Need help with brown bag lunches!

Tracy - posted on 03/23/2010 ( 30 moms have responded )

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My son is in high school, where apparently it is uncool to carry any kind of lunch bag, box, or container besides a brown paper lunch sack. Since the cafeteria food is expensive and not terribly nutritious, we have been sending him with brown bag lunches from home. The problem is that since I can't fit a cold pack in there with all the things he needs to fill up at lunch, I am somewhat limited in what I can pack, and I'm getting short on ideas. He is not that picky of an eater any more, so please share with me what kinds of sandwiches and side items you send with your teen. He is just DONE with cherry tomatoes, grapes and baby carrots. I do send some refrgierated items if they won't spoil outside the frig for a few hours. Thanks!!!

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Jane - posted on 04/06/2010

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Freezing a bottle of Gatorade or Water that you can put in his bag will keep everything else fresh until it's time for lunch.

Jenny - posted on 03/28/2010

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Hi Tracy..I know one way to keep things cool for lunches ..wrap the things you want to stay cool in foil..like drinks and jellos..and if ice is necessary put ice in plastic bag put food in in paper towel and wrap all in towel place in plastic bag. Also for a healthy snacks. try trail mixes, dried fruit, and low cal snacks..I hope this helps.

Tricia - posted on 03/28/2010

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You may also want to try taking your son bag shopping. My son didn't want to carry a lunch box anymore, so we took him to the sporting goods store and found an insulated bag that was "cool" enough to carry.

Nicole - posted on 03/27/2010

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Sliced up red bell peppers are very good as a side snack instead of chips, also string cheese or the little wax covered cheese's are really good with a healthy whole grain cracker. Teens need calcium so cheese's are always good for the bag. Hope that helps you some!

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Emerald - posted on 03/15/2014

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Just a couple slices of turkey on whole weat bread,a slice of cheese. a water bottle, a cag of baked potato chips and a cup of salad with ranch dressing and a cup or two of some variaty of fruit is what I normally find best. It has exactly enough nutrition and is easily storable in a paper bag. It is quick to make and fills you up quickly. If it dosn't I always put a granola bar in the bag for later.

Kati - posted on 02/20/2014

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I just read another blog somewhere whilst looking for cold lunch ideas for my way-too-cool son... some Dad said that in the beginning of the year they put a hard side igloo cooler in the locker and left it there, when his son gets to school, he puts his lunch in the cooler until lunch time... I thought that was brilliant! Yay dad!

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I pack my son a PB&J sandwich made with natural no-stir PB & low sugar jam. He doesn't like any fruit or vegies either so I also pack a healthy granola bar, low-fat crackers, those chewy fruit snacks & a bottle of water. If he has sports after school, I pack him an extra sandwich & granola bar. It's not the best but I do feed him a good hot meal when he gets home.

Tracy - posted on 04/05/2010

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Ramona, he's not complaining at all! He's not even picky. I was just running out of ideas because I like to vary what he eats each day, but he can't take a cold pack. I've used some of the great ideas posted here and I've also made homemade cold packs with ice in a ziplock bag. I've got many new ideas in my repertoire now!

Ramona - posted on 04/02/2010

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I figure once he starts complaining about the lunch, he should make his own. My kids are involved in a million sports, acitivities, church and are honor students as well, but complain about the cooking, then do it your self. We often make our lunches together in the am, but everyone is responsible for what is in their own bag, so there are no complaints.

[deleted account]

I freeze the juice pack so it serves double duty as an ice pack/drink. He warms it with his hands if its not fully thawed when he is ready to drink it. My son can eat! So he always gets a sandwich, fruit, string cheese, a salty snack and a couple of cookies. He did like baby carrots, celery, green peppers and other raw veggies but not so much any more.

Tara - posted on 03/29/2010

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I have to respond to the why do you make a freshman his lunch my answer is the same reason I still get my hubby's lunch ready for him. I love taking care of my family there are times I have him make his own lunch but I like doing things for them. And I know they like it as well

Gail - posted on 03/29/2010

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your frozen items can be used as a cold pack for other foods you don't went to freeze.

Tracy - posted on 03/29/2010

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Ramona, I make my 15 year old's lunch because I WANT TO. He's fully capable, and has made his own lunches before, but between all of his pre-AP classes, football, soccer, church activities, mowing the lawn and other chores, and Driver's Ed, I feel that his plate is pretty full, and I am happy to help out where I can.

Tracy - posted on 03/29/2010

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Thanks, Tricia! I will see if he'd be interested in looking for an insulated bag.

