Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Home Cooking >
Sep 11, 2011 03:18 PM

School lunches - a twist on the common inquiry - lunches that don't utilize containers!

Hi all,

I think this is a twist on what I usually see asked on this topic. I have a little one starting kindergarten tomorrow. I recently started thinking about how we help him at home with all his plastic wrapped straws and yogurt cups and string cheese wrappers, etc. and realized that he is not likely to get much of that help at school.

So while I'm teaching him to do all this at home, I think the first month or two at school I'll have to rely on sandwiches that don't go in a tupperware, thermos, and aren't sold in individually sized serving packs. (I tested him on tupperwares and thermoses this am, and decided that he can only open the ones with a small diameter and usually sideways or upside down - oops there goes my lunch on the floor!)

Please help me with some ideas! Particularly for mains, is there anything besides sandwiches and cold pizza that can go in a sandwich bag or get wrapped in foil?

I know there will be a lunchroom monitor who walks around and assists, but with 20 minutes for lunch and 100 kids eating each shift, I don't want to rely too heavily on that...

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Tortilla roll can be a slight twist on anything that would normally be a sandwich. You can roll up a tortilla with PB&J, turkey/cheese, cream cheese/banana, etc.

    1 Reply
    1. re: LabLady

      Awesome thought on the rollup - just a little different makes it seem very different - thanks!

    2. why not put his string cheese, fruit, etc also in sandwich bags or foil? anything that isn't too wet can be unwrapped beforehand and placed in foil or a sandwich bag. For a twist on sandwiches, maybe try stuffed mini-pitas, which are of a size that he can handle them, and you can put anything you'd put on any other sandwich inside. Make him his own lunchables kit inside small sandwich bags- one for crackers, one for cheese slices, one for ham slices, etc. You could even reuse the ones with dry things like crackers or cookies if you want to cut back on waste. Yogurt or juice might be a no-go for a while, but I see no reason why he can't have other traditional kids foods that are usually prepacked. Apple slices, veggie sticks, crackers of various kinds, cookies, string cheese/cheese slices, sandwiches, etc. are easy. If he likes wraps, those are easily kept in foil. hard boiled eggs can be sliced and put in a sandwich bag, or a whole one can be wrapped in foil. good luck with your little one :)

      1 Reply
      1. re: frannieface77

        Thanks for your reply! I had thought to take something like fruit leather and just trim off the top with scissors, I don't know why I didn't think to do the same with string cheese.

        I guess my mental hangup is because of my older child. He is not a sandwich guy at all, so I end up giving him lots of dinner leftoevers, etc, inside tupperwares. I have to put on a whole new hat with my younger one. He may actually go for sandwiches. Here's hoping anyway.

      2. You say he is starting tomorrow, your heart must be full tonight!

        I'm sure he'll learn very quickly, I would pay the older one to teach the younger how to open stuff--

        haha can you tell I don't have kids?

        Fruits and nuts, bread and cheese, I agree that anything that is rigidly wrapped can be rewrapped to be user-friendly. Sandwiches can be cream cheese on zucchini bread, maybe a little different.

        1 Reply
        1. re: blue room

          I'm not ready that's for sure. I can teach the little one. It would be nice if he could just sit next to brother and get some help, but they have different lunch periods.

        2. Would you consider getting a laptop bento box lunch container? It's easy to open w/ different containers and kids have a lot of fun with them. Plus, it's reusable so it's environmental. The inside containers have lids but you don't have to use them if you don't pack food that doesn't leak.

          My daughter used the same one for years.

          3 Replies
          1. re: chowser

            I would hesitate to use the inner containers w/o lids. I see the way these kids throw their packs on the ground when they get to school. I am afraid it would be a huge mess. And if I use the lids, I'm back to square 1, huh?

            1. re: sasha1

              I never packed anything messy, just cut fruit, a sandwich, small cookies and things like that. Most of the containers don't have lids, just a couple of the smaller ones. The lunch box holds it all in.

            2. re: chowser

              my friend does this for her K child...random little things in a bento type box ...just one lid to take off.

            3. One of my boys, as much as we try to teach him, just CAN'T seem to bring home anything except his lunch bag, and several of those have been lost too. I really have to be careful not to send him with any container I'm not willing to possibly lose. I still risk it because I love packing cute little bento lunches.
              for a field trip,though, or when there's no clean container, I'll pack chicken drumsticks in baggies or foil. Usually I'll roast or grill enough to last a few days. (You have to run cold chicken by your kids first though. It's a love-or-hate thing).
              Mini-meatball subs- the sub is mini not the meatball- mine are big enough that one is good for lunch.
              Baggie of chicken nuggets and one of sliced cucumber.
              That's all I can recall at the moment! Off to the Japanese dollar store for more containers ;)

              2 Replies
              1. re: iheartcooking

                That's a good point about losing things because those bento boxes aren't cheap. The boxes are really cute and my daughter looked forward to a variety in her lunchbox (and her friends did, too).

                1. re: chowser

                  Cute is right! I wish I had an excuse to use one.