Packing Lunch for Kindergarten

May 7, 2009

090402lunchbox

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?

Filed under: Meal Planning,Veggie Sides

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8 Comments

  • 1. Margie  |  May 7, 2009 at 1:09 pm

    Do you add anything with the cream cheese? Fae LOVES hers with a touch of jelly!

    He used to eat them together, and actually did so during Passover on matzah, but he doesn’t like it as a sandwich anymore! — Dara

  • 2. merrie  |  May 7, 2009 at 6:38 pm

    I try and pack a sandwich that I know H will eat and always include a pudding. However, H has a variety of sandwiches she will eat. I mix it up with the snacks. Veggies are usually a big hit, fruit is next. I do vary the fruits and vegetables, mostly based on what I get in my food co-op. I try to send in different types of snacks in the morning like popcorn, or veggie chips, or bars. However that is what is usually unsuccessful. PB&J or a bagel w/cream cheese is usually what goes over best for the am snack. Also goldfish and cheez-its are asked for.
    As far as drinks, H prefers water from her water bottle, but I have been sending in vanilla milk, orange juice, or a Capri Sun to up her calorie intake. She drinks water all the time at home.
    Love this topic!
    Making lunch is one of my favorite things and I hope to get more ideas.

  • 3. Laura  |  May 7, 2009 at 7:19 pm

    A is my adventurous eater. She is less interested in PB&J, will occasionally accept a turkey/ham and cheese sandwich. She’ll eat them, but she would never choose them.

    she’s a big fan of the leftover dinner as lunch. I try that whenever it makes sense – some things really should be re-heated which isn’t an option.

    There is always a fruit, a veggie – most often carrots w/ranch for dipping – and a dessert-y item that isn’t actually dessert-y. Trader Joes Cinnamon graham crackers are the current “treat.”

    Her snack is usually a Kashi or Trader Joes granola/breakfast bar type thing.

    She buys milk with lunch and has a Klean Kanteen of still-but-barely-cold water w/snack.

    Rarely does she come home with anything in her lunchbox. There have been a few missteps, but generally she’ll eat anything so I just pack whatever. So the entrees vary drastically, the sides are generally 1 or 2 in a 6-item rotation.

  • 4. Jen  |  May 7, 2009 at 7:26 pm

    Not an entirelty fair question for me to answer, as there is very little Kate doesn’t eat. She gets a piece of cheese, yogurt, 2 fruits or 1 fruit and 1 veg, 1 water, 1 juice or milk, in addition to the “main” of the day—a hard-boiled egg, PB sandwich, cold cuts with crackers or, if we have it, leftover mac and cheese or ravioli in a thermos.

    If she returns more than one item, something is wrong.

  • 5. suzanne  |  May 7, 2009 at 9:18 pm

    Hmmm… I don’t concentrate so much on the snack – that is usually grapes or cheez-its, goldfish, blueberries. My J eats Jelly sandwich every day so I try and throw the curveball on the actual lunch. Once a week I’ll toss in a ziplock with rolled up turkey or a bagel with cream cheese. No comments are generally made so I assume he’s tolerating the once weekly diversion from jelly sandwich (the only time he got really upset was when I sent jelly on super healthy nutty 7 grain bread). Today however was a bust. Today I was out of bread so I put in J’s favorite lunch at home which is tuna on wheat thins. I very carefully packed it so it wouldnt be a tuna blob by the time he ate it. I thought it would be a huge hit but alas – upon returning home I was informed that the crackers were “flexible”. I guess I didn’t consider the soggy factor. Oh well at least tomorrow is pizza day!

  • 6. Jodi  |  May 11, 2009 at 9:06 pm

    Shall I whinge about how we don’t have the tiny Earth’s Best milk available here…or shall I whinge about how much I detest making lunches?:)

  • 7. chickinthekitchen.com &ra&hellip  |  September 6, 2010 at 7:26 am

    […] his best friends are in his class.) Still, it seems like just yesterday I was writing a post about Packing Lunch for Kindergarten, talking about my […]

  • 8. chickinthekitchen.com &ra&hellip  |  January 17, 2011 at 9:32 pm

    […] lunches for me. Now a big first grader, A.’s tastes are pretty much the same since I wrote Packing Lunch for Kindergarten. He has no problem eating the same couple of main items over and over, so it’s not too much […]


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DaraI'm Dara, the Chick in the Kitchen. Living in the suburbs of Manhattan with my two school-aged boys and husband. Feeding my family something more diverse than a different shape of pasta each night. Read more about me and CITK, and keep in touch:

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