Health/Fitness
46 Comments

School Lunches

iStock_000009011003XSmallI’ve had several requests to talk about school lunches, and always, I’m here to serve up your daily dose of information and entertainment, so here goes.  In the past I’ve been fortunate.  My son would eat PB&J till it comes out his ears, and sometimes it looks like it is doing exactly that.  But that’s another topic.  Ahem.

So for the past few years, I have only had to pack lunches for him, and I send a PB&J and an apple every. single. day.  Even my husband eats this.  I know.  It’s crazy.  But it’s easy so I can’t complain.

In the past, I allowed my son to buy a school lunch once a week (which usually ended up being more like twice a week because I’m lazy) and he bought milk every day.

But this year I will have two kids eating lunch at school, and the family budget cannot afford daily milk or weekly lunches for two kids.  Since I’m spending more on milk and meat and eggs, we’re trying to cut food costs where ever else we can.

Besides that, school lunches are pure junk, which is something that always bothered me in the past, but now I just can’t tolerate it.  So packed lunches it is!

Unfortunately my daughter is a bit more choosy than her brother when it comes to lunchtime, so I’m going to have to get creative.

When we were at Target last week, I let each child choose a thermos, and I informed them that I would be sending milk from home to school every day.  I also told my son that I’m going to do my best to pack his lunch every day and that school lunch will be for the days that I forget or don’t have time.  He was remarkably agreeable.  In fact, I must say, he’s been agreeable every step of the way, which was a pleasant surprise.  I figured he was going to be cranky about having less junk in the house, but as it turns out, he is the most supportive.

As far as what to send in their lunches, all three of my kids love homemade chicken noodle soup, which is fast becoming a staple in our household because I’m buying more whole chicken than chicken pieces now (the farm where I get my pastured chickens only sell them whole, and I haven’t learned how to cut up my own.)

And also, if I roast a chicken, I get enough meat for dinner, plus I get enough to go in a pot of soup.  And I boil the bones and make my own stock, which is absolutely divine.  I thought homemade chicken stock was good when I made it from the grocery store chickens, but it is infinitely more tasty from a pastured chicken.  Seriously.  It’s amazing.  I never expected to taste a difference.  So that’s two dinners out of one chicken.  Score!

But back to school lunches.  My kids told me that they would love to take chicken noodle soup in their lunches (which means buying a second thermos, but that’s an investment I’m happy to make) so I plan to send that a few days a week.  And they will likely be getting a lot of PB&J.  Or, in my daughter’s case, PB.

Tuna is always a hit in my house so I can try to send that once a week.  Although the more I read about the mercury content, and how the FDA has been holding back on their warnings about albacore tuna (the only kind I buy) because of politics (more on that in another post), I’m not sure that I’ll even be feeding tuna to my kids as often as once a week.

In addition to the sandwich or soup, I usually send an apple, and I can always throw some carrots in there, but I have a feeling they won’t get eaten.  I’d rather save the raw veggies for snack before dinner, when I know my kids are desperate enough to eat them, and I can make sure they don’t go to waste.

Oh!  They love the local yogurt I’ve been buying, so I can always send some of that.  But again, that’s another thermos.  I guess I can use the soup thermos for yogurt on the days they take sandwiches.

Speaking of yogurt, for the love of all that’s nutritious and wholesome, PLEASE read your labels.  Most yogurts are FULL of sugar, artificial sweeteners, artificial colorings, thickeners, and fillers.  Really, there are so few wholesome yogurts available at the grocery store, you really have to dig.  Trader Joe’s makes a good one, I hear, if you’re fortunate enough to have one close by.   And at the conventional grocery store, I don’t know what to tell ya.  Basically, if it’s marketed to kids, it’s probably junk.  It’s a sad but true state of affairs, unfortunately.

The best way to eat your yogurt is to buy it plain (without artificial anything, pretty please) and add your own fruit.  Sweeten it with a bit of honey or maple syrup (not Log Cabin; REAL maple syrup) and you’re SO much better off.  My kids eat the vanilla flavor that is sweetened with just a hint of maple syrup, and they think it’s dessert.  The only ingredients are whole milk, vanilla, maple syrup, L. Acidophilus, Bifidus and living yogurt cultures.  The end.  Amen.  Now THAT’S yogurt.  (Am I the only one who feels a yogurt post in the works?)

