I have been packing school lunches for a long time, and with each new school aged child in the house, my job has become a little more challenging. It isn’t just about packing a lunch of foods they like anymore. We need to accommodate special dietary needs, allergies of our own children as well as the other children in their school, balanced school days and affordable lunch ideas.
In my house, I have one child who requires foods that are high in calories and are things he will eat. With the guidance of a dietician (due to his lack of appetite) we throw away all of our traditional views on providing a healthy lunch and pack full fat chocolate chip muffins in his lunch, along with puddings, cookies, chocolate milk and all kinds of food that I would consider to be “treats” under normal circumstances. Naturally, I include fruit and cheese and yogurt and things that I would like him to eat, but those things generally come back home in his lunch bag, completely untouched. I am always on the lookout for food that he will want to eat, that has high calories, and that isn’t just sugary junk. I find most of my inspiration from him, by taking him to the grocery store with me and seeing what interests him.
For my other children, it’s not as complicated. They do get a little jealous of the great treats their brother gets to take to school, so I make sure they each have one of the same treats in each of their lunches, but I want them to have a healthy balanced lunch for the most part. My kids aren’t crazy about regular sandwiches, so I look for ideas online and from other moms. We send bagels or subs or cheese and crackers to break up the monotony of lunch, and I get the kids involved in lunch making. I love seeing the fancy bento lunches where everything is cut into cute shapes and made with fun themes, but for me the reality is that I don’t have time to create a fancy gourmet lunch every day. It is fun to throw something like that into their lunches as a surprise once in awhile though!
When I’m really stuck on what to put in their lunches, I find great ideas from websites like Dempsters Lunch Box Inspirations. They have recipes put together by moms like me. They are already tested on kids, which is just what I’m looking for! I think that kids get bored of having the same things all of the time, so it is great to try out new ideas and keep them excited about lunch.
To save money on lunch items, I buy bagels or sub buns in bulk when I see them on sale, and freeze them to use later. I put ice packs in their lunch bags so that if they don’t eat everything I send, it will be okay to put in the fridge for another day. I found I was always throwing away cheese strings and yogurts when they weren’t still cold at the end of the day, so ice packs are a must!
“Disclosure – I am participating in the Dempster’s Lunch Box Inspirations program by Mom Central Canada on behalf of Dempster’s Canada. I received compensation as a thank you for my participation. The opinions on this blog are my own.”