How “Fun Lunches” Simplify Our School Routine

posted by Andrea | 08/30/2018

Dave has been back at school for classes and meetings for over 2 weeks already… and Nora officially has 2 full days of first grade under her belt!

So far, so good for our little girl who LOVES school!

(Simon starts preschool in 2 more weeks — seriously, I still can’t believe he’s old enough for school!)

As we’ve been gearing up for the back-to-school season, stocking up on school supplies, anxiously awaiting our class list and teacher assignments, attending various school open houses, parents’ night, meet-the-teacher night, etc. the 2 things I hear almost all parents “complaining” about (or at least offering up disgruntled remarks about) are:

  • getting their kids to bed on time so they can wake up earlier
  • packing lunches every day

Our kids are still young enough that they go to bed on time (and wake up bright and early) all throughout the summer months — so the bedtime thing isn’t an issue for our family right now.

And when it comes to packing lunches, it’s definitely not my most favorite thing on my list of daily to-do’s, but I certainly don’t despise it the way some of our friends, relatives, and other school families seem to!

In fact, after thinking about lunch packing more this past month, talking with several of our friends about school lunches, and stocking up on lunch and snack foods… I (think) I might know at least one reason I don’t dread or despise packing lunches

I Pack Fun and Easy School Lunches that My Kids Want to Eat!

Yes, that means…

Sometimes their lunch food is processed.

Sometimes their lunch food has lots of extra sugar.

Sometimes their lunch food costs more per item to buy it individually wrapped.

Sometimes their lunch food is not even remotely healthy for them.

BUT it also means…

They love the foods I pack.

They look forward to lunch time at school.

They eat quickly.

They eat ALL their food.

They don’t spend time or money standing in line for hot lunch.

They don’t waste food by throwing it away.

Their bellies are full for the entire school day so they can learn and play without feeling sluggish or tired.

In my opinion, the fact that my kids eat all their food QUICKLY (and actually enjoy it) far outweighs the fact that their lunches might not check off every single box on the food pyramid.

Especially since they all have a big, home-cooked meal for breakfast and for dinner each day.

As I’ve mentioned before, I make a hot breakfast every morning — complete with bacon or sausage, scrambled eggs with cheese, fresh fruit, and either pancakes, waffles, french toast, oatmeal, or muffins. We also eat a home-cooked meal every evening with meat, potatoes/pasta, vegetables, fruit, bread, etc.

My children do not go hungry and they do not lack fruits, veggies, meats, dairy, or whole grains in their diet.

They are happy, they are thriving, they are healthy and growing well… and they enjoy really fun lunches!

Before we get too far into this post, I want to make it VERY CLEAR that I do NOT spend tons of time packing their lunches!

I don’t use cute cookie cutters or make fun creations out of their foods.

I don’t draw on their food with food markers (yes, there is such a thing as food coloring markers and they are actually pretty cool!)

I don’t have themes for their meals.

I simply load up their lunch boxes with fun foods I know they will enjoy and eat well… and that will hopefully fill them up!

On occasion, I will do a little something special — like last year when Nora was the “star of the week”. I tried to come up with some fun star ideas for her lunches that week, but that was an exception and definitely not normal!

Our Favorite Fun Lunch Foods:

  • PB & J sandwiches (yes, I often cut the crusts off)
  • Meat and Cheese Roll-ups (sour cream, thinly sliced meats, and shredded cheese wrapped up in a tortilla)
  • Salami and/or Pepperoni and cheese slices (sort of like a homemade lunchable)
  • Cold pizza
  • Pizza Lunchables (these are pretty gross in my opinion, but the kids LOVE them, so I usually buy them once a month)
  • Yogurt + fruit + granola
  • Gogurt
  • Applesauce pouches
  • Cheese sticks / string cheese
  • Granola bars (one mom of Nora’s classmate said she puts a few boxes of granola bars in her kid’s locker every couple of weeks so she never has to worry about forgetting their snacks!)
  • Pickles!
  • Finger Jell-O
  • Fresh fruit (usually berries, grapes, and/or clementines)
  • Craisins + peanuts + M&M’s
  • Fruit snacks
  • Any type of chips, Chex Mix, Cheetos, Bugles, pretzels, Goldfish, Veggie Straws, etc.
  • Store-bought cookie (the kids request store bought goodies in their lunches… Dave and I think they are nuts!)
  • Candy — yes, they get candy every day

For the ages of my children, for the lack of time I want to devote to pack lunches, and for the fairly short amount of time they have to eat lunch at school, quick and simple fun lunch options definitely work well for our family right now!

