Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > General Topics >
Aug 27, 2012 11:36 AM

What are you sending in your kids lunch box?

My son, 7yo, is gone from 7a to 5pm. I send him with breakfast, lunch and 2 snacks. I am getting into a rut. What are you sending? I need ideas. BTW, he doesn't like sandwiches or raw veggies.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Does he like the components of sandwiches? I was a picky child and didn't like different tastes to be together in sandwich form. My mom sent me with bread, tuna salad in a container, cherry tomatoes, grapes or an apple, cookies etc., all separately wrapped.

    Does your son like soup? Will he eat soups with lots of veggies in them? If not, would he eat pureed soups in which veggies can be "hidden"? How about a hot or cold pasta with veggies pureed into a sauce? If you have a dehydrator you could dehydrate his favorite fruits or make fruit leathers with little or no added sugars and preservatives.

    Taking a cue from some baby food purees out there, consider making a puree of squash or sweet potatoes with pear or apples, a touch of cinnamon, but no sugar. Healthy! Into those, you can puree other veggies that he should eat raw, but won't.

    Zucchini can be shredded and baked into loaves. Beets can be roasted and pureed and baked into "chocolate" muffins and/or cupcakes.

    If he'll eat dips with whole grain pita or healthy whole grain crackers, you're in business with good proteins and fibers.

    Will he eat rice? You can make simple chicken teriyaki with vegetables on rice, if he's game. Or do the same with meatballs.

    2 Replies
    1. re: 1sweetpea

      My daughter wasn’t much of a sandwich person either, until I started deconstructing the parts and packing them separately. Roll, lunchmeat, lettuce and tomato

      She’ll eat it that way

      The other faves: quinoa salad with chick peas and lots of whatever herbs I fancied that day, tortellini tossed with pesto (eaten cold) pasta salad with cut up pieces of genoa and sharp provolone, little kebabs made from pieces of cooked chicken and steamed veggies, savory biscuits that have ham, cheese and green onion along with a side of apple sauce
      “pizza roll ups” pizza dough, stretched out, spread some tomato sauce, shredded mozzarella cheese and whatever else you like on a pizza, roll it up like a jelly roll and slice it about an inch and a half thick, turn on it’s side and bake about 20 minutes at 350 till done (possibly longer, I don’t have a ‘recipe’ for this)

      1. re: cgarner

        THose "pizza roll ups"! GENIUS!!! Must try to make those this weekend. THanks.

    2. I have an 8yo son and a 6yo daughter. They are pretty adventurous eating habit wise, so I can get away with packing "not normal" lunch items. We use 3 compartment bento style lunch containers for cold/room temp items, and they use a Funtainer food jars for hot items. If the item needs to kept warm (like pasta), I put hot water in the food jar while I pack the rest of the lunch, then pour the water out and put the hot food in. Keeps it even warmer then putting the hot food in a cold jar.

      Typical "main" items:
      Pasta - I cut up the meatballs into quarters, if any (if it's spaghetti, I use kitchen scissors to cut it into small pieces so they can just scoop it with their fork)
      Sandwiches - Cream Cheese/Cucumber, Ham/Cheese, Turkey/Cheese
      Taquitos (the frozen ones from Trader Joes) - I cut them in half and they fit perfectly in the food jar. I pack a side of salsa or taco sauce for dipping
      Mini Tacos - also from TJ's. Fit in the food jar
      "Homemade Lunchable" - crackers, cut up meat (ham or leftover rotisserie chicken) and cheese
      Hummus with pita, cut into small triangles
      Homemade Fried Rice - food jar
      Mac and Cheese - food jar
      Cold Pasta Salad
      Bumblebee brand spicy Thai tuna with crackers - my son loves these for lunch

      Typical sides:
      Grapes/Apple Slices/Fruit Cup/Cut up melon/Strawberries
      Baby carrots or raw broccoli with ranch or hummus (for carrots)
      Cucumber slices
      Goldfish crackers
      Wheat Thins
      Veggie Straws
      Potato Chips (rarely)

      Clif Kidz bars
      Granola bars
      String Cheese
      Homemade muffin/sweet bread

      Today's lunch consisted of leftover spaghetti with chicken (in the food jar, cut up), grapes for my daughter, mandarin orange cup for my son, and 1/2 slice of banana bread. Snack is goldfish crackers for DD (per her request) and a Clif Kidz bar for DS. They both take a frozen bottle of water each day, and DS also asked for an apple juice box (the Kirkland 100% juice boxes).

