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Lunchbox Winners

180 school days. That's the number of lunches times two that I'm packing between last week and June. And if my kids had their way, the types of foods in their bags might total about a handful.

While some of us are old hands at packing lunch every day, higher food costs that have hit school lunch trays may be driving even more families to pack their kids' lunches. Plus, who couldn't use a few new lunch ideas, particularly ones that are both healthy and get eaten?

Here are some easy ideas:

1. Peanut butter and jelly. Alternatives: Soy butter and sunflower butter can easily substitute, as can honey or bananas for the jelly.

2. Tortilla wraps. Anything that can go on a sandwich can also be used for a wrap that you can cut into small circles. For instance, turkey, cheese, and fresh spinach leaves, or cream cheese and salmon, or leftover chicken and avocado, or egg salad. Get creative and let the kids pick the filling.

3. Cut-up fruit and veggies: Fill small containers with whatever's in season: grapes, watermelon, cantaloupe, apples. When packing berries, dry them off first, so they don't turn to mush. Baby carrots, celery, cucumbers, green beans, cherry tomatoes and peas are easy, quick lunchbox additions.

4. Veggies and hummus.

5. Cracker sandwiches. Anything you put on regular bread can be broken up and made miniature. Use whole grain crackers to keep it healthy.

6. Frozen drinks. Silver Spring mom Liz Gayaldo, who also puts smiley faces on sandwiches and uses cookie cutters to make shapes or press designs into bread, says she freezes a juice box to keep the rest of the lunch cold and it thaws by lunch. You can also freeze small bottles of water.

7. Whole grain pretzels or popcorn: If your child just needs that crunch, try these instead of bagged chips.

8. Pasta. Make extra on pasta night and immediately pack the leftovers into lunch-sized containers.

9. Edamame. We make a Whole Foods' brand bag of edamame in the pods nearly every week for our 4-year-old vegetarian and a few handfuls pack nicely into lunch. For even more convenience, Seapoint Farms now makes snack-sized packets of soybeans, both in pods and shelled.

10. Soups or stews. If your child will eat these at home, pack them in a thermos for school.

What are some other pack-and-go lunch ideas that you turn to regularly?

By Stacey Garfinkle |  September 8, 2008; 7:00 AM ET  | Category:  Elementary Schoolers , Preschoolers , Teens , Tweens
Previous: TV, the French and Common Sense | Next: 'I Do' With Kids in Tow

Comments


"What are some other pack-and-go lunch ideas that you turn to regularly?"

None. My kids qualify for the free breakfast, free lunch, and free snack programs at school and after school.

Posted by: No problem | September 8, 2008 7:18 AM | Report abuse

I have a feeling there's going to be a lot of snarkery today. Don't know why; just have that feeling.

On topic: make a batch of "treats" - cookies, bars, whatever - on the weekend or at night, and put a few in each lunch.

Granola bars can also go over well.

And just wait until they get to middle school, when lunch not only has to be something they like, it has to be "cool." The kid with the Tupperware/Rubbermaid container full of veggies gets harassed big time, with the result that they'll "forget" their lunches or just hide them in their locker and not eat.

Posted by: ArmyBrat | September 8, 2008 7:38 AM | Report abuse

Great post, ArmyBrat!! Have you considered running for political office?

Posted by: My poms are fluffed & ready to go! | September 8, 2008 7:46 AM | Report abuse

And just wait until they get to middle school, when lunch not only has to be something they like, it has to be "cool." The kid with the Tupperware/Rubbermaid container full of veggies gets harassed big time, with the result that they'll "forget" their lunches or just hide them in their locker and not eat.
----------------------------------------------

Why can't they pack their own lunch? DD (6th grade) insists on packing her lunch because, well, I'm no longer qualified (okay, I didn't argue much). I insist that it has to contain a protein (cheese, meat), veggie, fruit, and some carb (bread, cracker) and dairy as well as something to drink. The combination/permutation is up to her.

Putting lunch into a bento box container makes them sophisticated and ahead of the curve.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 8, 2008 7:52 AM | Report abuse

"I insist that it has to contain a protein (cheese, meat), veggie, fruit, and some carb (bread, cracker) and dairy as well as something to drink. "


I insist on mooseburgers! Yum!

Posted by: The Manchurian Candidate | September 8, 2008 8:05 AM | Report abuse

Clearly your school hasn't been invaded by the food nazis yet. Last week we had kindergarteners crying when the Crazy Food Nazi Mom took their snacks out of their backpacks and threw them away because they "might" have been processed in a plant where they "might' have been a peanut. We're trying to figure out what we can still afford to feed our kids -- given that we don't have money to shop at the happy, free range, organic store where Crazy Food Nazi Mom shops. Personally, I think if she has a problem with other kids' lunches, then she ought to offer to feed the whole class on her dime.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 8, 2008 8:26 AM | Report abuse

"Last week we had kindergarteners crying when the Crazy Food Nazi Mom took their snacks out of their backpacks and threw them away because they "might" have been processed in a plant where they "might' have been a peanut."

Crazy Food Nazi Moms morph into book burners!

Posted by: Proud to be an oops grandparent | September 8, 2008 8:31 AM | Report abuse

I haven't tried this yet (since my son ONLY eats turkey sandwiches), but I've read that pancakes travel well with a little packet of syrup. I worry about the mess factor.

Posted by: Jen | September 8, 2008 8:32 AM | Report abuse

My son loves pb&j. He wants it every day, except Mondays (pizza day at school). It is boring to pack his lunch, but I suppose I should be thankful. My daughter is more of a bento box girl -- she likes variety and small amounts of whatever she's getting. She has lunch at preschool once a week, and usually gets things like black beans, edamame, brown rice, cut up fruit, and red pepper strips or carrots. She is an unbelievably healthy eater and appears to be a vegetarian, very weird in my omnivore family!! Got her a laptop lunch box from reusablebags.com, and she adores it.

I never thought about packing popcorn -- wouldn't it be stale by the time lunch rolled around? Not that the kids are that picky . . .

We got the list of "healthy snacks" a month ago from the school. Marshmallows made the list. I thought that was strange. I won't deny they're a snack, I suppose, but a healthy one?

Posted by: WorkingMomX | September 8, 2008 8:34 AM | Report abuse

"Why can't they pack their own lunch?"

No bragging or martyr rights. Pay attention!!

Posted by: Trig | September 8, 2008 8:35 AM | Report abuse

Anon...CFNM needs to be taken aside and told that this is...unacceptable and can cease or do as you suggest.

