Monday, August 16, 2010

lunch ideas, please!

Here are some more views of the new lunchboxes I bought for Dieter and Rainer. Rainer will be starting preschool and Dieter will be in kindergarten. (Wow! I have loved these early years with the boys so much, I am a bit hesitant for Dieter to start school! But on the other hand I do know, from having raised the older ones, that everything will turn out okay.)

About the lunchboxes--I bought these because in packing the lunches (last year) I found myself forever casting about for this or that container or lid and packing the lunches very heavy with a million stainless steel or glass containers (because I refuse to use plastic for both ecological and practical/aesthetic reasons). This is still a heavy option, but much more convenient, I think, and I'll never go searching for a particular container again. Each food has its own compartment. Hopefully the whole process will be very simplified. These are Planet Boxes. If you are interested in the system I highly recommend watching the video, which explains it all very clearly.
I also bought the boys new water bottles. I wasn't planning to at all, but when we got the Planet Boxes we discovered that their Klean Kanteens were just too fat to fit in the drink pocket (I'm still a huge fan of Klean Kanteen though). These are Earth Lust bottles. They are gorgeous! (And also nice and skinny, which is what we needed). I ended up getting a sports top for Rainer, which is easier for him to manage.
Here's how they look all packed up.
And here is how the food fits in the container. The square compartment is for the main dish (sandwich), there are two rectangles for fruit and vegetable, and the long skinny compartment at the top is for crackers or whatever. I probably will just pack a second fruit in there a lot of the time because I have noticed that my boys instantly go for the fruit (we've been trying these out in the park lately). The little "dipper" container can hold cream cheese or ranch for dipping.

Now I need your suggestions for lunch main dishes. Last year I packed a ton of PB and J sandwiches but I really want to get away from that because I'm just realizing what a very sugary lunch that is (when I ate one myself this summer). I'm also not a huge fan of buying a lot of sliced lunch meats (although that is what is pictured here. I noticed Rainer just picks off the turkey and eats it, leaving the cheese and bread behind). I just need healthy ideas (and easy)! Thanks so much for any lunch inspiration you have to offer.

29 comments:

Rhia said...

I really enjoyed reading Vegan Lunch Box for inspiration back in the day - and she published a cookbook. She used a similar lunch system for her little one.

Anonymous said...

Have you ever made fry bread? Well, that's what we call it, but I just take a portion of whatever bread dough I just made (gluten free for you!), separate it into golf ball size portions, allow to rest for a few minutes, roll it out nice and flat and cook it in a pan with about a tsp. of olive oil. Turn over...once browned and cooked through, move on to the next. Because they have leavening, they are thicker and softer than torilla shells. I'll often sprinkle them lightly with kosher salt or REAL salt. They're perfect warm, but still very tasty and pliable for several days. My children love them spread with homemade hummus and sliced veggies. In your situation, maybe try putting the hummus on a fry bread, fold it in half and fill the other containers with veggies...so they can build their own at school. Our favorite filler...sliced cucumbers, zucchini, tomatoes, sprouts, red/yellow peppers, olives and feta cheese. By no means an extensive list, but a good jumping off point.

momma rae said...

oh you bought these! i have been eying them. i gave in and bought the laptop lunchboxes last year because of the whole streamline thing and i love that factor. however, i am very anti-plastic and though laptops are *free* of the known contaminants at this point, they are still plastic!

as for insides. i have been thinking of giving sushi a go. my kids love veggie sushi and i have seen others put it in lunches. when i do deli meat, i skip the bread and just roll it with the cheese.

though i find this to be a little strange...i stumbled upon this flickr group that might provide us both with a little more inspiration:
http://www.flickr.com/groups/laptop_lunches/

SongbirdSisters said...

My kids love cheese and crackers instead of a sandwich some days. Hummus and veggies is also a popular choice for us. You could try just packing the turkey and some crackers, too. I've done that. We love Applegate Farms turkey and ham around here. It's minimally processed and grown w/o hormones and is nitrate free. My son loves cut up apples with cinnamon for a fruit. It hides the brown color that they turn and adds flavor without adding sugar. Martha Stewart has a printable lunch planner that she has set up with magnets. I just slipped mine in a page protecter and use a transparency marker to *try* to plan it out a little. Good luck! I struggle with this all of the time!

Leila said...

I came across this blog a while back and thought she had some really good ideas and some good looking lunches. I know my kids would eat them. http://wendolonia.com/blog/2009/07/15/lunch-box-ideas/

I really enjoy your blog, by the way :) Great ideas!

The Robertsons of Mumbai said...

I am also packing a lunch now for the first time in many, many years! I am posting the contents at http://thevegentiffin.blogspot.com.
I will admit it is a challenge some days (so far) to come up with something that is portable and does not need to be heated, will taste o.k. after it has sat out for half the day, etc.

The Robertsons of Mumbai said...

Oops - incorrectly spelled link - should be http://thevegantiffin.blogspot.com/

Family of 4.... said...

I get an email newsletter that has some great ideas, I think it's a group on FB, called Laptop Lunches.

Also, how long will Dieter get for lunch? Ours only get about 10-15 mins for eating then another 10 or so for playing, it's very quick. So I found myself downsizing on lunches. I will pack a sandwich, fruit and some trail mix, or my kids like Pirates Booty. Cheese sticks, cheese and a deli meat. About 1 or 2x a week I will make PB&J, but my 8 yr old doesn't really like it.

I wish my kids liked things like hummus and veg, but they don't. Wraps, yogurt, etc.

I too pack a water bottle, but I like the ones you listed, so will have to check them out.

Molly

~Heather said...