What To Pack

Here’s a list of healthy lunchbox ideas. Feel free to leave more suggestions in the comments.

  • Peanut butter and honey or banana (or jam, but honey is better) sandwiches on whole wheat bread
  • Tuna salad on whole wheat bread.  But feed your kids tuna sparingly, the mercury concerns are very real
  • Egg salad or chicken salad
  • Chicken noodle soup.  For canned soups, read your labels and avoid cans that are high in sodium; better yet, make your own
  • Carrot sticks
  • Red pepper strips
  • Cucumber slices
  • Grapes
  • Apple slices (a tsp of lemon juice in the baggie will keep them from going brown)
  • Yogurt  (but watch for additives)
  • Cheese sticks (I try to find whole milk cheese sticks, and organic is nice, but it’s so pricey I usually get the conventional.)
  • Water or milk.  (Juice is just empty calories, and it makes you thirsty; soda…  do I REALLY need to tell you what’s wrong with soda?)
  • Homemade Granola Bars
  • Air popped popcorn or popcorn popped in coconut oil on the stove top with sea salt
  • Leftovers (I’m not big into this, but if you have homemade dinner from the night before, heat it up and put it in a thermos.  It’s a great quick hot lunch, and it gets rid of your leftovers so you don’t have to eat them.  😉 )

What To Avoid

Even if you aren’t a food freak like I am, if you are concerned for your kids’ health, here are a few modern day lunchtime staples to avoid at all costs:

  • Lunchables.  I shudder to see kids eating these.  They have a ridiculous amount of sodium.  And practically no nutritional value whatsoever.  You’re better off buying the good lunch meat from the deli; by good, I mean the stuff that’s not so processed and has no added nitrates.  I love Boars Head Oven Gold Turkey Breast and so do my kids.  Throw a few crackers and some cheese slices or a cheese stick in there, and you have a homemade Lunchable that is cheaper and healthier.
  • Snack packs.  These offer no nutritional value, and most have high amounts of sugar or sodium or both; skip them and throw in some fresh fruit or veggies or yogurt instead.  It will save on your grocery bill too.
  • Juice boxes.  Again, these have no nutritional value, and it’s just adding onto your grocery bill.  Send milk or water.  They’ll survive.  I promise.
  • Pop Tarts.  Do I REALLY need to add that one?
  • Fruit snacks or Fruit Roll-ups.  I have avoided these for years.  My dentist always asks if we have then and warns that they are the single most cause of cavities in children.  It’s just one more junky food product masquerading as good for you.  There is little to no fruit in them.

What would you add?  What do you pack?  What do you avoid at all costs?  How often do you allow your kids to “buy lunch”?

Join the Conversation

46 thoughts on “School Lunches

  1. My boys love whole wheat wraps- you can put peanut butter/jelly, apple butter or wholesome ones like egg salad, chicken salad, etc.
    They also enjoy pita bread with tomato sauce and fresh mozzarella cheese.
    Packing lunch is a pain but so worth it when you compare it to what they get served at school!

  2. I pack lunches for my two girls each and every day. My oldest eats a variety of foods, but my middle child is very picky. This makes it all the more interesting. Here are some of the things I pack:

    *Whole wheat bagel w/cream cheese on the side

    *Whole wheat wrap with turkey, cheese, and a bit of ranch dressing or pb and banana

    *Pasta with marinara in thermos

    *Homemade trail mix (TJ Honey Nut O’s, raisins, nuts, dried cranberries, and a few chocolate chips)

    *Pretzel sticks with peanut butter dip

    *Hummus and veggies or pita

    *Veggies with Sour cream/salsa dip

    *Fresh fruit with yogurt dip

    *My oldest likes to take iced herbal tea to drink. I sometimes sweeten it with stevia.

    I have been giving them Almond Butter and Sunflower Seed Butter this summer. They love it, and it is a bit better than PB. I get both from TJ.

    Thanks for the great post! I still have to try that Chicken Noodle Soup. Sounds wonderful!

