Packing lunch for A., who eats at school three days a week, is easy in that he doesn’t mind having the same couple of items constantly repeated. Because he doesn’t care for the majority of traditional sandwiches — cold cuts, peanut butter & jelly, tuna fish, etc. — we wind up sticking to a few tried and true combinations. I pack him an unflavored milk box for both lunch and snack — he’s always been a great milk drinker.
For his main lunch item, he’ll usually have a cream cheese sandwich on whole wheat bread (as seen in the pic above); leftover plain pasta mixed with shredded mozzarella in a Thermos; or a mini bagel with butter, plus a slice of cheese or a cheese stick on the side. If I’ve baked a batch of muffins, he’s occasionally take that plus a yogurt drink, but not often. I’ll try something different like a peanut butter sandwich every once in a while, making sure the other items are filling enough that he won’t be hungry if he decides not to eat it. I haven’t had any success with him discovering a new favorite that way… yet.
Then with the milk and sandwich/pasta I include a fruit and a vegetable, though sometimes just one plus a treat like fruit snacks or graham crackers. The fruit and veg almost always comes back in his lunch box uneaten, but I feel it’s my job to keep including them, trying different types of produce to see if anything does get consumed. I’ve learned over the course of the year to keep the portions small. The kids don’t get a ton of time to eat, and A. can be pretty pokey. As long as he has his milk at snack and lunch, he’d probably be full enough to make it home without complaint, so I am fortunate to not have to stress too much about whether he eats or not.
I look at snack as an opportunity to give him a healthy choice — maybe he’ll actually eat an apple slice if he’s hungry, because I know he’ll likely eat junk whether he’s hungry or not. (I’ve never heard of him turning down a birthday cupcake.) Yes, sometimes he gets FruitaBu (“organic smooshed fruit” — I love that tagline!), Popumz, pretzels, or a small homemade muffin (I pop it in his bag frozen, and it defrosts by the time snack rolls around). My kids won’t eat Goldfish or any other kind of cheese cracker — I have never heard of any other kids like that! But usually he gets fruit (grapes, berries, apple slices, watermelon, cantaloupe chunks, etc.), plus his milk box. I figure he’s fine until lunch even if he doesn’t eat the fruit, and he’s never complained about it though he has, when asked, told me he doesn’t always eat what I’ve packed.
Do you pack only what you know your kids will eat, or do you include foods that you hope they’ll try?