Packing three lunch boxes daily is no joke. And the very reason meal prep has become such a major part of my life these days. In partnering with Rock The Lunchbox , who’s main focus is to provide lunch packing inspiration to help make it easier to “build a better lunchbox,” the boys and I got to try out some products from a few of our long time favorite brands: Annie’s, Applegate, Honest Kids, and Rudi’s Organic Bakery. All of which we keep in regular rotation in some form or another around our house as it is.
Below is a new addition to their lunches. Something sweet because they keep complaining how neglected their “treat” section is compared to “other” kids. Right now they’re obsessed with a simple fruit salad of sliced grapes, strawberries, whipped cream, topped with crushed candied walnuts.
And these little star shaped sandwiches, Annie’s Organic Bunny Fruit Snacks + Honest Kids Pouches apparenlty prove a quick hit with all kindergarteners, according to my own.
With all the talk about lunch box variety though, I started to pay closer attention to my own food stocking habits. Taking a good hard look at how much effort I give towards keeping things as wholesome and exciting as possible, while packing for boys with distinctly different tastes, and one with gluten free restrictions, on a regular basis. The risk being, letting myself get lazy in the rush of everyday life. Relying on old tried and true standbys instead of mixing things up on occasion, encouraging my kids to try new & unfamiliar foods. There are plenty of times one of my boys will assume he doesn’t like something simply because his brother doesn’t, which is when I have to get creative in persuading him to give it a shot. Sometimes I loose the battle and it’s another quesadilla for dinner. But other times I actually succeed and get to watch them fall in love with something they had convinced themselves they’d never like. Sometimes, even slightly exotic.
Which is not to overlook the fact of perpetually “picky” eaters. We all know ’em. Most of us have at least one in our life. Mine is 10 and has resisted all green veggtables since infancy. One of the best tricks I’ve learned to lean because of finicky taste buds, is sneaking in veggies however, wherever, I possibly can. Green smoothies obviously being a quick and easy option for breakfast or after school but another great one I use regularly for dinner is tossing a pan full of sautéed veggies into the grinder to blend before adding them to what remains of whatever sauce I’m using. So for the past decade Arlo remains oblivious to the fact that his beloved spaghetti dish consists of things he would never dare touch otherwise: opinions, bell peppers, zucchini, spinach, musrooms, whatever!
Below is a GF version of one of Leon’s typical sandwiches: rolled Applegate organic roasted chicken breast, swiss cheese + a side of sliced bananas with a dollop of peanut butter and sprinkled with cinnamon / sugar.
In examining this topic I decided to turn away from the endless array of fancy foodie blogs on the web for now and focus instead on a few fellow mothers – friends of mine – to see what snack habits and lunch packs look like in their home.
First up is Lex, and her stunning sliced toast.
Lex: technically, wyatt was asleep when I made this. and technically, this specific serving was for yours truly. But i’ll be serving up round two to him as a post-nap late lunch/big snack.
layer one: wheat bread layer two: spread of avocado; layer three: squeeze of lemon; layer four: pinch of garlic powder, sea salt, cracked pepper and (for mama’s version) red pepper flakes.
Will he actually eat it? Anyone’s guess. But at least i’ll enjoy the leftovers.
Kate: Adelaide’s favorite – smoked salmon and capers and the heated up leftover green beans and roasted fingerling potatoes. She’s always been really great at trying new things. I never made her spirit food, even as a baby I used a food processor to grind up veggies and things I made for meals so she could get used to the tastes.
Below, a medley of snack photos that came to me by way of sweet texts last week. Isla’s PB&J with three fruit sides, Gillian’s tortilla triangles, Haye’s favorite dog face sandwiches, and one tasty looking bagel stack for Naomi’s boys. Among others.
Sam: We are all about the tortillas here. They are versatile and don’t take up a lot of space in the refrigerator, which is prime real estate with a family of six to feed. Channeling my inner Bubba Gump, here are a few things we make using tortillas:
Ham and cheese quesadillas
Smashed chickpea and lettuce wraps
Seed butter and honey rolls
Churro rolls (warmed with butter, cinnamon and sugar)
Cut into triangles with avocado or guacamole (which my four year old calls “avocado sauce”) pictured above
Easy to pack and prepare.
Tip: I use my mandolin slicer for everything from apples and pears to carrots and cucumbers. Slicing and dicing for the masses goes quicker this way.
Another tip: I slice apple and pear directly into a bowl of water with a squeeze of lemon. Drain and bag, keeps them from browning before lunch.
I’m not above using favorite characters to motivate my children to eat better. Zoboomafoo loves garbanzo beans. I made her a bowl of diced cucumbers with garbanzo beans and olives. She loves it. It is now a snack time staple (pictured above)
On the go snacks tend to be chosen by ease of travel. Trail mix, string cheese, dried fruit, energy bars.
Tell us, what are some of your kid’s favorite lunch box staples? And what are some ways you manage to mix things up?
And for a chance to win “A Month of Free Lunches” you can enter Rock The Lunch Box sweepstakes HERE!