Back to school: Let's talk lunches!

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Spacers's picture
Joined: 12/29/03
Posts: 4103
Back to school: Let's talk lunches!

Does your school have a cafeteria or provide hot lunch in another way? Is the food any good? Blum 3 Do you pack your child's lunch or do they buy lunch? For those who buy lunch, what is the procedure, i.e. can they pay with cash or do they swipe a card, etc.? For those who pack, do your kids want to eat the same thing every day or do you struggle with finding way to mix it up? Does anyone's kids make their own lunches?

Joined: 08/17/04
Posts: 2226

Well we're still pre k here but her school provides lunches to the k-3 and she will have access for it since she is going full days for pre k. Not sure how the food is. It was hit or miss when I was in the school system but I've been out for 14 years. They take cash at her school.

I'm making bento style lunches for her. She's hard as she doesn't really eat too many sandwiches and no meat so I'm already struggling on what I'm going to pack for her.

AlyssaEimers's picture
Joined: 08/22/06
Posts: 6567

As you all know I homeschool Smile (My oldest girls do often make themselves a sandwich) For your viewing pleasure, I will share some lunch ideas I found on Pintrest for those of you that pack lunches.

School Lunch Roundup! - 100 Days of Real Food
Creative lunch ideas make food fun for kids - Back to School - TODAY.com
Yummy Lunch Ideas - Yummy Lunch Box Gallery - Easy Lunch Boxes, Bento Lunches

I do pack a lunch for DH every day so I college lunch ideas.

Alissa_Sal's picture
Joined: 06/29/06
Posts: 6427

My son is in pre-K this year. They only have the option to have school lunches on Wednesdays, and it is the same thing every Wednesday (cheese pizza, a piece of fruit, and a cookie). Basically you just pre-pay for the entire semester, and then your kid gets pizza every Wednesday. All of the kids love pizza day, so we participate in that. The rest of the time I pack for him. I do try to mix it up a little, but if he had his way he would eat a bagel with cream cheese every day, so if I need to use up the bagels before they go stale I don't feel too terrible sending those more than once a week. He attends a Jewish pre-K program in a synagogue, so they keep strict dairy kosher which means I can't pack any meat products. Typical lunches are:

Bagel w/ cream cheese, carrot sticks, fruit
Hummus with pita chips and veggies, fruit
Tortilla spread with black bean spread and cheese, fruit
Nut butter sandwich (with or without jelly, or maybe honey), carrot sticks, and fruit
Cheese and crackers, veggies, fruit
Pretzels, nuts, raisins, and carrot sticks with ranch

You get the picture. Pretty much all the same except for variation on the bread and protein. Smile I used to send yogurt sometimes, but the whole class got a kind of snarky letter about how much sugar is in yogurt, so I avoid it most of the time now.

Alissa_Sal's picture
Joined: 06/29/06
Posts: 6427

"AlyssaEimers" wrote:

School Lunch Roundup! - 100 Days of Real Food

I love those sectioned containers she uses. I use those all of the time for T's lunch too. The preschool teachers love them because they are easy for little kids to open by themselves without help. Smile The ideas are good too, although I think I would have a hard time getting T to eat frozen peas if I wasn't there to browbeat him. LOL!

AlyssaEimers's picture
Joined: 08/22/06
Posts: 6567

"Alissa_Sal" wrote:

I love those sectioned containers she uses. I use those all of the time for T's lunch too. The preschool teachers love them because they are easy for little kids to open by themselves without help. Smile The ideas are good too, although I think I would have a hard time getting T to eat frozen peas if I wasn't there to browbeat him. LOL!

Haha. I bought one for DH, but he doesn't like it.

Joined: 05/23/12
Posts: 680

Lunch isn't provided at school so everyone has to pack lunches to send with the kids. My kids get stuck with wanting the same sandwich every day, which is a peanut butter honey sandwich. Then I give them two fruits and some whole grain or graham crackers and sometimes a cheese stick and plain yogurt. Veggies are always a miss unless I put them in their rice, but there is no microwave at their school. I have tried sneaking veggies in but they just don't like them outside of their rice.

ftmom's picture
Joined: 09/04/06
Posts: 1538

"Alissa_Sal" wrote:

I love those sectioned containers she uses. I use those all of the time for T's lunch too. The preschool teachers love them because they are easy for little kids to open by themselves without help. Smile The ideas are good too, although I think I would have a hard time getting T to eat frozen peas if I wasn't there to browbeat him. LOL!

