Thursday, September 2, 2010

How to Pack a Lunch Your Kid (might) Actually Eat!

I've come to the daring realization as a parent (perhaps a bit late), that when your child brings a homemade lunch to school, compromises must be made. Kids like packaged food because it's everywhere, and it's made to appeal to them. Chances are good that many of their friends have cheerfully packaged food in their lunch box, and they want to feel like part of a group. It is possible, with some careful label reading, to find nutritious, real foods that are pre-packaged and taste good.

All the lunch fare pictured above are made with actual food ingredients and each has less then 10 grams of sugar (most is naturally occurring). Natural foods stores and co-ops have many healthful options to put in a lunch box. I picked up French applesauce squeezers, unsweetened Cinnamon applesauce cups, and mini packs of trail mix at Trader Joes, and unsweetened fruit cups at Whole Foods.

Cheese sticks are a great snack that my kids like, and have plenty of protein and calcium. I choose regular cheddar cheese, or cheese wedges like Laughing Cow Original Creamy Swiss cheese, because they're not low-fat, as most pre-packaged string cheese is. I choose non-skim cheese for a number of reasons one being that skim milk has actually been found to make children more overweight, while whole-milk has not. Essentially I try to feed my family food that is whole and as close to it's original nature as possible.

For dessert, which isn't required, but is much coveted by young connoisseurs, I try to find treats that are delicious and not too sugar-filled. Lindt truffles have only 5 grams of sugar in each one and are very satisfying. My kids also like fruit leathers or Simply Fruit Roll Ups, both of which have no added sugars.

What healthy snacks and treats are you packing for lunch?

This post is shared with Food Renegade's Fight Back Friday!


  1. Hi - we just posted some Real Food lunch ideas, too:

  2. My son is in daycare two days a week so I pack his lunch for those days. I think he does like the packaged stuff and loves the grape fruit leathers you have pictured. I also buy applesauce containers.
    These are "packaged" but other snacks include:
    carrot sticks and a container of nut butter
    leftover pancakes
    healthy cookies I make
    fruit with homemade yogurt
    hard boiled eggs

    thanks for the post!

  3. I have found that Bento boxes really help. Just google "Bento Box" for tons of cute bento blogs. It's the japanese way to pack lunch boxes with cute picks for fruit and small cookie cutters for vegetables, molds to make hard boiled eggs into cars and bunnies, etc. My five year old loves it so he dosen't feel like he's missing out on the public school lunch most kids eat.

  4. mrs ed- those egg molds are super cool, i bought some for myself at a local chinese grocer and have used them for rice balls, too.