 

Our Lunchboxes (Planet Boxes)

Nora has been using a Planet Box (the Rover style) for 3 years now and we absolutely LOOOOOOOOVE it!

It’s a stainless steel Bento Boxy style lunch box with 5 different-size compartments for various foods. It comes with magnets for the cover of the box, a carrying case (with drink and snack compartments), an ice pack, a stainless steel fork and spoon, and 2 stainless steel round containers that are perfect for more liquidy items (yogurt, pickles, dips, juicy fruits, etc.)

The whole system retails for around $80 (which I realize is pretty pricey) but they are amazing!

The boys also have BentoBoxes from Stuck On You, which are cute (and completely leak-proof)… but after using them for over a year now, I realize they are not nearly as functional or practical as the Planet Box.

The Planet Boxes just pop into the dishwasher (they are thin, so they fit in the same compartment as a dinner plate) and it’s perfectly clean and dry an hour later. The boy’s lunch boxes need to be disassembled, washed by hand as the little compartments never come fully clean in the dishwasher… and they take forever to dry.

Since they boys don’t use their lunch boxes on a daily basis like Nora does, it’s not a huge deal, but we’ll switch Simon over to the PlanetBox system next year, when I start packing his lunch every day!

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Why We Use Bento Boxes:

Before we had children, I assumed Bento Boxes were one of those gimmicks that got parents to waste money on yet another cute, but completely unnecessary, product.

Now, 7 years later, I will attest to the fact that Bento Boxes ARE cute, and they ARE unnecessary… but the amount of time these boxes save me, my children, AND my children’s teacher is 100% worth the cost of the boxes! 

Packing their lunches is SO quick and simple for me — just fill the compartments with foods they like and pop the boxes into the fridge (I pack lunches the night before).

Also, my kids usually don’t need to unwrap anything at school, which means they don’t need to ask for their teacher’s help (when she’s already trying to help 20 other kids). They also don’t need to put their food on their desk — which is often fairly sticky, germy, and gross.

Their lunch boxes go straight into the dishwasher when they get home, we run the dishwasher after dinner, and I pack it again after they go to bed. DONE!

I definitely do NOT think you need a Bento Box in order to pack “fun lunches” your kids will actually eat; however, if you are frustrated with your current method of lunch-packing, I’d highly recommend some sort of Bento Box.

Here’s a link to several more-frugal varieties on Amazon.

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I realize there is a huge push for “healthy lunches” right now — and I completely understand and can appreciate why. However, I also don’t allow myself to be guilted into packing my kids piles of raw veggies, hard boiled eggs, sushi, chicken salad, or other trendy things I know they won’t eat (especially when I’m not there to watch!)

My goal for lunches (both at school AND at home) is to get my kids excited about eating, provide lots of fun options they will eat quickly, and to fill their bellies until dinner time (or at least until their mid-afternoon snack!)

If that means they get a fair amount of processed junk food, then that’s what it means. 

Last year, several parents from Nora’s class mentioned the fact that their kids had all talked about how “Nora always gets candy in her lunch” and “Nora’s mom packs ‘good food’ in her lunch, and “Nora always has fun lunches”… I just smiled and nodded, because that was my goal for her lunches!

I just want my kid to eat their lunch and move on with their day. Period!

I dislike wasted food, I dislike unnecessary battles with my kids, and I dislike crabby kids who are hungry after school because they didn’t eat enough.

Fun lunches is my simple solution to all of this!

What is your philosophy on school lunches (or kids’ food in general)?

