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What's for lunch?

Even though we've only been back to school for just about a month, I feel like I'm already tapped out for lunch box ideas. I was surprised when Philly told me one of her classmates brought Skittles in his lunch and another friend brought Doritos. Ack! (I was also surprised when she was given Sunbursts after her first music class last Saturday. I politely asked the music instructor to please not offer our little sweetheart any candy treats, no matter how wonderful she was! Her daddy and I are considering bringing our own incentives for her - maybe a sticker or bouncy ball?)

Back to the lunch situation... Now we're heading into cold and flu seasons, and I really, really, really want Philly to eat more diversified foods and get more essential vitamins and minerals from her diet. I really, really, really want Philly to eat fewer processed (or just minimally-processed) foods. My old standbys include: (lightly salted, unsweetened, creamy) Trader Joe's peanut butter on wheat bread, some scrambled eggs on rice in the thermos, leftovers from dinner (maybe ravioli, tortellini, chicken with rice and peas), carrot sticks with peanut butter for dipping, granola.

What are some easy but nutritious lunch box ideas? Especially for the picky eaters? Any really compelling books that get not-so-little ones (she's SIX!) to try new things? If you're packing lunches for your kids, what's in 'em?!?

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Boy if you can come up with any ideas let me know.

We use wraps instead of bread.

We are newbies when it comes to kids and solid foods, and we've been giving Sebastian everything to try. I'm curious. Does Philly not eat any candy or sweets? Or do you have a daily limit?

We don't do sweets regularly, either. Sweets = Crazy Child. I'm afraid I'm not much for ideas, either. I've found two things that Clara will eat at preschool: PB&J with a piece of fruit and leftover pasta with carrot sticks. She usually doesn't eat the whole thing and so it's also her after school snack. :) One thing I do is make her a part of the lunch prep so she has "bought in" to the idea. That seems to help her accept the lunch and not argue with me about it.

my kids are usually pretty adventurous eaters. our credo is "you can't say you don't like it if you don't taste it/try it." and then they decide if they do/don't and we respect that.

lunches.
annie's microwave mac & cheese with yellow peppers
pb&homemade j on wheat with apple and carrot
hummus and crackers with veggie sticks
egg salad (our chickens' eggs) and rice cake
Trader Joes sushi (california rolls)

i, too, have been SHOCKED by what Kate says other kids bring in their lunch- cheetos, uber-processed cheese/cracker things, pudding...i could go on.

and school lunches have "snacks" in them as well - cookies, jellied "fruit" snacks, etc.

Boy- do I loose sleep over this subject! I get freakish highs when I think my children have eaten well and I'm crushed if the daily tally of healthy foods is too low. But that's my problem not theirs! :)

Some of our favorite lunch items are:

- Hummus and Alexi’s whole wheat pita bread
- 1/2 a whole wheat bagel with cream cheese and ham.
- Celery with peanut butter and raisins
- Left over chicken or steak. I try to use home cooked meats rather than lunch meats.
- Nature bake makes a cracker similar to wheat thin that doesn't have any high fructose corn syrup in it.
- String cheese
- Dried pineapple if they really want something sweet.

I look forward to reading comments to this post. I'm always hoping to find more lunch and snack ideas.

I love the mini pitas at Trader Joes. They are just right for little hands. I fill them with turkey and hummus, PB & J, ham & swiss cheese, etc.

We do a lot of things involving dipping sauce. That includes hummus, fat free ranch dressing, peanut butter, spaghetti sauce, and mild salsa.

I'm also a big believer in muffins. they easily portable, eatable and can be very healthy. For example, one of our favorites is Pumpkin Banana muffins. I use whole wheat flour, and only 2 tablespoons of oil. Plus they have a full can of pumpkin in them (a vegetable!!).

Great things I've seen in children's lunches:

-wraps (you can wrap just about anything and cut it up into cute, little bite sized peices)
-sushi
-cubed beets
-tofu
-popcorn with nutritional yeast
-little pizzas with nutritional yeast
-healthy sandwiches cut into cookie cuttter shapes (for the child you have to entice into eating)
-carrots, celery, other veggies with:
-Toby's tofu pate, hummus, baba ganouj, spinich dip, nut butter, guacamole, etc for dipping
-fruit of all kinds with yogurt for dipping
-pasta of all kinds
-rice with Bragg's amino acids on top

My child will eat anything as long as it can be dipped into something else, so I show him in the morning "Look, you can dip your (fill in the blank) in this cup of (fill in the blank!) and he'll be sure to eat it.
One pattern I've noticed, strange as it may sound, is that young children seem to like small things, like baby carrots over one big carrot. Just a generalization, of course, but it might help.

