I’ve been sharing my kids’ school lunches on facebook quite frequently this year, and in an effort to put all those pictures in one easy-to-reference place they have all been reposted below. Also, I seem to get a lot of comments/questions/etc. when I share these on facebook so I’d like to start off by addressing a few of the more common ones…
I’ve written a post that includes everything you could ever want to know about the colorful “freezie pop molds” that I use frequently to add smoothies to their lunches.
Some readers ask if these lunches provide enough food for my children and while I am probably not spot-on with portion size 100% of the time, the short answer is “yes.” First of all, “real food” is a lot more filling than highly processed food (especially the refined grain stuff like white flour). Secondly, portion sizes are getting out of control in America and have unfortunately skewed the public’s view of what is appropriate. Thirdly, my children are children (ages 7 and almost 5), and my 1st grader has little more than 15 – 20 minutes to eat (and socialize of course!). Lastly, both my children eat after-school snacks, and my older daughter has oatmeal (in a thermos) for her morning snack everyday less than an hour and a half before lunch. Okay, got that off my chest.
A few occasionally ask if these lunches have enough protein. First of all, part of eating a “real food” diet means you no longer have to count calories, fat grams, protein, carbs, etc. You simply eat a variety of whole foods (including lots of veggies) without “overeating” and the rest will just fall into place. It’s kind of nice not to have to worry about that stuff anymore. But, if you aren’t quite ready to forget about your daily protein intake please know there are MANY sources high in protein aside from just meat products such as yogurt, eggs, cheese, cream cheese, nuts (including peanut butter), seeds (including sunflower butter), and beans. When we switched to a “real food” diet we purposely reduced our meat consumption.
I make most of the pictured baked goods (like muffins and pancakes) in advance and store them in our freezer. So when I am packing school lunches the night before I just pull out what I need so it can defrost in the fridge overnight. Almost all of the recipes I used can be found on the blog…just use the search box at the top right of the page to find what you are looking for!
Also, I’d like to note that my 1st grader goes to a peanut/tree nut-free school so I often use sunflower butter and cream cheese as an alternative to peanut butter.
So without further ado here is the School Lunch Roundup! And please feel free to share you “real food” school lunch ideas in the comments below…
Triple-decker apple & peanut butter sandwich, organic cheese stick, a homemade (and kinda squished) butterfly-shaped whole-wheat biscuit, and frozen peas & corn
Frozen smoothie pop with berries/yogurt/kale/sunflower butter, 3 mini whole-wheat pumpkin muffins, apples, and popcorn
Heart shaped peanut butter & honey sandwich (I put the scraps in the freezer to save for stuffing/croutons/breadcrumbs/etc.), fruit mix including oranges and kiwi, organic cheese stick, and Kettle brand baked potato chips
Hummus/cheese/lettuce on a whole-wheat pita (Trader Joe’s brand – only 6 ingredients), caprese salad with pesto, hard boiled egg, and a raw nut/raisin trail mix pack
I was feeling creative this day Bread/fruit/cheese pinwheel kabobs, a mix of puffed brown rice cereal & sunflower seeds, and frozen peas/corn mix
Leftover cold cheese pizza (with a whole-wheat crust that she helped make the night before), store-bought organic applesauce, 1/2 banana, and a trail mix with some cashews/pistachios/raisins
One of my older daughter’s favorites: Tomato bisque soup with whole-wheat spiral noodles floating in it, an apple sandwich with sunflower butter & raisins, a cornbread muffin, and water (I send water everyday)
Half of whole-wheat banana pancake sandwich with cream cheese in the middle, 2 whole-wheat ebleskiver “round” pancakes, organic apples, plain yogurt mixed with a little maple syrup, vanilla extract, bananas, and homemade granola
Sunflower butter and all fruit jelly on five Ak-Mak whole-grain crackers, local strawberries, and carrots/celery
Frozen PB&J smoothie pop (with sunflower butter and spinach), “ants on a log” (celery with sunflower butter and raisins), leftover deviled eggs, and a whole-wheat blueberry muffin.