I just ordered some of those for DD's lunches! She is back ordered though so I havent got them yet. I cant find anything like them locally, and DD cant open the containers I have on her own. I am feeling really bad sending everything in plastic baggies right now, so I hope my containers come soon Smile

Alissa_Sal's picture
Joined: 06/29/06
Posts: 6427

"ftmom" wrote:

I just ordered some of those for DD's lunches! She is back ordered though so I havent got them yet. I cant find anything like them locally, and DD cant open the containers I have on her own. I am feeling really bad sending everything in plastic baggies right now, so I hope my containers come soon Smile

I didn't know that hers were anything special. Mine are Ziploc. Here is a link:

Buy Ziploc Divided Container, Rectangle & More | drugstore.com

ftmom's picture
Joined: 09/04/06
Posts: 1538

"Alissa_Sal" wrote:

I didn't know that hers were anything special. Mine are Ziploc. Here is a link:

Buy Ziploc Divided Container, Rectangle & More | drugstore.com

Yea, I wanted the ziploc ones, but cant find them anywhere. Not sure if its a Canadian thing, or just that I live in the middle of nowhere Smile Hers are supposed to be a little bit sturdier, and have coloured lids. They better be good for what I am paying in shipping.

Alissa_Sal's picture
Joined: 06/29/06
Posts: 6427

Oh okay! Well, hopefully they will be really good. Smile

Joined: 12/10/05
Posts: 1681

Our school doesn't provide lunches so I pack them every day.

We do sandwiches, wraps, crackers, or left overs (DS is having leftover butter chicken tomorrow) and they have 2 healthy things like raw veggies (they like carrots, cucumbers, broccoli, cauliflower), apples (whole or sliced with PB for dipping), frozen berries, or whatever. DD likes yogurt. If they are lucky they get a treat (meaning there is some in the house)... usually a home made cookie or pretzels.

mom3girls's picture
Joined: 01/09/07
Posts: 1537

I got some of the sectioned lunch containers last year, worth EVERY PENNY and I have ordered more.

One DD eats gluten free so we cant even chance cross contamination for her, I pack a lunch everyday. The other one gets to eat school lunch once a week, the school lunches are AWESOME in nutritional value (small school, about 100 kids) but I am to cheap to buy them.

Most of the time I send them with leftovers from dinner the night before. I double almost every recipe, and then we eat if for lunch. 2 of us cant have gluten so the whole family eats gluten free, so I just think it is easier to do leftovers (plus then we dont have the heavy carb load of sandwiches)

Spacers's picture
Joined: 12/29/03
Posts: 4103

Tiven's school offers hot lunch every day, but it's a prepared frozen entree that the "cafeteria lady" warms up in a hot box. It's the same company that provides food to the hospital where I delivered both of my kids, so I've had some of the vegetarian entrees and they were all pretty good. Tiven doesn't have hot lunch every day so our agreement with the school is that she tells Miss Tam before school starts if she needs a veggie lunch that day so Miss Tam can warm one up for her on time. Our school requires prepayment for lunches; I can load money on Tiven's account online or drop off cash in the morning, but no one can pay cash at lunch time. The kids go through the line with their class and they touch their own photo on the computer screen to purchase their meal; a parent volunteer watches to make sure that the kids actually do it, and that they each touch the correct photo. Along with the hot entree, which is usually some combination of grains & protein, they also get a fruit, a vegetable, and milk.

On the days that Tiven doesn't take lunch, which is pretty much any day that she gets out of bed without hassles, she's open to pretty much anything we pack. When I'm making my grocery list, I ask what she wants for lunch and try to incorporate most of it. Some of her favorites are quick cook mac & cheese, PB&J sandwich (which she makes herself since we don't do it right), pasta salad, and a wrap with Tofurky & cheese; today was Greek Salad with hummus & pita bread which was leftovers of what I had yesterday when I was working at home. We also pack her a fruit and a vegetable and a canteen of water. Her school doesn't allow junk food: no chips, no cookies, no candy, no soda. Two times I've packed whole wheat crackers that were mistaken for chips and sent home wtih a sticky note about the junk food policy, and I've told the principal that if someone can't recognize the difference between a healthy cracker and a chip, they shouldn't be supervising lunch. :rolleyes: But for the most part, I'm very happy with our lunch options both at school and from home.

