Then I go into my kitchen and get real. Hello, I am a tired working mommy here. As much as I would love to send my kids to school with one of those precious Benito lunches the truth is I don’t have time for that. Not to mention I have boys. Boys don’t eat their food. They shovel it into their mouths in five bites or less and then race out the door to go to recess.
I need quick. I need easy. I prefer organic when I can get it. So what is a tired mom to do? Well it starts with a trip to Costco! The greatest big box store in the world has made it so easy to buy healthy ,and even organic, foods in bulk that I can just toss into a lunch box and forget about it.
Organic milk boxes, nitrate free deli turkey and sliced chicken, Brownberry multigrain bread, organic strawberry jam, low fat high protein Greek yogart, and even small treats. Costco has it all. We also love to buy their bananas, big containers of blue berries, raspberries, and grapes. One exception to the organic rule is my Jif peanut butter. I love peanut butter, but I can’t stand the “natural” or organic peanut butters because they are practically drowning in the separated oil.
I also fell in love with these BPA free containers from Rubbermaid. The sizes are perfect, the sandwich container is big enough to accommodate the larger sized Brownberry bread, and the built in ice pack totally rocks.
There were $2 coupons for them in this past Sunday’s newspaper, plus Target has them on sale this week for $3 off. Even if you don’t have the Sunday coupons there are $1 peelies attached to the packaging.
As you can see I stocked up on them so I’ll have plenty for the new school year!
So once you have your containers and you made your run to Costco, what goes in the lunch box?
I try to cover the four food groups and make sure their is plenty of protein, complex carbs, and nutrition for growing minds.
I am very blessed that both of my boys are allergy free. So I have an organic milk box. The picture shows Horizon, but my boys also love the Kirkland Organic Chocolate Milk Boxes from Costco. I only buy organic and hormone free milk. I truly believe all the hormones in dairy products are the reason children are entering puberty earlier and earlier.
If your child is allergic to milk then use juice boxes or soy or almond milk.
Because this is a lunch for a first grader, there is half a sandwich which has turkey, sharp cheddar, and spinach leaves. My boys are not big veggie fans so I compensate with a double fruit serving, fresh blueberries and an Apple Go Go Squeeze. Finally, a little crunch comes from a Cheeze-It 100 Calorie pack.
The only part of this yummy lunch I actually had to make myself was the sandwich, which is the way I like it! To keep everything cool I slide the ice pack into the zippered netting on the lid and close it up! Done, done and done. I pack 15 school lunches a week, ten for my boys and five for me. I’m not going to apologize for cutting corners by using prepackaged healthy options!
I also have a small thermos for each of us so I can let the boys take hot soup, chili, stew, spaghetti or whatever leftovers we have from the previous nights dinner. I cook in double batches frequently. I have to use a thermos because my children do not have access to a microwave at school. I don’t know of any schools around here that allow the kids to use microwaves but I have seen lots of articles in Parenting and Parents lately to say to do just that.
Here is a list of really great products from Costco:
Brownberry Oatnut Bread
Jif Peanut Butter
Kirkland Organic Strawberry Spread
Kirkland Organic Milk Boxes
GoGo Squeeze Applesauce
Pepperidge Goldfish Crackers
Honey Maid Graham Crackers
Ritz Crackers & Cheese
Annie’s Fruit Snacks
Fruyo Greek Yogart
Nature Valley Granola Bars
Kraft String Cheese
Nature Valley Sweet & Salty
Quaker Chewy Granola Bars
100 Calories Snack Packs
Kirkland Organic Tortilla Chips
Tree Top Fruit Snacks
Stretch Island Fruit Strips
I hope this list is helpful. So often we feel under pressure to do everything bigger and better until it is ridiculously over the top! At the end of the day kids need to eat nutricious food, appropriate sized portions, and it needs to be a little bit fun. So don’t feel guilty if your child’s lunch box isn’t Pinterest picture worthy. If you have more suggestions please add them in the Comments below!