Our daughter is 17, a HS senior, and she takes a lunch every day and it rarely varies: smoked turkey and swiss (sometimes provolone) rolled together, a light yogurt, bottle of water, small bunch of grapes and a small package of pretzels or Chex mix. It works for her...a bit boring for me...but we offer other options and she declines. It certainly makes grocery shopping a lot easier.

Posted by: SapphicHokieMom | September 8, 2008 8:35 AM | Report abuse

Do I detect a subtle anti-Palin snark in these comments?

Posted by: SapphicHokieMom | September 8, 2008 8:36 AM | Report abuse

My kids love Edamame, but I have never thought to put it in their lunches. Thanks for the tip!

I often make extra mac and cheese or soup to stick in their thermoses. My oldest loves to take salad. They also like pre-peeled hard boiled eggs.

I used to use cookie cutters on sandwhiches until my oldest informed me it was "uncool" in 3rd grade.

Posted by: Momof5 | September 8, 2008 8:42 AM | Report abuse

If you think highly process, sodiem saturated, preservative soaked, fat enriched, artificially colored junkfood like crackers, chips, and pretzels can be considered a a "healthy" snack because they are made with whole grain, you are only fooling yourself.

But hey, if the "whole grain" label eliminates the guilt of lazy parenting, I'm all for it. Our lives are too busy to eat healthy nowadays.

Posted by: Whacky Weasel | September 8, 2008 8:46 AM | Report abuse

But hey, if the "whole grain" label eliminates the guilt of lazy parenting, I'm all for it. Our lives are too busy to eat healthy nowadays.

Posted by: Whacky Weasel | September 8, 2008 8:46 AM

Carm down, Whacky.

Posted by: Willow | September 8, 2008 8:49 AM | Report abuse

My daughter buys lunch and she eats what she wants from the chocies offered. I did read an article on making lunches and the bento box thing looked adorable. They had a lot of the same suggestions that Stacey offered. But I don't think the cute box would entice my daughter to eat meat.

Posted by: foamgnome | September 8, 2008 9:12 AM | Report abuse

Ha, Foamgnome - a breath of civility!

Posted by: Whacky Weasel | September 8, 2008 9:28 AM | Report abuse

The bento box idea is interesting, but this, e.g., making lunch "fun" is so far down our priority list as a family, I can't imagine spending the time it takes to read Stacey's column thinking about it. The headline was enough to put me to sleep. Whacky and the boring, repetitive Lizards finished the job.

Posted by: Hanna | September 8, 2008 9:30 AM | Report abuse

The headline was enough to put me to sleep. Whacky and the boring, repetitive Lizards finished the job.

Posted by: Hanna | September 8, 2008 9:30 AM

Not quite.

Posted by: Bristol | September 8, 2008 9:39 AM | Report abuse

On topic: make a batch of "treats" - cookies, bars, whatever - on the weekend or at night, and put a few in each lunch.

Granola bars can also go over well.

Posted by: ArmyBrat | September 8, 2008 7:38 AM

Thank you for the suggestions AB. You seem to be a wonderful parent, with similar values that me, Donna and Cecilia share. Please keep up the terrific posts.

Posted by: Nancy | September 8, 2008 9:49 AM | Report abuse

Should this blog be retitled to "Lunchbox Whiners?"

Just asking.

Posted by: New Headline? | September 8, 2008 9:59 AM | Report abuse

Edamame might just be an answer. My son's preschool went nut free this year - last year I sent him with pb&j every day and he ate it. So this year...what? He won't eat hummus and cheese or jelly and cream cheese sandwiches. He asks for butter and jelly (?) and I give him them but they are hardly so good. I give lots of fruits and usually some carrot sticks or something like that. I had bought granola bars at costco, but they have peanuts in them (who knew). So, I try every day to figure it out...They suggested sunflower butter (!?) but since he doesn't like PB&J in the first place, and it's expensive, I'm not so sure...

For the older one, he has a classmate who has a peanut allergy, so while it's not forbidden, we are encouraged not to send anything with nuts. He likes jelly and cream cheese, so I pack him that every day. I add pretzels, fruit, and something else sometimes.

I got them some milk boxes, chocolate, and the older one said he doesn't like it!!! He said it's too sweet...but when we let him buy lunch, he buys strawberry milk, go figure. So I'll pack the milk for the younger one.

Posted by: atlmom | September 8, 2008 10:06 AM | Report abuse

Thank you for the suggestions AB. You seem to be a wonderful parent, with similar values that me, Donna and Cecilia share. Please keep up the terrific posts.

Posted by: Nancy | September 8, 2008 9:49 AM

Grammar Sheriff!!!!!!!

Posted by: Trak | September 8, 2008 10:08 AM | Report abuse

Jen: Pancakes do travel well. A few tricks to increase their nutrition value if you've got time on the weekends to make a batch: I now substitute white wheat flour for the flour and I substitute plain yogurt for buttermilk in the joy of cooking recipe. Also, for mix-ins, I've put in baby food jars of sweet potatoes in the past with success. Or I throw in blueberries. The pancakes freeze well if you stack them on wax paper on a cookie sheet and then combine them in a Ziploc after they are frozen.

Posted by: Stacey Garfinkle | September 8, 2008 10:09 AM | Report abuse

Edamame might just be an answer. My son's preschool went nut free this year - last year I sent him with pb&j every day and he ate it. So this year...what? He won't eat hummus and cheese or jelly and cream cheese sandwiches. He asks for butter and jelly (?) and I give him them but they are hardly so good. I give lots of fruits and usually some carrot sticks or something like that. I had bought granola bars at costco, but they have peanuts in them (who knew). So, I try every day to figure it out...They suggested sunflower butter (!?) but since he doesn't like PB&J in the first place, and it's expensive, I'm not so sure...

For the older one, he has a classmate who has a peanut allergy, so while it's not forbidden, we are encouraged not to send anything with nuts. He likes jelly and cream cheese, so I pack him that every day. I add pretzels, fruit, and something else sometimes.

I got them some milk boxes, chocolate, and the older one said he doesn't like it!!! He said it's too sweet...but when we let him buy lunch, he buys strawberry milk, go figure. So I'll pack the milk for the younger one.

Posted by: atlmom | September 8, 2008 10:06 AM

Gibberish.
For God's sake - take a writing course!!!! If this is a sample of what teachers grade, teachers are indeed grossly underpaid!!

Grammar Sheriff!!!

