The following post is shared by Lunchbox Love® Mom Panelist Shannon Carino.
As the school year winds down, it’s so easy for moms to get into a lunch rut. Five lunches per week, per kid, and trying to be creative with different foods? It’s enough to get to anyone crazed. Add in “healthy” to the mix and the task seems even more complex!
Over the years, I’ve developed my own little lunch system for my kids. While healthy foods are the goal, I try to pack their favorites as I want to be sure they will eat. For me, lunch at school is not the best time to experiment with questions such as, “Who likes bell peppers?” I stick with healthy favorites that represent a good balance of protein and carbohydrates. My usual base lunch is a main course, two fruits and/or veggies, an extra protein like Greek yogurt, and a small sweet or salty treat.
The other trick I’ve learned is to rotate the main courses–sandwiches and wraps, savory muffins, pizza, pasta salads, cheese/meat/cracker mixes, bagels and boiled eggs, hot lunches like soups in an insulated container, and more. Both of my kids like a variety in their lunches and even different types of sandwiches get boring quickly. We rotate as much as we can so their lunches seem different each day.
But on those busy mornings, what’s our go-to meal? My kids absolutely love cream cheese and jelly sandwiches. They are quick to make, easy to pack, and they eliminate the potential of nut allergy problems. Even more fun? Cream cheese and jelly pocket sandwiches. A simple tool from our local dollar store removes a little bit of crust and seals the sandwich.
With that, I add the fruit of the week, plus a veggie or a second fruit. This week, I am adding strawberries with either carrots with hummus or blackberries. They also take a sweet treat. This week’s pick is granola bars. To make their lunches extra special, I make it a point to cut their sandwiches into fun shapes with cookie cutters or decorate them with cheese cutouts, add a few cute picks to their fruit, and include a Lunchbox Love note. My 8 year-old loves to share the notes with his friends, especially the fun facts and jokes on the back.
Shannon Carino is an Army wife, mom of two and former teacher. She chronicles her family’s adventures with bento lunches, fun recipes and food on the blog What’s for Lunch at Our House.