AlyssaEimers's picture
Joined: 08/22/06
Posts: 6567

"Alissa_Sal" wrote:

I didn't know that hers were anything special. Mine are Ziploc. Here is a link:

Buy Ziploc Divided Container, Rectangle & More | drugstore.com

Me either. I am not sure what brand mine is.

Joined: 03/08/03
Posts: 3189

Our grocery store has a ton of the sectioned containers, very cheap! I got one for each of the kids.

Our school offers lunch and you load money into a card via a website, and they keep the cards at school for the kids. My son loves the lunches there although I think they are terrible! I let him have their lunches maybe twice a week and the rest of the time I make it for him. My daughter starts taking lunch next week and I am going to try to push for me making her lunch so I know what she's eating! Nathaniel is a great eater and if they offer vegetables or fruit, he takes it. Juliet will go right to the chicken fingers and bread and call it a day, so I'd rather send her with a decent sandwich and some carrots & hummus or something like that then have her lunch be part of the great unknown.

The school has pizza day once a week from a local pizza place, and they can do that with my blessing! I love our local pizza place.

But I hate the food offered at school. So much of it is crap. It's weird that my son loves it.

I don't have much time to make their lunches so I keep it simple, but if they loved last night's dinner, they can take leftovers in a thermos too. Nathaniel does that sometimes, asks for chili or pasta from the night before.

ClairesMommy's picture
Joined: 08/15/06
Posts: 2299

Any kids love the Olivia books? Well, Claire wants that bento box and spork that Francine has. :rolleyes: I won't have to worry about packing a lunch until Grade 1 since she only goes 1/2 days right now.

Joined: 03/08/03
Posts: 3189

"Claire'sMommy" wrote:

Any kids love the Olivia books? Well, Claire wants that bento box and spork that Francine has. :rolleyes: I won't have to worry about packing a lunch until Grade 1 since she only goes 1/2 days right now.

They sell one with a spork at Stop & Shop! The spork & knife snap into the top section.

ClairesMommy's picture
Joined: 08/15/06
Posts: 2299

"freddieflounder101" wrote:

They sell one with a spork at Stop & Shop! The spork & knife snap into the top section.

These ones are neat too! I would totally use these to pack my kids' lunches.

Laptop Lunches - Bento Kits=

We don't have Stop & Shop here.

Joined: 11/28/06
Posts: 848

My girls' school does have hot lunch and also a cold lunch option everyday as well (salad, lunchmeat/cheese sandwich, PB&J sandwich). They buy their lunch at school on the days they like what is on the menu and I pack it for them the other days. If we have leftovers I usually pack that in a thermos because I just think it is nice to have a hot meal. If not, I usually make them a peanut butter and honey sandwich. Occasionally I send a Lunchable because they like them so much. For sides I usually pack fruit (blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, and apples are their favs), string cheese, crackers, granola bars, fruit snacks, or salad. I also send a juice box of some sort.

Joined: 08/17/04
Posts: 2226

"freddieflounder101" wrote:

They sell one with a spork at Stop & Shop! The spork & knife snap into the top section.

This reminded me of the great spork debate from years ago. Sporks are evil!!!!!

mommytoMR.FACE's picture
Joined: 04/10/09
Posts: 781

Bento lunches (and pictures of other "creative" lunches) annoy me because it seems like in almost every picture with a sandwich that uses bread... The crust is cut off. My kid actually eats the crust. Do that many kids hate the crust or something?

I have $10 on Jace's account at school but he has actually preferred to take his lunch instead. He did buy today though, because they served hotdogs with fruit and veggies. He bought chocolate milk with it. He memorized a 6-digit pin number before school started and types it in when he checks out in the lunch line. If for some reason he forgets it, the lunch lady memorizes each child within about 2 weeks, somehow.

