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Anyone that knows me personally knows I am not just saying that. One of the biggest reasons I started Raising Generation Nourished was to show parents that it is do-able to feed kids in a fun, nourished, real food way. And that these kids are worth feeding nutrient dense, real food that will fuel them for their busy day of learning.
I think we would all agree at this point that what goes into our kids’ bodies for meal time affects how well they can concentrate at school.
I hope to show you that lunch packing can compete with the otherwise junk your kids might see around the lunch table at school. When you pack just as yummy lunches in super cool lunch gear, they will be on board. LET THEM HELP YOU. It doesn’t matter how old they are. If they are old enough to be in school, they are old enough to help pick out a piece of fruit for their lunch, wash up a thermos, pick what they want out of the cut up veggie bag, grab a frozen soup out of the freezer to thaw. You get the idea. Make them a part of it.
So this is what I am planning on for lunch gear and packing routine for my kindergartener this year. There are so many great lunch gear options out there – this is what fits for my family and how we do lunch. If you follow my #toddlerlunch #preschoollunch series on Instagram or Facebook at all, you know that about half the week the girls get some sort of soup and/or dinner leftovers, and the other half of the week they will get odds and ends of what some might call a “cold lunch”.
For our style of lunches I needed a couple “hot container” options for soups and leftover dinners – that were also leakproof! I also needed containers that could neatly hold random cold lunch items and also be leak proof (ie – yogurt). I wanted stainless steel and durable – I don’t want to be buying new lunch equipment every year.
And, most importantly, my daughter needs to be able to manipulate all of the lunch gear herself!
- Kid Basix Safe Sporter Stainless Steel Water Bottle :: My main seller on this one was easy to clean. No little parts to take off and wash separate. Easy to use spout, leak proof, and fun colors to choose from. We have actually been using these for travel water for a while and I really like them. I let Chloe pick out a couple new colors so I make sure we have enough to go around since the baby is starting to use them too.
- Steeltainer Stainless Steel Leakproof Deep Container :: This container is big enough to fit quite a few “odds and ends” together but not so big that it doesn’t fit in her lunch bag. She will eat a salad well and it is spacious enough for that topped with chicken and enough room left for her to mix in her dressing without spilling. I got 2 of these because I can see it being used daily and coming home messy and me not getting to the dishes always right away! Leak proof tested by me! And my 5 year old can manipulate the top herself.
- Steeltainer Stainless Steel Snack Container Set (3) :: This is a set of 3 containers that will be used for yogurt or yogurt and granola, or for smaller “odds and ends” that might go with her soup like a piece of cheese and some dried fruit, or a muffin and butter. Leak proof tested by me, and my 5 year old can manipulate the top herself.
- Thermos Brand Stainless Steel Funtainer Thermos (12oz) :: This is the container I plan on for soup or smaller warm portion like homemade mac and cheese or refried beans. It holds about a cup with some room to spare the spilling. Leak proof tested by me and kept a cup of soup warm for about a day! Fun colors and some popular charector images too! My 5 year old can manipulate the top on this one too.
- Thermos Brand Stainless Steel Food Container (16oz) :: This is a bigger food thermos for dinner leftovers like a stir fry with rice, or veggie rice bowls, spaghetti, meatballs and gravy, etc. There will probably be a piece of fruit to go with the dinner leftovers so the bigger container helps hold a bigger portion since that is pretty much the whole lunch. It holds a cup and a half of food with enough room to spare to stir. Leak proof tested by me and kept my dinner warm for about a day! There are a few fun colors to pick from too! My 5 year old can manipulate the top on this one too.
- Stainless Steel Condiment Set (3) :: This will be for dips like peanut butter, guacamole, sour cream, or dressings like Ranch for veggie dipping, or Ceasar for a salad. I will probably be packing some plain chicken here and there and will send along some BBQ sauce, mustard, or ketchup with that. Leakproof tested by me and my 5 year old can manipulate the top.
- LAND’S END LUNCH BAG :: I really wanted a lunch bag that didn’t overwhelm my daughter’s whole backpack, but also one big enough to hold both her morning snack and her lunch. I was pretty impressed with how much I could fit in the bag comfortably including room for her water bottle.
