Monday, August 29, 2011

What's for Lunch?

With school returning next week, and a picky eater who needs a lunch, I'm all in a frazzle about what to pack for her.  In the past I've qualified for discount lunches through the district, but this year our financial situation looks better on paper then it actually is, disqualifying us for reduced price lunches.  I wanted to pack more lunches for her this year anyway since there are days she doesn't eat at school because she doesn't like any of the choices offered her.  My daughter is a lot like I was at her age.  Lunch was always a battle for my parents.  I'd eat something for while, then decide I was bored, and want something else.  I also didn't eat the conventional PB&J because I didn't like peanut butter until I was in my 20s.  I remember eating bagel sandwiches (bagels didn't get as soggy as bread) for a while but my parents bought the cheapest lunch meat on earth so I quickly grew to despise the stuff.  And I didn't eat baloney either.  My parents loved when I worked in the cafeteria because it meant a month of free lunches that they didn't have to pack!

Now I am paying for all the hassle with a daughter who likes even less then I did.  She won't eat PB&J but she will eat baloney.  Heaven forbid I put cheese in her bag (although she loves it) because she claims that even with an ice pack, the cheese becomes "yucky".  She'll sometimes eat ham, usually will eat salami, but never eats turkey.  She loves grilled cheese but I can't pack that because it's "yucky" when it's cold (I don't blame her there!).  Baby carrots are sometimes, crackers too, and celery is a no, no, especially spread with cream cheese or peanut butter!  Do you see what I have to work with?

So I've been researching quick and easy lunches and although I may not have use for many of them, due to Miss Picky, I have found a number of great ideas the rest of you may enjoy.  I'd also love to hear from you all dear readers what you pack for you picky lunch eater.  It just may help!

My ideas for this coming year:
  • Homemade Lunchables- crackers (my kids like Ritz), cheese slices (or not if they get "yucky"), and a favorite lunch meat such as baloney or salami (or turkey or ham, whatever your child will eat).  Pair with whatever healthy food you can get your child to eat, such as fresh fruit and baby carrots.  
  • Homemade Pizza Pockets- My bread machine came with a great recipe for pizza dough but you could use refrigerator dough or your favorite recipe.  Roll dough to a long oval type shape (for whatever size pocket you think is best for your child.  This will take experimentation!)  Spread with pizza sauce and top with whatever your child likes on their pizza plus cheese.  Fold dough over creating a half circle shape (or calzone shape) and seal edges with a fork.  Bake at 400 degrees for 15-20 minuets if calzone sized.  Less time if making a much smaller pocket.  This is a recipe you must play with.  I'm still adjusting mine as my pockets are still coming out bigger then what I'd want to pack my daughter.  You can make these a head of time, reheat in the morning and wrap in foil to keep warm until lunch.  
  • Homemade muffins such as blueberry, zucchini (sneaking in veggies!) or apple packed alongside carrots or other veggies.  There are so many recipes out there reducing the amount of sugar that with a little research, you can find something that fits your lifestyle.  Most kids are more active at school so don't be afraid to give them carbs!  They will burn it off!  
  • Cold noodles packed alongside fresh fruit and veggies.  Cold noodles was my stable in high school.  I LOVED them!  My daughter likes them a little less, but sitting in her lunch box, they won't really be "cold" anymore.  Use fun noodle shapes or spirals, then you don't really have to pack a fork!  I think this will be a hit this year.
  • Hotdogs- Cook them in the morning and pack alongside a bun or slice of bread, packets of catchup and mustard, plus veggies and fresh fruit.  Or maybe you have a child that likes cold food.    When I was younger I liked cold and frozen hotdogs.  Give it a try!    
Veggie Options:
  • carrot sticks or baby carrots
  • jicama (My daughter discovered this over the summer and loved it.  It's crunchy and sweet!) 
  • celery sticks (add peanut butter or cream cheese for added nutrition)
  • sugar snap peas
  • red, yellow, or orange bell pepper slices (also sweet and crunchy)
  • mini  trees (broccoli)  
Lunch ideas from around the web:


  1. My daughter is of the strange breed who doesn't like sandwiches because she doesn't like bread or things mixed together. I choose three things to put in her lunch like nuts, rice, quinoa, high protein pasta, mac 'n cheese, carrots, hummus, sliced cucumbers, fresh fruit, pumpkin seeds, cooked mixed veggies. I also keep frozen peas and corn which defrosts by the time she eats lunch at school.

    We are part time vegetarians, and our daughter isn't a huge fan of meat, so we don't pack it in her lunch. She loves cheese but like your daughter complains it's yucky once it's been sitting for awhile.

  2. Lunchboxes are the pain of my life!My littlest bit is ok he loves ham sandwiches and eats it all up but the teenagers are so hard to pack for and I often find the sandwiches uneaten which is soul destroying when I go to such effort and expense to make them just right!Wish there was a easy answer!

  3. Since mine is just starting Kindergarten, I'm hoping lots of food cut with cookie cutters will be enough to keep her interested! :)

  4. A website i love is She has a button at the top of her page where you can see a picture of what she packs for her kids each day. Some great ideas in there.



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