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Filed under: FamilyFoodMeal PlanningMisc.ChildrenHealth

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64 comments

  1. Karina

    09/23/2018

    Hi Andrea,
    Enjoyed your post about fun lunches! Would you consider doing a Planetbox giveaway? I am sure many of us parents would love one or more of them. Keep up the good work!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks Karina,
    At this point, I only work with companies who will pay me to write a sponsored post (and provide the products for the giveaway)… and unfortunately, PlanetBox is not willing to do that right now.

    [Reply]

  2. Tina

    09/12/2018

    I was in love with those lunch boxes until you said $80! I almost choked on my water!

    I wish things didn’t cost so much now a days. It’s so hard to keep up or even make things easier on yourself when you can’t afford to. But then I remind myself that my mom survived getting our lunches together without all that and it’s fine.

    That’s why I like you blog though Andrea. You have a variety of price points. That helps out all of us in all economic situations and we can pick and choose what info would work for us.

    Thanks for all your hard work!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    I know, they are pricey — BUT several others mentioned less expensive alternatives in the comments.
    here’s some disposable ones (you could probably reuse them a few times if you washed them by hand) that are very frugal (21 for only $13)

    [Reply]

  3. Stephanie

    09/11/2018

    Hi Andrea, My ten year old daughter knows that I read your blog every day. This morning, on our way to our homeschool co-op, I commented that as part of her lunch I had included a piece of candy. I told her that I read that you include candy in your daughter’s lunch. She replied “Thank you, Andrea Dekker!!!” :-). Just wanted to let you know that we both appreciate you!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    awww… thanks for sharing this Stephanie! Glad she got her candy today 🙂

    [Reply]

  4. Julie

    09/04/2018

    I totally agree with this! My kids pack their own lunches, but we have the same types of options available for them. I volunteered during snack and lunch at my kids’ school for years, and I can’t tell you how much perfectly good food was thrown away! It was super depressing. I feel like if my kids are packing what they want for lunch, then they’ll eat it. Frankly, I’d much rather them eat a compromise lunch than throw away healthier foods and still be hungry. We’ll cover the healthy foods at home.

    [Reply]

  5. Paula

    09/01/2018

    I’m a Registered Dietitian and I love this post. Too many parents limit foods because of the nutritional craziness of our society. I believe Ellyn Satter, a dietitian and a social worker, has the BEST advice on feeding kids, and this goes right along with that. Thank you so much for this, my kids will love you for it and I’m happy to see you share such sound food advice.

    For more info about Satter’s principles I’ll share her website, but I’m in no way affiliated with her. I just love her research, sound advice and common sense tips. https://www.ellynsatterinstitute.org/

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks for that link Paula (and for your words of encouragement)!

    [Reply]

  6. lyss

    08/31/2018

    Yes! I find myself spending a bit more and buying “junkier” foods than I would like, but if I don’t, my kids don’t eat much. The only thing I don’t do is send dessert. Mine get more than enough sugar with granola bars, yogurt, etc. They aren’t supposed to have candy at school unless it’s a party day. I need to do even better about healthier breakfasts and dinners. If they won’t eat veggies at school, well, I’ll serve them with dinner. : )

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Yes, my kids really like carrots and cucumbers, so they usually get a few of those at lunch, but otherwise, we always have at least 1 or 2 different veggies at dinner, and I often sneak spinach, onions, and even peppers into their breakfast (mixing them in with eggs or into a smoothie) so I feel like I’m doing OK 🙂

    [Reply]

  7. Jenny

    08/31/2018

    I love this post and I’m an adult with no kids! I take my lunch to work most days and work downtown with means there are tons of options if come lunchtime I don’t won’t to eat my lunch. I find taking “fun” lunches means I’m happy to eat what I brought and am not tempted to go out. Adding a few fancy ingredients peps up a plain “whatever” I like sun dried tomatoes, dried seaweed flakes, or some fancier versions of pasta. I also make my own lunchables sometimes.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    haha — yes, I like to splurge a little for lunch now and then too 🙂

    [Reply]

  8. Janiina

    08/31/2018

    Hi from a longtime reader! We are not in making-lunches-stage yet 🙂 I just wanted to leave you a wish for a post topic. I had my first children, twin girls, 6.5 months ago. I would love if you wrote about how you found more contentment as a mother. I remember you writing that you now find lot of fulfillment being a mother but that it took long time etc. I have always wish to have children but these first six months have been a total shock to me and I struggle to see future positively even though I am so grateful to have my girls. I would love to read how your process was like.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Hi Janiina! So happy to have you reading for such a long time — and congrats on the new babies!