  3. Target has a great plastic “packable” box thing with a cooler/freezer pack built into the lid. Perfect for fruit. I make a breaded chicken cooked in olive oil that my daughter loves so I’ve mad a ton of it and kept the strips in the freezer. I heat up a few of those for her lunch and wrap in aluminum foil. She says they are still a bit warm. We do a lot of soups (although not homemade) and she also likes to make little pizzas. I send a whole wheat English muffin with a little container of pizza sauce and a baggie of cheese. She can’t heat it up, but she says it’s good.

    Juice is crap and not necessary and we don’t do it here but maybe once in a blue moon.

    A baggie of potatoe chips doesn’t bother me so we do that. We made homemade brownies the week before school started and froze them so she just reaches in and grabs one when we are assembling lunches.

  4. Another no-no: ramen noodles and their equivalents. Talk about sodium!!

    Our Christian school sold hot lunches at $4/apiece. With 4 kids in school that would be a grand total of $80 a week for our family! Yeah right! And the school pipes in fast food for the kids to buy; they didn’t make their own food on site.

    I know this isn’t about homeschooling, but one side perk of homeschooling this year is that we get to make our lunches at home, fresh and yummy, each day. A happy thing. Although my kids would say that the visiting around the lunch table is not QUITE the same as it was at school last year 🙂

  5. We add nitrate free ham roll ups to our lunchboxes. My 6.75 y/o loves whole wheat pasta in her thermos (just plain pasta).
    If I recall the chocolate milk at school that my 9 y/o adores has HFCS as a main ingredient…so I may turn to Horizon Choc Milk boxes from the refridgerated section (heck if I pay .65/day for the HFCS one I would gladly pay a few cents more for the organic version).
    I typically only allow 1 hot lunch and its the pizza … but even that is something I am reconsidering this year.

  6. This is the thing I hate about school starting! My daughter has lunch at 10:30am – so light breakfasts, and lunches heavy on protein are becoming a must. It’s difficult! We do a lot of soup and stews. Large sandwiches, veggies and dip, apples and peanut butter. Whole milk cheese sticks. Also granola. She loves Fiber One bars – I need to find a tasty alternative! BTW, Janel at Dandelion Dayz had a great post about this yesterday. There might be some more good ideas over by her!

  7. I’m excited to be able to pack lunches again. In our grammar school we are tree-nut and peanut free so packing lunches there was a nightmare. (this is a story I won’t get into but it’s a nightmare because of one Mother who’s child seems to be able to eat in Dunkin Donuts but not in our cafeteria….but I’ll leave it at that) Anywho….now my two youngest are both at the jr/sr high school and it’s open season. We’re on a budget too this year so thanks for the good ideas.

  8. I hope I don’t write a book for you here… 🙂

    My post last week on healthy school lunches has a pretty exhaustive list: http://www.kitchenstewardship.com/2009/08/18/packing-a-lunch-healthy-food-to-go/ and a link to “green” reduced waste school lunches, too.

    If you want to “harvest” some chicken for another purpose before you cook the whole thing in stock, just use kitchen scissors and carve out pieces from the breasts. This is a “no-learn-new-skill” way to get chunks for stir fry or kebobs, two things we miss when we do whole chickens all the time. I buy 2 at a time, roast one and pick the meat for sandwiches, then harvest some breast raw from the other and throw both in the stock at once. I can still get enough shredded meat for soup after that.

    We LOVE yogurt at our house! I make homemade and figure I save at least $200/yr. over the big tubs of plain, and even more if we went with the little single-serving cups. You can find my easy, no-dishes method at KS under the recipes or “Missions Checklist” tabs. Also, about the thermos for yogurt thing, yogurt is not as fragile temperature-wise as you might think. A plastic (or glass) container with an ice pack next to it will suffice.

    re: Tara above – what great lunch ideas!

    Jo-Lynne, thanks for reminding everyone that juice boxes and Lunchables are NOT *real food*! 🙂

  9. Because Aubryn is a day care baby, I have to pack breakfast and lunch every day. I love your ideas. I also send hummus and cucumbers, cottage cheese and organic unsweetened applesauce or pearsauce (TJ’s has both), half of a whole wheat bagel with cream cheese, yogurt with berries, scrambled egg, shredded cheese…

    Do you eat cottage cheese? Have you found a place to get real whole milk cottage cheese – even TJ’s whole milk cottage cheese is made with some skim.

