Packing Lunches – A Formula

IMG_5542A very sweet mom at preschool suggested I tackle packing lunches in a post.  And I can see why — few other jobs drag on as relentlessly as daily lunch packing.

Mulling it over, it occurred to me I like formulas for tasks I have to do on a daily basis: lunches, getting dressed, making dinner, getting the piano practiced etc.

I think there are two (and just two 😉 kinds of people in the world.

1. people who find great creative satisfaction in packing creative lunches.

2. people who just want a dang lunch packed that the little people will eat and not complain about when they get home.

This is for #2 crowd.

My lunch formula is as follows

  • one main course
  • one fruit
  • one veggie
  • one treat

And the rules

1. This is not the time to introduce new items you don’t think your kids will like.  This is not the time to give them things they don’t like.  With the option of trashing anything they want with out so much as the opportunity to be invited to try ONE BITE, the odds are not in your favor.  But…

2. Use this as an opportunity to get those fruits and vegetables in! Surely there are a handful of fruits and vegetables your kids like and this is a guaranteed opportunity every day to get those healthy foods in.

3.  Don’t be afraid of repeating popular foods.  If there is a healthy food your kids like, don’t be afraid to use it.  Constantly.  No such thing as too many apples or almonds.

4.  Keep that fridge stocked.  I know, the hardest part.  How many times have I closed and reopened the fridge hoping there was one more bag of carrots in the crisper drawer?  Nothing drags out making lunches like not having decent options on hand.

5.  From time to time, plan ahead to give yourself a break.  There is nothing like grilled chicken breast, or frozen bean taquitos to make packing lunches easy.

6. Always have an emergency supply of items that can be used if you are out of fresh items.  Repurchase before you get even close to running low.  In our house this is applesauce cups, canned pineapple, almond butter and veggie straws.

click below to see how it all comes together

Here are the most common foods I use in each category.

Main course

  • almond butter sandwiches
  • things wrapped in tortillas (cheese, grilled chicken breasts, refried beans etc)
  • yogurt
  • cottage cheese
  • cream cheese bagels with cucumber and/or meat
  • hard boiled egg
  • left overs in small thermoses


  • bananas
  • oranges
  • apples
  • grapes
  • berries


  • carrots
  • cucumbers
  • peppers
  • snap peas
  • celery
  • grape tomatoes


  • homemade treats: cookies, banana bread, brownies etc.
  • pretzels
  • crackers
  • fruit snacks
  • chocolate

Not overly exciting, true.  But overall, go with the healthiest things you know your kids will eat — don’t be afraid to stick with what works.


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