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Kids lunch

I have a 5 yr old daughter who doesn't like typical 'kids' food like hot dogs, taco, hamburger, chicken fingers, any sandwiches..she literally runs away from them. She seems to like roasted chicken(dark meat with skin attached) and grilled steak...she also likes grilled fish(she goes for cheek meat, eye balls and meat around fins and tails). These are not kind of food I can pack for lunch which is driving me crazy. I usually pack her mac and cheese(box one), premade pasta(ravioli from Trader Joe's, etc) with olive oil and grated cheese..sometimes, homemade pasta with meatballs(she eats maybe half of it)...I am running out of options. What do you parents pack for lunch? The only vegetable she eats are tomato cucumber salad...she literally gags at other vegetables.

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  1. I'm not sure why you can't pack those for lunch. Many of those foods are things I gave my daughter in elementary school. I packed an ice pack in her insulated lunch bag and everything stayed cool until lunchtime. If you can't send a knife, pre-cut the meats for her. On days when I was really nailed, I would pick up take-out sushi from the grocery store on the way in (rarely - it's just too expensive) and with the ice pack it stayed just fine.

    Other things I would send were bahn mi with the pickled vegetables on the side and microwaveable Indian-style lentils. Even green salads with the dressing on the side worked well. Your daughter's tomato-cucumber salad should be fine.

    A small ice pack is really invaluable.

    1. One of my kids is a huge lover of roasted chicken drumsticks which I pack in his lunch. Burritos are another favorite. Does your daughter like rice? If so, what about a rice salad or sushi? Inari sushi is popular at my house. Baked falafel balls, packed with some hummus, pita wedges or chips, plus the salad sounds great to me!

      1. What about a trail mix with raw nuts and some dried organic fruit? I really like the combination of raw almonds, cashews, walnuts, and then for fruit you can use either goji berries (these are awesome!), raisins, dried cranberries, dried cherries, etc.

        Then you can also make some sort of salad with grilled chicken or fish in it.

        Maybe throw in a banana or apple or orange too and she should be good to go.

        1. goodness I take roasted chicken in my lunch all of the time
          I have several small containers bento style that fit into my lunch bag.. and a ice pack that fits into a terry cover..
          ( i am lucky we have microwaves at my school) but even if we didnt I love cold chicken...and fish... I have taken civiche,tuna cakes,duck,steak,and allsorts of stuf to school for lunch and I too dont like sandwiches either but I do like wraps.. If she likes tomatos and she may like tomotillos they are great with avacados in wraps...DOnt go crazy.. parents get a little paranoid about food going "bad" before lunch... but the chances are very slim.. in a bag with an ice pack in a climate controlled building when a kid eats within about three to four hours of getting to school... heck japanese kids dont even have ice for their bentos and often have fish and pork in them.

          1. Initially I made the mistake of overestimating my children's desire for variability in their lunches. They seem to be happy with 1-3 alternates for mains that change every week of so and then the same with a handful of alternating sides that change every week of so. So as long as you come up with just 2-3 mains that may be good. Also look out for requested changes based on what other kids have - not that you'll necessarily grant the request.

            I see nothing wrong with cold roasted chicken or steak strips eaten room temp at lunch. Pack an ice pack if you would prefer.

            8 Replies
            1. re: KimMae

              This is really helpful, actually, to remember children may not need the same variability we might...

              ~TDQ

              1. re: The Dairy Queen

                The number of days between kindergarten and 12th grade in which I brought a turkey sandwich, carrot sticks, and either Jello chocolate pudding or a granola bar for lunch probably numbers into the 1000s.

                1. re: The Dairy Queen

                  bingo. my boys are entering 12th grade: i already know the daily lunch routine from the last 5 years. if there is any variation it is not eaten. period. there is much to be said for repetition...

                  1. re: rmarisco

                    Somehow I missed these replies by you and whitneybee until just now, but I think it's excellent advice, not to worry about changing it up all the time.

                    ~TDQ

                    1. re: The Dairy Queen

                      I packed my own lunches starting in 5th grade. Until i finished 8th grade my lunch and snack were a box of raisins and a yogurt, an apple, a graham cracker with pb, and baggie of carrots. When i was sure no one was looking i would take a diet 7up from dad's stash.

                    2. re: rmarisco

                      Amusing anecdote: My older son took virtually the same lunch every day from kindergarten through 6th grade - a bagel w/ cream cheese, carrot sticks, and an apple. He refused offers of anything different.

                      About 2 weeks into 7th grade, he came home and asked why I always gave him bagels. Sort of outraged about it, actually. He's in 10th now and takes a variety of things for lunch but steadfastly refuses to eat the cafeteria food.

                      1. re: tcamp

                        How do you keep the bagels from getting rock hard?

                        1. re: Monica

                          Thaw in the morning, lightly toast, schmear with cream cheese, wrap in foil or reusable sandwich wrap thing. They are crunchy but stay moist enough to chew (assuming presence of teeth). My kids never complained.