Posted by: Yuck | September 8, 2008 10:16 AM | Report abuse

Now playing on the WSJ's Juggle:

"Maybe TV Isn’t So Bad After All"

http://blogs.wsj.com/juggle/2008/09/08/1004/

Posted by: LOL! | September 8, 2008 10:30 AM | Report abuse

Edamame might just be an answer. My son's preschool went nut free this year - last year I sent him with pb&j every day and he ate it. So this year...what? He won't eat hummus and cheese or jelly and cream cheese sandwiches. He asks for butter and jelly (?) and I give him them but they are hardly so good. I give lots of fruits and usually some carrot sticks or something like that. I had bought granola bars at costco, but they have peanuts in them (who knew). So, I try every day to figure it out...They suggested sunflower butter (!?) but since he doesn't like PB&J in the first place, and it's expensive, I'm not so sure...

Posted by: atlmom | September 8, 2008 10:06 AM


ummm, you dont make any sense. your first couple of sentences say that your kid only wanted pb&j. then your last sentence said that he doesn't like pb&j.

and no wonder your kid doesnt like your lunches. who on earth eats cheese and jelly sandwiches?!!?! someone should call child services on you for trying to force them to eat that.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 8, 2008 10:38 AM | Report abuse

Yes, I am committed to packing lunch more often due to the price increase in school lunches. We made a list of foods they'd like to take which includes, among other things: pasta with sauce, mac and cheese, egg salad sandwiches, pbj, leftover chicken with rice in various flavor combinations. They prefer a hot lunch, but will eat sandwiches also. One child put salami and cheese on her list, but that will be a very occasional occurrence. They will get one side item each day unless it is included in the main item--grapes, banana, apple, pear, orange, cherry tomatoes, green beans, etc.

They also both have a snack daily. I typically send in about 4 oz. of fruit--same as above.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 8, 2008 10:45 AM | Report abuse

What's up with Britney's dress? In the celebritology picture, it has one over-the-shoulder strap, in other pix it has 2 shoulder straps. Did I miss some magic dress realignment action by not watching the awards?

Posted by: anon | September 8, 2008 10:24 AM


simple explanation. one is "pre-kobe" and the second is "after-kobe."

Posted by: Anonymous | September 8, 2008 10:39 AM

Posted by: Anonymous | September 8, 2008 11:05 AM | Report abuse

I like cream cheese and jelly sandwiches. :)

Homemade pizza pockets do well, even cold; I buy pizza dough and then bake a whole batch, with veggies and sauce and cheese, or sometimes I stuff them with a meat pie sort of equivalent, like cornish pasties, or just plain leftover stew. They freeze fine. You can use the pilsbury crescent roll dough too.

Posted by: Shandra | September 8, 2008 11:10 AM | Report abuse

Our school lunch is $2.40 for elementary school. It includes milk (white or chocolate). How much is your school lunch? My mother thought 2.40 was a lot. My sister in law says it is a $1.60 in upstate NY.

Posted by: foamgnome | September 8, 2008 11:25 AM | Report abuse

anybody got a suggestion for a cranky high schooler's lunch? My younger, middle-school kid packs his own, but my daughter insists on buying lunch. Problem is, sometimes the lunch line is so long and disorganized, she just doesn't eat at all. Anybody know something that will tempt her?

Posted by: mom of teens | September 8, 2008 11:25 AM | Report abuse

ep,

What are the chances that Jordan still has her purity and isn't wearing the ring for fashion? There's a little red flag whenever they start boasting about stuff like that.

Posted by: petal | September 8, 2008 11:16 AM


Well, I never! How dare you impugn such a delightful and wonderful young woman. It breaks my heart that such a good person is being attacked viciously for doing such a pure thing. Heavens to Betsy!


Posted by: Nancy | September 8, 2008 11:21 AM

Posted by: Anonymous | September 8, 2008 11:27 AM | Report abuse

I like cream cheese and jelly sandwiches. :)

Homemade pizza pockets do well, even cold; I buy pizza dough and then bake a whole batch, with veggies and sauce and cheese, or sometimes I stuff them with a meat pie sort of equivalent, like cornish pasties, or just plain leftover stew. They freeze fine. You can use the pilsbury crescent roll dough too.

Posted by: Shandra | September 8, 2008 11:10 AM


I don't know if my kids would eat that. Probably would. But I'm totally packing some for myself!

Posted by: mom of teens | September 8, 2008 11:27 AM | Report abuse

My younger, middle-school kid packs his own, but my daughter insists on buying lunch.

Posted by: mom of teens | September 8, 2008 11:25 AM

How does your daughter get away with this?

Posted by: Huh? | September 8, 2008 11:31 AM | Report abuse

This is totally off-topic, but I need some input! What do you do when the car pool is already breaking down!? My kid waited for her pick up for 20 minutes today. There is no way she wasn't late for school. Last week, she didn't get home until 6 one day because the mom who picked her up needed to "run some errands" before bringing them back home. These are the two other families in the carpool. Things weren't great at the end of last year--but they weren't this bad. Do I bite the bullet and drive--arrive late for work and deal with my bosses wrath? I miss summer...

Posted by: Alexandria | September 8, 2008 11:47 AM | Report abuse

Heavens to Betsy!

Posted by: Anonymous | September 8, 2008 11:48 AM | Report abuse

Why are you looking for something to "tempt" your older daughter? What does she like to eat? Frankly, I think that it should be a lot easier for teenagers than with younger kids unless you allow them to develop and retain the palate of a 6 year old. While my daughter has a friend with a diet that consists mostly of mac-n-cheese, most of her friends will eat just about anything that is a reasonable alternative to the lunch line (and I know what you speak of regarding the chaos and short time to eat).

If they have access to a microwave (some kids get in good with a favorite teacher) then your options are almost limitless. We always have leftovers at dinner just for this reason:a small piece of chicken, some green beans and a bit of rice or potatoes is great. We also have a couple of widemouth thermos containers for soup, chili or stew. Add a chunk of crusty bread and some fruit...what's not to like?

Our daughter often brings a mixed salad with some diced chicken and a small container of dressing. It takes two minutes to prepare/pack, it is fresh, healthy and relatively inexpensive.

Posted by: For "Mom of Teens" | September 8, 2008 11:49 AM | Report abuse

How does my daughter get away with buying lunch?

Posted by: mom of teens | September 8, 2008 11:50 AM | Report abuse

mom of teens - this might be one of those life lessons that your daughter might need to learn. she doesn't want to pack a lunch so she has to buy lunch which she skips. as hard as it might be for her she is the one making the choices here. talk to her about her choices.

