School Lunches

It’s that time of year again. The kids are going back to school and need to pack a lunch. Daily. They get very bored and tired of sandwiches. What do you send your kids for lunches to keep it varied and interesting, not to mention nutritious?

ETA – they have no access to microwave at school, nor hot water.

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  1. Mark says:

    We give them things like Mac&cheese. Purchased some stainless thermoses ( ) and use them a few times a week. Sometimes we give them a small tub of cream cheese or peanut butter and some veggies/crackers to dip/spread. And today, as I glance to my left, my wife is giving them each a small applesauce as well. I think they take a sandwich only an average of about once a week. And we include lots of snacks as the school day is quite long.

    • HSaboMilner says:

      i like those thermoses. wish they had a clippy thing to attach to lunch bag or school bag. i can see them getting lost….

      • Mark says:

        But you would have to get ones with a “boy” design rather than a pink girly design :-)

        • lunch says:

          I used thermoses for a few years at school, but I did not like it.

          1) you had to mix everything together
          2) it had a dreadful smell when you opened it
          3) the food was not really warm, lukewarm at best.

          I think the microwave or something with hot water is waaaaay better option.

          • lunch says:

            PS: but couscous (outside the thermos) with a hot (or lukewarm) meat sauce from the thermos might be a good idea…

          • lunch says:

            Well, all things considered, a thermos might be a good idea, but you have to consider carefully what you can put in (no potatos).

            I mean: leftover chulent might be quite tasty lukewarm, if you pour it on some quinoa or rice or couscous you take cold in a separate tray…

          • Rubyv says:

            We preheat the thermos by pouring in boiling water and closing for ten minutes. Her food stays quite toasty. I always have tea or cafe in the am so the kettle is already on

          • lunch says:

            Well, perhaps thermoses have improved since my schooldays. But try it once yourself when she does not need the thermos.

          • Rubyv says:

            I have and do pack food for me in the thermose. As a broke full time college student I take my lunch with me to campus. The food stays very warm, unlike the crappy ones of my childhood

          • Mark says:

            lunch – you had to mix everything together

            What do you mean “everything”? We usually send only one warm food in a lunch. Like mac n cheese for example. No terrible smell, and yes, it’s only lukewarm by lunchtime, but they like it that way for the most part.

            Just remembered that we sometimes send a salad in a covered dish and a small tub of salad dressing.

          • lunch says:

            Oh, hamburgers sound like a very good idea, because they are really tasty when they are lukewarm. Same goes for rice and beans, I suppose.

            No, I used to take the leftovers of the evening before, this might be:

            boiled meat, spinach, potatoes (do not try potatoes, it’s awfull. Better to make a tomato salad on the side)

            chicken with rice
            sausage with sauerkraut and those infamous potatoes again
            gulash with rice or spaetzle, all mixed together for 4 hours…

  2. My kids are both on their schools’ cafeteria meal plans. I’m not the best person to answer this; my mom’s fear of botulism meant years of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, because she figured those would be okay until lunch time without refrigeration. Now we have those lovely blue ice packs and insulated lunch bags, but I have no creativity when it comes to school lunches!

    • HSaboMilner says:

      i looked at the menus – not much that my children would eat. not that they are that picky, but…

      I took peanut butter every day for years….

      • Hadass Eviatar says:

        Peanut butter is banned at my kids’ school due to allergies. My kids are very picky and not into variety, so I just pack a whole-wheat bagel with butter, fruit, fake bologna, maybe a boiled egg or cheese, and of course snacks. We use the insulated lunch bags with ice packs, works well.

  3. G6 says:

    Take a large tortilla wrap (we like the sundried tomato flavor, but any will work).
    Prepare in a small fry pan an omelet with cheese – BUT DO NOT FOLD.
    Flip it on to the wrap (perfect fit ;) ) and roll up.
    Ta Da!!!
    Egg and cheese wrap.
    Delicious and nutritious.

    • HSaboMilner says:

      they will eat that cold??

      • Mark says:

        Boys? Boys will eat anything … cold or not :-)

        Do they have a microwave in their lunchroom?

      • G6 says:

        I myself have eaten this cold and it’s still delicious.
        They can even add their own “toppings” and it takes only minutes to prepare in the morning.

        • lunch says:

          Sounds very tasty.

          And wraps are a good suggestion in general (with tuna, salad, sweet corn, tomatoes, cresses, cream cheese & dill, etc, etc).