My girl isn't old enough to need lunchbox filling yet, but as soon as she is of age, I'm going here for ideas: (We're not vegan, but most of these work for anyone.)

http://veganlunchbox.blogspot.com/

Also, this looks supercool - perhaps lunch-making and lunch eating would be less painful with this contraption, which seems to be beloved by moms worldwide?
http://www.laptoplunches.com/

When we were kids we'd eat just about any kind of sandwich if it was rolled up...my poor mother still talks about how every morning she'd get out a loaf of bread and her rolling pin and make dozens of "rollups" for all of us kids! We all loved PB&J/honey, and she also did the meat and cheese versions. Of course, this is one of the ways we can almost always get Anders to eat PB&J as well!

Also, I know they have a lot of sugar, but the tubes of yogurt seem like they would be a good healthy option. You could freeze them, and then by the time lunch rolls around they'd still be cold but not spoiled. We give 1/2 of a frozen one to Anders every night after dinner, it's his "popsicle". Stonyfield Farms makes an organic one.

Jessica beat me to it! Vegan Lunch Box has some cool ideas. Just today, she links to two very cool bento sites: http://www.cookingcute.com/ and http://www.bentocorner.com/roller/page/bentoblog?catname=%2FBento

I wished my lunches looked *that* good. Also, the lunch box featured on Vegan Lunch Box can be purchased in Portland at Mirador off of 21st and Division.

An easy lunch for my daughter is a vegi corn dog. She will readily eat this at room temp. So I just micro in the morning for 45 seconds, wrap it up and go. I usally serve with a cheese stick, carrot sticks and a fruit of her choice.
We also enjoy cheese and bean quesadillas at room temp with salsa for dipping.

Salad rolls are quick, healthy and fun for little ones to help make. You can put pretty much anything you want inside of the rice paper wrappers. My son's favorite combo is cucumber, carrot, and tofu. For a dip, I mix peanut butter with a little hoisin sauce and thin it down with water.

Shazamela,
What is a rice paper wrapper? Where could I find it? Is it a spread and roll kind of deal? I heard you say "dip," so I must know. Thanks!

Rice paper wrappers: I don't remember what they're called exactly...maybe spring roll or salad roll wrappers/papers/sheets. They're hard round sheets that become pliable once they're dipped in very warm water. Just put whatever filling you want inside (not too much) and roll it up like a burrito. You have to work a little quickly or they become a bit too gluey. If the wrapper tears, just put the whole thing over another wrapper and double wrap it.

You can pick these up at any Asian market. The tiny one in my NoPo neighborhood has a variety of brands and sizes. It can be a little overwhelming knowing which kind to buy, but they're so cheap that the first time I bought them I got a couple different sizes and brands to see if I liked one better than the other. (The brand with the rooster on it doesn't seem to tear as much.)

I make salad rolls all the time for a packable lunch or picnic and they travel quite well. During one of those super hot days we had this summer, I served them for dinner and put a bowl of warm water in the center of the table with little bowls of all kinds of filling so everyone could make their own. Everyone loved the meal, including my picky mother-in-law who doesn't generally like food that she isn't used to.

I make lunch like one big snack, as my daughter tends to not eat sandwhiches....some ideas are:
Banana bread or zucchini bread or some sort of fruit or vegetable bread; Hard boiled egg
Avocado, edamame, goldfish, Fruit leather
Nuts, if I do a sandwhich we use a cookir cutter to make a fun shape like a heart or star, Mini bagels and cream cheese,
Noodles – cheese, pesto, butter and parm,
blueberries, melon, apple slices, watermelon
Hot Dog chunks (all beef, all natural)
Mozzarella balls, black olives, ham chunks, tortellini, cucumber kebobs
Salami, Granola – Cascadian Farm from New Seasons....

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