Dianne - posted on 03/28/2010

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I have 3 boys who love chinese instant noodles. I buy the big bowls, they just pour hot water on them and wait 3 min to cook. If they want Ramen noodles, I cook the noodles at home, put them in a Tupperware with the dry soup mix and they pour in the hot water at lunch.
Cheap and the boys stay happy.

Sheri - posted on 03/27/2010

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My daughter's in high school too and if she takes a lunch she makes it herself and packs it in a bag as well. If she takes something that needs to be refrigerated she doen't really concern herself with it. However, she likes does like capri sun and when be buy some she will throw them in the freezer and that acts as her cold pack. You would be amazed at how many high schoolers like capri sun. When her friends come over that's the first thing they grab. Just keep in mind, when we were kids and in grade school we didn't have cold packs in our lunches and we turned out just fine. Good luck.

Jasmine - posted on 03/26/2010

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i have a 13 yr old son. i usually just send him to school with his dry foods in a brown bag and freeze his juice, then give him 2 dollars a day for anything else he may like at the canteen because they only sell healthy foods now. or what about water based foods that need hot water wen ready to eat he can get it from the canteen.

Tara - posted on 03/26/2010

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I love that my son's school has a microwave. I guess there is always a line but he can normally find a way to it

Tracy - posted on 03/25/2010

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Amanda, I wish my son's school had microwaves, but I can just imagine the line there would be to use them if it did. My daughter likes Peanut Butter in celery, too, but my son can't stand celery. I'm just "blessed" to have one child that likes everything opposite of what the other one likes! : )

Amanda - posted on 03/25/2010

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My daughter is 16 and likes to pack her lunch as well. (Although she has a lunch bag with a little monkey on it that i can fit a cold pack in. She is a girl and can get away with it still being "cute"!) She likes to take celery and peanut butter, pears, and some of the microwaveable soups (her school has microwaves). You can even find microwaveable items in the natural food section at Krogers. She loves them! Hope this helps.

[deleted account]

I see everyone mentioning PB&J. We are not allowed peanut butter or anything that may contain peanuts in our schools. My son hates meat sandwiches. That leave me with cheese & crackers and, yes, no cold pack because it HAS to be a brown lunch bag.

Tracy - posted on 03/25/2010

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Thanks to everyone who has responded so far. I went to Costco today and found some peanut butter-filled pretzels he can take as a snack and some whole wheat tortilla chips that look more like a cracker, but they are so good. I also thought of those pouches of flavored tuna that don't require refrigeration. I am going to try freezing things too so that they will stay fresher longer. He already takes plain bottled waters, so we're good on the drinks. I like the chocolate mini-rice cakes idea! I also found some fresh pears to substitute out for the apples he's so tired of, and tangelos instead of cuties. Sometimes just a few changes help make lunch seem better! Thanks again.

Charity - posted on 03/25/2010

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I wonder if you can get those pre-made sandwiches in the deli sections, or you can make them yourself and just wrap with cling wrap. Depending on what he likes, you can put in plastic baggies, like carrots,cauliflower, etc. You can get the bags that has a huge variety of chips. The juice boxes are a little cheesy for the older crowd, so you can look around for the bottled waters that are on sale, and then just get the boxes of powered drink mixes. One thing I like about the bottled waters, you can re-use them.

Tara - posted on 03/25/2010

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my son loves peanut butter and banana sandwiches, I send a Cliff twisted fruit, a box of raisins, carrots, apple, chocolate mini rice cakes (oh my son is 15) he still loves the juice boxes lol oh he loves the cuties as well

Barb - posted on 03/24/2010

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WOW..LOL!! First thing I thought when I read this was "frozen Go Gurt" My son carries it all the time...then I read the replies. I guess the frozen easy stuff has it hands down!

Patricia - posted on 03/24/2010

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Well, my 15 year old packs his own lunches...he usually has a BBJ sandwich, chips, fruit and a snack and a juice pouch. But because he usually has a big breakfast, he isn't that hungry at lunch. Maybe if your son likes veggies and dip, maybe you can still pack it the way you do and than come lunch time, tell him to leave the cold pack in his locker...pack the cold stuff in a zip lock bag within the brown bag.

Tracy - posted on 03/23/2010

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Good idea on freezing the yogurt. I have done this with Go-gurt brand when he was little, but I bet we could freeze the regular containers! You're right about the juice - won't drink it in a box! Thanks so much...any help is good!

Jana - posted on 03/23/2010

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Hi Tracy,

You can try freezing some of the items so they are thawed by lunch time. This works with juice, yogurt, and veggies. I know he may not like juice boxes anymore but I thought I would offer it. We used to freeze our pb and j's and they always worked out well.



I am not sure of many more options. It is hard to pack those lunches when they get older and you are right, school lunches are expensive and not very healthy.

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