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Packed Lunch Survival Guide: Diverse Menus

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If your child’s school doesn’t provide what you consider nutritional lunches (see: Two Angry Moms on a Mission), you may likely feel doomed to pack lunches for eternity. That may be so, but it doesn’t have to be such a chore that you fall into the habit of packing the same ole things day in and day out. When you’re rushed for time, it’s hard to focus on diversity when shopping and you may fall prey to easy options—such as Lunchables, or packaged snacks that are full of preservatives, sugar, salt and additives. The point of packing a lunch is to pack a healthier lunch—but of course, one that your children will actually eat. For that reason, I’ve put together another shopping list (see list for week one and two) and two weeks of menus that I think your cherubs will enjoy—and will be easy for you to put together. 


Just as I prefer food with texture, kids love to crunch. Grapes burst, soybeans pop from their pods with Edamame, and nuts in trail mix crunch between kids’ little teeth (before the Tooth Fairy gets a hold of them). As mentioned previously, when shopping, look for organic—especially for fruits such as strawberries, blueberries, or grapes (see: Is Organic Food Really Better for You?). Try to buy whole wheat or gluten-free if your child has wheat allergies. Also buy sliced meats from a deli counter instead of packaged meats with long shelf lives to avoid excess preservatives.


(At the end of the week, pour some Chardonnay into your kid’s old sippy cup—for you only, of course!—and pat yourself on the back.)


Week Three Grocery List:


  • Panini bread
  • Cheese or meat tortellini
  • Chow Mein noodles
  • Sesame dressing
  • Sliced turkey or tofurkey
  • Tomatoes
  • Mozzarella cheese
  • Edamame
  • Yellow and orange peppers
  • Potato or sweet potato chips (Look for preservative-free, low-salt varieties; if chips aren’t allowed at school, opt for bagel chips)
  • Yogurt tubes
  • Pretzels
  • Grapes
  • Other fruit in season (strawberries, blueberries, peaches, etc.)
  • Dried fruit or fruit strips
  • Pudding
  • Trail mix
  • Juice boxes
  • Sigg water bottle
  • Milk 




Week Three Lunches:


Monday
Caprese sandwich (tomatoes, mozzarella, and that pesto that’s still in your fridge from the last grocery list)
Pretzels
Grapes
Water


Tuesday
Chow Mein noodles with sesame dressing and carrots
Edamame (lightly salted)
Pudding
Juice box


Wednesday
Marinara tortellini
Sliced yellow peppers
Pretzels
Milk


Thursday
Turkey sandwich (with the fixings that are still in your fridge from the last grocery list)
Yogurt tube
Potato chips
Trail mix
Water


Friday
Pesto tortellini
Sliced orange peppers
Fruit
Pudding
Juice box


Week Four Lunches:


Monday
Yellow pepper and hummus tortilla
Edamame
Pretzels
Grapes
Juice box


Tuesday
Turkey sandwich (with the fixings that are still in your fridge from the last grocery list)
Fruit
Potato chips
Water


Wednesday
Cheddar cheese and cucumber sandwich with mayo and mustard
Trail mix
Pudding
Milk


Thursday
Caprese sandwich
Edamame
Fruit strip
Yogurt tube
Water


Friday
Peanut butter or sunflower butter and jelly sandwich (substitute cream cheese for peanut butter if there is a nut allergy or a no nuts policy at school)
Potato chips
Trail mix
Sliced yellow and orange pepper
Juice box


Related Story: Packed Lunch Survival Guide: Breaking Bad Habits

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