Lunch ideas for my 5 yr. old daughter.

Candi - posted on 07/28/2010 ( 10 moms have responded )

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I need some help deciding on what to send my child to school with for lunch. She is all set on fruits, veggies, yogurt and pretzels. I don't mind these being her in her lunchbox to go along with lunch. I just need some ideas for the main part of her lunch. She wants bologna sandwiches, which will get old after so long, and even some days she will eat lunch at school, seeing that they serve some things she will eat. She can be fairly picky, but any suggestions are welcome. Thank You!

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Candi - posted on 08/09/2010

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My biggest thing is that, my daughter won't eat sliced turkey, ham or chicken. She loves bologna and weenies. Thankfully she loves all fruit and a lot of different veggies. She will eat popcorn chicken, so maybe that's an idea. I was she like turkey and ham. It would be a lot easier then.

Elizabeth - posted on 08/07/2010

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As long as you have mostly healthy foods in the kids' lunches, and it is enough for them, I think that is all that is important. Kids tend to like to eat the same thing for a long time, they will let you know when they are tired of something. I don't try new foods in their lunch boxes. I try them at home first.

Tracey - posted on 08/07/2010

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My daughter (who is 6) loves tuna fish. I make her tuna, put it in a plastic bowl with a fork and she will eat it all. She isn't a fan of sandwiches so this works well for her.

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Well, you can try different types of lunch meats, as well as different types of cheese. She can also try those fun little "lunchable" thigs because they have so many types. I don't think she'll be too tired or feel like its too repetetive as long as she doesn't often repeat her breakfast and dinner and she alters her snacks.

Candi - posted on 08/01/2010

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Thanks everyone. All of theses have been helpful. I'm going to try some ideas here at home before she starts school and see if she likes them. Most of the ideas mentioned I think she will love.

Angie - posted on 08/01/2010

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P.s. When my DS was in preschool he got a HUGE kick out of my cutting his sammies into shapes. I bought a cookie cutter set of like 100 from Wal*Mart that was about $8. It had cutters in all different shapes and sizes. The large ones worked best. He'd eat ANYTHING cut into a shape. Sure, there was a substantial amount of crust and sandwich wasted, but my dogs loved the left overs lol.

Also, he was thrilled by cucumbers and carrots with peeled sides so they looked like poker chips. I still do that now that he's 7. (We used poker chips as a teaching aide last year to help with less than/ more than/ equal to and other math stuff.)

Angie - posted on 08/01/2010

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Packing lunches for DS use to be really daunting - until I realized that he eats the same foods we'd normally eat and that packing a lunch for school didn't mean "lame" sandwiches and "boring" snacks.

I admit, it does help that DH is a chef but pro-stat aside, here are some super easy ideas and I have oodles!! These are more summer/warm weather ideas, maybe in another post I'll do up a winter batch:

Leftovers (from dinner): great sides like cubed red potatoes & zucchini medallions seasoned lightly with seasoned salt and oregano (many variations of the same deliciousness add carrots, shallot, sub basil, green onion, grated parmesan, etc.) are GREAT cold second-day. You can skewer, toss in a zippy bag, or shove in a pita. A splash of ranch takes it a long ways too.

Sandwiches: sounds a little tedious, but I switch up the bread.. Oroweat makes some tasty potatoe breads which is what started it all. Mix n match breads with different foods and you'll see theres a tasty surprise at the base of all your sammies. If you're super ambitious and make your own bread, take advantage of slipping some veggies or extra fiber into the breads.

I've always been too busy (working full time) to make a separate meal for DS, and now that I'm a SAHM it just seems silly to make something different for a kid, when they still need all the nutrients from an adults meal and in my opinion, deserve experiencing food as a culture - different tastes, textures, etc. found in "adult" spices and/or meal prep.

With THAT said, things like hard boiled eggs (already shelled at home), fruit wedges, tuna, salad-sandwiches (egg/tuna/etc.), fruit salads, nuts, cheeses (not just the variety available in to-go packs! Do NOT be afraid to slice any ole brick of cheese. Cooked veggies (al dente) lightly seasoned (esp. if your kid grimmaces at veggies lol) and chilled are delish. If you're worried about mayo, you can sub in a splash of vinagarette or make your own (a tsp of EVOO and a small pinch of italian seasoning is good for lil'ones sized servings).