  10. Megan, yes I have, actually. But it’s from a farm, and it costs a mint. I’m joining this food group co op thing. ARGH. The name escapes me. But basically we place orders via email, and once a week we go to a central location and pick it up. The delivery truck has 6 or 7 stops throughout the suburbs.

    If anyone is local and wants more info, email me! In fact, I volunteered to run a group in my area, and if we can get 10 people who will order regularly, they will add another stop on their route.

  11. Last year my laziness cost us a TON of money in cafeteria food. And they would complain for being tired and not focusing all afternoon. This year, the boys know, it’s lunch sacks all the way. I thought about sending soup with thermos’ but wasn’t sure if they would dig it. I think I’m gonna go ahead and try it.

    And BTW: the boys get frustrated if I don’t put your granola bars in their lunch boxes. 😉

  12. Yesterday, my 6 year old daughter asked when she could have Lunchables for lunch and after I stopped laughing hysterically I said “never”. She looked a little beat down but that’s my job as a mother right? 😉 My oldest (11) has been making the lunches for her and her sister for 2 years and she packs celery with peanut butter for her lunch veggie. She said it stays crisp and tastes great so there you have it 🙂

    How do you keep cheese sticks cold though? I have been wondering how I cold get those into their lunches.

  13. I don’t really worry about keeping the cheese cold, but I do have these little soccer ball ice thingies that I throw in their lunch boxes when there are things to be kept cold.

  14. I am blessed to have a child who will eat just about anything.

    Her favorite is turkey on whole wheat bread, but I like to change it up a few times each week.

    Mini pizzas. For the crust, I find whole grain, low sodium crackers, or I cut up whole wheat tortillas. I send a little plastic container of pizza sauce, and one of shredded mozzarella cheese. She makes her own pizzas and loves this lunch!

    Chicken salad. Ziploc plastic containers are our best friend. I usually fill one with shredded lettuce (a mix of red leaf and romaine), and top it with a large handful of shredded chicken. If she’s in the mood, I throw in cucumbers, chopped bell peppers, grape tomatoes, and carrots. I also include a little container of salad dressing. This is another smash hit!

    Hard boiled eggs. She loves this one!

    String cheese (whole milk mozzarella)

    For dessert I’ll include a baggy of cereal, usually Lucky Charms or Honey Nut Cheerios. The sugar content is SO much lower, and at least she gets some grains in her dessert. Since we don’t eat any sweetened cereals at home, this is a big treat for her. 1/2 cup of Lucky Charms has 65 calories and 8 grams of sugar. That is half the sugar of one package of fruit snacks!

    Happy lunching!

  15. Emily, you are blessed. My kids wouldn’t eat most of that.

    And WHERE do you find whole milk mozzarella? I have tried but to no avail. They like it when I buy a block of mozzarella and then I slice it. Works just as well, I guess.

    I have to admit, I had a slight heart attack when I saw Lucky Charms. 😉

  16. Since I also went from packing one child’s lunch in the past couple of years to lunch for two kids this year, we are bypassing the once-a-week buying of lunch which used to be our practice (too expensive!) I did tell my girls that they can choose one day a month to buy lunch and it will probably be pizza day which means one piece of cheese pizza, milk and a small dessert – not health food, but I can live with it.

    My girls are good about taking foods like chicken noodle soup and other pasta in their thermos. Sandwiches are either PB w/ something or turkey and cheese. They take fruit and water every day along with something else like wheat crackers.

    Since they also have a snack break in the morning, I was thrilled when my daughter asked me to pack her baby carrots and ranch dressing. Seems a friend of hers brought that for snack time yesterday, so this is peer pressure in a positive way!!

  17. Gah, you are so good.

    Our rule is one meal at school a week, max. At $2.50 a pop, and with three kids at school now, we’re pushing it to be able to afford it. Plus, at least one of my kids leaves more food than she eats.

