Unpacking the Bagged Lunch

January 30, 2010

I learned early on in my lunch-packing career that sending a nice, shiny apple in my kids’ lunches was simply sentencing that apple to a day of rolling around in a lunchbox only to return to me in the evening bruised, unappreciated and ready to become applesauce. Sometimes I dream of moving  to a tropical island, where I would send fresh kiwis and mangos with my children to school, and maybe even little coconuts with straws!  But, alas I live in Ithaca, NY, where apples are just about the only fruit that I can count on being able to afford year round.  Because of this, my household eats a lot of apples.and here’s what I do with them when I pack them in lunches. 

* Slice them and put them in a bowl (an apple slicer is very handy for this)

* Toss them with enough bottled lemon juice to cover the apple.            

* Sprinkle cinnamon sugar on them (make the cinnamon sugar up ahead of time and keep it in a shaker). 

* Put them in an air tight container and send them off!

Do you have a simple, healthful, lunchbox suggestion to share? The more ideas we can exchange the more we can collectively avoid those annoying lunchbox item boycotts!  To get you started, here is the short list of currently accepted lunchbox fare in my household:

*Peanut butter and banana sandwiches

*Peanut butter and honey sandwiches

*Hard -boiled eggs

*Tofu Kan

*Tofu pups with melted cheese and ketchup, wrapped in a tortilla (yes, they’re cold by the time they eat them)

*Homemade cookies that I freeze (see School Cookies and Lisa’s Sunflower Cookies)

*Dinner leftovers often work for one child, but not the other

*Tuna fish works for one, but not the other

*Veggie Stix (Good Healthy Natural Foods)

*Kashi TLC Cereal Bars

*One of my kids is a vegetarian now, so this isn’t exactly “currently” accepted, but turkey luncheon meat and cheese rolls used to work

Please help me add to this list!  My girls cannot live on cinnamon apples alone.  Leave your suggestions in the comments below, and then bask in the gratitude of lunch-packing moms everywhere.

-Kelly at the Goose


7 Responses to “Unpacking the Bagged Lunch”

  1. Asia Says:

    We have the same lunch issues in our house, but I think your girls are way less picky!! A current favorite of Nuala’s (at this point she is also a vegetarian, one who does not eat tofu, naturally) is mashed yams with salt and butter. It keeps warm in a thermos-type thing.

    Also, dried mango, which is expensive! And yogurt, every single day.

  2. Kelly Says:

    Yeah, you’re the second person who has reminded me that using a thermos opens up new possibilities. I’m curious about this “thermos-type thing”, Asia.

  3. MarthaQ Says:

    I am totally doing that to apples! I am not a mama (yet) but a fruit eating lady and am plagued by my uneaten apples. No more! Hurrah.

    Also, I second Asia’s thermos-lunch proposal. My favorite lunches as an elementary schooler were pasta-based and packed in a thermos.

  4. Asia Says:

    The thing is called a MunchGear, which I bought from some web site whose name I have completely forgotten. It’s not ideal– the bottom plastic has cracked from being dropped and sometimes the vacuum created when filling it with hot food makes it so Nuala can’t open it!! I bought it because it wasn’t pink and covered with Disney princesses. Jillian’s may carry something similar; at the time she was still researching options for her inventory.

    But yes, a “thermos-type thing,” wherever you get it, definitely has its uses.

  5. Rebecca Says:

    My girls like mini muffins. Currently my favorite recipe is made with blueberries and lemon yogurt. Mini muffins appeal more to my girls than standard size and the girls keep going back to get more. After the first day, I stick them in a bag in the freezer, than warm them up in the oven in the morning. The girls will often eat one or two for breakfast and then wrap a couple more in foil to take for lunch.

  6. Sandra Sorensen Says:

    Lunch Box ideas: My kids love when we have to make lunches if they can “create their own” from what is packed. For example: I will pack them celery sticks, a slop of tuna, cheese slices, grapes and apple pieces. Then they can eat the tuna with the celery or with the apples, put the cheese and the grapes where ever they want…or eat it all plain. We do it with crackers as well and peanut butter is a big favorite for dipping. You can mix and match veggies, peanut butter, fruit, rice cakes, nuts, crackers, celery, tuna, egg salad, cheese, tortilla chips, hummus, pita bread and/or pita chips, etc. It makes it interesting and they have fun mix ‘n matching the ingredients as they go. Kind of like home made lunchables.

  7. Laura Says:

    My kids love cucumber cups. Slice a cucumber across into 2″ “tree stumps” scoop most of the center seeds and fill the cavity with hummus. Top with sprouts, peanuts, or flax seeds. Carrot spears and snow pea slices can be stuck into the cups too or can surround the cucumber cups or stumps… cherry tomatoes go well with this too. We use apples to make a waldorf salad … chopped apples ( sprinkled with lime juice ), chopped celery, grated carrot, broken walnuts, dried cranberries or raisins tossed with a mayo/ miracle whip, milk, pepper dressing. We pack our kids lunches in laptop lunchboxes ( convenient to organize a bite of this and a bite of that in ) or send hot leftovers in a small thermos container ( nice for curry or pasta ).

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