicken tacos—I put cabbage in my tacos to keep them more crunchy, and include a lime wedge and some pico de gallo or salsa.
• Turkey Wrap, cheese, salsa, avocado and wrap tightly!
• Homemade lunchables (with good meat and crackers in sectioned container)
• Pita pocket sandwich
We also have some school lunch staples for when we are crunched for time. These include things that can just be tossed into the bag and I buy them all from Costco:
• Applesauce cups--make sure they don't have corn syrup and sugar
• String Cheese
• Fruit Leathers--we like the 100% fruit Stretch Island brand
• Dried apples and other fruits
• 100% juice Capri suns—we freeze these and use them when we want to keep something cold
• Mini waters from Costco—half the size of the tall ones, great frozen also since they thaw by lunchtime
• Baby carrots individually wrapped
• Laughing cow cheese wedges
Fruits my kids love at school: (can dip with yogurt or peanut butter)
• Frozen berries with plain yogurt and agave nectar
• Apple slices (love to dip in Adam’s peanut butter)
• Fresh pineapple
• Thread on a caramel apple stick for fun
Veggies: (can dip with hummus or ranch)
• Bell Peppers (Monet’s favorite!)
• Edamame (come in small individual packages from Costco in the frozen section)
Just a little tip about the hummus, I don't eat THAT much hummus. So I buy the one from Costco, put it in the smaller 1/3 cup sized containers and freeze it. Then I have just enough for when I am craving it, but don't waste the rest. We do the same thing with the Pesto from Costco.
• Popcorn using the microwave in a brown bag method and adding a little salt and butter
• Trailmix—I make my own mix from the bulk bins--shredded unsweetened coconut, raisins, dates, sunflower seeds, almonds, cashews
• Dark chocolate square to dip in peanut butter
• Hard cooked egg with salt
• Baked tortilla chips with cottage cheese—these baked chips are hard to find these days. It looks like Tostitos doesn’t carry theirs anymore, but you can always throw some corn tortillas into the oven and bake them for a few minutes to make your own.
• Pickles and “banana peppers” those little sandwich peppers, my kids love them!
• Box of Raisins
• Notes for kids with a riddle or a joke—great tip from restaurants. Make it fun! My girls LOVE telling jokes right now. Especially Monet.
• Stickers, Mad Libs, Crossword Puzzles, Word Finds, and Mazes