    I really don’t want to sound like a downer, but I’d say give yourself a few years (and yes, I know that sounds so far away right now). I really didn’t find much fulfillment in motherhood until after James was born (Nora was 3.5 and just finally starting to sleep through the night).

    Of course, your situation might be totally different than mine!

    I’d suggest reading this post (and maybe consider talking with your doctor about anti-depressants meds). I was on a SUPER LOW DOSE for about 2 months and it made a world of difference. Seriously, I can’t even explain it!

    [Reply]

  9. Veronica

    08/31/2018

    We are currently switching between cold and hot lunches from home. On cold lunch days, I use the Ziplock 3 compartment plastic containers(which are leakproof by the way!) and sometimes fill them with a veggie(usually carrots and ranch)/yogurt with granola, always a fruit for the smaller compartments. I use the silicone cupcake cups to divide the large compartment if I have to to put homeade lunchable stuff like crackers, deli meat, cheese, etc. Sometimes I put something sweet like a cookie or muffin, etc for dessert. I am surprised because often he will request leftovers, which I will heat up in the morning and put in a thermos. Then I’ll just pack him fruit and side snacks in smaller containers. He does order school lunches once or twice a week–he looks at the monthly lunch menu and we choose together lunches for him. Every now and then I remember that the next day or that morning is a school lunch day and I say “Hooray! No packing lunch today!” LOL. It is a nice break for me and I know he usually loves school lunches so it’s a win win! The Planet Box container you use looks amazing and I have a similar one I got a few years ago but it is kind of big and bulky and doesn’t fit in his lunch bags. I wonder if Planet Boxes ever go on sale?! 🙂 Thanks for sharing your school lunch ideas with us!!

    [Reply]

    Beth Reply:

    We use the ziploc containers too. Because I have three and we pack lunches one week at a time. I work outside the home and between homework, dinner, baths/showers, etc, this works for us right now. Also, my boys are getting bigger and need more food. With the ziploc, They can pick one or two ziplocs and /or snacks in their Artic Lunch Bags. We also have and have used Planet Boxes – have 2 different styles. They do occasionally go on sale (usually 15% off but just had a 25% off sale a month ago?). Our oldest PB is 8 years old and going strong.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    good ideas… thanks Beth! And yes, they had a great 25% off sale last month!

    [Reply]

  10. Sarah Clews

    08/30/2018

    Thank thank you for this timely post. I struggled big time last year with trying to pack my daughter healthy things and then she wouldn’t eat them, or wouldn’t eat at all, or would talk about the fun stuff other kids got in their lunches. I feel like you just gave me permission to not die on this hill. 🙂

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    yes Sarah… don’t “die on this hill!”
    We require the kids to try at least 2 bites of everything we make for breakfast and dinner (which rarely is anything crazy, so they usually eat just fine) but for lunch, when I’m not there to insist they eat it, I just want foods they will eat quickly and well!

    [Reply]

  11. Samantha

    08/30/2018

    Wow, I am really surprised at the amount of Peanut products you are all allowed to send to the school…here in Canada (Ontario) our school boards prohibit any foods “that contain or may contain peanuts or tree nuts”….and as the mom of a 5 year old child with an anaphylactic peanut allergy, I’m really glad this rule exists!(some peace of mind while he’s at school)

    [Reply]

    Megan Reply:

    I thought the same thing! Here in the states each school has their own rules about it. My 5 year old son also has a severe peanut allergy and though the school itself isn’t nut free, his teacher and the nurse have declared his particular classroom to be a nut free zone. His food allergy was my number one concern with him attending school, so I agree, having school staff put those measures in place eases my anxiety so much.

    [Reply]

    Katie Reply:

    In the US, it really depends on the district for the rules – some have designated nut-free classrooms, some have designated tables in the cafeteria for kids with allergies, etc. Our little school currently has no one with allergies so we are free to send anything.