    They all love PB&J, thank goodness. I use Skippy Natural PB, but need to do some investigating on jelly and bread choices (still haven’t made my own). We are going through two loaves a bread every 3 days or so right now, so I have to find some alternatives. My kids love chicken noodle soup too, although it is not as homemade as yours (meaning I don’t make stock).

    I used to buy fruit snacks, but stopped a long time ago. The worst thing in their lunch now is chips, but they also get fruit and water, so I don’t worry too much. Portions are just as important as ingredients, in my opinion. Honestly, I know we could be doing better, but I just don’t have the energy/time/money to make it happen right now.

    As for deli meat, it is so expensive! Again, with so many mouths to feed, it is hard to find room in the budget for the good stuff (Boar’s Head). That is perhaps my biggest frustration–that good for us food is getting harder to fit in the family budget.

  18. Nicole, we’re all doing the best we can. I hope that in none of my posts do I come off sounding like I think I have it all together and I’m superior because of how we’re trying to eat. It’s never my intent to make others feel like they’re not measuring up in some way.

    The cost is a huge factor. That’s the main reason we have stopped buying chips and crackers and stuff – to save money to put towards the other things that we can’t do without. I don’t think chips are the worst of the processed evils. Sugar is, truthfully.

    I use Skippy Natural too. And I have been buying Polaner All Fruit in the grape. But I’m trying to get the kids to switch to honey. It seems healthier somehow. But then again, I don’t worry about the jelly. I spread it thin, and I figure if they’re getting whole wheat bread and peanut butter, the sugar in the jam is minimal in the bigger picture.

    I don’t buy deli meat much at all. It’s really more of a treat for myself. I love the stuff. 🙂

    I have finally started making bread. It’s not too awfully time consuming, but the no-knead recipe I’m using doesn’t make very large loaves. We’re going thru a loaf a day! I say, don’t beat yourself up about the bread. We do what we can, you know? 🙂

  19. Fortunately, my 7 yo loves all sorts of food. Unfortunately, he doesn’t generally like sandwiches. Fortunately, my East Asian heritage has come in handy. I have bought what Koreans called “doshi-dok” or the Japanese call “bento” boxes. They are lunch boxes that have separate little compartments. I put slices/chunkcs of something different in each of the compartments, depending on what I have available: hard-boiled egg (a favorite,) veggies, chicken, cheese, fruit, rice, crackers. In a way, it’s the healthy, homemade version of those horrid Luncheables.

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/hapabento/3861571714/in/pool-justbento/

    I’ve also bought stainless steel thermoses for drinks and one for soups. The squat soup container is perfect for mac and cheese! Foogo is one brand.

  20. Thanks for all the lunch ideas Jo-Lynne–I’m going to check out your links soon.

    We are only one week down and I already feel like I’m out of tricks–though sweet daughter hasn’t complained yet. I’ve been doing whole wheat PB&J or ham/turkey/cheese wrap, a fruit or veggie and maybe a cheese stick or yogurt (please don’t tell me Stonyfield Farms or Yo’Kids is terrible, it’s the only halfway decent kids’ yogurt our stores carry. Okay, is it?)

    I’ve also been sending a hard boiled egg (pre-peeled), if she didn’t eat one with breakfast. Thanks to you I’m embracing the whole egg instead of only the white, and trying to eat one a day. 🙂

    I haven’t tried soup in a thermos yet, but I might. I was thinking about tuna sandwiches as a nice change (she loves them), but maybe I shouldn’t?

  21. Holly, chunk light tuna has less mercury but I can’t tolerate the catfood. 😉 Albacore is concerning. Sigh… But I think once in a while it’s fine.

    As far as yogurt, without looking in the store, I dunno. I would try to get whole milk yogurt if possible, and avoid artificial sugars and colors. Beyond that, it’s just the sugar content that is problematic, and that bothers some more than others.

    I tend not to be so afraid of sugar, if it’s natural, but the more I read, the more I’m convinced it’s one of the biggest evils of modern food. Doesn’t mean I’m going to stop eating it, lol, but I prefer to make it count when I do, kwim?

  22. Great post, Jo-Lynne! I’m loving this week’s flux of school lunch posts.

    Stonyfield Farms makes a good product for your mainstream grocery store. The only issue one might find with them is that they do use pasteurized non-fat milk, albeit organic. All the ingredients are organic and natural from family farms. I am finding that most yogurts in the stores are all made with non-fat milk.