When I pack lunch for him, I give him a juice pouch thing, a sandwich, fruit, a small dessert, and a vegetable I think he would eat cold. He also likes taking yogurt (plain or a fruit Chobani).

ange84's picture
Joined: 12/28/09
Posts: 6564

DS's daycare doesn't do lunches so I pack it everyday. He gets a main, either a sandwhich or leftovers from the night before, two fruits, yoghurt and rice cakes with vegemite and sometimes dates/prunes or sultanas which I add in because somedays he is just a bit hungrier than others.

At primary school they vary on lunches, but most schools now don't run full time tuckshops, they are just a few times a week and you write your order on a brown paper bag put the money in and it goes down to the tuckshop, then at lunch breaks your food comes back in the brown paper bag for you.

ftmom's picture
Joined: 09/04/06
Posts: 1538

I cant belive how much food you all send to school with your kids!!! Do they eat all that for lunch? Today I sent DD about a quarter of a ham and cheese 'quesadilla' cut in 3 pieces, 2 slices of banana bread, a sliced orange, and a thermos of milk. She ate 1 piece of quesadilla, 1/2 piece of banana bread, the orange, and maybe half the milk. She is not a big eater normally, and I have a feeling she is spending more time socializing then eating, but I cant imagine her ever eating a sandwich, 2 fruits, yoghurt AND rice cakes while at school! I would be happy to get that much into her in a whole day!

Not trying to pick on ange84, this is directed at a number of large lunch packers here. Her post was just right above mine when i posted.

ange84's picture
Joined: 12/28/09
Posts: 6564

He doesn't eat that all everyday, there is some that comes home, some that gets drink spilt on it and some he just doesn't eat and gets thrown out (think rehated leftovers) but that is the amount that gets requested by day care. DS is not a big breakfast eater either, most mornings he might have a couple of bites of whatever is served up because he doesn't like to eat soon after waking, in his ideal world breakfast would be a couple of hours after waking, so his morning tea is generally a bit bigger than other kids. His daycare asks that we send enough in case they are really hungry, often a fruit or hald the sandwhich and rice cakes come home. The yoghurt I put in tubs myself so it isn't a large amount either, but he doesn't like milk much so yoghurt and cheese are his big sources of calcium and his daycare know this so they make sure that is all eaten.

Also even witht he amount of food DS eats in a day (which some days can be alot) he is still on the smaller side for his age so I am kind of glad he's a good eater, I can't imagine how much smaller he could be if he wasn't, he has cousins almost a year younger than him who are bigger than he is

Joined: 11/28/06
Posts: 848

"ftmom" wrote:

I cant belive how much food you all send to school with your kids!!! Do they eat all that for lunch? Today I sent DD about a quarter of a ham and cheese 'quesadilla' cut in 3 pieces, 2 slices of banana bread, a sliced orange, and a thermos of milk. She ate 1 piece of quesadilla, 1/2 piece of banana bread, the orange, and maybe half the milk. She is not a big eater normally, and I have a feeling she is spending more time socializing then eating, but I cant imagine her ever eating a sandwich, 2 fruits, yoghurt AND rice cakes while at school! I would be happy to get that much into her in a whole day!

Not trying to pick on ange84, this is directed at a number of large lunch packers here. Her post was just right above mine when i posted.

My girls tend to eat big lunches and small dinners. Sometimes my 5 y.o. will only eat a few bites for dinner, especially if what we are having isn't at the top of her faves list. Also, their school has a policy that the first 10 minutes of their lunch they must be silent. I really like this policy because I know that they are actually eating and not just socializing (which little ones will do the entire lunch period if not reminded to keep eating).

