Works For Me Wednesday- School Lunch Shortcuts

wfmw   School is creeping closer by the minute and I must admit one of the things that causes me the most back to school anxiety is the fact that I have to pack a lunch daily for my first grader. She is quite picky, including not liking the packed lunch STAPLE the PB & J, so I just about have a meltdown every day about lunch. And I am the one melting down, not the children. I typically try and be frugal in the food department but one place I will splurge is on anything that makes packing a lunch a no brainer. Here are two great products making my life much easier.

Earthbound Farm takes the guilt out of paying a little more for prepackaged food because unlike most prepackaged food, I know what I am getting is healthy and organic. I love to try and sneak veggies into the lunch box, but since Lily’s preference for veggies pretty much consists of carrots and……carrots, these mini carrot snack packs are the perfect size. I find when I buy them she frequently reaches for a bag for a snack even though I have regular mini carrots in the fridge. Something about them being in a package just makes them easier to grab and go. And trust me the fact that my child would reach for a vegetable as a snack is nothing short of earth shattering.

I also loved these organic apple slices.  We eat a ton of apples in this house, but they are really hard to pack for lunch because the slices, even with some lemon juice, often get a little brown which will not do for a picky eater. If I send a whole apple I fear most of it is getting thrown away. These little snack packs totally solved that problem. And once again, I feel really good that my kids are getting real fruit in their lunch.

For the adults in the house, they also have these salad kits, which I have not tried, but they look super yummy and might actually get me eating salad for lunch. I always want to, but never feel like taking the time to make a good one. Thank you to Earthbound Farm for sending me samples of their apple and carrot snack bags to try.

The other big way I “cheat” around here are Lunchables. I try to make them truly a treat and only throw them in every once and a while, but Lily gets really excited when she sees them in her bag. But I must admit, I was never really all that thrilled about it because they didn’t really seem super healthy or filling. Well Oscar Meyer has stepped it up with some great new varieties! Their new Lunchables have pizza crusts and bread made with whole grain, new varieties with water instead of juice, many contain applesauce as a side dish and they all meet the Kraft Foods Sensible Solution criteria. Lily has already put in a not so subtle request to have the deep dish pizza on a daily basis.

I feel a ton better about serving these to my kids and they are big fans. I am not sure she will try the sub (again with the picky), but I am thinking I might keep some on hand for the days when I stare into the fridge for hours wishing lunch would just go away already. Seriously, I really just hate lunch. In the interest of full disclosure, Mom Central, on behalf of Oscar Mayer Lunchables, provided me a sample to facilitate my candid review. In addition, Mom Central sent me a gift card to thank me for taking the time to participate.

So, what are your best lunch shortcuts. Or lunch ideas for very picky eaters. VERY PICKY. And for more great ideas to make life eaiser, head over to We Are That Family.


  1. Amy Meringa says:

    Here’s my own little mom tip regarding lunchables: I make my own and call them Mom-a-bles. I save the little plastic container from the lunchables, wash it in the dishwasher and I fill it with whole wheat crackers like wheat thins or triscuits, real (not processed!) cheese, and turkey slices. Maybe even a tootsie roll. A little piece of Press-n-Seal wrap on top keeps it all inside til lunch. My kids love it and it’s healthier and saves money! I always wonder what the teachers think when I tell my kids “Do Not Throw Away the Container!” :)
    My daughter also loves Nutella – maybe Lily would eat that instead of PB?

  2. If we eat something like spaghetti, mac n cheese, soup or whatever for dinner, I will put some of the leftover into a thermos. Then I just zap it in the microwave in the morning before school and it stays warm until lunchtime. My daughter (2nd grader) loves the variety in her lunches and doesn’t mind eating the same thing she did for dinner the night before. Tomorrow, she requested oatmeal in her thermos so I will just make a little extra for breakfast and put it in there. I also do this and send it to work for my husband sometimes.
    .-= Courtney B.´s last blog ..Don’t Know if I Remember How To Do This… =-.

  3. Great ideas! I wrote about lunches today, too! Looks like it’s on everyone’s mind.
    .-= Janel´s last blog ..Packing a Healthy Lunch Your Kids Will Eat – WFMW =-.

  4. Thanks for the tips! I love the jr. lunchables – Just the diced meat, cheese, and mimi-crackers. They’re perfect for my preschooler and I don’t feel too bad packing them every once in a while because I load him up with fruits and veggies for snacks.
    .-= Becca´s last blog ..Kids doing laundry? Works for me! =-.

  5. I am right there with you on the lunch debacle and wrote a whole long winding post about it around a year ago I think- the LAST time I dealt with this back to school nonsense.
    OK- I try as hard as I can to do a meat, 2 veggies and 2 fruits. I love your ideas of small servings and my kiddos love carrots, too! {Whose children are these?}
    Anyway, my new dilemma this year is that my youngest’s MDO doesn’t have a microwave!! WHAT?? And this kiddo doesn’t like ham- but apparently ate frozen-before-school chicken nuggets with the greatest of ease last week.
    I don’t know why that mother of the year award keeps passing me by.
    On a much brighter note, my older is ALSO at a new school this year and THEY PROVIDE A HOT LUNCH included with tuition and actually tell you NOT to pack a lunch for your child so the other children don’t complain about the differences, etc.
    Needless to say, my youngest is on the waiting list at the latter.
    Good luck with your lunch packing and thanks for the great recommendations!
    .-= Hillary @ The Other Mama´s last blog ..That’s What Friends Are For =-.

