Family life

What do you pack in your child's lunch?

Tracy's looking for advice from veteran parents about what they include (and don't!) for school lunches and snacks.

By Tracy Chappell
What do you pack in your child's lunch?

Some inspiring packed-lunch ideas in this photo by axelsrose via Flickr.

I was standing in the kitchen last night, staring into Anna’s insulated lunch bag, trying to reach deep for inspiration for this last week of packing an all-day food extravaganza for Anna.

Oh yeah — that’s not true. It’s so far from the truth. While this is her last week of camp, I only have a one-week reprieve until the real lunch marathon (a.k.a. Grade One) begins. Two snacks and a lunch every day for a very hungry, growing girl. I’m already out of ideas.

People told me how lucky I’ve been to not have to pack lunches. From what I can tell, moms hate packing lunches with a passion. I get it now. I’ve only had to do two weeks (and for one child, at that), and the sheer volume of food you have to send to last the day is mind-boggling. Then, the next day, you have to do it all over again. And again. I’ve suddenly realized why people have Costco memberships.

For her proper lunch, Anna wants either:

  • a turkey sandwich with butter and lettuce
  • a bagel with cream cheese
  • Ummm…

That’s it. She’s not interested in trying anything else. Should I be OK with that, or try to expand her horizons? I have no idea. I do like easy. Alongside that, I’ve been packing some combination of:

  • baby carrots
  • granola bars
  • crackers
  • fruit
  • pretzels
  • yogurt
  • applesauce

I thought I was doing pretty well, but Anna informed me that she never got a “health” bead from her camp counselor, which is based on what’s in the camper’s lunch. Really, teenaged camp counselor? I’d like to see what’s in your lunch.

Since I’ve only just begun, and am such a rookie in this department (as well as many other grade-schooler issues that are sure to come), I’m looking for your bright ideas. Maybe we can all help each other as we embark on a fresh school year.

What goes into your kids’ lunch bags? Do they pack their own or do you pack it for them? Do they have input? Do they want the same stuff day after day (and is that OK with you)?


Lastly, do you send junky food to school? Anna often goes on a little tear about the “treats” that everyone gets and how I’m so mean that I don’t send them (which isn’t fair because I DID send her chocolate pudding one day and a gummy fruit snack another day). She tells me that other kids get Kit Kats, etc. (this was for morning snack in kindergarten, by the way) which just isn’t going to happen. And let’s not forget the juice! We don’t drink juice here very often, but apparently everyone gets juice except her, and she has to suffer through water. Child abuse, I know. I’m the worst mom ever.

The politics of the lunch bag. And we’re only starting Grade One… Help!

Photo: axelsrose via Flickr.

This article was originally published on Aug 20, 2012

Weekly Newsletter

Keep up with your baby's development, get the latest parenting content and receive special offers from our partners

I understand that I may withdraw my consent at any time.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.