It Takes a Village to Pack a Lunch – 2011 Edition

So, it’s Day Four of the Houston ISD school year and, yes, I’m already looking for some lunch box packing inspiration.  Uh oh!  :-)

Based on feedback from The Lunch Tray’s Facebook page, I know I’m not alone in despairing in front of those empty lunch boxes each morning, so I thought I’d bring back a feature I ran last fall called “It Takes a Village to Pack a Lunch.”

In the first post of that series, I and other TLT readers shared our go-to lunch entrees, especially ones that are a little “outside the box.”  You can find all those great suggestions here (although many of mine are out of date for my own kids, as old favorites have since been deemed unacceptable – don’t you just hate that?).   You’re certain to pick up at least a few new entree ideas after perusing everyone’s comments.

But wait, there’s more!

In the coming days, I’ll be sharing a few more posts to help you out:  a round-up of blogs and websites with helpful lists and recipes for healthy packed lunches; a guest blog post from Bri of Red, Round or Green that will get you “pumped up to pack” (plus her super-creative list of ideas for kids who need to go gluten- or grain-free);  a healthy muffin recipe from The Simply Wholesome Kitchen that can serve as a quick breakfast, a school lunch item or an after-school snack; a free lunch menu subscription give-away from MOMables, and more.

We’re all in this together, people, so let’s get packing!


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  1. Courtney says

    We call them Stackers sandwiches. I pack 3-4 Stackers for my 8 yr old, and only 1-2 for my 4 yr old. Basically a tiny sandwich using different crackers instead of bread, and creative tasty ingredients (a spread + filler) that go well together. Replaces regular sandwich. I still send a couple of “sides.”

    * Red Plum or Strawberry preserves on Saltine w/ slice of Havarti, Swiss or other white cheese
    * PB on Nilla Wafers w/ Banana slice
    * Cream Cheese on Ritz w/ Cherry Tomato slice and oregano/basil sprinkles
    * Apricot preserves on Hazelnut Nut-Thins with apple slice
    * Pesto on Favorite cracker with cheeses and tomato

    Also serve these spreads+fillers as fancy Bagelwich on mini-bagels if no crackers.
    “Fun Rice” brown rice with pineapple, veggies, soy sauce, coconut milk, PB, garlic etc. to taste. Could also use Asian noodles.
    “Magic Dip” is secretly vanilla yogurt w/ cinnamon sprinkles. For baby carrots, celery, red bell pepper, crackers, pretzel rods, fruit chunks, etc.
    Frozen Smoothies – made WAY ahead, freeze pureed fruit (mixed with yogurt if you like) in used, cleaned yogurt cups. Cover with saran seal wrap. Use popsicle stick. Will thaw in lunch pack to smoothie consistency. Kids stir and spoon-eat with popsicle stick .
    Other fun ideas: Buy party-theme plastic toothpicks (football, palm trees, halloween, etc.) to send as utensil for them to pick up fruit chunks, etc.

    • Bettina Elias Siegel says

      My mother also gave me lunch on crackers – every single day! I could not get enough of PB on crackers and to this day consider it a sublime combination. :-)

  2. says

    My kids get fairly picky when it comes to lunch (that and they’d rather play outside). I typically pack sunflower seed butter and jelly sandwiches, a piece of fruit or maybe a fruit leather, simply gogurt yogurt tube, and 100% juice or h20. I wish they’d eat more exciting things. Occasionally, I will pack pasta and sauce, and I’d like to pick up a few thermal container so I can send soup.

    For kids with food allergies, check out this awesome cookbook:–Gluten-Free/dp/1402771851/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1314302704&sr=1-1 There are tons of great lunch and treat ideas.


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