Monday, February 08, 2010

Packing Veggie Kid Lunches

Packing healthy, fresh lunches for Sprout and Bird has become much easier now that I have a few years of practice under my belt. The more I read about the standard school lunch, the happier I am that we send the kids lunches with them every day. Inspired by Vegan Lunchbox, we got Sprout a Laptop Lunchbox and started planning all kinds of fun meals. The boxes work great--the kids love them, and the carriers provide some insulation. Some lunches have gone over better than others with the kids, but what I've ultimately learned as that I need to take my own advice and keep things simple. What I mostly do now is things that the kids can "put together" themselves. Don't overthink it. Use fresh, whole foods. I try to choose nutrient dense foods and always have something fresh. I'll put a big glob of peanut butter or hummus in one of the smaller containers, and then do 2 things they can dip in in the big containers--usually a veggie and something whole grain. The other small container gets some dried fruit or applesauce. Or I'll do whole grain crackers in one, slices of cheese in another, a veggie and a fruit. The kids each have favorites, and as with most things, letting them have a say, or even help with preparation and/or packing, helps a lot. I was surprised to find out that kohlrabi sticks were one of Sprout's favorite veggies, and that they thought that cream cheese cranberry sandwiches sounded good. Here are a few of our favorites to mix and match:
  • Whole grain pita wedges
  • Whole grain crackers
  • Kohlrabi sticks
  • Carrot sticks
  • Cucumber Slices
  • Cherry Tomatoes
  • Edmame
  • Celery
  • Dried Cranberries
  • Raisins
  • Peanut butter
  • Hummus
  • Cream Lunches
  • Almonds
  • Cheese

I'll include a knife for spreading or encourage them to make their own sandwiches with the "ingredients" that I pack. They love making their own "ants on a log" (especially with cream cheese and cranberries). I will also occasionally pack a hot lunch for them in a thermos--a baked potato with black beans on top, soup, etc. along with a whole piece of fruit. I will include a square of dark chocolate as a treat every now and then. I've also learned that they actually eat more if I keep portion sizes small. They don't have much time to eat and Bird especially would get overwhelmed by how much food I used to pack, and hardly eat a thing. You'll figure out what works for your kiddo. I used to send an organic juice pouch with them but frugality and packaging concerns have led us to include a bottle of water instead. (Sigg's tiniest bottles will squeeze into the Laptop Lunch carrier with the lunchbox if you really try, trust me!) I hope this helps you with some simple ideas to help make your child's lunch healthier and easier for the whole family.


Lizanne said...

Hi Mia, I just love your way of thinking and find you incredibly hip! I too am a 30-something mom of 2 living close to nature, trying to start an eco-business in upcycled kidswear. I will be visiting your blog frequently, that's for sure!
p.s. My daughter's name is also Mia ;)

sjmonson said...

Hi, Mia,
My name is Sarah Monson and I am an intern working in the Children's Programming division of WGBH-Boston. WGBH produces educational television shows for PBS, including Arthur, Curious George, Peep and the Big Wide World, and more.

We are creating a new TV series designed to help get kids and their families outdoors to connect with nature. To create this project, we need some feedback from parents. We have designed a short, 2-minute online survey and are trying to spread the word to get people to take the survey.

I've been reading your blog, and your readers are the kind of parents we'd like to reach. Would you be willing to post a link to our survey? The information we gain will help us create better, more relevant PBS shows for children.

The survey link is below. Please feel free to take the survey yourself or promote it as you see fit, and to contact me anytime with questions.

Thank you very much!

Sarah Monson

Julia @ Natural Parents Network said...

Love all the yummy and healthy food ideas you have here. I never thought about putting cranberries and cream cheese together! Sounds yummy!