    I love everything you have listed here and also input in the comments. It is all very helpful. It’s great to hear from moms who have been on this journey a little longer.

    A idea about Lunchables – I let my kids each pick one out to have for lunch over the summer. They used to ask for them ALL the time. I knew they would not like them and guess what? They hated them. Problem fixed – they never ask now.

    My thoughts on juice boxes – For sure, juice is not an ideal choice for kids to drink all the time. I do think it’s fair to say that some juice is better than others, though. Choosing fresh orange juice or 100% juices without HFCS and other artificial ingredients is definitely better than Capri Sun and Hi-C. In my very humble opinion. 🙂

  23. Janel, I agree about juices not being created equal. But that is one thing we’ve never done a lot of, and now it’s just one easy thing to cut out to save us a few bucks to put towards that 1/4 a grass fed cow I just ordered from a local farm. 😉 And again, it’s a source of sugar that isn’t really “worth it” in my mind. I’d rather take my daily allotment of sugar in a brownie. But that’s me. 😉

  24. About the Stonyfield yogurt: I did manage to find vanilla flavored made with whole milk at one of our stores. But I haven’t found it anywhere else.

  25. I swear, we live in the same house! The PB&J sandwiches (I also have one who only eats PB–no J). The chicken noodle soup (my kids love that!). The only-buying-school-lunch-once-a-week (if that). Very interesting.

    It makes me so sad when I see what other kids pack in their lunch. Lunchables make me shudder. Ugh.

    You got me on the yogurt, though. I’m going to have to check out Trader Joe’s next time I’m there. And the acidophilus and bifidus is SO GOOD FOR YOU–your digestive system will thank you.

  26. When Boo started Kindergarten I swore I would pack healthy lunches. We do a sandwhich, or wrap (using tortillas) with meat, lettuce and tomatos. She doesn’t like the sandwhich dressings, so we use ranch to hold things together. It works nicely. She always has a fruit and veggie (grapes and pears are popular with her) and a “treat”. I always do my homemade cookies or banana bread since I know where they came from. We do granola bars from the Co-Op, so yummy!

    Oh, on the chicken cutting…if you let it defrost a little you can cut them and I used this link to learn how to cut them, I didn’t know either. It works pretty slick if you have a sharp knife.
    http://www.cookingforengineers.com/article/97/Cutting-Up-Chicken

  27. Ok, this is great because now I know what to pack for my husband’s lunch 🙂 Sending him off to work is kind of like sending off a kid except he walks out the door with a huge coffee tumbler instead of a juice box.

  28. I’ve packed my son’s lunch every day so far. Most of the stuff on the school menu he won’t eat anyway.

    You opened my eyes about the juice boxes. My son doesn’t like milk (unless it’s chocolate) so I’ve been lazy and sending him with a Juicy Juice box every day. Today he got water in a bottle from home. I’ll probably alternate or something…

    And on the topic of yogurt, yes, most of it is awful. Have you tried to make your own? I’ve heard it’s not that hard and can be done in the crock pot. I haven’t tried yet though.

    And you’ll get a kick outta this. Last night at open house the teacher actually had to tell us NOT to put any fast food items in our kids lunches b/c if other kids saw them, they would want it to. Who does that? I’m sure somebody does…

    I wish my little guy liked soup but he hates it. Picky, picky…

  29. Jo-Lynne, You going to post about your bread-making method soon? That’s one thing I haven’t gotten into much, but might like to.

    From what I read, mozzarella naturally separates out some cream, so no mozz is whole milk cheese. ?? When you see “part-skim mozzarella” in the stores it’s not the treacherous skim-milk hazards that you might be thinking. Heavenly Homemakers has a post about making her own (which I’m SO trying soon!) and explains something about the skim part there.

    What great discussion in the comments!

  30. So many of those are in my son’s box! This could have been plucked from my brain since it seems to be a fav.:

    Peanut butter and honey or banana (or jam, but honey is better) sandwiches on whole wheat bread.