AlyssaEimers's picture
Joined: 08/22/06
Posts: 6567

When I packed a lunch for my DD1, I always packed more than I thought she would eat because I did not want to chance her being hungry. Now that she is 7, she eats about as much as I do. (She is growing, I am trying to loose weight)

Joined: 05/23/12
Posts: 680

My kids have long school hours and they have two snack breaks. They have Taekwondo after school M and W so they are starving after school on those days and need a picker upper. They are pretty active and hungry Smile

"ftmom" wrote:

I cant belive how much food you all send to school with your kids!!! Do they eat all that for lunch? Today I sent DD about a quarter of a ham and cheese 'quesadilla' cut in 3 pieces, 2 slices of banana bread, a sliced orange, and a thermos of milk. She ate 1 piece of quesadilla, 1/2 piece of banana bread, the orange, and maybe half the milk. She is not a big eater normally, and I have a feeling she is spending more time socializing then eating, but I cant imagine her ever eating a sandwich, 2 fruits, yoghurt AND rice cakes while at school! I would be happy to get that much into her in a whole day!

Not trying to pick on ange84, this is directed at a number of large lunch packers here. Her post was just right above mine when i posted.

mom3girls's picture
Joined: 01/09/07
Posts: 1537

"mommytoMR.FACE" wrote:

Bento lunches (and pictures of other "creative" lunches) annoy me because it seems like in almost every picture with a sandwich that uses bread... The crust is cut off. My kid actually eats the crust. Do that many kids hate the crust or something?

I have $10 on Jace's account at school but he has actually preferred to take his lunch instead. He did buy today though, because they served hotdogs with fruit and veggies. He bought chocolate milk with it. He memorized a 6-digit pin number before school started and types it in when he checks out in the lunch line. If for some reason he forgets it, the lunch lady memorizes each child within about 2 weeks, somehow.

When I pack lunch for him, I give him a juice pouch thing, a sandwich, fruit, a small dessert, and a vegetable I think he would eat cold. He also likes taking yogurt (plain or a fruit Chobani).

I totally agree with you on the crust thing, drives me crazy. I have never cut them off and dont plan on it

Joined: 03/08/03
Posts: 3189

They don't give the kids a lot of time to eat lunch at our school, so we don't send big lunches. They have a snack in the morning, and lunch, and that's it. They don't have enough time for a big lunch though!

Joined: 05/23/12
Posts: 680

"freddieflounder101" wrote:

They don't give the kids a lot of time to eat lunch at our school, so we don't send big lunches. They have a snack in the morning, and lunch, and that's it. They don't have enough time for a big lunch though!

Yeah if the kids mess around, they'll miss their whole lunch. My second grader's teacher reads to them during their lunch hour. It seems to keep them from playing around, quiet, and focused.

Spacers's picture
Joined: 12/29/03
Posts: 4103

"mommytoMR.FACE" wrote:

Bento lunches (and pictures of other "creative" lunches) annoy me because it seems like in almost every picture with a sandwich that uses bread... The crust is cut off. My kid actually eats the crust. Do that many kids hate the crust or something?

OMG, this drives me crazy! I actually don't know of any other kid in Tiven's grade who willingly eats crusts. There are moms at school who cut the crusts off 20+ sandwiches for birthday parties. I'm the weirdo at school who not only sends her kid sandwiches with crusts, but they're also made with whole wheat bread instead of white. :shock:

"ftmom" wrote:

I cant belive how much food you all send to school with your kids!!! Do they eat all that for lunch?

Not just for lunch but also a snack. Tiven's class has "break time" in the morning, 10 minutes when the kids can use the bathroom and/or have a snack. In the younger grades the classes have snack time right before recess, but the older grades don't have morning recess. They have recess right before lunch time, which helps the kids be a bit more settled down for eating their lunches. There's also a mandatory 5-minute quiet period, which starts 10 minutes before lunch time is over, so that helps, too. Sometimes she brings some food home, but that usually only happens when there's pineapple or mandarin oranges on the sharing table. The sharing table is where the kids who buy hot lunch put whatever they don't want to eat, and it's up for grabs for anyone else.