    [Reply]

  12. Nicole

    08/30/2018

    I like the ziploc divided lunch containers. I found them on amazon and ordered a bunch. Less than $5 for two of them so I don’t feel to bad throwing one out if the cover gets warped in the dishwasher. the large area is big enough for a sandwich and the smaller two areas I use for pretzels and a fruit or veggie

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    yes, I saw those on Amazon too — great price! The kids seem to like more variety than just 3 things, so our boxes with 5 and 6 containers work well for us — but I could see yours working well for an adult!

    [Reply]

  13. Leslie

    08/30/2018

    My second grader volunteered to take over making her lunches this year. She makes a PB&J, carrot sticks, a fruit and an item from the candy jar (usually a hershey kiss). She then buys milk at school.
    She also loves the pizza lunchables (yuck) so she gets that on a Friday. I stock up when they go on sale for $1 every 8 weeks or so.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    that’s awesome she can make her own lunches already!! And yes, the pizza lunchables are SO nasty to me (like cardboard) but they are Nora’s “favorite” so she gets them every now and then. I also stock up when they go on sale 🙂

    [Reply]

  14. Kelly K

    08/30/2018

    What a great post, Andrea! I love these types of lunch boxes! I wish I still had some elementary aged kids that would justify me buying one! My middle/high schoolers wouldn’t indulge me sending them to school with these, though. 🙁

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    haha — yeah, I figure if Nora uses her’s for a few more years, she can pass it down to Clara once Clara is in school and it’s no longer “cool” for Nora to use her Bento Box! I’ll enjoy it while it lasts though!

    [Reply]

  15. Michelle

    08/30/2018

    I think bento boxes are fabulous for all your mentioned reasons…AND better for the environment. I noticed your lunches are mostly ‘no waste’ lunches. It’s a great way for kids to see their family’s choices making a difference. You never know how those simple things will impact their decisions later! Great job mama!!

    [Reply]

  16. Kellie Denton

    08/30/2018

    What a FANTASTIC post! Thanks Andrea! Also I’ve been looking into this Planet Box for a while now and you’ve encouraged me to pull the trigger.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    we really do love the Planet Box system. Hope you love yours too!

    [Reply]

  17. Pixie508

    08/30/2018

    I have a system for lunches, and basically, my kid gets the exact same thing daily, but variety

    -a mini water bottle and a juice box (drinks one for lunch, one for snack)
    -fruit (usually an apple, but sometimes grapes, strawberries, or clementine depending on season)
    -veggie (carrot sticks, cherry tomatoes, or if we had bell pepper or cucumber the night before, I’ll slice some extra for lunches the next day)
    – yogurt/granola bar/cheese stick – some kind of snack
    – “crunchy thing” – pretzels, gold fish, veggie straws, pirates booty -whatever is on hand
    -sandwich (either pb&j or ham &cheese) – once a week I allow them to pick the hot entree
    -dessert – something small and sweet. I buy a variety pack at Costco, so I just pick something and throw it in (or if I’ve made cookies or something they may get that).

    By basically packing the same basic things daily, it makes life easier. I also have a little drawer system I refill from our downstairs pantry area weekly. So I bring up enough things for the week, and throw them up in my little drawer system, so in the evening I just pull what I need. I have a little spot in the fridge for my premade/packaged up stuff, and in the morning I just toss it all, along w/ an ice pack, in lunch boxes 🙂

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    sounds like a good system!

    [Reply]

  18. Debby

    08/30/2018

    I am way past the packing lunches stage but when my son was in elementary school his teacher sent a note home saying he was the only child that brought cucumbers and tomatoes for his snack. He loved them and as a grown man, he still does. Whatever works.

    [Reply]

    Jen Reply:

    Our oldest daughter (now 26) requested cherry tomatoes for a reward when she was potty training! Why anyone would turn down M&Ms for a cherry tomato is beyond me, but I was happy to oblige in return for a potty trained 2 year old! 🙂

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    that’s awesome! Mine are not tomato lovers — but it took me until I was an adult to really come to enjoy tomatoes (Now I love them! )

    [Reply]

  19. Crista

    08/30/2018

    I’ve tried the Bento containers before, but they didn’t work well for our family (4 kids who need school lunches). I didn’t like washing all of the compartments and I couldn’t put their snack (to be eaten at recess) in the box without them having to open the box and take the snack out for recess. Seems kind of complicated. I think I might have liked the Planet boxes better!