    Nell

  31. peanut butter and jelly is a common thing in every household.. and kids are crazy about it from many generations even i was too when i was a kid and a honest confession i am still is. and as far as chicken noodle soup is concerned it is a good idea… i really don’t know that whether kids will like it or not i am surely gonna like it very much..

  32. Can I make a request that you write about your chicken soup/stock recipe? It’s so funny that I was just telling my husband in the car about how I need to order a whole chicken from the farm and to make that worthwhile I’ll need to roast it as well as make stock, etc:) But I have NEVER done this before!

  33. To @Mrs. Tass–

    Horizon organic products are made right next to three mile island. Ew. Just because it says “organic” does not always mean it was grown or packaged properly. Try another organic brand that is not close to power plants, sewage treatment facilities and so on.

    I enjoy our local milk from an organic, free-range, grass-fed dairy farm. This is not always accessible, however, it pays to do your research before you buy. All organic foods are not created equal.

  34. Kay, how interesting about Horizon. Their milk products are always “ultra pasteurized” so I don’t buy them very often. Still, they must meet the qualifications of “certified organic”, right? Food for thought, I guess. No pun intended!!! 😉

  35. I was just talking to another mom about lunches and what to pack. Thank you for this post!

    I have found that packing soy nuts or any other type of nuts have been really successful. I pair it with dehydrated fruit, yogurt (really like the mentioning about the junk in yogurt) and steel cut oats. My son usually puts everything in the yogurt. Sometimes I place cinnamon in a baggie for him to sprinkle on too. Cinnamon tricks your body into thinking it is getting something sweet. I also send a veggie too. This is a lunch that sticks with him.

    His favorite snack is ants on a log. Ok sounds icky, but all it is, is celery stalks (spend the extra on organic because celery contains the most pesticides otherwise), peanut butter, and raisins. I agree with the peanut butter. Skippy all natural is a good choice. An even better choice is the type you need to stir because of the healthier fats.

    Tofu strips (tastes like chicken strips) work well cold or hot. You can choose your breading options. I use ground flax seed and cornmeal to coat mine. Gives it the extra crunch and flavor. Then send your fruit and veggie choice.

    I make my own bread in my favorite indentured servants, the ABM. That way I can grind my own grains to the texture I like and make sure that there isnt any HFCS in it. Have you read the labels on the breads? Wow the preservs, dyes and the HFCS that they put in.

    One last idea. Why not send a chicken strip salad with dressings on the side and tomatoes and all the other veggies you would find in that?. It is a good cold menu option.

  36. First of all. Lunchables are…YUCK. I agree 100%.

    Secondly, I think your ideas are fantastic. We’re not in the “lunch-packing” business around here quite yet, but these menu items will work for at-home lunches too.

    Thirdly, I really am working on the fruit snacks. Maybe we’ll give them up altogether. You are pretty convincing… 😉

  37. So, today I read on another blog where a momma was looking for lunch ideas and I was horrified at the responses!!! No judgment passed, but I did try to share what I have learned.

    I promptly sent her the links for your lunch ideas post and for the breakfast ideas post.

    Here is my comment: https://www.blogger.com/comment.g?blogID=5759245837908944020&postID=6902606423085710900&page=1
    {Will this link even take you to my comment?}
    Here is the original post: http://prettypinkmomma.blogspot.com/2009/09/aloha-friday-lunches.html
    I hope you don’t mind my glorification of you, but I truly love that you are committed to this healthy eating movement. I am readily trying to follow in your footsteps. I know that, personally, I can tell when I have been eating badly since my body feels (and sometimes smells) different. Yes, I said it….
    I have started to notice after eating healthy that if I chow down a McD burger I feel like garbage…and like I said sometimes…..ahem…

    Anyhow, hopefully some other mommas will find inspiration to change their kiddos lunch contents and inevitably change their eating habits for the better too.

    All this, is to say ‘Thank You’ for your posts and ask that you keep bringing us bits & bobs from your healthful journey.
    SMILES
    *L*

  38. I LOVE to cook and my daughter loves my food, so her request this year was NOT to have ONE school lunch during the year! I reinvent leftovers, recreate the sandwich, new foods, creative recipes… I look forward to creating these school lunches, and Nicole can’t wait to open her lunchbox!!!

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