Here’s the deal. I am *not* a morning person. It is bad enough that I have to have her (and her sisters!) in the car by 8:00 (eek!). I don’t want to be packing lunches in the morning.
My plan is to pack her lunch when I’m doing my husband’s meal packing for the next day. Usually right after dinner (or sometimes this happens after the girls go to bed – can we say baby witching hours?!), I pack leftovers for my husband’s work meals (breakfast, lunch, & dinner) for the next day in his travel CrockPot that he can warm at work himself. I have double of most of the containers mentioned above for my daughter, so I can just pull clean ones out and pack Chloe’s lunch right there, and she can help along the way. That way if I haven’t gotten to cleaning her lunch gear from that day, we don’t have to do that extra step if the evening is busy. Anything that needs to be warmed up for a thermos will get a quick warm through in a pot on the stove while I’m getting breakfast ready the next morning. The thermoses keep stuff hot for almost an entire day!
Frozen muffins, energy bars, dried fruit and crispy nuts will be thawed easily by lunchtime. Other “odds & ends” can just be packed up right there while I’m cleaning up dinner – and she can help with those too.
If you aren’t already following, hop on my Instagram or my Facebook page and you will literally see the plates my girls are eating almost daily. Hashtag #raisinggenerationnourished and there are so many ideas there. I will be snapping pictures of Chloe’s lunches in the evening when I pack her stuff up and will most likely be starting a new school lunch packing series with that.
This most definitely isn’t all inclusive. And, unfortunately, for your viewing pleasure, I am not the mom that cuts everything into super cute shapes or designs everyday. I might use a pumpkin cutter on hallween or something but that’s even cutting it close for me! If you like to do that – go for it though! And if this isn’t your style lunch, that’s ok! Find what fits for your family!
- Dinner Leftovers :: Ok, so if you are going to go through the steps of making a real dinner, why not just double it while you have the kitchen a mess already, and then pack leftovers for lunch the next day. Zero thought! It takes a little mind switcheroo to make more at first, but you will get the hang of it fast.
- Crockpot Chickens :: Takes a few minutes to get a couple whole chickens in the crockpot and the meat can be shredded and frozen to quickly pull out for sandwiches, salads, wraps, soups etc. Make chicken nuggets for dinner one night and pack the rest for lunch with some BBQ sauce– to dip at school the next day!
- Salads :: Get some hard boiled eggs in there, raw cheeses, the shredded chicken from above…and most importantly YUMMY DRESSINGS! This post has 5 popular dressings most kids will absolutely devour, and this post has an amazing Caesar dressing that both of my big girls eat right off the spoon.
- Leftovers from pizza night!
- Soup :: So many options here, and most of these soups are so fast to make – you can make a double batch on the weekend and freeze or can the rest.
- “Odds & Ends” ::
- Fruit. I usually get a piece of fruit into my girls lunches everyday – between the soups or salads or dinner leftovers they get plenty of veg. I am planning on packing any variety of fruit and just keeping that a pretty simple, no prep sort of thing. Throw an apple or banana in, thaw out some applesauce we make, take out some dried fruit from our summer picking.
- Sandwiches or wraps. Just watch the ingredients. Since we are a gluten free house and GF bread is not in our budget, I use pancakes for “bread” a LOT and use natural peanut or almond butter and jam, cream cheese and jam, or honey and sunbutter.
- Whole, plain yogurt or raw cheese – if you are dairy free you can do coconut milk yogurt.
- Trail mixes with crispy nuts and dried fruit
- Cut up veg sticks with Ranch dip or hummus.
- Hard boiled eggs
- Guacamole with either safe store bought chips or take a rice tortilla and quick cook it in butter – just like chips!
- Refried beans and sour cream
- Energy bars, Lara Bars or homemade Lara Bars, KIND bars or similar homemade ones
- Banana bread
- Sweet potato muffins
I can’t wait for you to experience how worth it this is.
To know your kids are nourished and fueled for a jam packed rest of the day of learning.
To know you are teaching them the importance of it all…
Because you know…they are watching. They are learning. Teaching them that it matters what they put in their bodies is invaluable.
Talk to me! Tell me your school lunch packing plans! I am obviously in a season of little ones – those of you seasoned real food parents with older kids tell us how the lunch packing routine goes for you!
This post was shared at Fat Tuesday!