This will be my first year sending a child off to school all day long. That means I will be sending him off to school each day with a homemade lunch in tow. I have been trying to come up with some easy ideas to try and mix it up a bit for him--he would eat peanut butter and honey every day if I let him. I've also been questioning my seasoned friends who have been doing the school lunch thing for years. In his lunch I will include a main dish item, a fruit, a vegetable, something crunchy (chips, crackers, etc.) and a little treat.
I got my son a really great lunch bag at Costco (of course) that came with an ice pack and a stainless steel water bottle. All for $9! I also bought one of these. He loves tomato soup, so it will work perfectly for that. Some other ideas for the thermos would be:
Any kind of soup
Hot Chocolate (special treat)
Milk (we always liked it when my mom would send us a thermos of cold milk and then homemade granola so we could have granola cereal--it was the best)
Since I don't want to send him to school every day with a sandwich I got to thinking of some other ideas that would suit his taste. My friend told me she sends tortilla wraps with her kids. I went to the store the next day and bought all the necessary ingredients to do a test run. It was a success! Here are a list of possible ingredients:
deli meat ( we like the fresh deli meat from costco--ham, roast beef and the herb roasted turkey)
any kind of cream cheese spread that would go well with deli meat (we like the whipped cream cheese and chives)
chopped bacon pieces
peanut butter and jam or honey
The wrap pictured below is one I made for myself, so it has tomatoes in it. My son does not dig tomatoes in his, but I do. I use the durum wheat uncooked tortillas from Costco. I would cook up a bunch and store them in an airtight bag for use throughout the week. That way you are not cooking one every morning. Once the wrap is made, roll it up tightly in saran wrap.
Some other main dish items I will send are:
Ham and cheese roll-ups
Peanut butter and jam/honey sandwich (of course)
My son won't like me to mix it up to much on him, so I will stick with 4-5 different items to rotate from.
My friend also showed me these awesome containers found at The Container Store. They are great for dipping vegetables in ranch dressing or any other use you can think of. Seriously, what child doesn't like dipping carrots in ranch?
For the fruit part of his lunch I will stick with his favorites. Cut up apples slices, unsweetened apple sauce, watermelon, cantalope, grapes, strawberries and mandarin oranges (the fresh ones). I'll have to work with what is in season, but mostly he loves any kind of fruit.
Now for the crunchy items. I found these reusable snack bags about 6 months ago and love the idea. I don't own any yet, but plan on purchasing some soon. I think they are a great way to eliminate overusing plastic bags. They are easy to clean and easy for kids to use. They also come in three sizes--small, medium and large--and many different patterns. Check out Armommy's site for more awesome products.
Now for my son's favorite part...the treat. I plan on freezing cookies and bars whenever I make them. They are really convenient and most anything will freeze well if stored properly in the freezer. For the times when I don't have something homemade, I will have a little candy stash to pull from. It will take great self-control on my part to not sneak any away, but I think I can do it.
Oh, and the drink. I like my kids to drink as much water as possible, but since I'm so awesome, I'll probably send him off with juice 3 times a week. I like the 100% fruit juice drinks found at Costco. I can't remember if they are the Kirkland Signature brand or Hanson's.
That should wrap it up for me. I'm sure I'll learn as I go of what works and what doesn't, but for now, this is what I have. I'd love to hear from you mom's out there who have done this before (even if you aren't a mom yet, I'd love to hear any of your ideas). What do you send in your children's lunches?