    This year, I’m pretty happy with our system. I purchased lunch-sized glass containers with plastic snap covers this year. Every evening, I make more of our evening meal than we can eat….then I pack the leftovers for my kids’ lunches. The kids can heat their food in the microwave at school. If they’re not excited about having the evening meal again, they can pick a variation: for instance, last night we had Asain Chicken/Veggies over rice…..one wanted the chicken alone and added a tomato on the side for his meal at school.

    So far, the system has worked wonderfully! I realize glass containers might break, but they’ve held up well so far. Also, I realize that not every kid likes reheated leftovers for lunch, but my kids would choose leftovers over a sandwhich. Saves money and gives them good food every day!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    I’m actually going to be talking about how we do school snacks next week… because you’re right, I don’t want her opening her planet box to get her snack out and risk spilling everything. We have a fun system for snacks too 🙂
    Also, the Planet boxes are WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAY easier to wash than any other bento box I’ve tried. They wash up perfectly and are completely dry via our dishwasher’s quick cycle. No other plastic or glass-style bebto box has been so easy for me!

    [Reply]

  20. JJ

    08/30/2018

    My grandma said chocolate was a vegetable. I just go with that! Ha! I taught in Christian schools before having kids. Well I had a Catholic student. To me, candy is something like Starbursts, Skittles, etc. Chocolate is different and much better(in my opinion–haha!). So I was giving my students an M&M as a reward. Well. One kid said, I can’t have that. It’s candy. I gave up candy for lent. I assured him it was fine, because chocolate is different. His sweet but firm Catholic mom came in the next day and told me her son told her he had chocolate but not to worry. It isn’t candy. She told me. “It says on the bag, ‘Chocolate coated candies!'” #teacherfail And that’s what this post made me think of! Haha! Her lunches look about what I serve my kids!!! Except we are dairy free due to allergies!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    haha!!! Love this story. And yes, I do sort of consider chocolate to be in a league of it’s own. It’s more filling and satisfying than candy!

    [Reply]

  21. Paulette

    08/30/2018

    I just love the way you think!

    [Reply]

  22. Jen

    08/30/2018

    Love this! I always made sure my kids’ lunches were enjoyable for the same reason: I just wanted them to eat! I always snicker at the moms who insist on lunches they know their children won’t enjoy (or won’t cut off the crusts!). Don’t they realize the food is either getting thrown away or traded? And the kids just eat around the crusts, which they then throw away! I’m very grateful to be past the lunch packing stage–and my kids all packed their own lunches after dinner each night (with supervision, of course!) from the time they were in 4th grade or so–but if I were still packing lunches, those Bento boxes would be coming to live with me!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    exactly! I was the “lunch mom” 2 times last year and there was SOOOOOOO much wasted food. I asked Nora if she ever threw her food away and she assured me she just put anything she didn’t eat back into her lunch box (which is almost always empty when she gets home). So I’m thinking we’re doing OK over here!

    [Reply]

    Pixie508 Reply:

    On the rare occasion my older son doesn’t finish something, he always puts it back in his lunch box, and almost always eats it in the car on the way home… so I can’t complain about that!

    [Reply]

  23. jen

    08/30/2018

    i have a question on the bread stating fresh and not getting hard using these boxes without being wrapped up. i really hate wasting sandwich bags daily so i bought the reusable sandwich and snack bags for myself. i find chips don’t go stale or soggy in those, but when i pack a sandwich the bread gets hard. i started wrapping a paper towel around the sandwich before putting it into the bag and that seems to work. i have wanted to ask how the bread stays fresh in these boxes?

    [Reply]

    Jen Reply:

    I wondered about this too! Also, it looks like each compartment doesn’t have a lid, so how do you keep things from spilling over? I assume the jello will “melt” a bit if it’s not in the fridge all morning. When Nora picks up her lunch box, do things not seep into the other compartments?

