Monday, March 17, 2014

Ideas for a Detested Task: Lunch-Packing

Packing school lunches is not my favorite thing to do.   I always do it the night before, after the kids have been tucked into bed.  Most nights, there is nothing I would like more than to skip this task and to retire to the couch with a hot tea and a good book.  However, the thought of the alternative—scrambling in the morning to make four lunches, with awake children expressing preferences—easily motivates me to endure this late-hour assignment.

Despite my aversion to lunch-packing, I do feel that I have become quite accomplished at providing a broad variety of (mostly) healthy options.  Besides my own brain-storming in response to the needs/desires of my own four children, I benefit from exposure to other parental food offerings, which I observe at the lunchtime of Pollywog Preschool.  So--for all you other reluctant lunch-packing parents, here are a few ideas  from the Tapper house.  Some of these are probably standards in your repetoire, but perhaps you might find a few new ideas…and if you have any other suggestions, I would love to hear!


Traditional bread sandwiches (meat & cheese; hummus and vegetable; Wow butter & banana; Wow butter & jelly; tuna, egg, or other meat salad; leftover sloppy joe or taco meat)

Wraps and pitas (see above; plus we like to include lots of veggies and different sauces in the wraps)

Pasta Salad (Leftover pasta?  Add some yummies—tuna, pepperoni, leftover chunks of meat, chunks of cheese, fresh veggies, some canned beans, etc.  Mix with mayo or another dressing (All my kids like Zesty Italian!)  I have also done rice salads and potato salads, but the pasta salads tend to be the favorites.)

Eggs (Plain hard-boiled; my boys particularly love deviled eggs…especially if I add a little red curry to the yolk mix…)

Cereal and Yogurt (I just put a bit of cereal or granola in one container and keep the yogurt separate, so they can mix it during their lunch time.)

Bagels (with cream cheese…or make a “full” sandwich!)

Sushi (only Jadon will eat this at my house L)

HOT LUNCH IDEAS (We love our Fuel thermoses!)

Leftovers! (Just heat in the morning and add to preheated thermoses!  Lasagna, spaghetti and meatballs, meatballs and rice, mac’n’cheese, and shepherd’s pie are some Tapper favorites.)

Soups, Stews, and Chilis

Over-night Slow Cooker Meals (I will sometimes throw some chopped potatoes, sausage, and veggies in the slow cooker overnight…then just add to thermoses in the morning.)

Octopus on the Beach (Okay, the nutritional value of this one might not be quite up to snuff…but my kids like this on occasion.  It does demand some morning prep of Minute Rice and boiled hotdogs (with the “legs” carefully cut from one end of each hotdog).  I add a small container of ketchup and/or mustard for dipping.)

ON THE SIDE  (This list could go on forever…but I’ll add a few of our regulars…)

Fresh veggies (carrots, cucumbers, peppers, etc.)

Fresh fruit (apples, oranges, bananas, kiwi, grapes, berries, melon, etc.)

Crackers and cheese

Packaged chips or crackers


Homemade muffins, scones, or cookies



Dried fruit (raisins, cranberries, prunes, etc./Seeds (sunflower, pumpkin, etc.)

Granola Bars (a favorite homemade recipe can be found here!)

Dry Cereal

Now, what I won't say is "Enjoy your lunch-packing!" but I will wish you all new insights into the dreaded task.  Please, feel free to return the favor!

1 comment:

Stephanie said...

Oatmeal in a thermos-simply preheat your thermos, then add quick oats(the 3-5 minute kind), raisins, cinnamon and the boiled water. I send a bit of brown sugar or maple syrup for them to add at lunch.

Also scrambled eggs in a thermos.