Protiens: While common and a household fave, bologna is crap. There's little nutritional value and its made of all the icky stuff we'd rather our kids skip. (Don't get me wrong, as a child I lived for a mustard-bologna 'sammich' but as an adult there are other options.) Just about any fully cooked protein is just fine chilled for next-day. While we don't eat much beef or pork here (so I have way less recipes for those types), chicken and turkey are delish. You can nab from leftovers, or take a few minutes to prep and make your own healthy lunch meats the day before. After you've let the meat chill overnight, you can do just about anything. Like what? Shread chicken and toss with shredded carrot, lettuce, sunflower seeds, dried cranberries, raisins, cucumber, apple chunks, mandarin oranges, granola, grated cheese. You can drizzle about a tsp. (depending on how much salad you've made) rasberry vinagarette or EVOO with dried basil, salt and pepper to taste or a splash of any ole salad dressing. You can make a big enough salad to have some for yourself later too. For a lunch, stuff in a pita, slice the top off of a ciabatta bun, hollow out and fill with salad. Put the "top" back on and wrap in foil. Send in a bowl or bag with a fork/spork. Wheat tortillas are yummy too but need some heating to make pliable.

You can take meat and cut in long strips or chunky cubes (better for fingers), or thin slices for a standard sandwich.

Clean and rinse a head of lettuce and make wraps with salad mixture from above, or just veggies. Cut thin strips (julienne if you have a mandalin) and stuff and wrap in lettuce. While tasty, cute and healthy as heck - these babies dont stay put very well. Sometimes I'll put 3 short & small wraps in a container w/lid ideal for sandwiches so they aren't mangled by the time noon rolls around, other times I'll skewer with a raw angled carrot or -- my son's fave -- I'll tie a red rope around it lol.

Another idea for a spoil-free "salad dressing or dip is applesauce. Without adding anything to it (no sugar, no nothing) you can spoon some applesauce in a frypan and reduce to thin it out. Be careful tho - too much heat + natural sugars in fruit = caramel. It only takes about 2 minutes on high heat. Spoon in, wisk away, add to food. Don't add to food when its still hot tho - heat still wilts lettuce even in applesauce form. Let it chill out a bit (flash freeze is OK), drizzle on salad,DONE.

I know this was a helluva long post, Sorry moms!! If you need any recipes or more detailed how-tos, let me know.

Tiffany - posted on 08/01/2010

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I didn't think about things that need refridgeration. My daughter's classroom had a small fridge in it. But with frozen juice boxes and lunch box freeze packs with an insulated lunch box, some things should hold out several hours.

Carrie - posted on 07/31/2010

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I used to get those packages of single string cheese. Fruit roll ups were a favorite too.Another idea is, I would freeze a juice box and it did double duty keeping the other things cold, you have to watch mayo and things like that, that will go bad fast if they aren't refrigerated.Usually, cold lunches stay in backpacks until lunch time. Just make sure you take it out of the freezer early enough so it can thaw enough by her lunchtime. The first time I did it my daughter couldn't drink it because it was still too frozen,lol.

Tiffany - posted on 07/31/2010

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One thing my kids love are pinwheel sandwiches. We take tortilla shells and the kids pick their choice of fillings: lunch meat, mayo, mustard, cream cheese or sliced cheese, lettuce, etc. Then I let the kids help make them. I let them decide whether to cut them in half diagonally or into slices.

My daughter went through a "kebob" stage, too. We would roll up lunch meat and slice them for the meat part. Then I'd cube some cheese and any other thing she wanted on it. We would even make "dessert kebobs" with fresh fruit on them. Again, it was something she could help put together.

I found that it was easier to give her 2 choices of, say, lunch meat so she had some control, but I could help cut down the monotony. She was definately more eager if she was involved in the process, from deciding what to buy to making her lunch.

Hope this helps!

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