Posted by: quark | September 8, 2008 11:51 AM | Report abuse

Microwaves are a no-go. As of now, she insists on not packing a salad. She won't give up hope of buying a salad at school.
She has a sophisticated palate, so she's not jonesing for mac and cheese. I guess I was hoping that someone out there knew about some holy grail snack product -- something delicious and nutricious that fits in teen's purse.
I know -- hopeless.

Posted by: mom of teens | September 8, 2008 11:53 AM | Report abuse

Well, yes, quark. It is a life lesson. I can't spare her everything! I'm just hoping to come to the choices argument -- uh, I mean discussion -- armed with a helpful suggestion.
It's tough to walk the fine line between "good talk, mom" and "why are you riding me?
I skipped lunch at her age, and I'm sure my academic performance suffered for it.

Posted by: mom of teens | September 8, 2008 11:58 AM | Report abuse

Microwaves are a no-go. As of now, she insists on not packing a salad. She won't give up hope of buying a salad at school.
She has a sophisticated palate, so she's not jonesing for mac and cheese. I guess I was hoping that someone out there knew about some holy grail snack product -- something delicious and nutricious that fits in teen's purse.
I know -- hopeless.

Posted by: mom of teens | September 8, 2008 11:53 AM

You both need professional help. Yur daughter is manipulating you. You've had your quota of attention from this blog for today.

Posted by: Sheesh | September 8, 2008 11:58 AM | Report abuse

Correction: Your daughter is manipulating you.

Posted by: Sheesh | September 8, 2008 11:59 AM | Report abuse

Microwaves are a no-go. As of now, she insists on not packing a salad. She won't give up hope of buying a salad at school.
She has a sophisticated palate, so she's not jonesing for mac and cheese. I guess I was hoping that someone out there knew about some holy grail snack product -- something delicious and nutricious that fits in teen's purse.
I know -- hopeless.

Posted by: mom of teens | September 8, 2008 11:53 AM

Perhaps your daughter is hinting that you're a bad cook and the food you prepare is disgusting.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 8, 2008 12:08 PM | Report abuse

Younger child: got PB&J last year.

Older child: Does not like PB&J.

Doesn't matter, nut free all the way now.

Cream cheese and Jelly is yummy.
My au pair gave them jelly and cheese last year (yes, cheese) and I absolutely draw the line. My older son says he likes it, but I will not pack it cause it's gross.

Posted by: atlmom | September 8, 2008 12:09 PM | Report abuse

Mom of teens: How about having some small packs of nuts for her to grab and throw in her bag if she chooses? Or some Larabars -- which are dense fruit/nut bars. I wouldn't say they are substitutes for lunch, but they are snacks I tend to keep around for all of us to grab when we're on the go.

Posted by: Stacey Garfinkle | September 8, 2008 12:13 PM | Report abuse

Stacey Garfinkle, thank you.
I forgot Larabars existed. She gets some almonds and Larabars with her "talk about choices."

Posted by: mom of teens | September 8, 2008 12:16 PM | Report abuse

momofteens: what we did/do with our kids was this: we told them we would give them lunch money one day a week. We'd provide them with a healthy lunch the other days of the week. If they wanted to buy lunch more than once a week, they were welcome to use their own money (from jobs or allowance) to pay for it.

As far as what we provided, we got a list of what they wanted for lunch and put together a reasonable menu. I'll make lunches for them or they can make their own. (They usually let me do it because the high school bus comes at 6:35 and I'm the morning person in the family.) Lunch includes a sandwich, fruit, and some kind of carb/snack. Or they can have leftovers if they want - but they rarely do.

It doesn't always work, but it usually does.

To the snarkers, without teens: the underlying problem is that in some cases the kid just wants to buy lunch from school; it wouldn't matter what you made. They will gladly go without lunch to try to show you who's boss, but that's not in their best interest.

Posted by: ArmyBrat | September 8, 2008 12:18 PM | Report abuse

To the snarkers, without teens: the underlying problem is that in some cases the kid just wants to buy lunch from school; it wouldn't matter what you made. They will gladly go without lunch to try to show you who's boss, but that's not in their best interest.

Posted by: ArmyBrat | September 8, 2008 12:18 PM


This point has already been made. Pay attention!

Posted by: ??? | September 8, 2008 12:24 PM | Report abuse

Freeze yogurt. By lunchtime it is thawed. Give the kid some nuts or granola to stir in. It isn't bad and is better than nothing. At least there are many different flavors of yogurt so it isn't so boring.
Banana nut bread/date nut bread with cream cheese is very tasty.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 8, 2008 12:28 PM | Report abuse

Banana nut bread/date nut bread with cream cheese is very tasty.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 8, 2008 12:28 PM

Yum!

Posted by: Anonymous | September 8, 2008 12:29 PM | Report abuse

Well, yes, quark. It is a life lesson. I can't spare her everything! I'm just hoping to come to the choices argument -- uh, I mean discussion -- armed with a helpful suggestion.
It's tough to walk the fine line between "good talk, mom" and "why are you riding me?

Posted by: mom of teens | September 8, 2008 11:58 AM


How did that pesky "sex talk" go?

Posted by: Bristol | September 8, 2008 12:33 PM | Report abuse

Because I work in a school leaning in that direction, I'm very interested in the comments from those whose schools have gone "nut free", particularly when there's a Crazy Food Nazi Mom involved. I always wonder how much of the nut free craze is really and truly due to the possibility of a child's instantaneous death by exposure to a snack made in a factory that might have had a peanut in it, or is this just over-hysterical helicopter moms? I'm torn...I guess the rationale is "better safe than sorry" for the children with allergies, but really it does seem extreme, and those moms come across as uber-paranoid.

I think it would stretch the limits of my creativity to come up with a wide variety of kid-friendly foods my stepkids would actually eat for lunch that didn't contain one iota of the possibility of a food made in a factory with nuts, much less nut-less foods themselves.

Stacey I think this would make a great topic for your blog, since it is a little bit off-topic for today's discussion.

Posted by: AuntieW | September 8, 2008 12:52 PM | Report abuse

i didn't mean to be snarky. my son; aged 8, would love for me to pack him a lunch. however, he's such a fussy eater that i know that whatever i make for him would not get eaten. he buys lunch & somedays he goes without. would i rather he eat? yes, of course i would but he's the one who refuses to try anything new.

