Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Packed School Lunch Ideas

One of the most stressful parts of sending my 1st grader to school was lunch.  The "school lunch people" and I don't exactly agree on what a healthy lunch is.  I have a hard time with jello being considered fruit and french fries being considered veggies.  And that is just the beginning.
So of course I made the decision to send my daughter with school lunch.  But that was another stress.  What in the world is there to pack besides a peanut butter sandwich?  So I have done some research and talked with a bunch of people and done some more research and I have even thrown a party for ideas.  I now feel like I have enough ideas to survive (although I am always up for another brilliant idea.)
I then turned all those ideas into something tangible for my daughter and I to work with and placed it on the fridge.

So each day of the week is something different and fun.
After I printed this off I decided I should have names it wacky Wednesday instead of whatever Wednesday.  But it works.  I decided to have the whatever Wednesday because come Wednesday my brain needs a break.
 I also printed off a bunch of food ideas to go with each day.  I laminated everything and put magnet tape on the back.
So this jumbled list might not make sense to you so let me explain what is what.
Sandwich Monday:  This one is easy enough. Whatever type of sandwich your child will eat include it.  I have included peanut butter and honey/jelly, turkey, cucumber and sandwich on a stick.
My DD loves  cucumber sandwiches.  I just spread bread with some cream cheese and a little ranch mixed together and add cut up cucumbers.  She is as happy as a clam.  You also need to check out a sandwich on a stick.
Soup or Salad Tuesdays:   I do have a print off for green salad or pasta salad or just soup for this.  In the cooler months I make soup at least once a week (I LOVE SOUP!)  So I figure I will just send leftovers of whatever it may be in a thermos.  Some tips I have learned for keeping food warm in a thermos: Heat your food in the oven or on the stove NOT in the microwave.  Food will hold it's heat better when more naturally warmed.  Also before you fill your thermos with food fill it with boiling water so the thermos is already warm.
If your doing  a salad here are some fun or yummy tips.  You can make a salad on a stick (like the sandwich.) Also keep some breaded chicken in you freezer and cook it up the night before morning of whatever. Then that is a yummy protein to add to your child's salad.  (Mine like if I add this recipe to the chicken. I use a little less hot sauce though.)
Whatever Wednesday: Just what it says.  Repeat a lunch idea or do something else.  This might be a good day to send a home made lunch able or go to the school and eat lunch with your child.  Wednesday is also my kids early out day so sometimes it is fun to send a bowl of cold cereal and they can grab a milk from school for 25cents to top it off.  Then you can give them a more substantial snack when they get home.  Another idea is to cook some pasta the night before and after you drain it stir a little butter in.  The nest morning add some grated cheese and it will have enough flavor for your kids to enjoy.
Wrap it up Thursday:  Our favorite wrap is spread a tortilla with cream cheese, top completely with spinach, add shredded carrots and alfalfa sprouts then top it off with a couple slices of lunch meat. Roll it up and if desired sip it in ranch.  Really you can wrap up just about anything.  And remember that chicken we talked about earlier, it works great in wraps too!
Dip it Friday: This is the most exciting day to me, as it should be.  The point of this day is to dip your food in something yummy.  This past week I made a peanut butter dip and sent my DD carrots, celery, apple, bananas and graham crackers to dip in it.  She loved it. Peanut butter dip recipe: 1/2 c peanut butter, 4 oz soft cream cheese 1 tblsp honey and milk to desired consistency (about 1 tblsp.) Mix well and chill.
Also my girls love as a veggie dip for me to mix dry ranch powder with cottage cheese.  It is super yummy.  Then you can send veggies and crackers.  Or you could do a hummus, a fruit dip the possibilities are endless.
One other idea for this day, or it could be done on some of the other days as well is to make a pizzadilla (quesadilla pizza style) and send marinara to dip it in.  I though it would be fun to send a few different pizzadillas like mozzarella cheese with spinach and tomatoes or monetary jack cheese with olive and pepperoni.  Just wrap you pizzadillas in foil.

Now you might have noticed that with my magnets I do have school lunch up there, lets just say I am not perfect and some days I need a little help, so I am not banning school lunch completely:)

I hope you find some of these ideas helpful and yummy.  I am also always looking for more ideas so feel free to share.
Here are some links to great school lunch resources as well.  Here, here, here, here, and here.

One last thing, my preschooler started school today.  Isn't she cute!


Hollie Miller said...

Thanks Liz, these are great ideas. Please add all of your fun lunch recipes to your recipe tab. I would love to try them.

Unknown said...

Thanks for the ideas! My DD starts school for 1st time tomorrow, no school canteen and a list of restricted foods so I was trying to think of something other than sandwiches! Dips and soup are out though as anything runny is banned too lol. She loves pasta salad so love the idea of breaded chicken with it too. Once again thanks!

Anonymous said...

great ideas and great job, i think you may be a GREAAAT MMOM--- Lily is adorable !!!!

Ashley said...

I'm so glad you shared your great ideas and all of these helpful links. I have been thinking about this too. What else can I make besides a quick sandwich?! Now I know! Thanks!