14 08/27/2010 life Food

Back to School Lunches…. Ugh…


So, last year my wife and I were totally spoiled. All 3 kids were at schools where hot lunches wererovided every day of the year. On top of that, there was always a salad bar option for kids that didn’t like that day’s selection. So you knew that if your kids wasn’t having the pasta with cheese, they were having celery sticks and carrots with dressing, or hard boiled eggs, etc. You know – real food….

Alas, this year we’ve got the kids in a school where everyone is bringing their own lunch from home. They have weekly sushi and pizza days, but with 3 kids at the school, that can be pretty cost prohibitive. Top that with a no nuts AND no meat restriction – and you’re looking at quite the back to school storm on the horizon at casa Martell. I mean, seriously? No peanut butter?! I think I took peanut butter sandwiches for some 1600 days of elementary school.

The newspapers the last few weeks have all had their back to school articles running. However, asking a foo-foo chef to come up with back to school lunch ideas for my 5 year old is a laugh. Like the recipe I read on the subway this week suggesting I send her with cold rice salad… with slivered almonds, dried cranberries, and mango mixed in. Really? My 5 year old? 

We’ve tried the mac n cheese in a thermos thing, but are yet to find a thermos that keeps the food warm enough. Couple that with the high cost of good insulated containers, and it’s not a trial and error experiment I’m willing to keep failing at.

So here are a few things that work for our crew – but I’d love to hear what you all send your kids with. Pray tell! 

My 9 year old:

Hummus with vegetables and crackers

Veggie sushi

My 7 year old:

Hard boiled eggs whites with grated cheese instead of yolk. He invented this one himself and LOVES it!

Cold pizza

Crackers with sliced cheese and vegetables

My 5 year old:

Cream cheese sandwiches

Mini cheese subs

string cheese with crackers

  • Melissa

    I’m curious about the no meat too… That just doesn’t seem right to me…

  • Gav

    I think I’ll go out and pick up some of the recommended Thermos ideas – I’ll let you all know how it works out.
    Unfortunately my kids do not have access to a microwave – but my son would LOVE taking cereal in that Foogo!

  • blaque_ebonie

    Nancy, I also pour boiling water into the thermos first and let it sit for 3-5 mins to warm it first. I did that this morning so that my son could take lasagna. It is really hard to send my younger son to school with lunch. He is a picky eater so its the variety thing. With the peanut butter restrictions it is really hard. He wants to take it but I don’t want to get anyone sick. I don’t know what I would do if there was a meat restriction. Never herd of it. My son loves to take cereal to school with milk in thermos or there is a milk program at school so he just purchases a carton of milk at school. Thermos’ give a lot more flexibility for choices

  • http://www.myfamilyisnotbroken.wordpress.com Nancy

    I do put dinner extra servings into tomorrow’s lunch in the glass containers with the snap on lids and then they microwave them- oldest daughter loves lasagna for example, both love curried chicken on sticky rice, and homemade mac and cheese always a fav. sushi, apples with honey to dip, chicken pot pie leftovers, wraps, and empenadas too. Much of this relies on use of microwave or good thermos to keep it warm. Not sure if everyone does this but I pour boiling water into thermos first and let sit for 3 minutes to warm it first.
    Bagel cream cheese in a pinch. Has anyone tried bagelos? Very good-and surprisingly not too evil.

  • Erin Little

    This site for Laptop Lunches has lots of great lunch ideas!
    I considered buying their lunchboxes but I opted for the locking lid types and I just put them in the lunch box (or I plan to, my 3 years old twins start JK tomorrow).
    BTW, what’s with no meat? Can you explain the rationale?

  • Gav

    Kath – I know… no meat?!
    It’s great that your kids eat so many great foods like lentils and beans. My crew aren’t fussy, per se, but I’m not sure they’d go for that. Maybe I’ll try some edemame which they LOVE.

  • Gav

    Sarah, an easy lunch fix:
    Pick up sushi rice from a sushi restaurant. They shouldn’t charge more than a dollar or two. That will remove the most difficult step of the process.
    Then use your own nori and veggies at home to compile the sushi for lunches.
    I’ve found that the simplest way to avoid the challenge of making sushi rice the perfect flavour and consistency.

  • Sarah

    Gav- do you make your own veggie sushi?? If so, I’d love to see it in a future blog post- my16 mnth old loves veggie sushi (go figure) but I’d prefer to make it at home then buy it…quality control and all…

  • Kath

    No meat at your kids’ school? Now that’s one I’ve never heard of.
    Our entire school board is “peanut aware”, meaning they can’t legally tell you what to feed your kids, but they can request you don’t send peanut or nut products with your kids to school because of the high number of kids with severe, life-threatening allergies. So we live without PB+J sandwiches. *sigh* I once thought I had hit on a winner with Nutella, but alas, it has hazelnuts, so it’s a no-go too.
    My kids don’t like sandwiches, so I usually send them with a “buffet”. A croissant, roll, bagel or crackers, cheese or meat slices (my girls LOVE garlic sausage slices) or other protein (they also like beans & lentils), veggie slices and fruit. They drink water. They occasionally want a hot lunch, so I will put soup, macaroni or beans in a thermos…by the time lunch rolls around it’s still warm enough to eat. Oh yeah, my oldest sometimes likes oatmeal in her thermos. Go figure.

  • merley

    The container that I purchased has a compartment for the milk, with a spout and a separate compartment for the cereal. It also comes with a spoon. I first heard about this container from Jen (Trend Watch). Check out what Jen has to say about this container in Trend Watch.

  • Gav

    Dry cereal Rosa? Or you send him with milk?

  • Gav

    Thanks Elinor – will definitely give it a try. Cold Mac n Cheese… not so popular…

  • merley

    For school lunches my eleven year old son will only eat a) ham and cheese sandwich on ace bakery bread b) tortellini in a thermos. He says he is willing to try cereal so I went out and purchased the stayfit container Jen ( trend watch) recommended. My thirteen year old daughter is not a fan of sandwiches, so I usually pack her a) sushi b)nachos and salsa c) hummus and pita chips. d) A salad. (I purchased a stayfit container for salads. It has a compartment that keeps the salad cool. It also has a compartment for the salad dressing) She will occassionally have tuna salad (with chopped celery) in mini pita pockets.

  • Elinor Hartman

    Gav, have you tried the Thermos Foogo? It’s available at Toys R Us

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