Honestly, whether you have one or six children, making lunches for school is a daunting task. Nobody wants to put that lunch together. Do we know if they will even eat what is in there? How can we be sure they eat it?
Sometimes you might choose to have them buy school lunch. But we know it’s always healthier to have your children eat homemade lunches at school. Where to start?
There are so many cool lunch boxes out there for kids. However, we learned very quickly the right lunch box to keep the food the correct temperature in very hot days at school is important. Here in the Northeast, our schools are not air conditioned. That means when school begins in September, and possibly the last month of school (June), the classroom can reach temperatures in the 80s (or higher)!
Who wants to eat a soggy HOT lunch that is supposed to be cold? Nobody! So we can’t expect the kids to eat that. Throwing in the standard ice bag wasn’t cutting it.
Our Solution: The Fit & Fresh Bento Box
We are not an affiliate and simply share this to tell you what worked for us.
This lunch box keeps each item in its own place and seals up spillable items. In the lid, it has two locations for snap-in ice packs that really do last for most of the day. The lunch stayed fresh for about three to four hours in the pack in 80-degree temperatures in a classroom. If you can’t fit items into the little sealed containers, you can remove the containers and use the box portion only.
If you have an older child who might need larger portions, there are larger Fit & Fresh options. This intro box is great for early elementary school-aged children.
The Lunch Food
Now, we started the year trying to teach responsibility and choice. We left our then 5-year-old in charge of his lunch. He made what he wanted, packed it and took it. However, he wasn’t eating it when it came lunch time. Part of the problem was a bad cooling system, resolved with the use of the Bento box, but the rest was lack of interest at lunch.
We were confused. He chose it and made it, but like many of us just didn’t want what he brought later. When we tried to think together about how to fix this situation, he didn’t know what to do. The ideas he had were far too complex for his packing level.
Mom made most of the lunch while little helper was present giving help and guidelines.
Food! Here is a list of the items we most frequently decided would make great lunches.
- Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.
- Cheese sticks
- Fresh fruit of choice (blueberry, raspberry, strawberry)
- Hard boiled egg
- Meat roll-ups – one soft taco shell with mayo, mustard or other condiment, with pepperoni, cheese rolled up and cut in half
- Pepperoni and cheese chunks
- Seafood salad
- Pasta salad
- A sweet treat (if available)
Our little guy is allowed an afternoon snack so we throw in some crackers (oyster or other), or some cheese curls.
All of these options for lunch can be done on a very small budget. They are very easy to prepare for a whole week at a time also. If you like to do everything on Sunday any of these options will hold if packaged properly.
Hard boiled eggs are awesomely done easily with the Egg Genie. (We are not an affiliate just like this product). You can do the whole week of eggs in one cooking without thinking and tracking time. It makes the eggs easy to peel, which we do before putting in the lunch box.
Tip: Try some fun toppings! Our son loves a drop of hot sauce and a little salt.
Thinking quesadillas sound good, but a lot of work? Use the microwave. Only 20 or 30 seconds and it’s done for lunch. We use cheese, black olives or even sometimes pre-cooked bacon in ours!
What about that seafood salad? How does that work? So easy! Just use the imitation crab or lobster. But some chunks in the small container in the Bento box, add a dab of mayo and a shake of salt and pepper. The fork easily fits in the container (or they can grab one at school). Of course, you can put it in a sandwich form also.
Tip: If your child comes home ravishing for food it’s important to be sure they have finished their lunch and snack for the day. Typically, mine has, so we allow a few snacks for 20 minutes. Then it’s time to stop snacking to prepare for dinner.
If your child isn’t finishing lunch it’s time to check out some new lunch methods or get a new lunch box. Snacking is OK, but meals provide the most nutrients. Check out this post on how to get your kids to eat better at meal time.
Share with us your awesome lunch ideas!