    [Reply]

    Katie Reply:

    The boxes have a large lid, and while typically not on the metal boxes, but the plastic ones have gaskets on the individual sections lids that seal off each compartment.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    yes, the boys’ boxes are completely spill-proof (even for liquidy items) as they have plastic gaskets in the lid of the compartments. Nora’s box (which I actually like better) isn’t 100% spill-proof, but the lid closet tightly on the box and prevents food from moving around. It also comes with the 2 sealed round containers if I’m packing something very liquidy (yogurt, pickles, ranch dip, etc.)
    There is an ice pack in the lid of the bag which keeps things cold — we’ve never an issue of spilling or leaking (knock on wood!)

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    nope, not stale at all. I’ve even tried it myself as a test. In fact, one time last year, a mom brought in pizza for the class so she saved her lunch for the next day. I was sort of grossed out by that, but she said her sandwich was fine 🙂

    [Reply]

    Beth Reply:

    You can use the Press and Seal wrap on the individual compartments to help seal them from other compartments on the Planet Boxes.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    this is SO smart — I use press ‘n seal for so many things but never thought to use it on the Planet Boxes — thanks so much!

    [Reply]

  24. Katie

    08/30/2018

    I utilize a lot of ideas from the blog – 100 Days of Real Food – for our school lunches. I don’t do anything special as far as shapes or notes – just not my priority.

    My son definitely is affected behavior-wise from certain foods, so we do have to focus on whole grains and protein, and limit the amount of added sugars. I typically make a batch of something on the weekend, like peanut butter scones, pumpkin muffins, or power balls that can be frozen and are easy to throw in, along with slicing up fruits and veggies. Common lunches for him might be:

    Lara Bar, celery sticks with peanut butter, yogurt, fruit
    Leftover cooked chicken (cold), with lettuce and cucumber slices, orange slices, cranberry nut bread
    Homemade quick bread of any type with cream cheese, trail mix, string cheese, berries
    Hot lunches that go in a thermos like tomato bisque or mac & cheese, with a various assortment of raw veggies that he will eat (typically cucumber, celery, grape tomatoes, broccoli) and some fruit

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Your lunches sound AMAZING! Can you pack MY lunch 🙂

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    Katie Reply:

    I do pack my lunch at the same time I pack his, with generally the same stuff 😉

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    Andrea Reply:

    haha — well then you have amazing lunches for yourself too 🙂

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  25. Annette Silveira

    08/30/2018

    I love everything about this post. I’ve been in lunchrooms and seen the waste that occurs. If your kids eat everything you send, keep it up, Mama.

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    Paulette Reply:

    Ditto!

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    Andrea Reply:

    exactly… as long as she’s eating and not wasting food or going hungry, I’m good with that!

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  26. Kerri

    08/30/2018

    My son is in a special needs pre-k this year and qualifies for a free lunch. So I have been letting him eat there. If they are serving something he doesn’t like, he can ask for a cheese sandwich (which is what I always packed anyway).

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    Andrea Reply:

    wow — that’s awesome that he can get a free lunch every day. So much less work for you!

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  27. Jamie

    08/30/2018

    We homeschool now so lunches aren’t a big deal at our house. We have sandwiches and fruit a couple days/week and the other days I try to have something hot like mac & cheese, bagel pizza, tacos, etc. Something quick I can make in between lessons but something different. I was a classroom teacher before I had kids and let me tell you, the lunches above look pretty healthy compared to most of the lunches I saw the kids bring or buy from the cafeteria. It looks like you follow your rule of moderation in their lunches. I do occasionally make a bento style lunch for my kids. Nothing fancy, simple like yours above but they always talk about it for days. I need to remember to do it more often. Thanks for the cute ideas. 🙂

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    Andrea Reply:

    yes, this sounds like what we do at home too. We just have sandwiches, fruit, veggies, chips… and then a hot lunch a couple times a week. The kids are already looking forward to mac and cheese + hot dogs tomorrow as Nora will be home from school for the holiday weekend 🙂
    And yes, they all LOVE the bento-style lunches. so easy to make their day!

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