Posted by: quark | September 8, 2008 12:55 PM | Report abuse

Hey quark,
no snark taken!
I've been there. My son went through a phase where he would only eat a handful of things for lunch. Some fine -- raw spinach, oddly, he loved. Some that would make your hair stand on end.
We more or less ignored the behavior and let him pack his own lunch, and kept an eye on what he ate before and after school.
Know what put him right? A lecture on nutrition from his coach. Don't know if quark, jr., plays a sport. But every year I put a word in the ear of the coach of whatever to please point out to the kids that they need good nutrition during the day to play well in the evening.
Works for lots, obvy not all, of the kids on the team.

Posted by: mom of teens -- yeah, I know, you're sick of me. | September 8, 2008 1:03 PM | Report abuse

AuntieW

"I'm very interested in the comments from those whose schools have gone "nut free", particularly when there's a Crazy Food Nazi Mom involved. I always wonder I always wonder how much of the nut free craze is really and truly due to the possibility of a child's instantaneous death by exposure to a snack made in a factory that might have had a peanut in it, or is this just over-hysterical helicopter moms."

Food Nazis, Nursing Nazis, and Stroller Nazis are into power & attention. Beware!

Posted by: Mission Impossible | September 8, 2008 1:07 PM | Report abuse

Why don't they just buy a school lunch? My mother refused to pack school lunches. Seems your kids have you by the short hairs. Get a little backbone, for Pete's sake.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 8, 2008 1:11 PM | Report abuse

Why don't they just buy a school lunch? My mother refused to pack school lunches. Seems your kids have you by the short hairs. Get a little backbone, for Pete's sake.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 8, 2008 1:11 PM

No bragging rights and no martyr stuff! Pay attention! Do they pack lunches for themselves and/or their spouses? It ain't rocket science !

Posted by: The name of the game | September 8, 2008 1:17 PM | Report abuse

school lunch = fattening, bland & of questionable nutritive value

Posted by: Anonymous | September 8, 2008 1:20 PM | Report abuse

I'm glad my kids buy lunch. It's $2.00 (high and middle school), which I think is reasonable. Just easier. They had to pack for summer camp and it's no cheaper by the time I buy everything, plus it's just a pain.

Posted by: Yep | September 8, 2008 1:24 PM | Report abuse

Wow, where are you getting $2.00/ $2.40 lunches? I wish! At my kid's school everything is priced separately and by the time a child picks a protein, veggie, fruit, snack, and drink, it can cost upwards of $6 or $7. A ham and cheese sandwich alone costs $3.50. I think it's highway robbery but it's the "only game in town" here, without packing a lunch there's no alternative.

And I'm not in a "high cost of living" area like DC or California, either. To give you an idea gas prices here are in the the $3.30's.

Posted by: To Yep and foamgnome | September 8, 2008 1:33 PM | Report abuse

This is a wonderful thing. We should all be celebrating! Its a joyous occasion!

Posted by: Nancy | September 8, 2008 1:40 PM | Report abuse

I just double checked. It's actually $2.35 this year. Still a deal. (DC Area). 1:33, I wouldn't pay what your school charges either -- that's more than I pay for my lunch at work.

Posted by: Yep | September 8, 2008 1:40 PM | Report abuse

I live in Fairfax VA (suburb of DC). I with Yep. I don't think I could pack a lunch much cheaper then $2.40 anyway. I think middle and HS kids pay more but I think all of the lunches were under $3.

Posted by: foamgnome | September 8, 2008 1:43 PM | Report abuse

We let my son buy lunch ($1.75) one day a week. We compromised last year, since he saw others buying lunch and he thought it was cool...rather than making it forbidden fruit, we had him buy lunch. Realistically, what ended up happening was that we packed lunch for him anyway, and he'd forget, most of the time.

And he asked about lunchables. Another teaching moment of why we don't buy them for him, and why we won't. But how he shouldn't talk to other people about their choices, if that's what they want, that's fine for them.

The buying lunch, but only once a week, has given him a little independence, which is good, and also teaches him about food choices, why we do and do not eat certain things, etc. It's been interesting to see the perspective of a 6 year old.

Posted by: atlmom | September 8, 2008 1:52 PM | Report abuse

Because I work in a school leaning in that direction, I'm very interested in the comments from those whose schools have gone "nut free", particularly when there's a Crazy Food Nazi Mom involved. I always wonder how much of the nut free craze is really and truly due to the possibility of a child's instantaneous death by exposure to a snack made in a factory that might have had a peanut in it, or is this just over-hysterical helicopter moms? I'm torn...I guess the rationale is "better safe than sorry" for the children with allergies, but really it does seem extreme, and those moms come across as uber-paranoid.

Posted by: AuntieW | September 8, 2008 12:52 PM

AuntieW, I'm right there with you. And I say that as a mom of a child with an allergy to tree nuts that requires whoever's with him to have access to an epi pen, just in case. There are children at his school who cannot touch peanuts and God forbid they get a whiff of peanut butter. It is absolutely terrifying to watch a child have an attack after exposure to a food allergen. I have seen it once with my son, and once at his preschool with another child (a two-epi pen kid, you give him the injection, call 911, and give him another injection if the ambulance isn't there in 3 minutes). My son has been raised to be diligent about avoiding nuts, but some kids are less careful.

There's a mom at school who wants the kids to all wash hands and brush teeth after lunch. This is just silly. I can't imagine how long it would take. If my son's allergy were that severe, he'd be home schooled.

Lunches are allowed to be whatever, and there are peanut/tree nut/wheat/dairy free tables available for the kids. Snacks must be free from all of the above. Basically, fruit, veggies, marshmallows. LOL.

Posted by: WorkingMomX | September 8, 2008 1:53 PM | Report abuse

My son has been raised to be diligent about avoiding nuts, but some kids are less careful.


Posted by: WorkingMomX | September 8, 2008 1:53 PM

Darwinism takes its course.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 8, 2008 1:55 PM | Report abuse

Atlmom, we did something similar. School lunches were way higher than I expected ($2.90 for elementary school), and pretty much seem to still consist of the same crap they served when I was in school (back in the good ol' days when ketchup was a vegetable). And then there's the $2 pizza-and-juice snack after Hebrew school every Sunday, and the tzedakah.

So instead of just handing her money to cover all that, we started her on an allowance, and made her responsible for those things. We did $5/wk, so she could eat lunch once a week at school if she wanted and still have a little for tzedakah and the occasional treat, and then we built in an extra $2 that she can earn for Hebrew school snack. I'm really enjoying watching her learn how to budget and plan (examining the monthly menu to see what days she wants to buy lunch, at the grocery store deciding whether she wants X now or wants to save that money for RennFest that weekend, etc.). And she loves the independence of having her own money and deciding what to do with it.

