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Tuesday, August 25, 2009

How to Pack a Health School Box Lunch + 5 Days of Vegetarian Menus + The Perfect Lunch Box

Eben has always wanted to take his lunch to school. I have asked him before if you would like to eat school lunch and he looks at me as if I am a tad crazy and says, "I am a take my lunch kid." So, that is that, he takes his lunch to school. I am glad that he wants to because the mister and I can influence what he has for lunch and since he leaves everything in the lunch box that he doesn't eat, I can keep track of that too. However, the tricky part is making lunches that are delicious, nutritious and hot. It is cold here in Colorado! Another challenge we faced was finding a lunch box that is easy to use, will accommodate a thermos and is good on the environment.

We checked out several lunch boxes and decided on a laptop lunch box system. First, we love the design and that the lunch box is Earth friendly. It is a large lunch box with five smaller containers inside (1 large with a lid, 1 large without a lid, 2 medium without lids and 1 smaller one with lid). It also comes with a fork, spoon and a bottle for a drink. You can also purchase an insulted bag to hold the laptop lunch, I would highly recommend purchasing this. It is insulted and has a pocket for a napkin and another zipper pouch that is perfect to hold an ice pack. It also has an adjustable strap so it can be worn like a messenger bag. (Which Eben loves because any chance he has to be like Indiana Jones is a bonus.)

The best part of the system is everything is BPA free and easy to use and clean. It however does not have anyway to hold hot foods and is not big enough to accommodate a thermos. Our solution was to purchase a stainless steel thermos. Then, we found a local artisan who creates handmade thermos cozies that we were able to attach to Eben's lunchbox with a clip. It has worked out really well and has allowed Eben to have a combination of hot and cold items for lunch everyday.

Now comes the really tricky part, how to pack a healthy lunch that your kids will actually eat. When packing Eben's lunch each morning, the mister and I always choose at least one item from the following categories: protein, whole grains, fruits, vegetables, calcium, and a healthy fat. This way he has a good selection and will have a well balanced meal that will gives him the energy that he needs to stay focused through the latter part of the school day. Try to choose at least one item from each category, read on to get started.

1. Protein:
  • organic almond, soy or peanut butter
  • organic cheese
  • organic hummus
  • organic beans
  • organic edamame
  • organic tofu
  • organic nuts
  • organic seeds
  • organic hard boiled egg (not vegetarian)
  • organic wild caught tuna or salmon (not vegetarian)
  • organic sustainable seafood, cage free chicken, or grass fed beef (not vegetarian)
  • organic tempeh
2. Whole Grains:
  • organic whole grain sandwich bread, pita, crackers or tortilla
  • organic whole grain pasta, couscous, quinoa or brown rice
  • organic granola
  • organic corn
3. Vegetables:

  • organic carrots
  • organic olives
  • organic celery
  • organic green beans
  • organic peas
  • irganic cucumber
  • organic eggplant
  • organic potato
  • organic sweet potato
  • organic cabbage
  • organic tomato
  • organic squash
  • organic coleslaw
4. Fruits:

  • organic apple
  • organic banana
  • organic strawberries
  • organic peach
  • organic plum
  • organic grapes
  • organic watermelon
  • organic cantaloupe
  • organic apricot
  • organic orange
  • organic mango
  • organci kiwi
  • organic nectarine
  • organic raspberries
5. Calcium:

  • organic cheese
  • organic yogurt
  • organci tofu
  • organic almonds or almond butter
  • organic beans
  • organic hummus
  • organic milk or fortified soy, rice or almond milk
  • organic fortified orange juice

6. Healthy Fats:

  • organic almonds or almond butter
  • organic avocado
  • organic extra virgin oil olive
  • organic flax seed or oil
  • orghanic olives
Here is a week's worth of meal plans that Eben really enjoys, these may help you get started or you can add them to your already great kids lunch box meal plans.

Day 1
  • 6 organic homemade vegetable nuggets
  • 1/2 cup organic homemade coleclaw
  • 1/2 organic plum
  • 1/2 cup organic vanilla yogurt
  • 100% organic homemade vegetable juice
Day 2
  • organic bean, cheese and hot sauce burrito
  • organic carrots with hummus
  • organic cherries and grapes
  • 1/2 cup organic vanilla yogurt
  • organic milk or 100% organic homemade vegetable juice
Day 3
  • organic homemade cheese raviolis
  • 3 organic whole grain crackers
  • organic carrots with hummus
  • 1/2 cup organic strawberries
  • 100% organic homemade vegetable juice
Day 4
  • organic homemade minestrone soup 
  • 3 organic whole grain crackers
  • 1/2 cup organic olives
  • 1 organic fresh peach
  • organic cucumbers with organic strawberry vinegrette
  • organic milk
Day 5
  • organic whole grain Udon noodles, diced carrots with creamy garlic sauce
  • organic edamame
  • handful of organic almonds
  • organic cheese stick
  • 100% organic homemade vegetable juice
There are many other meal plans available, you can make sandwiches such as almond or peanut butter with 100% fruit spread. Another huge hit at our house is pizza, the mister will make a few homemade organic whole grain vegetarian pizzas from scratch on the weekends and then freeze them for later in the week.

What are your children's favorite lunch box meals?
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