      2 Replies
      1. re: boogiebaby

        As per boogiebaby's post...get thee a bento box. You can put tiny bits of stuff in each compartment, and turn a piece of cheese, a leftover meatball, 3 carrot sticks, a few grapes, a ham & cream cheese roll-up (cut into little wheels), and a handful of dry cereal into an acceptable lunch. Seriously, the 'little bits of stuff' lunchbox saved me. They would accept anything in a cute little compartment...when was desperate I'd raid my husband's lunches for a spare bit of cauliflower or a sliver of cornbread I would carve off the piece that was in his packed meal...they would eat anything if it was small and in a compartment, some days I was tempted to throw in a milk bone and see if they'd eat that, too. They are old enough to pack their own lunches now, thank goodness...though I still try to keep the fridge stocked with acceptable options. (The pork loin I am currently grilling for dinner is big enough to yield leftovers, sliced...they still don't make sandwiches, though, they just pack the meat in it's own container)....weird kids.

        1. re: tonifi

          Great responses! What bento boxes did you like. I bought some at the Korean grocery and they seem a little leaky. Today, I packed a bagel with lox and cream cheese and baby spinach. Rice, one of those costco chicken patties and corn. Granola bar and deconstructed smore. LOL. We will see what comes back.

      2. I only have to pack a snack for am preschool, but yesterday I sent a banana and the boy came home with a hostess cupcake in his lunch bag. /boggle

        1. Send him off with a dozen Twinkies, individual size bags of potato chips and some chocolate bars. He can trade those with other kids who have things in their lunch that he might choose to eat. ;>) OK; I'm not serious. But it just might work.
          You might try giving him a list of things to choose from.
          For example, make him responsible for choosing what goes into sandwiches from a list of healthy foods, what fruits and vegetables he'd like and how he wants them prepared, etc. You are likely to find that there are fewer complaints when he has input and shares responsibility for the decisions about what 's package for his meals. He may also come to better appreciate how difficult it is to offer healthy foods and still include a variety of things to eat day after day. If he chooses the same thing for several days in a row you can involve him in a discussion about variety and get his input.
          Over time, with small tasks in the beginning, assign him the responsibility of doing something to help prepare the food. Simply buttering a piece of bread or spreading on condiments might be a good first step.

          11 Replies
          1. re: todao

            He ate the bagel, granola bar and the smore. He did not touch the rice, corn and chicken. He said it was cold. When he was at day care, they served hot breakfast and lunch. I think thats what he likes best. I have to find some kind of container that will keep foods warm.

            1. re: lilmomma

              I am not packing a lunch for a 7 year old.I am packing lunch that has to stay safe and fresh for a crane operator all four seasons.
              Containers to keep things warm are not so easy to find.
              wide mouth 12-16 oz jars I have three or four different brands and designs,all OK,not leaky,none great.
              Not so hand friendly at 5 AM and nasty dirty when they return.I rinse and use the dishwasher top shelf for sanitation peace of mind.All say no DW.So far only one has failed on the top shelf after 3-5 years.Some have a hollow floaty,thermal disc inside the lid that will take in water sometimes.I just shake it out.Some have a little breather,expansion hole in the outside base,plugged with a bit of tooth pick.
              7-9" thermal bowls with screw on lid,harder to find and transport.I found mine at a Korean,Asian supermarket.Likely to work for your corn,rice and chicken offering.
              Think neutral to warm serving temperature is the best you will get.
              It is easier to to keep moister things warm,casseroles,stew,soup.I lean on things that work soggy.
              Does he like miso?It is fast,easy for soup with corn,rice,hot dogs etc.I just put a blob in the thermos add hot ?(corn) and boiling water.Rick,DH is easy,almost any left over will do.You will not have it that easy with a 7 year old.
              The posts above offer much good,sandwich components etc.I have a lot of soups or stews in the freezer that are "thickened" with butternut squash,solving another food group without another dish needed to balance a meal.

