Elementary School Lunch Ideas

Updated on August 23, 2010
G.C. asks from Minneapolis, MN
7 answers

I have a finicky 7 year old, slow eater, who is not eating enough lunch at school and comes home exhausted and starving. He always eats breakfast (though sometimes it is just cereal and juice)School starts at 7:30am, lunch is from 10:10 - 10:45, but no more than 10 minutes of it is for eating before they are excused for recess, he gets home at 2:10pm and eats another meal. He used to live on peanut butter, will glady eat other nuts - but can't at school because of others' allergies. I have tried some kids "power bars", but so many of them are nut based. We sometimes do yogurt drinks, but they are so sugary. He will rarely eat sandwich meat. I would love some ideas of things that are able to be eaten quickly, contain no nuts and are easy to pack in a lunch and will give him energy through the rest of the school day.

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answers from Minneapolis on

I can't believe that he isn't allowed to have peanut butter at school because of others allergies. They are not the ones eating it! It is not going to touch their food! I would call the lunch ladies at the school and ask exactly why your son cannot bring food he will eat for lunch. I send peanut butter sandwiches with my daughter to school when she doesn't like the hot meal offered. They have never said anything to me about it, and actually they offer a peanut butter sandwich and milk to the students that do not have lunch money...the whole not being able to bring it sounds fishy to me.

For protein...does he like eggs or cheese? Yoplait light or any yogurt made with splenda has no sugar...I have seen the yogurt drinks with no sugar added at the Rainbow in West St. Paul. I am sure they have some in Minneapolis. One other trick one of my friends has to do (her daughter won't eat meat) is grind the meat up, in a blender and mix it with the rice-a-roni or just plain white rice they are having with dinner. She has no clue the meat is in there and loves it!

Good Luck!!!



answers from Minneapolis on

Hello, I'm a WAHM too! I actually have a list of 25 ideas for you. I have a mom based business and I have a registered dietitian who contributes to my newsletter every month. This fall she worte a piece on cold lunches for kids and it was awesome! Check it out, she had some really great and unique ideas. Here's the link http://www.momonthego.net/nutrition/nutrition1.html

My 8 year old is exactly like yours and at about that age it seemed like he lived on spoonfulls of air. One thing that helped me was to read about what his actual nutrition needs were. I didn't feel like he was eating enough and then I read about it and he was actually getting enough protein. He's healthy and thriving and he still is a picky eater but he's fine. One book that gets really specifc about nutritional needs is, "Good Kids, Bad Habits." The author is a pediatrician who lists exactly what they need and food to try to get those requirements met. The other great resource is a website www.betterfoodchoices.com Ellen, the co-founder, has put together an awesome kid friendly food program and cookbook that she sells on a cd.
I hope that helps, please feel free to contact me with anything else!
In Gratitude,



answers from Minneapolis on

I don't have any new ideas for you, but I foresee this happening with my son too (he will be in kindergarten in the fall). He doesn't like meat (but could live on PB&J's!)...I never thought about the possibility of certain foods being banned...yikes! Good luck!


answers from Minneapolis on

Does he like cheese? There is string cheese, colby cheese...etc that kids usually like...so cheese and crackers (tons of varietys to shake it up some).

I am a dayacre p0rovider and when I have school-agers they come home starving all the time. A Pm snack according to the USDA food prg standards can just be crackers and milk....but I found myslef adding cheese slices or cubes and some fruit which made it a technical lunch/supper according to theit standards...easier to do than I thought!

So mostly I do yogurt or some sort of cheese (sticks, cubes, slices..variety is the key for my crew) and then crackers or pretzels (again, variety)...2 fruits ( starfruit is a fun one every now and then) and their standard milk. Mine also love having applesause cups with graham crackers or with their fruit (it becomes dip then)...and you can take whipped cottage cheese (smoother texture and a protein source) and mix with a flavoring (Mrs Dash makes alot of seasoning mixes with no salt or msg added) and the kids love that on crackers (or sweeten with fruit juice, etc for a fruit dip).

When I do make sandwiches of somekind I use alot of large cookie cutters for fun shapes and occasionally make homemade bread (or buy...some bakerys make for seasons/holidays) that is colored....always fun at the lunch table!

Good luck.

PS..I agree with other poster about the PNB being off limits becasue a few kids have allergies. Seems unfair to me to the majority who are not allergic. JMO



answers from Minneapolis on

I haven't had time to read anyone else's response but I recommend trying sesame butter or sunflower butter as a substitute for the peanut butter. I feel for you as I am already dreading school lunches for my son. His only source of protein is nuts and dairy. He won't touch any meat (not even hamburger or chicken). We are going to start using hummus and sesame butter a lot to get him accustomed to it.

For energy bars, we buy Odwalla bars from drugstore.com. They are healthy (no high fructose corn syrup or dyes), they are fruit based and except for the chocolate chip peanut one they do not have nuts as an ingredient. We used to be able to buy them at Target but they stopped carrying them. My son would eat only these the entire day if I would let him, but I know not all kids like them (as with any energy type bar).

Good luck.



answers from Minneapolis on

I have similar problems, my daughter socializes to much at lunch just picks and comes home starving. I think they need a snack before school gets out.

My daughter's school allows them to eat peanut butter and jelly. I think I'd go nuts if she couldn't.

Will your son eat stuff with ranch or ketchup? You could try and roll-up out of tortilla skins. Does he like cheese, there is alot of stuff you can do with cheese.I try and stay away from sugary things too they just get your blood sugar to rise quick and fall quick taking all your energy. I volunteer at lunch alot I see kids bring thermos with mac/cheese or spaghetti o's stuff like that in alot.

I hate to say this but because a one kid or few kids are allergic to peanuts I think special arrangements should be made for those kids it's not fair to the 98% who aren't. I'm sure alot of ppl wouldn't agree with that comment but that's how I feel.



answers from San Francisco on

"Seems unfair to me to the majority who are not allergic."

Seriously? This is an incredibly insensitive remark for those parents whose children DO have peanut allergies. Be thankful that your child does NOT have to suffer from food allergies and the risk of DEATH from being exposed to peanuts/eggs/wheat/dairy/shellfish/etc. I'm surprised how some people can be so egocentric that they feel it is an inconvenience that they can't send peanut butter to school. These food restrictions are for the SAFETY of all our children. Does your child have to have a life-threatening food allergy before you can understand the importance of this? I sincerely hope not.