  6. April says:

    My best tip: freeze gogurt & it stays cold til lunch… my kids also like to freeze the small individual apple sauce containers… so they get an “apple slushy” for lunch.

  7. Another idea for apples is to slice them the night before and let them soak in orange juice overnight in the fridge. That stops the browning and the kids love the taste.
    .-= Amber Douma´s last blog ..One Ring Circus =-.

  8. My kids love lunchables. I can’t stand the idea of feeding them all the preservatives. So when they get them they are so excited! You would think it was Christmas.
    .-= Chili Pepper´s last blog ..Color Coded Cups =-.

  9. My 6 year old is pretty picky and didn’t eat hardly any of his lunch last year until I discovered Nutella on wheat bread. That he will eat all of it!
    .-= It Feels Like Chaos´s last blog .."I broke the door!" =-.

  10. If your kid is allowed to bring a snack into class, or if you want to add a relatively cheap snack to lunch, the grab some snack cracker or cereal that they like, and bag it up in a bunch of sandwich baggies so you can just toss one in the lunchbox or backpack in the morning.

    Also, invest in some small (reusable) plastic containers, and you can be the cool mom who sends their kids to school with pudding (just pour it into the container to set) or a little thing of applesauce, plus you can save money :D – you could make up a week’s worth at once and save time, too.

    P.S. I hated PBJ also. I still grew up to be a relatively well-rounded, healthy-eating adult. I’m not sure if my mother understands this phenomenon.
    And now, I eat my peanut butter on toast, and I eat jelly/preserves/sugarfree fruit spread on toast, OR sometimes I’ll even have PB honey on regular bread made into a sandwich. But NEVER will I eat PB jelly on ‘raw bread’ lol. just can’t stand it!
    For me, it was a texture/flavor blending thing.

    So maybe she’ll eat PB/honey? And you can throw a fruit in on the side – a peeled or slices orange travels well, as do grapes – to make up for the lack of fruit in the sandwich. Or maybe you could give her some healthy crackers and some PB on the side – to make a healthy ‘lunchable’. (the same can be done with crackers/tortillas cheese, pepperoni, and pizza sauce… Although it is more work.)

    OR, you may even try this (if you make bread) make ‘stromboli’ – that is, roll out your uncooked bread dough, layer some meat and cheese of any sort – either home-cooked meat or deli meat (and maybe veggies and perhaps even pizza sauce) and then roll up the bread, sealing it, and place on a greased cookie sheet. Cook it as you would cook normal bread (except it will probably take a few minutes longer).
    Slice it up, and if you want to have some for lunches for awhile, freeze the slices and grab an appropriate amount each day.
    I bet you could just thaw it overnight in the fridge.

    Luke and I take stromboli for picnics often, or whenever we need a meal to go in the car (well, I mean, we do fast food a lot, but if I plan ahead I can make this and it’s much cheaper and healthier than fast food!)
    (I like stromboli dipped in ranch!! he eats it with ketchup)

  11. I have one son who is somewhat picky too and he doesn’t like pb&j and really doesn’t even like bread. So I take sliced turkey or ham and roll up some cheese in and he seems to like that.
    .-= Nikke´s last blog ..4,300 mile road trip. 10 days. 5 people. 1 car. =-.

  12. My kids love cracker sandwiches with cream cheese and turkey pepperoni. I use Triscuits just because they are whole grain.
    .-= Melissa Multitasking Mama´s last blog ..Reflections =-.

  13. Ughhh….I always dread making their lunches every night too. My 6 year old daughter is SO picky. Sounds like Lilly except mine won’t touch ANY vegetables unless she’s forced.
    .-= La´s last blog ..Something Hairy Can Be Scary! =-.

  14. Great ideas! I detest packing lunches too. I don’t have to do it often since we homeschool, but we have some activities that require us to take lunch. I love Earthbound Farms so I’m glad they are providing this type of stuff! My oldest hates PB&J too! What ‘s up with that? Isn’t that like, unAmerican or something?!
    .-= Kara´s last blog ..Fresh Line Dried Linens! =-.

  15. With 6 people leaving the house each morning, taking their lunch with them, it’s “complain or eat”.

    In our country we have a tradition of a simple lunch, so it’s sandwiches and fruit.

    So we make piles of bread each evening, the kids can choose what they like on it from what’s available and that’s it.

    Works for us.
    .-= Laane´s last blog ..The continuing story : the signature is in! =-.

  16. Thank goodness I don’t have to worry about packing lunches yet! Daycare takes care of that. I know I’ll be “cheating” plenty when packing lunches comes around though :-)
    .-= Amy (from Gracobaby)´s last blog ..Goodbye Graco =-.

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