          I suppose you could give them the exact same thing, one day as a salad and the next day in a wrap, and they would not even notice it is the same…

  4. lady lock and load says:

    Why won’t you ask them what they would like, make a list of ideas and menus and list of ingredients and then have them make their own lunches.

    • HSaboMilner says:

      oh i did – but they are not nutritious choices, nor cheap. i cannot send smoked turkey on rye everyday, nor hot dogs…..

      • lunch says:

        I think hot dogs are quite OK, if you send a box of raw veggies or a salad with it.

        Personally, I do not like those cold sausages, so I prefer to make my hotdogs when I have to catch a train around noon. I make them with whole wheat, very yummy bread.

        Generally, I think it is preferable to give them meat/sausage, especially when they come home late, because it really does fill up better & for a longer time.

        I took veggie lunches (with fish) for a few years, and I always had a feeling of not having eaten properly, until I discovered that meat was the best way to go on a long day. Plus hot drink (or soup). This also makes a huge difference.

        Oh, and chewing on veggies (like carrots or raddish) also makes a difference. Apparently, it takes some time and a certain amount of chewing moves to feel satiated.

        (hot milk is also very good to fight hunger, but I do not know whether they have access to it at school, and you cannot put milk in a thermos)

        efficient in fighting the hunger (add to it that they are adolescent boys).

      • lady lock and load says:

        Costco carries kosher smoked turkey and other lunchtime meats very reasonable. If they eat a decent lunch then you won’t have to spend so much on the chips, cookies and snacks. a good sandwhich that they enjoy might save you money in the long run.

  5. judit says:

    that’s a tough one. and of course i guess there is no way for them to reheat the meal, so any cooked, hot dish is probably out. i found this website, even though the meals are not necessarily kosher, i think all of them can be revised to be kosher. i hope this helps.

  6. Rubyv says:

    Second attempt.

    We use the cookbook and blog the vegan lunchbox for ideas. We use thermoses for pasta with sauce or soup. She is six and has never lost any lun h items. We send leftovers. We do sandwich fixings with crackers or pita wedges for build your own. All lunches have fruit and veg. She is beginning to take responsibility under my supervision. We have the added challenge of severe food allergy but still do yummy lunches. Sometimes as a treat I pack a bit of paerve chocolate spread.

    We do a lot of vegan cream cheese combos as well. Sometimes I make pizza bagels at the beginning of the week and freeze. We often do prep for multiple meals early on.

    The Pixie has learned what is and is not acceptable and that I rarely veto since I am clear about what she can work with.

  7. lunch says:

    Not so long ago, I bought a rectangular microwave tray with subdivisions (a square that is exactely half of the tray and to times the quarter of the tray).

    I found it quite inspiring to prepare my lunch, and also coincides with dietary recommandations: fill 1/4 of your plate with proteins, 1/4 with carbohydrates, 1/2 with vegetables/salad. And it looks quite nice.

    So here are a few suggestions how you could fill such a tray:

    For the carbohydrate part:

    - your excellent quinoa salad
    - taboulet (couscous) (personally, I do not like it so much ’cause it’s quite dry. It has to go with a sauce)
    -potato salad
    -chickpea salad (with artichoke hearts and olives)
    -cassava, (cut into cubes or rasp, cook them like potatoes, fry)
    -zucchini&potatoe kugel (rasp zucchini& potatoes, add eggs, a bit flour, bake)

    For the protein part:
    Are you allowed meat?
    - Schnitzel (special note: replace breadcrumbs with coco rasp for variety)
    - chicken cutlet with apricot jam (fry cutlet, put apricot jam & italian herbs, simmer a few minutes)
    -smoked meat
    -smoked salmon
    -tuna burgers
    -scrambled eggs (although I’d rather put them on a sandwich, with fresh basilic)
    -tzatziki (yoghurt with cucumbers and garlick)
    -cream cheese/yoghurt etc

    -fried pumpkin with garlick & fresh peppermint
    -sweet corn
    -red beetroot
    & different kinds of raw vegetables:
    salad leaves (if you want dressing, put it right before eating, otherwise it becomes squashy)
    baby tomatoes
    carrots (put a bit of water with cucumber and carrots, so they will not dry out)
    carrot salad
    waldorf salad (celery, walnuts, apples
    Plus some fruit:
    - water melon (in cubes)
    -pineapple (in cubes)
    -mango (in cubes)
    -coconut (in cubes)
    and the usual apples, pears, etc…

    Here are a few additional suggestions:

    Sushi (with smoked salmon, not the raw one), or avocado or all kinds of vegetables.
    (Accompany with pickled ginger and wasabi)

    Spinach-burgers: take spinach, season, mix with raw eggs, fry in a pan
    accompany with sweet corn & crakers
    (you can also do the same thing based on different vegetables like broccoli (yummy) or leak.

