I have been posting photos of Hudson's school lunches on Instagram and Facebook. It's become a thing for me. In that I am really having a lot of fun with it all. Makes sense though, it combines food with fun little containers, all things I like. The icing on the cake is that Hudson has been enjoying it too. And eating most/all of it. I thought I would post a little round up of the lunches so far and share a few of my time saving tips and tricks. For more on where I bought all my supplies look here.
I am not often starting from scratch every morning. My freezer is my lunch life saver (also my dinner life saver). Spaghetti and chicken noodle soup are lunch favorites. I freeze lunch size portions in mason jars. I pop them in the fridge the night before, into the microwave in the morning and into his Thermos. I like using mason jars because they are great in the freezer and microwave. I also batch make and freeze things like: Sunbutter and jam roll ups, cream cheese and cinnamon pin wheels, mini pizzas, quesadillas and smoothies. I always make his lunch the night before, so things thaw in the fridge overnight. I find it takes some of the crazy out of the morning rush. I also keep homemade mini-muffins, pumpkin loaf, mini-naan breads, individual hummus portions, pancakes and waffles in the freezer, I store them in large ziptop bags so I can see what there is. This allows me to offer a variety of foods while minimizing waste. I cannot stand food waste.
I do follow a sort of formula for building his lunch. I aim for an entrée type item, a fruit, a veggie, a snacky type item and a protein food (cheese, Greek yogurt, seeds, nuts, nut butter for dipping, etc). I only send water to drink. I often include some kind of treat like food, but I keep the portions small, so he doesn't fill up on it and ignore the rest of his lunch.
Hudson was not really a veggie guy. At the start of school he only ate carrots. By adding a few things into his lunch he has expanded to celery, snap peas and raw green beans. That is enough to float my lunch making boat right there. Cucumbers are still a no go. He also added pears and raspberries to his fruit repertoire.
So onto the food:
Top left: Cheddar cubes, turkey pepperoni, apple, brown rice crackers, apple and Greek yogurt in the Squooshi. Top right: Homemade bison burger, strawberries, Babybel cheese and unsweetened apple sauce in the Squooshi. Bottom Left: Spaghetti and turkey meat balls, mozza chees string, grapes, popcorn and unsweetened apple sauce in the Squooshi. Bottom right: Sunbutter and homemade raspberry freezer jam roll-ups, banana chocolate chip mini-muffins, mozza cubes, grapes and Greek yogurt in the Squooshi.
Top left: Left over Mac and Cheese, Triscuits with Sunbutter to dip, pear and mandarin oranges. Top right: Carrots and snap peas, pretzels to dip in hummus, mozza cubes, apple and Cheerios. Bottom left: Low sodium pickles, turkey pepperoni, marble cheese, brown rice crackers, sunflower seeds and strawberries. Bottom right: Homemade chicken noodle soup, raspberries, dye-free marites, pretzels and strawberry yogurt in the Squooshie.
Top Left: Mini-nann bread, carrots and snap peas, hummus, raspberries, yogurt and sunflower and pumpkin seed mix. Top right: grilled cheese with ketchup, cucumber slices, plain potato chips, yogurt and banana. Bottom left: Ham, cheese and pickle kabobs, carrots and snap peas, Triscuits, strawberries and Shreddies. Bottom right: whole wheat mini-bagel with Sunbutter and honey, carrot coins, roasted pumpkin seeds, chocolate covered pretzels and unsweetened apple and pomegranate sauce.
Top left: Cinnamon brown sugar steel cut oats (made with milk), Babybel cheese, banana chocolate chip mini-muffin, strawberries and strawberry banana smoothie in the Squooshi. Top right: Whole wheat Sunbutter and honey mini-bagel, roasted pumpkin seeds, carrot coins, unsweetened apple and pomegranate sauce and chocolate covered pretzels. Bottom left: Stawberry cream cheese waffle sammie, mozza cubes, seed puck, strawberry and orange combo and unsweetened apple sauce in the Squooshi. Bottom right: Mini-naan with Sunbutter and homemade raspberry jam to dip, grapes, banana chocolate chip mini-muffins and a raspberry, banana, pineapple smoothie in the Squooshi.
Top Left: Homemade chicken chow mien, Cheerios, Sunbutter celery boats, orange and raspberry combo and cheddar blocks. Top right: Smoked salmon and cream cheese pinwheels, grapes, mandarin orange, pistachios, Babybel cheese and pumpkin loaf. Bottom left: Spaghetti, watermelon and raspberries, sunflower seeds and Green peas crisps. Bottom right: Marble cheddar and mustard bunwhich, raspberry almond poppers, carrot sticks, yogurt and alphabet pretzels.
Top left: Salami provolone roll ups, Christmas crackers, carrots and celery, hummus, yogurt and chocolate coin. Top right: Cheese and micro layer of refried beans quesadilla, Babybel cheese, tortilla chips, fruit salad, Greek yogurt topped with cinnamon. Bottom left: Make your own pizza with mini-naan breads, honey mandarins, nuts & bolts and yogurt. Bottom right: Lasagna, garlic toast, apple, cheddar bricks and celery sticks.
I am hoping this post helps as one stop spot for lunch ideas, for those days when you are stuck or feeling uninspired. I love to hear what you are making and what your kids are loving too. All ideas welcome. Enjoy the winter break from school and lunch making. I will be back to posting school lunches in the new year.
Here we are....the eve of the first day of kindergarten. Big day for Hudson tomorrow. I could say all the usual stuff: time flies, he was just a baby, etc. But really I am just excited for him. I had such a postive experience at school and I am hoping the same for him too. It is going to be an adjustment for sure. The Monday to Friday, the driving, the lunch making.
Knowing what I know about Hudson I think his biggest challenge will be focusing enough to eat his lunch. All the other kids around, so much more fun to make farting noises than eat. My goal is to send mostly finger foods that are quick to eat and easy to handle.
I wanted to share what I bought to prepare for the long haul of lunch making. I feel like being prepared is half the battle. I have been purchasing things over the summer so Hudson had time to practice opening and closing. Plus I am a wee bit weird and want things to match.
Everything, unless otherwise mentioned, was purchased at Superstore. I didn't want things to be too precious. If and when they get lost I don't want to be out $30 per piece. I did label everything.
So top left is his zip up insulated lunch kit. beside it are two mini-icepacks. Middle right are two reuseable, velcro food bags. Good for foods like crackers, apple slices, grapes and sandwiches. Bottom right are silicone muffin liners. These are great to put inside other contains filled with dips (hummus, guacamole, nut butter) or little items like rasins, cubed fruit, veg and cheese. They are flexible so they can be molded around whatever else is in the container. Bottom left is re-useable squeezie bags. These are great for smoothies, yogurt and applesauce. I ordered these online from a company called Squooshi.
Top right is a thermos. I will be sending mostly spaghetti and homemade chicken noodle soup, his two faves. Middle right is two straw based water bottles and finally some fun shaped containers.
Again we have some larger assorted containers. Bottom left is a dinosaur bread/sandwhich cutter.
I re-purposed an old tote to store all this gear together. It is in a low cupboard. Hudson knows to return his empty lunch kit back into the bin at the end of the day.
We have been doing some chatting about what he would like to bring in his lunch. He is by far my most unadventuresome eater. I have frozen portions of pizza and chicken noodle soup at the ready.
I will share some of his lunches on Facebook and Instagram so make sure you follow along. Feel free to share your ideas too.
Tomorrow, the big day. Good luck my son, I know you are more than ready. And good luck to all your kids, and of course to you. We are going to need it.
Tiffany McFadden, RD