Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Tuesday Tip O' the Day

This tip was inspired by an idea I gave my dear friend Devin yesterday...

It's school time once again. Like most moms, I pack my kids' lunches on a pretty regular basis. Also like most moms, sometimes I get stuck in a rut with what to pack.

It was last night that I came up with the idea of creating a menu with a list of items for the kids to choose from.

You of course could start with sandwiches (or main dish). Give 3 or 4 things to choose from - something like PB & J, cold cuts on a mini sub bun, etc. You could even offer something like soup, spaghetti-O's, or ravioli in a thermos on those chilly fall and winter days! The less picky your kids are, the more fun that could be.

Next you have your "sides" - cut up veggies, a bowl of fruit, yogurt, granola bars....something healthy!!

Beverages - have a couple different flavors of juice, milk, water - whatever your child can transport to school really. I saw a cool no-spill cup in this month's Family Fun magazine that has a button that you push to open the drinking area, and when the button is released (supposedly) there are no leaks/spills. It's called the Autoseal Kids Mug and can be found here.

Of course, no lunch would be complete without a small dessert or treat. Of course, your typical Little Debbies or Hostess items work here, but I know my kids also love the mini candy bars. It doesn't have to be anything big, just a little sweet treat to finish off the meal. If your child can't have or doesn't like sweets, a baggie of pretzels or trail mix might be a great idea too!

The night before, give your child the menu, and have him/her check off the items he/she would like you to pack in his/her lunch. Of course, be sure to remind your child that he/she is only allowed to pick ONE item from each category...otherwise if your kids are like mine, you'll get an order for 3 desserts and a chocolate milk!!

You could get really fancy and make a few laminated menus, and your child could use a dry-erase marker to mark his/her selections (that way you could wipe it clean for the next day)....or you could just use a sheet of notebook paper.

Here's a sample of what you could do:

  • Peanut Butter and Jelly on Wheat
  • Turkey & Cheese on Mini-Sub Bun
  • Graham Cracker and Peanut Butter Sandwich
  • Chicken Noodle Soup


  • Apple Slices
  • Ants on a log (Celery with peanut butter or cream cheese with raisins on top)
  • Fruit Cup
  • Granola Bar


  • Milk
  • Apple Juice
  • Water
  • Gatorade


  • Swiss Cake Rolls
  • Trail Mix
  • Chocolate Chip Cookies
  • Pretzels

Of course, tailor this to your child's likes/dislikes, and make sure your portion sizes are appropriate for his/her age. Try to change up your menu items now and then to help keep your child from getting bored with the "same old, same old" as well.

Hope this idea is helpful to any of you who have school-age children!!


Devin said...

Julie, this is just so cool. I am totally thinking about ordering those cups too--I HATE the playtex ones we use. Yeah--supposedly they are 'leak proof', but they are sooooooooo not! I find them turned over on the floor with a big puddle of milk underneath them. That does NOT keep my floors shiny!

My kids also like 'crackers and cheese' for a main course. I cut up like, colby jack or whatever into squares, and they like to put it on Triscuits. We also do cheese sticks, applesauce, pudding, small yogurts....I thought the individual fun size candy bars were a GREAT idea for desserts, though--I hadn't thought of those! I hate packing little Debbie's everyday. They seem WAY too big. They are making them now individually wrapped instead of twin wrapped, or even the 100 calorie things are good, which I like much better. It would take Colin the entire lunch period to eat a twin wrapped nutty bar!

Thanks again for this--it's great!

Julie said...

Wow, that is a great idea! And it reminded me of a few snacks that I forgot about. The mini candy bars is a great idea, but our school pushes Healthy snacks, and frowns on cookies even! So maybe I'll pack one for me everytime I make them lunch?!

My kids have water bottles kinda like the ones you showed, but I got mine at Target. Kylie has had her for about 3 years now and it is still going strong. It comes with an extra straw, but we are still on the original one. The outside isn't chipping either. They also have the matching food jar. I got them for Reygann, and I am currently looking for the 'Cars' food jar for Brody.



Thanks for the tips, let me know if you have any more! :0)

amanda said...

super tip!

last year I sent Wilson with like four things in his lunch and he complained that he didn't have enough time to eat it all... so I settled for a sandwich and fruit snacks...

maybe he can eat faster now that he is a big, bad 1st grader. Bet his eyes will light up if I read him these options!

Julie said...

Like I said, you can totally tailor this to their like/dislikes.

You could also just make 1/2 sandwiches, for younger kids who can't eat that much (or that fast). I do that a lot for Puckey & Jib, and give them a healthy "side", and it works well for them.

Julie - I know, schools are trying to push more healthy stuff, but my thinking is if you have something like soup or a turkey sandwich and fruit or yogurt with milk, juice, or water to drink, why NOT let them have a little candy bar? Now, if your kid is going to eat a bag of chips, a pb&j, and have pop for lunch, maybe foregoing the candy bar would seem much more reasonable!

Mom2-2goodboys said...

Julie, Great tips! Definately tailor your child's likes/dislikes and make sure the portion sizes are appropriate. As a "Noon Aide" at my son's school, I see so much food that is thrown out by elementary age kids. Especially the good healthy food that most Mom's pack. Sandwiches, fruit cups, fresh fruit....etc. They eat the candy and sweet treats first. And, if they are in a hurry to go outside for recess they could care less about everything else in their lunch. Most of the kids know me and if I catch them trying to throw the food out, I always tell them to pack it back up and take it home and tell their mother's they don't like it or that there is too much food. I really cringe when I see individual fruit cups, applesauce and sandwiches thrown in the trash. What a waste of food and money.