At Clara's school, PreK students are required to bring their own lunch. I can't wait until next year when Clara is allowed to join the school lunch plan, but in the meantime, we are doing the best we can to make healthy, colorful meals for Clara. I feel lucky that she goes to a school where the lunch plan provides healthy choices. I still shudder when I think of Jamie Oliver's tv expose of some school cafeterias where the only large utensil in the kitchen was a box cutter because all of the food was frozen and came out of boxes!
When I first realized that Clara would have to bring her own lunch every day, I panicked a bit, and then I looked online to see what other parents were packing. One of my favorite mama food blogs is the Full Plate blog. I loved looking at the variety of meals, and so I'm sharing with you a week of Clara's lunches in case it might be of help to you, too!
Monday: Barbecue chicken with dipping sauce (Clara loves to dip!); green beans; nectarines & grapes ( The BBQ chicken was from the previous night's dinner. Many of Clara's lunches start with leftovers from dinner the night before.)
Clara's verdict: Yum! She ate it all.
Clara's verdict: She said, "The plum was too juicy and too hard to eat." Clara prefers her fruit cut up. She loved the mozarella salad, but didn't love the basil. (I was a little sad about this since the basil is from a plant we have been growing in our back yard since the spring- one of my only successful herb plants- ever!)
Wednesday: Turkey and provolone cheese roll up on whole wheat wrap; salami; sliced apples (with a little lemon on them to prevent browning); sugar-snap peas; Annie's cheddar bunnies mix
Clara's verdict: Yum! She ate it all.
Thursday: Ground turkey; tortilla chips & shredded cheese; grilled green peppers & tomatoes; grapes
Clara's verdict: Everything was good except for the grilled green peppers. She liked them the night before at dinner when they were hot, but not cold the next day.
Friday: Sunbutter & Jelly sandwich on whole wheat bread; fresh corn on the cob from our farm share; organic applesauce (you'll notice that by the end of the week her meal got a little less colorful and creative- I think the quality of her lunch is in direct proportion to my energy level.)
Clara's verdict: She loved it. This was a happy surprise because it was the first time she had Sunbutter. Her school has a strict nut-free policy, and so I was afraid the teachers might confiscate her sandwich thinking it had nuts (this did happen last year!)... so I wrote a note to the teachers explaining that it was nut-free Sunbutter made of sunflower seeds.
PUTTING IT ALL TOGETHER
I knew I wanted a container with multiple sections for Clara's lunch, and I loved the variety of bento boxes that I saw other moms using online. We ended up purchasing the Anchor Hocking 4-cube lunch box at the Container Store.
We bought these cute Crocodile Creek ice packs this summer.
And then, it all fits snugly into an REI lunch bag.
Oh, and I can't forget one of our favorite purchases- the "Light My Fire" spork that Clara uses proudly. Clara likes to use a spoon for many food items, so it gives her the choice of always having a spoon or fork on hand. And, it's pretty cute to hear her refer to her spork.
As I mentioned, Clara's school is nut-free, and so I put together a list of nut-free snacks that I can easily reference to make sure the snacks are OK for school. I usually put two small snacks in her lunch each day. This year, I'm trying to organize and bag enough snacks on the weekend and keep them accessible on a counter so that I can easily pack the snacks without too much thought throughout the busy week.
HERE ARE OUR FAVORITE NUT-FREE SNACKS:
Annie’s Cheddar Bunnies
Pretzels/pretzel sticks (not Snyders)
Babybel Cheese circles
Veggies and white bean dip
Veggies and hummus
Organic Unsweetened Applesauce
TJ's Applesauce Crushers
Back to Nature Honey Graham Sticks
TJ's Fruit leathers
TJ’s freeze dried mango, pineapple, banana chips