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What's in your child's lunchbox?

August is flying by and school will start soon. Trying to get some lunch box ideas for my elementary-aged son. What's popular with your kids?

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  1. I roast a batch of teriyaki chicken legs at the beginning of the week and put one or two of those in their lunches with some fruit. This ABSOLUTELY requires a cold pack of some kind, I like to use a frozen water bottle or those water pouches (like Capri Sun pouches but water!)
    Hot dogs cut into octopus, cucumber slices, little dips (my kid love the horrid Kraft Green Goddess so I indulge them of course)
    Cheese sandwiches with interesting combinations of cheese.
    Hard boiled eggs. (dyed if possible)
    Leftover pizza (or if you made pizza the night before make a couple extra minis for lunch.)
    Roasted veggies processed with some low-fat cream cheese spread on interesting breads, bagels, or with crackers.
    If there's an Asian thrift store in your area I highly recommend getting some lunch containers and packing stuff that will make it easy and give some inspirations.

    2 Replies
    1. re: iheartcooking

      I want your packed lunches too! They sound yummy & cute! Your kids don't mind eating the chicken cold?

      1. re: lausyreno

        No, but I always run stuff like that by them before I pack them.

    2. i swear i was getting ready to start a thread on this! ha!
      i make homemade granola and send it with the girls with a cup of yogurt.
      also, they LOVE getting salads, always dressing on the side.
      my oldest loves getting cold orzo with basil, feta, cherry tomatoes and vinaigrette.
      i would love some other ideas as well!!!

      1. I don't have a big sandwich lover on my hands, so we do lots of pastas and rice in the thermos. Pasta w/pesto, butter, red sauce, chunks of mozz., leftover macaroni and cheese. Rice with butter (I know, I know), sesame oil and soy sauce, cubed tofu. I often send leftover roast chicken for protein - she'll eat it cold. Cold pizza sometimes goes, too. If she is up for a sandwich, it's usually PB&J or cream cheese on whole wheat. Tried to get her to try my fav lunchtime sammie as a kid, cream cheese & olive, but it's a no-go.

        She is not a veggie lover (but for carrots), so fruit's the name of the game - strawberries, grapes, apples - all ready to eat in stainless containers. She either drinks water or buys milk at school.

        Once in a while she buys the G-d-awful school lunch, but she much prefers homemade, even if we're not very fancy. She loves repetition - beyond me!

        GG
        http://www.semisweetonline.com

        17 Replies
        1. re: gansu girl

          True confession: when I was about 8, my mother told us we would now have to make our own school lunches, so I started making my own. I would pack myself the same lunch everyday for YEARS at a time, and never got tired of it. Strange, I know...

            1. re: alliebear

              It changed every 3 or 4 years. In elementary school a peanut butter and jam sandwich with an apple, and a "treat" (granola bar or cookies), that I always ate at morning recess.
              Grades 7-10 a buttered bagel, drink box (Minute Maid orange punch, which I froze overnight so it was still cold at lunch), apple, sliced cheddar chese, and cookies.. if there were any in the house. It's been over 20 years, but I can still remember!
              I cannot believe that I ate the same thing every week-day lunch for years!

              1. re: rstuart

                When I was a kid I packed a pack of Buddig's turkey, a fruit roll-up and a bag of Doritos. Ugh.

                1. re: sweetpotater

                  When I was a kid a slapped a piece of bologna between two pieces of bread, threw in an apple and threw the whole thing out when my locker started to stink. I never ate lunch and my Mom never knew. Me very bad.

                2. re: rstuart

                  My mom always made me ham sandwiches on white bread with butter (the square ham out of the package). To this day, ham is so not my favorite.

            2. re: gansu girl

              my m-i-l just introduced me to olive and cream cheese sandwiches, and all i can say is: where have these been all my life?!?!

              1. re: westernmeadowlark

                What kind of olives go on this sandwich? I'm not a big sandwich eater but this sounds like something I could get into.

                1. re: chickennosenshi

                  We always went for (I haven't had this in years, but I think I'm going to have to make one today!) green olives, so salty & flavorful. I'm sure some must like it w/canned black olives, but I find those to be so bland . . . nice to have the salty bite w/the creamy cheese, I think!

                  GG
                  http://www.semisweetonline.com

                  1. re: gansu girl

                    I made an olive sandwich for myself and loved it! It is my new favorite. My 4 year old daughter also enjoyed it, although honestly she is just happy with straight green olives and some fruit. She can't get enough green olives.

                    1. re: chickennosenshi

                      My daughter is obsessed with olives too, although her very favorites are kalamata. I like to send her off with tapenade and havarti sandwiches. I like the cream cheese idea.

                  2. re: chickennosenshi

                    My folks used to make it with cream cheese, ripe olives, and chopped pecans, on whole wheat. A similar sandwich from the same (long-ago) era was "egg & olive" which is chopped hard-cooked eggs, mayonnaise, and a lot of pimiento-stuffed olives, also on whole wheat. Both were standard fare in the 1940's.

                    1. re: westernmeadowlark

                      My grandmother made me those!! It was our special lunch that only the two of us liked to eat. Super thin white bread, toasted, with cream cheese and pimento stuffed green olives. Cream cheese and jam for the wimps who didn't like olives.
                      Man, I miss grandma...

                      1. re: westernmeadowlark

                        If you like olive & cream cheese, you should try pickles, salami & cream cheese. Sounds gross, but it really is good.

                      2. re: gansu girl

                        gansu girl, I think packing a thermos of rice and butter, coupled with some fruit or vegetable and a drink trumps what MOST schools serve for lunch now-a-days!

                        1. re: cgarner

                          My grandma used to mix rice, butter and salt and roll them into little balls for us. Yum!

                      3. My 7 year old loves sushi, so we send her with sushi rice, nori package (small square size) and a filling (usually cucumber, avocado or somethig similar). She makes her own "sushi" at school.

                        She also loves a slice of salmon pie (she'll eat it at room temp) and a new fav is zucchini / spaghetti pancake from a recent Cooking Light article.

                        I too love cream cheese and olive. She won't go for that. I have done bread sushi which is wheat bread with the crust cut off, flattened with a rolling pin, filled with cream cheese and a stripe of jelly, rolled like sushi and cut like a maki roll. More work than a sandwich, but a fun treat.

                        3 Replies
                        1. re: cookg

                          I love this! - My son is asking for sushi for his lunches this year, so I am going to use your ideas. He'll love making his own!

                          1. re: Cachetes

                            Along these same lines, you can make onigiri, with tiny spoonfuls of leftover anything in the centers, and freeze them individually wrapped. They can be heated and packed the morning of (and for those of us with break rooms, packed cold and nuked.)
                            Read up on bento lunches because they are all about food safety and packing foods that naturally resist bacteria.

                          2. re: cookg

                            Great idea. I think my DS would like to "make" his own lunch too!

                          3. My son loves salami, so I'll take a small piece and wrap it around a baby carrot, which he enjoys. He loves grape tomatoes as well, and hard-boiled eggs with salt and pepper sprinkled on them, or maybe with a little dijon dip. Leftovers are a big hit also - he likes the variety. He's pretty good with veggies, too, so we send him with cold cooked broccoli or spinach.

                            A lot of his classmates bring bagels, and one little boy (Russian) brings stuffed crepes, which I'm going to try.