Trader Joes has little whole wheat pitas that my kids like with cream cheese (hummus and/or veges, like cuke slices, could be added), quesadilla slices, noodle salad (like with peanut sauce)...

Meg said...

I'm so glad you posted this--I'll be sure to check back through the links and comments. I ordered the laptop lunchboxes to try this year. I'd really like to break out of our sandwich rut. I like those water bottles--I've been looking for some sturdier bottles to use.

Denise C. said...

My kids love cheese & crackers, fruit, yogurt for lunch. They do not like meat, & I'll give them pb&j every once in awhile.

Andrea said...

I won one of those PlanetBoxes several months ago in a blog giveaway, and have just recently started to use it (for myself)...I like the Jetson's feel of it. As for kids' lunches, good luck! Last year every day I packed the boys bread and butter, chunks of cheese and some kind of fruit or vegetable. If I ever strayed into more complicated waters (e.g., the cheese on the bread), they didn't eat it.

Heidi said...

what a neat container! Here are a few popular "entrees" in our rotation: whole wheat mini-bagel with cream cheese and pumpkin butter (from Trader Joe's); smoked salmon, cheese, and crackers; tortilla roll up with refried beans and grated cheese.

Mikaela said...

oooh.... I like that container!
Some of our favorites are:
pita, veggies, & hummus
pasta with pesto
quesadilla (cheese and blk. beans)
crackers and cheese
grilled cheese
tortellini (my son prefers them plain)
salmon croquettes
baked chicken tenders and sweet potato fries
bagel and cream cheese

Beth H said...

I've found a great resource at www.weeliciuos.com. She packs a laptop lunch brand lunchbox for her son everyday and usually posts pictures on her facebook page. She's very good about packing healthy items as well as her own recipes.

Once Upon A Parent said...

Mary Beth I have to agree with the hummus idea. I like the idea of fry bread too. I started making homemade tortillas this year and they are super easy. And what about peanut butter and honey? I know it is sweet, but honey is so good for us. Or just nut butter for apple slices. I too need some ideas for a wider variety of lunch ideas.

tessica said...

my daughter loves hummus wraps with cucumbers or baby spinach!
and she loves helping me make the hummus! (we do the throw whatever sounds good and is in the fridge kind)

Denise C. said...

Mikaela: You have a great list! There are a few on there that slipped my mind! I am intrigued by salmon croquettes, are they hard to make?


P.S. Mary Beth, I ordered the Apples For Jam cookbook today! :)

HOA Mgr Lady said...

Lunch ideas that are healthy and attractive and for kids (And adults)are hard aren't they? I have a suggestion however. Eggface (The World according to Eggface) is a blogger who has had Weight loss surgery (Like moi)and packs her lunch frequently in Bento boxes like your kits. She has some great ideas that are nutritious and fun. Check her out. She is in Orange County somewhere I think.
Ruth

Desiree said...

My kids love cold leftover ravioli. I recommend some butter or pesto sauce so that they don't stick together. They also like cold leftover meatballs. And I second the quesadilla suggestion!

Janell said...

I just started lunch-packing mode this year with my kids (one in first grade, one in preschool). I do tend to get into a PB&J rut, mostly because it's what my oldest likes best. Here are a few more ideas:

leftover (healthy) muffins
hard-boiled eggs
carrot and apple slices with peanut butter or nut-butter to dip (or ranch, or hummus for the carrots)
bagel with cream cheese
yogurt and granola with berries or dried fruit (craisins usually)
leftover homemade rolls (or any kind of homemade bread, tortilla, etc.)
melon slices
olives
cottage cheese and pineapples slices
whole grain pretzels or crackers
cherry tomatoes

I'm lucky with my preschooler, because at her school they will re-heat leftovers for you.

Janell said...

Ooh! Also nuts are great for a protein boost. Pistachios, cashews, whatever they like (if they are big enough to eat them w/o fear of choking).

Karen said...

fake chicken nuggets with honey for a dip? mmmmm!!!!

Gift of Green said...

Mary Beth,

These look so adorable:

http://www.parenting.com/recipes-gallery/Recipes/Bento-Lunch-Boxes

Amy

Alicen said...

Check out http://wendolonia.com/blog/ for some great ideas on what to pack for little boy lunch boxes. Wendy does a great job!

Mikaela said...

Denise: I don't know if you'll check back, but NO the salmon croquettes were super easy. 1 small can of salmon (boneless, skinless) drained and flaked, little bit of dijon mustard, garlic powder (sprinkle), one egg, and a little onion. Mix well and form into golf ball sized balls. Roll in panko (that's what I use) or bread crumbs and fry in a small bit of olive oil until cooked (8-10 min). Could probably bake them too. My son likes them with some Tzatzki sauce.

nicole said...

i love those lunchboxes.

Rose said...

I've been meaning to come back and comment on this ever since you posted it. One of my favorite things to do for lunches last year was mini quiches. I would make two or three dozen of them, using four or five fillings but various combinations of two or three each. Bake and freeze. At least once a week, I'd pull out three or four and put them in a lunchbox and they'd be defrosted by lunchtime. My son loved them. I only had to actually make them once every couple of months.

My trays are from the UK but they're sort of like this: http://www.amazon.com/Nordic-Ware-Platinum-Nonstick-Tartlette/dp/B00005NCWX/ref=dp_cp_ob_k_title_0 or this: http://cooksdream.com/Merchant2/merchant.mvc?Screen=PROD&Product_Code=FDMFNTART)

Mary Beth said...

Rose--oh my goodness, what a good idea! I'm not sure if my boys would eat quiche at room temp, but I know I would love this at least! Which reminds me that little meat pies might be worth a try too . . .