It’s the time of year when I start thinking about packing school lunches for my daughter. This can be a challenge. While I don’t consider her to be a picky eater, she is particular. Over the years we’ve come up with some lunch ideas that work for her. Here are some of them:
She is into the Hydro Flask™ craze, and she’d have one in each color if I let her. Anyway, Hydro Flask™ makes a thermos and it works great! In the morning I’ll heat up a can of her favorite chicken noodle soup, fill up the Hydro Flask™ thermos and her soup is still hot by lunchtime. Of course, other brands of thermoses work, too, and you could send any type of soup or chili.
- Some mornings I bake chicken strips, chicken bites, and/or fish for my daughter to take to school. When lunchtime arrives, she just needs to reheat and eat. Fortunately our school provides microwaves for student use.
- Lasagna is another of her favorites. There are single-serving frozen lasagnas at the store, as well as many other varieties of single-serving meals. I also prepare these in the morning. (The lasagnas take about 8 minutes.) That’s too much time if she’s using the school microwave, but if I cook it at home first, all she has to do is reheat it.
- Another food I’ll fix in the morning is a frozen pizza. I’ll bake it, slice it, send some her way for lunch, and she can take enough to have some later as an after-school snack.
- Cheese quesadillas are simple and easy to make in the morning and reheat at school, too.
- On days that I know she won’t have time to microwave anything, I’ll slice up some summer sausage or give her some slices of cold cut meats and cheeses, or even beef jerky. For younger children, you could make a ‘cold’ lunch interesting and fun by packing a Bento-style box with a variety of colors and shapes (think grapes, cheese cubes, pretzels, etc.)
- Leftovers! My daughter loves spaghetti and when I make it for dinner, I set some aside for her lunch the next day.
Of course these foods alone are never enough, so I always give her a variety of other foods to supplement her meal - fruits, veggies, crackers, chips, bagel, frozen yogurt stick, (it’ll be perfectly defrosted by lunch) cheese stick, granola bar, etc.
I keep a stack of small plates in my pantry that I can toss into her lunch bag so it’s easy for her to reheat food. I also buy “on the go cups” - mini disposable storage cups with a lid that I can fill with ketchup or ranch for dipping.
So with a little bit of forethought & creativity on my part, and input from my daughter, through the years we have been able to come up with a menu plan that that please her picky palate AND provides sufficient sustenance.