Cold homemade pizza lunchables with some sliced apples (in a new little monster-themed “Wexy bag” which are bpa-free biodegradable baggies)
Applegate Farms organic ham with cheese rolled up inside, carrots, mango, and a whole-grain cornbread muffin
Heart-shaped pancake sandwich with cream cheese and strawberry jelly in the middle, little heart fruit pieces (including strawberries, pear & melon), and applesauce
Frozen smoothie pop (plain yogurt/sunflower butter/berries/bananas/kale), hard boiled egg, carrots, and a whole-wheat banana muffin
Cream cheese/cinnamon/raisin/sunflower seed sandwich (my daughter’s creation), apples/blueberries/mango, and carrots
Cold homemade whole-wheat pizza, frozen peas, and a fruit mix including melon & kiwi
Leftover vegetable/pork/bean quesadillas on homemade whole-wheat tortillas, organic pear slices, and a rare surprise (a treat!) store bought whole-wheat graham crackers
Peanut butter & honey sandwich, apples/carrots, hummus, and (in the Wexy bag) whole-wheat pretzels
Whole-grain cornbread muffin, organic ham (rolled up), carrots, and a frozen smoothie pop (made with berries, yogurt, & kale)
Homemade whole-wheat cinnamon raisin bagel with organic cream cheese, hard boiled egg, and apple
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[…] bottom of this post). In addition to checking that out, there’s 100 Days of Real Food’s School Lunch Roundup, Tip Junkie’s 27 best lunch food recipes, Food with Kid Appeal’s index of healthy […]
I’m sure you get this one a lot just like the protein question but the there seems to be a lot of high sugar items in a single lunch. Even though they are natural sugars I do try and limit my daughters sugar intake.
Do you find that cutting out the processed stuff helps balance this out?
Hi Rebecca. Yes, eliminating most processed foods from a child’s diet, especially that which is marketed towards kids, can greatly lessen the sugar they consume. Of course, you don’t want to offer sweet homemade treats all the time, either. But yogurt, muffins, smoothies and such lightly sweetened with unrefined sugars are okay in our book. ~Amy
Great article…just a quick question where did u get your containers for the lunches?
Hello! This question may have already been asked, but there are 450 comments and I’m hoping you don’t mind answering again, so I don’t have to go trough them all.
My son was intrigued by the picture of the pizza lunchable (I think it is the 11th pic on this post). Is that just slices of homemade baked (plain) pizza crust? Do you make your tomato sauce or buy it?
I went through your recipe index, but could find this exact picture only on this post. Thanks for any help you can offer.
Hi there. Those are whole wheat pita bread cut into triangle and you can use any organic tomato sauce or make your own. Lisa does both. ~Amy
Just a question..sorry if Im repeating…..where did you buy those smoothie froze pop holders??? Im in Canada so it might not help but just had to know where you got them.
I love the lunches and the fruit, how do you prevent them from browning, just lemon juice?
Hi Toni. Lisa doesn’t usually do anything. The girls don’t mind a bit of browning but lemon will certainly do the trick. ~Amy
The 5th one doesn’t have a caption! Can you tell me what is the white part of the skewers?
I don’t know what happened to the caption – thanks for pointing that out! It’s mozzarella cheese
I love all the sliced fresh apple recipes! My daughter loves apples, but because of losing her front teeth, can’t bite into a whole apple. I tried slicing it and splashing it with lemon juice, but she turned up her nose at the “lemony taste” to the apple. Any suggestions on what I can do to the apple slices to prevent browning, but not have them taste lemony?
Hi Lindsay. While lemon does the best at keeping the brown away, many readers has suggested using pineapple juice. ~Amy
Sorry – I found the answer in an earlier post! I’ll try pineapple juice. Thanks!
I’m so jealous that u can send nuts and nut butters Our schools have banned both claiming that it’s too hard to tell if it’s a seed butter or a peanut product – so my vegetarian kids lunches end up looking a tad odd. Thanks for great ideas!!!!!