    Make pizza dough, buy mini-alu-baking-tins (plates), have them fill the pizza as they like (I would recommend not to take cheese, unless they can heat them up in the microwave. Cold molten cheese is not tasty and very heavy on the stomach)
    - tomato & tuna
    - leach & egg
    - spinach
    They can take several of those & salad/raw vegetables

    (if eaten cold, it is preferable to choose varieties like tuna, spinach, broccoli, but no cheese. Potato is possible cold but not very tasty. Avoid cheese if you cannot warm up. You also can do a few with chocolade as a dessert)

    Oh, and I almost forgot our swiss specialty:
    Muesli: take oatmeal or oat bran (I prefer bran), mix with milk and yoghurt (or cream), add fresh berries (raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, straberries) and fruit (apple, nectarine, apricot, banana) according to season.

    Of course, if they have a microwave, you can give them whatever you like and they will warm it up.

    Always make sure, if they do not have a microwave, that they have access to a hot drink (i.e. give them a thermos with tea, having something hot in the stomach is very important in order to feel satiated, especially in winter)

  8. fairion says:

    Froggy and I both have a bento style Laptop Lunchbox. The segmenting prompts variety for me when packing. Froggy is not a big fan of sanwiches and only gets a sandwich for lunch maybe once a month. She has left overs frequently and various soft spreads with crackers or veggie sticks . Rice and beans or rice and keem are standards in her lunchbox when there is nothing else that needs a freezer pack because she will eat them at room temp but not chilled. Many kids will eat foods normally served warm at room temperature but not chilled. Something to think about.

    • lunch says:

      I agree: bento boxes are great, and bentos are a great source of inspiration.

      By the way: the japanese always give a cold ball of rice…

  9. lunch says:

    Oh, and here is a nice receipe (for the vegetable tray):

    take carots, eggplants, zucchini in equal quantities, chop to julienne, fry in pan, add a bit of soya sauce.

    It’s delicious, even cold.

    And here is one more:
    take leaks, chop into discs (0,5 cm thik), boil with a bit of water & salt & pepper. Cool down. Add a dash of (not sweet, nor sour) cream… serve cold

  10. le7 says:

    I’m just commenting so I can continue to read everyones great suggestions.

    One thing I really love to have at lunch though is rice and beans. I only have it when I make it for dinner the night before, but my husband loves it too because it is filling, yummy and healthy. I just eat it at room temperature.

    • Rubyv says:

      Beans over kasha are delish. Jewrican cooking at it’s finest. I am not a fan of cold plantains though. Actually you can use your standard Latino beans on lots of lunches over a few days.

    • Mark says:

      le7 – One thing I really love to have at lunch though is rice and beans.

      Oh, I completely forgot, but our kids get rice and beans often, at least once a week. They love it!

  11. Lisa says:

    Dass, Caleb is pretty picky, but he likes those lunchables, which are way too expensive, so we make our own. He doesn’t mind eating lukewarm chicken nuggets or soups. We also cut thick squares of lunch meat and cheese, add some crackers and raw veggies (which I kinda doubt he eats because I have to prod him to eat at home) and he’s been good so far. We also heat up ravioli or mac n cheese for his thermos. As long as it stays a little warm, he’s good. He did complain that it was cold once this week. I just heated everything up a little hotter the next day. I haven’t tried it yet, but I’m also going to pack him items to build a little cold pizza, like they sell in the lunchables at the store. He seems excited about that.

  12. Lisa says:

    Oh, and I almost forgot his favorite thing. I buy those MooTubes, which are tubes of yogurt, and I freeze them, then pop them in his lunchbox right before leaving, and by the time he’s ready for lunch, he’s got cold yogurt. :)

  13. Mara says:

    I think your kids are older than mine, but I recently wrote about this topic on my blog as well (linked in my name). After just 2.5 weeks of packing lunches, I’m already experiencing burn out. I got some good suggestions (love the fruit and cheese kabob idea) from my readers… although “lunch” had such amazing ideas, I don’t know if you need to read anywhere else!

    • HSaboMilner says:

      i love the fruit and cheese kabob idea…..but my boychiks would be not go for it. So far I havent had to pack any lunches, just snacks, but i had the boys write down for me what they wanted, and we shall see just how creative Ima feels like being at 6 in the morning…..

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