Real Food School Lunches III

With less than a month left of school I am trying hard not to give in to the simplicity and ease of having my daughter buy her lunch. While slacking off at the bitter end is tempting, these thoughts are thankfully short-lived. So my hope is that one more lunch post will help rejuvenate us all so even during these last few weeks we can continue to send our kids to school with healthy, creative, homemade school lunches that contain nothing other than real food!

In my first two posts about school lunch ideas (post I and post II) I shared that my daughter goes to a peanut/tree-nut free school. As a result the school has an “approved” snack list that shows what food products parents are allowed to send into the school. To me their little snack list not only shows what is approved, but it also serves as kind of a suggested list of items that you could and should send for your 6-year-old to eat at nine in the morning. Some of the items on their list that immediately jump out at me are Wendy’s frosties, skittles, oreos, fritos, airheads, cheese puffs, twizzlers, chips ahoy, and gummy bears. In fact, only 17 out of the 200 hundred items (8.5%) are what I would consider to be “real food” approved. And you know I pay attention to what the kids are eating when I volunteer in my daughter’s class (which happens to be during snack time!), and I see that some parents are unfortunately taking these snack “suggestions” to heart.

So rather than sitting here and complaining about it what better thing to do than to try to fix the list? I am admittedly not fixing things as fast as I would like, but I am definitely making progress (thanks to the help of another mom!). The principal of the school said I could add whatever I wanted to the snack list, but that I could not remove anything. He said if they don’t specify a certain brand of nut-free donuts a parent will surely send in the wrong kind. So without further ado, this is my plan for the snack list addendum (which I hope will be the first page!)…

“Food impacts how well a child’s brain works, affecting their moods and abilities … In a child’s brain junk food can cause neurotransmitters, which pass along information, to function improperly.  Smart foods, however, allow information to be processed correctly and help the child function at their optimal level.”  – Dr. Sears, one of America’s most renowned pediatricians and author of over 40 books



  • 100% whole grain
  • Made with very little (or no) refined sweeteners like white sugar and corn syrup
  • Fresh fruits and vegetables (preferably organic), dairy products, seeds, dried fruit, and humanely raised animal products
  • More a product of nature than a product of industry


  • “Low fat” or “low carb” or “low calorie” products (in most cases)
  • Made with artificial sweeteners like Splenda
  • Deep fried in oil
  • 100-calorie packs made with refined grains like white flour (labeled as “wheat flour”)
  • Something out of a package containing ingredients you cannot pronounce
  • Highly processed food that is labeled as organic

After this intro, which will hopefully get everyone on the same page, I will list out suggested “real food” snack options that will be divided into the following categories: 100% whole grain, fresh fruits and vegetables, dried and canned fruits, and other real food snacks. I can’t wait to see the response once it is finished and can only hope it will lead to at least some changes!

In the meantime let’s talk about a few more lunch ideas to get us through these last few weeks. I admit that I struggle almost every night to come up with something exciting and creative for my daughter’s lunch, but I will share what I have been sending in with her (along with some photos) just to get the discussion started. I encourage everyone to please share your ideas as well in the comments below!

  • Leftover cold whole-wheat pasta noodles drizzled with olive oil and grated parmesan cheese, carrots, melon and frozen blueberries

  • Egg salad sandwich on whole-wheat bread, apples, plain yogurt with a little honey and homemade nut-free granola (extra seeds were added instead of nuts)

  • Homemade whole-wheat raisin bread and cream cheese sandwich, applesauce, local carrots and hummus

  • Whole-wheat banana bread topped with cream cheese, hard-boiled egg, leftover strip of local bacon, and local strawberries


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