ClairesMommy's picture
Joined: 08/15/06
Posts: 2299

"Spacers" wrote:

OMG, this drives me crazy! I actually don't know of any other kid in Tiven's grade who willingly eats crusts. There are moms at school who cut the crusts off 20+ sandwiches for birthday parties. I'm the weirdo at school who not only sends her kid sandwiches with crusts, but they're also made with whole wheat bread instead of white. :shock:

Not just for lunch but also a snack. Tiven's class has "break time" in the morning, 10 minutes when the kids can use the bathroom and/or have a snack. In the younger grades the classes have snack time right before recess, but the older grades don't have morning recess. They have recess right before lunch time, which helps the kids be a bit more settled down for eating their lunches. There's also a mandatory 5-minute quiet period, which starts 10 minutes before lunch time is over, so that helps, too. Sometimes she brings some food home, but that usually only happens when there's pineapple or mandarin oranges on the sharing table. The sharing table is where the kids who buy hot lunch put whatever they don't want to eat, and it's up for grabs for anyone else.

Some of my friends say "Doesn't Claire ask you to cut them off?" and I'm like "No, because she's never had a sandwich any other way but with the crust on." Why open that can of worms? Don't want the crust then don't eat it, but don't ask me to remove them in advance! She eats them anyway.

ftmom's picture
Joined: 09/04/06
Posts: 1538

I dont cut the crusts off, but if I want to make the sandwiches a bit fancier, I have a couple of those shape cutters for sandwiches, and depending on the size of the bread, they cut most of the crust off. My kids will eat them with or without crusts though, and it is always whole wheat, or other grains. My kids arent big sandwich eaters though. Unless it is something sticky like peanut butter and Jam, they open up the bread and eat all the stuff from the inside. I figure they just dont want the extra carbs Smile

Joined: 03/14/09
Posts: 624

"mommytoMR.FACE" wrote:

Bento lunches (and pictures of other "creative" lunches) annoy me because it seems like in almost every picture with a sandwich that uses bread... The crust is cut off.

I can't answer for everyone who makes bentos, but in the country from which bentos come, you can't buy brown bread, and normal white bread is sliced thicker than you would want for a sandwich. "Sandwich bread" comes with the crust sliced off in plastic boxes. So when people there make bentos with bread instead of rice there is no option for crusts.

Which is really really stupid, imho, but I'm only one consumer of millions. I make my own brown bread for every day but my bread doesn't slice into shapes as well as "sandwich" bread so for bento days my kids get the crappy crustless tasteless white stuff.

Joined: 12/10/05
Posts: 1681

Exposing my ignorance here, but what on earth is a "bento"??

I agree with everyone about not cutting crusts off. They aren't anyone favorite part of the sandwich, but we all learn to eat them.

I feel the same about peeling/slicing apples. I used to send whole apples with my kids to preschool and I would get left over slices back. What? I guess the teacher thought they needed it cut up. My kids gnawed on whole apples since they had their first tooth... Way safer imo, hard to choke on an entire apple!

ClairesMommy's picture
Joined: 08/15/06
Posts: 2299

"kris_w" wrote:

Exposing my ignorance here, but what on earth is a "bento"??

I agree with everyone about not cutting crusts off. They aren't anyone favorite part of the sandwich, but we all learn to eat them.

I feel the same about peeling/slicing apples. I used to send whole apples with my kids to preschool and I would get left over slices back. What? I guess the teacher thought they needed it cut up. My kids gnawed on whole apples since they had their first tooth... Way safer imo, hard to choke on an entire apple!

It's like Japanese food art. Seriously.

Bento boxes are often little cases with layers and/or compartments for food. Not all people use them for this kind of fancy, decorated food; the more 'western' style is a food container that works well for kids' school lunches. I think they're cool. A more common bento looks like this:

Joined: 12/10/05
Posts: 1681

Thanks! I definitely don't do "food art"!

I use wet bags (like for cloth diapers) about the size of a large ziploc. I can fit all sorts of containers in there and they wash up well and dry fast Smile

mommytoMR.FACE's picture
Joined: 04/10/09
Posts: 781

"blather" wrote:

I can't answer for everyone who makes bentos, but in the country from which bentos come, you can't buy brown bread, and normal white bread is sliced thicker than you would want for a sandwich. "Sandwich bread" comes with the crust sliced off in plastic boxes. So when people there make bentos with bread instead of rice there is no option for crusts.

Which is really really stupid, imho, but I'm only one consumer of millions. I make my own brown bread for every day but my bread doesn't slice into shapes as well as "sandwich" bread so for bento days my kids get the crappy crustless tasteless white stuff.

Thanks for explaining Smile