Posted by: Laura | September 8, 2008 2:15 PM | Report abuse

School lunches of questionable nutrition? Yet I'm seeing you feed your kids PB&J sandwiches and lunchables? Get a grip. School lunches have to have a certain amount of protein, vegetables, and milk. Get your heads out of your self-righteous butts.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 8, 2008 2:19 PM | Report abuse

Darwinism takes its course.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 8, 2008 1:55 PM

That is one of the most moronic comments I have heard...not too mention insensitive. No wonder you are afraid to have comments attributed to you!

Posted by: HappyDad | September 8, 2008 2:20 PM | Report abuse

i've had this conversation with my son:
him - mommy, i want you to make me lunch. (actually, what he says is that he wants to be a packer, which is what they call people who bring their lunches. to me the term packer has a very different meaning.)

me - will you eat a sandwich?
him - no.
me - will you eat cold pasta?
him - no.
me - will you eat cold mac & cheese?
him - no.

you get the idea. it's frustrating because it would be nice if i could make him a lunch. the list of food he will not eat is long & since he doesn't have access to a microwave whatever he eats is something he has to like cold or at least room temp.

i'll file your idea of having a coach talk to him. right now he's not involved in a sport but maybe when he's older. i might talk to the gym teachers at his school.... thanks for the idea.

Posted by: quark | September 8, 2008 2:22 PM | Report abuse

WorkingMomX, thank you for your thoughtful response and for not taking offense at my post. I realized after I hit submit how snarky and borderline rude it came across, and I didn't mean to offend any of those out there whose children legitimately suffer from life-threatening allergies. You seem very reasonable and practical about it, which to me is the answer: teaching your child to take responsibility for his difficulties and protect himself rather than just trying to wrap him in a bubble of protection from the entire world.

I like the idea of having "whatever-free" tables for the kids who need them...that makes a lot more sense than expecting everyone else to be as hyper-vigilant as those families must be out of necessity.

Posted by: AuntieW | September 8, 2008 2:26 PM | Report abuse

er, at some point, if he gets hungry, he'll eat what you pack. Letting yourself get spun around by the preferences of your children is the sort of thing that makes parents with spines roll their eyes.

Posted by: Oh, brother! | September 8, 2008 2:31 PM | Report abuse

The schools call them packers? Sometimes it's hard to be an adult and keep a straight face!
I'm racking my brain trying to remember what sonny boy liked at that age. Mostly we threw together a hodgepodge of bites: pieces of cheese, turkey -- but not in sandwich form, slices of cucumber, grapes, that kind of thing. Maybe a granola bar.
Maybe he could pick things out at the store for his "packer" stash?
At that age, he won't starve or develop scurvy before he outgrows it.
I was worried about my high schooler because she's got a little more at stake right now, with AP classes, etc.

Posted by: mom of teens @ quark | September 8, 2008 2:38 PM | Report abuse

Quark...why all the cold options? Wal-Mart and Target have huge aisles of portable, reusable products for keeping hot foods hot and cold foods cold. Warm up some mac-n-cheese in the microwave before he heads to the bus and put it in a wide-mouth thermos bottle. Maybe add in a little tuna for protein and give him an apple and a couple of cookies. My daughter has taken chicken quesadilas (sp?) which were still slightly warm after 3 hours.

You need to get creative here and stop looking for the easy way out.

Posted by: SapphicHokieMom | September 8, 2008 2:46 PM | Report abuse

I was worried about my high schooler because she's got a little more at stake right now, with AP classes, etc.


Posted by: mom of teens @ quark | September 8, 2008 2:38 PM

Darwinism takes its course.

Posted by: Biology 101 | September 8, 2008 2:47 PM | Report abuse

it's frustrating because it would be nice if i could make him a lunch. the list of food he will not eat is long & since he doesn't have access to a microwave whatever he eats is something he has to like cold or at least room temp.

Posted by: quark | September 8, 2008 2:22 PM

Sounds like the tail wagging the dog.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 8, 2008 2:51 PM | Report abuse

AutieW, maybe I have become immune to snark and rudeness (quite possible from reading this blog), but truly, your post didn't seem rude in any way to me. I think your questions are reasonable and justified. Most of the moms I know whose kids have severe food allegies just deal and are pretty cool customers. It's not that difficult, especially if your child realizes how important it is to avoid the particular food(s). But some moms are over the top (like the one who wants everyone to brush their teeth and wash their hands before coming into contact with her kid). They give us all a bad name! I feel sorry for the kids who have multiple allergies -- like the one in my son's class a few years ago, allergic to wheat, dairy, and peanuts. That just sounds like a misery to me.

Posted by: WorkingMomX | September 8, 2008 2:51 PM | Report abuse

At my house, it works like this for my middle-schooler. If you want to take your lunch and want me to pack it, you eat what I pack (but I will take suggestions). If you want to pack it, it's got to be a balanced diet. If you buy it, that's fine with me.

I have found my DD for the most part likes to bring lunch not buy, and likes me to make it. Sometimes she decides she doesn't like my lunches and starts making it. But within a day or two, it's too much hassle and we are back to me making it. And she will go through a buying lunch phase every once in awhile, but she doesn't get much time to eat because the lines are so long, so she's back to bringing it again.

It doesn't bother me what she does as long as its balanced.

Posted by: AnotherMom | September 8, 2008 3:00 PM | Report abuse

When I was in high school I ate Hostess chocolate cream cupcakes and lemonade daily for lunch. My mother would never have purchased this, but I bought it at the school cafeteria. My grades were not stellar, but I think that had more to do with lack of studying than what I ate for lunch. In any case, I managed to graduate, get into college, and lead a productive life (so far).

Posted by: Anonymous | September 8, 2008 3:02 PM | Report abuse

This year we're back to packing lunches, although the last few years we were buying the school lunches.

We were *shocked* that the high-schooler's lunches jumped from $2.75 last year to $3.00 this year, and younger son went from elementary lunches at $2.25 last year, to middle school, and also $3.00 lunches. And when younger son said that he didn't want to have to eat in the lunchroom where the school lunches are served - sounded like possible trouble with the older kids, and he didn't have enough time to eat, either - and he wanted to hang out with his friends who are bringing their lunches from home, it pretty much made sense to make the switch.

We're very boring lunch-makers. Either PBJ, or meat-and-cheese sandwiches, a piece of fruit (apple or orange, almost always), a juice pouch, and some sort of junk food that is crunchy, and can be thrown away or traded with other kids for something equally non-nutritious. But at least the boys are eating without complaint.