              1. re: lcool

                What is the name of the Korean grocery store and do you see a name brand on the bowls so I can try to find it. We have Assi Super and HMart near me! THanks.

                1. re: lilmomma

                  My go to Korean store is much older than the two newer names you mention,Korean Korner.The family has a dozen stores,restaurants etc in DC,NOVA and MD.
                  HMart has a lot of similarities,so you may get lucky. I saw the round,stack,
                  interlocking variety recently at HMart,often carried for the "workman's" lunch.
                  one brand,metal,glass with tough gaskets is Sunshine,APPLE DEW DROP line,they have evolved into the folks that bring us the original patent GLASS-LOCK,
                  SNAPWARE containers.
                  I'll get back to you about the other.............soon enough to use edit

         made in Venezuela......the site offers several languages

                  What I have is THERMAL FOOD JARS.....PREMIUM,they have been tough and perform decently.Polimes shouldn't be hard find in large metro areas with a Latin or Asian

              2. re: lilmomma

                lilmomma, the Funtainer food jars are made for kids. They are easy to open, and do not leak. They are also sized smaller for hold smaller portions as opposed to the larger adutl sized jars. (Also, I find the adult ones are hard to open for kids sometimes.) We have used them for 4-5 years (since my son was in preschool) and they have always worked great. Never had one leak on me before. You can get them online or at Target, Walmart, etc.

                You can use many different things for a bento box. It doesn't have to be labeled "bento box". I have 8-10 different kinds of different sizes and shapes. Rubbermaid makes a 3 compartment stoage box that you can find at Target, or maybe even your local grocery store. They usually have them with the disposable tupperware type containers and ziploc bags. I also have smaller 2-3 compartment boxes I've bought form HomeGoods and TJ Maxx that work well. I use the smaller 2 compartment ones for crackers and fruit, or carrots and fruit or whatever. I use deeper boxes for pasta salad, and shallower ones for sandwiches. It depends on what I'm sending that day.

                You really should go check out the lunchbox/food jar section of your local Target -- you'll find the Funtainer and Foogo food jars, as well as ice packs and water bottles (we like the Funtainers and Camelbak ones). Then go over to the Rubbermaid/Ziploc section and find some food containers.

                1. re: boogiebaby

                  Totally agree on the Funtainer jars or something similar. They keep the food warm. Maybe not hot, but what kid likes their food too hot anyway.


                  1. re: valerie

                    Oh I have those funtainer jars. Did not know thats what they were called. Apparently, according to my son, the food is not even warm enough. I will look for the foogo jars. Maybe they are better.

                    1. re: lilmomma

                      I use a stainless steel coffee thermos from Starbucks. It's the only thing I've found that holds the heat. I pour my soup into a separate cup because the little cup on the thermos top only holds a couple of tablespoons at a time.

                      1. re: lilmomma

                        What you might try doing is pouring hot water into the thermos for a few minutes, then quickly dry it and put the hot food in and close it up. The food stays hot longer.

                        1. re: lilmomma

                          Forgo and Funtainers are both made by Thermos. Funtainers have pictures in them, Foogo are plain pink or blue. They should keep the food warm if you preheat the jar with boiling water and heat the food well.. If you are putting warm food in a cold jar, obviously it will cool down faster than if you put it in a warm jar.

                          I have used my kids' Funtainers and Foogo jars for my own lunches before and the food has always been warm. Again, I heat the jars before putting the food in.

                  2. re: todao

                    Thermos fogoo is easy to open and close, dishwasher safe, and keeps things at a safe temperature util you eat lunch. Kids love them.

                  3. We make the most use out of small thermos/fogoo containers for whole wheat pasta and veggie sauce, various bean soups usually with a bit of pasta, fried rice, chili mac, quinoa + or leftovers of many types. I then a bottle of water plus a small snack plus a fruit. I like the little 1/4 c ziploc cups or wean green glasslock glass cubes.