Tuesday, August 24, 2010

School starts in 8 days! So I thought I'd have a post dedicated to school lunches. The best advice I can give for packing lunches is to make a menu, or at least a list of ideas for those mornings where you just can't think of anything. Last year, I tried writing up a month-long school lunch menu, just like the other kids got for hot lunch. It was a huge hit with the boys, but I got lazy about it after the first couple of months.

I also try to freeze lunch size portions of leftovers for crazy days. I've been stockpiling baked goods in the freezer, so I've got some reserve. The other day I made tamale and baked half into muffin tins for lunches (they'll just be thawed and reheated then popped in a thermos).

Speaking of which – having a food thermos is a must, as is having many different size/shape lunch containers. You can look at bento sites for great ideas and modify to whatever you have on hand/locally available (for example: small plastic spice jars, with half the holes covered with tape work well for a salt shaker; a clean food coloring squeeze bottle makes an excellent sauce bottle).

I keep a notebook of ideas, though (almost everything is homemade, since we've got three food groups to avoid) -


Bread sticks with pizza sauce

boiled egg

tortilla chips & salsa or guacamole or bean dip

cereal & milk

fried rice w/ pork or chicken

ham, cheese & pickle rolls


crackers, ham & cheese

inside out sandwiches (bread, cheese & pickle wrapped with ham, wrapped with lettuce)



French toast sticks

Pancakes – mini w/ side of syrup

pasta (mac & cheese, spaghetti, tomato/bacon/basil, chopped ham & veggies, mini meatballs &

sauce, chicken & broccoli)

hot dogs/sausages

chili dogs

meatballs with rice

spring rolls

wraps/sandwiches/rice cakes/bagel - PB& J, PB & apple slices, PB & banana, PB & honey, PB & marshmallow crème, PB & chocolate chip, egg salad, tuna, ham, chicken salad, chicken and bacon, buffalo chicken wrap (chicken strips, hot sauce, lettuce, tomato, mayo), bacon/lettuce/avocado/tomato, ham & egg

sandwich kabob (skewer with meat, cheese, bread, pickle, etc)

sausage/spanish rice/corn & black beans

tamale pie

salads (green salad, tuna salad on lettuce, grilled chicken, greens w/ pecans, cranberries, apple or pear slices, layered salad, taco salad)

polenta with spaghetti sauce or chili

stir fry

rice pudding with raisins

pizza – mini or pizza pocket

smoked fish

sloppy joes


pasta salad

potato – roasted or baked

soft shell taco

tuna stuffed tomatoes

stuffed bell peppers

onigiri rice balls (can add nori, sesame seeds, pork, chicken, veggies)

roast chicken or beef


chicken nuggets (homemade or Ian’s brand)

shepherd's pie

pigs in a blanket

sushi (rice, carrots, avocado, cucumber, sometimes smoked salmon, wrapped in nori)


croquets (breaded, fried mashed potato balls; can add bits of ham)

crab or tuna cakes


quinoa salad


cucumber salad (sliced cukes and onions soaked in rice wine vinegar and sugar)

baked beans (with hot dogs)

potato chips


fruit salad

salad kebob (cherry tomatoes, cucumber cubes, mushrooms, croutons, etc)

fruit kebobs



muffins/quick breads

trail mix

veggies & fruit w/ PB dip – carrots, apples, celery


veggies – sugar peas, cucumbers (with lemon & salt), steamed broccoli, cauliflower, cherry tomatoes, carrots, roast butternut squash, red pepper, celery, corn on the cob

waldorf salad

bars (Lara, Jam Frankas,)

fruit leather

baked apple

pumpkin seeds


sweet potato chips

fridge fudge (mixture of PB, honey, cocoa powder, dry fruit, nuts, seeds and coconut)

yogurt with fruit

Chex mix

apple rings w/ PB & dry fruit/nut topping

hummus or spinach dip w/ crackers or pita chips

fresh or canned fruit


apples w/ cinnamon





corn bread

devilled egg

BEVERAGES (*Usually just water)

chocolate milk/hot chocolate


iced tea



Cake/ mini cupcake


Mini pie


Envirokids or Enjoy Life bars

Apple crisp

Rice krispy bar (GF homemade version)

Brownie bite


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