Posted by: Sue | September 8, 2008 3:15 PM | Report abuse

When I was in high school I ate Hostess chocolate cream cupcakes and lemonade daily for lunch. My mother would never have purchased this, but I bought it at the school cafeteria. My grades were not stellar, but I think that had more to do with lack of studying than what I ate for lunch. In any case, I managed to graduate, get into college, and lead a productive life (so far).

Posted by: Anonymous | September 8, 2008 3:02 PM

And it sounds like you've become quite a fatty too!

Posted by: Anonymous | September 8, 2008 3:15 PM | Report abuse

Darwinism takes its course.

Posted by: Biology 101 | September 8, 2008 2:47 PM

Posted by: my kid is smarter than you! What a relief | September 8, 2008 3:21 PM | Report abuse

"When I was in high school I ate Hostess chocolate cream cupcakes and lemonade daily for lunch. "

Millions of kids go without lunch and do well in school.

Posted by: It's a myth | September 8, 2008 3:22 PM | Report abuse

Darwinism takes its course.

Posted by: Biology 101 | September 8, 2008 2:47 PM


Posted by: my kid is smarter than you! What a relief | September 8, 2008 3:21 PM

How?

Posted by: Biology | September 8, 2008 3:24 PM | Report abuse

I suspect that the lunch line is not as crazy as that teenager suggests and she's using food or weight as some kind of weapon. I was a fat kid in a school with 2500 kids and I made damn well sure I got there fast and got my lunch fast because we only had 20 minutes to buy lunch before the next group came in and got in line. I'll bet dollars to donuts that your teenage daughter is... thinking she's going to lose weight by skipping lunch.

Of course another situation could be like what I'm dealing with, my kid wants to talk to friends during lunch and never eats, driving the teacher crazy.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 8, 2008 3:27 PM | Report abuse

Can't believe I'm taking the bait. Apparently I'm not as smart as my kid.
Anyhow. For one thing, she has a reasonable understanding of Darwinism.

Posted by: my kid is smarter than you! | September 8, 2008 3:28 PM | Report abuse

I'll bet dollars to donuts that your teenage daughter is... thinking she's going to lose weight by skipping lunch.

Of course another situation could be like what I'm dealing with, my kid wants to talk to friends during lunch and never eats, driving the teacher crazy.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 8, 2008 3:27 PM

Anonymous at 3:27 -- you nailed my unspoken fear.
My daughter's very slim. I was underweight in high school. But I *thought* I was fat and skipped lunch to lose weight. Besides tending to fall asleep in my afternoon classes, I had trouble all through my teen years maintaining a healthy weight, and with body image.
What I was hunting for in my original post was just something portable and nutritious so she could eat quickly and discreetly. I don't know if she has a complex. But I don't want to *give* her a complex, either. Having a real, viable option to tuck in her purse seems more politic than making a federal case, you know?

Posted by: mom of teens | September 8, 2008 3:34 PM | Report abuse

My daughter's very slim. I was underweight in high school.

Posted by: mom of teens | September 8, 2008 3:34 PM

Why don't the two of you come on over to my place? I'll give you some special type of "protein"!

Posted by: Jeff Stryker | September 8, 2008 3:43 PM | Report abuse

Laura: sounds like a great plan.
We gave my son $2 for lunch, and wouldn't get any change! I wondered what happened, and thought, well, maybe we didn't give him enough? So we gave him $3 the next week, and still, no change. So I asked the teacher, and they all have these electronic accounts, so they put the change in there. Of course, they want you to put money in electronically, but they charge you to do that! So we don't.

We are actually wondering if we should start giving the big one an allowance, how much it should be, etc. But he seems to get money from various places (grandma, relatives, finds it, we give him leftover change) whatever, so he's actually saved up a bunch. He says he's saving for pokemon cards - he's very focused on it. We're going to have to get him some eventually.

Posted by: atlmom | September 8, 2008 3:47 PM | Report abuse

We pack lunch almost every day. My son won't eat the stuff on the lunch menu. Too disgusting he says. And having seen some of the lunch that the Montgomery County School cafeterias serve, I have to agree with him. He won't even eat their pizza.

So we do a variety of things. Lots of sandwiches (turkey and cheese, ham and cheese, chicken and cheese), sometimes leftovers (spaghetti, stew, sometimes cold pizza). We give him cucumbers and carrots in a separate container, or sometimes his favorite cherry tomatoes or some grapes or cut up strawberries. We will usually put in a cookie or two for dessert.

I would actually rather that he buy lunch, if it were edible, but it really isn't very appealing. At least he eats what we send in his lunchbox. He does buy milk at school.

Posted by: Emily | September 8, 2008 3:52 PM | Report abuse

Elementary school lunches so far:
Cereal (bowl too) and milk. Banana on the side.
Corn on the cob, hard boiled egg, blueberries, and juice.
Cheese and crackers, sliced apples with cinnamon sugar to mix in. Milk.
Salad - dressing on the side, hard boiled egg, water.
Pasta in a thermos, parmesan cheese on the side, Fruit, Milk.
Roasted sweet potato in a thermos with some butter, brown sugar on the side, baby bel cheese, fruit and milk.

I find my daughter likes lunches better when there's some little container of mix, sauce or whatever. I don't know why, but it was easy enough to get a bunch of little food-safe containers for dressing, cinnamon sugar, parmesan cheese ...

I also ask her fairly regularly "Anyone have a lunch that looked good, something that you might want to try?". Hey - I'll borrow ideas.

Posted by: inBoston | September 8, 2008 3:53 PM | Report abuse

WorkingmomX: My big question in all of these allergies, is, how do you figure it out?
I know parents of kids who have celiac, and while gluten won't kill them, it makes them very sick.
But if there is a whiff of a peanut, and a kid can go into anephalactic (sp?) shock - how did you find that out? Was there an epi pen around when it happend? Just curious.

Posted by: curiousmom | September 8, 2008 3:53 PM | Report abuse

I also ask her fairly regularly "Anyone have a lunch that looked good, something that you might want to try?". Hey - I'll borrow ideas.
Posted by: inBoston | September 8, 2008 3:53 PM

Why didn't I think of that?
I spend so much effort telling my kids, "I don't care what so-and-so's mom does ...?" That it never occurred to me to crib their lunch tactics.

Posted by: slapping my forehead | September 8, 2008 3:55 PM | Report abuse

We found out when my husband gave my son a few cashew nuts. He immediately broke out in hives, said his throat felt funny, and then began to have difficulty breathing. We called 911 and they got fast, but it was the scariest 3 minutes of my life. This is how most parents find out. Now we travel with Benadryl and epi pens everywhere we go.

Posted by: WorkingMomX | September 8, 2008 4:02 PM | Report abuse

Allergies tend to build up. So a kid is likely not born ready to go into anaphylactic shock from a whiff of peanut.
But after a few rashes or swollen lips, parents cotton to the allergy.
I diligently keep my kid away from shellfish -- pretty easy in a school lunchroom -- so that her allergy doesn't get to that point. At least not while she's too little to manage it on her own.

Posted by: @ curious mom | September 8, 2008 4:04 PM | Report abuse

We found out when my husband gave my son a few cashew nuts. He immediately broke out in hives, said his throat felt funny, and then began to have difficulty breathing. We called 911 and they got fast, but it was the scariest 3 minutes of my life. This is how most parents find out. Now we travel with Benadryl and epi pens everywhere we go.

Posted by: WorkingMomX | September 8, 2008 4:02 PM

That is exactly how we found out that our almost 4 year old is allergic to peanuts. He had exczema as a baby so we waited until after he was 3 to try nuts. I let him have a tiny nibble of peanut butter from my finger and in seconds he was breaking out in hives, was saying his throat felt funny and was having trouble breathing. It is the scariest site you can imagine seing a toddler in that kind of agony and knowing that nut allergies can be deadly. We go everywhere with benadryl and epi-pens now. Luckily his pre-school is nut free so we can rest a little easier until elementary school!

Posted by: HappyDad | September 8, 2008 4:10 PM | Report abuse

it's not necessarily true that allergies build up. a school friend of my son was tested right after he was born since severe peanut allergies ran in the family. it was severe right from the get-go. i mean, severe enough so that if he touches a crumb that has peanut oil in it he goes into shock. his parents are hoping the allergy diminishes over time. some do & some don't.

i remember as a child my mother packing all the things that she thought i "should" eat for lunch. i didn't. i mostly want to avoid that. with my son, if he does not eat then he goes hungry. it's a hard lesson for an 8 yr old but he does tell me now if he tries something. i might revist this issue with him.
the reason he only has cold options is that he doesn't have access to a microwave so it has to be cold or room temp. will those items keep food hot for 4 hours? i'm hyper about keeping the temp of food safe.

Posted by: quark | September 8, 2008 4:28 PM | Report abuse

i'm hyper about keeping the temp of food safe.

Posted by: quark | September 8, 2008 4:28 PM


I'm with you. Keeping a kid's food at bacteria-breeding temperature seems pretty iffy to me. Thermoses are great for coffee, but maybe not such a great idea for soup.

Posted by: @quark | September 8, 2008 4:33 PM | Report abuse

"Quark...why all the cold options? Wal-Mart and Target have huge aisles of portable, reusable products for keeping hot foods hot and cold foods cold."

Hot is not an option at every school. Our kids' school does not permit them to microwave and requires that an icepack be in the lunch container, e.g., they will take the lunch away from the child and send a note home if there's no icepack.

I only mention this because the habit of some posters to assuming that parents are imposing unnecessary restrictions on lunces seems to run rampant among these comments. Sometimes it's the parent. More often, it's the school making life . . . challenging.

Posted by: Mrs. Cleaver | September 8, 2008 5:30 PM | Report abuse

One of my son's best friends was diagnosed with peanut allergy but now can tolerate peanuts. It's totally confusing to me whether:
1. he ever had the allergy
2. the parents knew or didn't know whether he had the allergy
3. the parents should have expected he did not have the allergy given that neither of them have ANY food allergies
4. he was properly tested at all

but none of that stopped them from telling the daycare that no peanuts were allowed or else he'd go into shock.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 9, 2008 9:49 AM | Report abuse

My own story is that as a picker eater, my mom made the same exact boring lunch every single day for years- turkey or ham (no bread/sandwiches), something cruchy like chips, fruit, a small piece of chocolate, and the juice box (frozen and thawed, definitely a great trick).

Given that at my schools, over 50% of kids got free lunches and having your own lunch was decidedly uncool, this led to me being more outcast. But my mom didn't have the money to buy lunch everyday and I didn't like how cafeteria stuff tasted.

When I got to high school, I finally relieved her of that duty and eventually just went to having twinkies and lemonade during the day. With 20 minute lunches and school getting out at 2:30, I could just wait until I got home and microwave up some leftovers.

I have to say that the idea of soup or liquids in thermoses is wonderful- it just never works out. Too much potential for mess on all sides and best to avoid. I don't think anyone needs to worry about bacteria- we're talking less than half a day of less than ideal conditions.

As to carpooling- I say group meeting and laying down the law is called for and if they miss another deadline for a non-emergency, you simply must take responsibility and what sacrifices to make sure your kids isn't left behind.

Posted by: Liz D | September 9, 2008 2:12 PM | Report abuse

to mom with teens:

If she is trying to lose weight (and getting around you with not eating), the best thing you can do for her is make her eat a good breakfast at home. This doesn't have to be fancy: porridge with dried fruit and honey or brown rice (most modern rice cookers have timers, so you can set it up the night before to have rice ready in the morning) with scrambled eggs on top and a banana on the side. Something.

Also, I would bring up the point that it is dinner, not lunch, you are supposed to skip/skimp on if you want to lose weight. I grew up amongst models, and they always talk about how supper is the one that people really overdo, even though they generally aren't going to use all the calories before they go to bed.

A great snack I just came across are by clif: they're individually wrapped twists of pressed fruit, like fruit leather but less sticky and more dense. One of those and a bag of almonds could make a heavy difference during the day for her.

Something else to look at for her is Mr. Bento, which is a line of awesome lunch jars. The kids' jars come in a canvas bag with space for a water bottle or whatever. If you do the rice thing, you can use the extra rice as one of the courses in the jar, and toss in leftovers from the night before as another course. Some Mr. Bentos even come with a soup dish, so you can add leftover soup. The bento jars are better than bento boxes because if you fill them up with boiling water while you prepare the food dishes, they will keep the food hot all day.

Posted by: Kat | September 9, 2008 2:18 PM | Report abuse

fr WorkingMomX:

>...There's a mom at school who wants the kids to all wash hands and brush teeth after lunch. This is just silly. I can't imagine how long it would take. If my son's allergy were that severe, he'd be home schooled...

It teaches hygiene, I don't think it's "silly" at all.

Posted by: Alex | September 11, 2008 12:48 PM | Report abuse

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