Lunch Ideas for School - Crowley,TX

Updated on October 28, 2009
T.P. asks from Crowley, TX
24 answers

My son is 4 and goes to a local preschool 4 days a week. I pack his lunch each day (it is not provided by the school) and would love any ideas you have for his lunch box. There is a peanut allergy in the class so nothing containing nuts of any kind, it must be "ready to eat" as they will not heat anything up. He is not very picky and will eat almost anything. He either eats a meat and cheese sandwich or a lunchable each day - there is no problem but I'm getting tired of giving him the same old thing every day and would like to provide a little more variety. I'm mainly interested in ideas for the "main course" . . .

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So What Happened?

Thank you for all the great responses . . . I never thought about the thermos idea and thanks for reminding me that he probably isn't as bored as I am since he eats every bite of what I send him! I look forward to trying the new ideas! This is a wonderful place for wonderful moms to share!

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answers from Dallas on

Meatloaf with ketchup smiley faces.

small wooden skewers (or toothpicks) - kebabs of meat, potato, onion, green pepper, etc. that he likes

cheese and various lunch meats (ham, pepperoni, proscuitto and mozzarella or roast beef and cheddar or ham, chicken and swiss) rolled up and held together with toothpicks

fried chicken drumsticks (fresh chicken fried and refrigerated is easy to do on weekend)



answers from Dallas on

Wow! You received some yummy ideas the only thing that I would add is this - I pack lunch in a short round tupperware container so that when lunch begins my kids can just peel back the lid rather than waiting for the teacher to help open any packaging. They get to eat sooner, there is no plastic baggie waste and packng is quicker. A frozen juice box laid next to the continer in the lunch box keeps everything cold.



answers from Dallas on

Here's what my son (now 5 years old) LOVES:

chicken salad sandwich (shredded chicken breast, chopped celery, chopped onion, mayo and salad and pepper to taste)

sliced avocado with sides of crackers or chips, carrots, celery, cheese or whatever he likes

chick peas with various sides

pasta with chopped chicken and veggies (can use frozen chopped veggies like corn, carrots and broccoli) and mix in favorite dressing (Zesty Italian is good)

More Answers



answers from Dallas on

I was excited when I read your post because I knew I'd get more ideas for my own child from your responses. I'll ad some of what I do for my kiddo that wasn't mentioned.

An extremely RARE treat I send with my little girls for lunch maybe once or twice in a school year is:

that whole grain white bread with
Nutella spread on it.

This amounts to a "chocolate sandwich". No messier than PBJ and it's SUCH A TREAT that my daughters are instantly delighted and have bragging rights for lunches for the rest of the school year. LOL Nutella is sold in grocery stores usually same isle as peanute butter and often right beside it or very near it. Small squatty plastic jar-current white label. It's made from Brazil nuts and does have cocoa in it. It's definately fatty but like peanute butter isn't going to harm your kiddo or hock 'em up on sugar. Plus your kids will always think you're the absolute best 'cause how many kids get a chocolate sandwich??

I find I don't have lots of time to put together stuff and the thermos idea obviously works for some but it won't with mine. If it can make a mess or spill IT WILL and usually ALL OVER MY KID or the rest of their lunch which means stains-soggy food or at the very least a mess to clean up for the teacher/ caregiver or me. SO I AVOID thermos stuff like the plague. I also read a recent article in Good Housekeeping that tested thermos bottles that come with lunch boxes and their findings showed that few keep things warm enough to call it warm or protected enough to prevent spoilage which is the whole point of using a thermos. There was a list of thermos included that met safe standards and it can prob. be tracked down through Good Housekeeping's website for anyone who is interested including you if you like. Me-I won't bother.

Instead I like the cold/ room temp. route.

I LOVE love love those gel packs or cold shapes that you freeze that do not leak or spill and can be reused. I put one in almost every lunch and my kids leave it-they never take it out. SO it keeps the sandwich cool-the juice box or pouch cool-the fruits-yogurt, etc. nice and cool. An added bonus is that if any boo boo occurs there's a handy ice pack nearby both at school-in vehicle and at home that doesn't melt into a puddle.
I just wash 'em with warm-soapy water-swipe a towel over and toss back in fridge. I keep several on hand so that there's always at least two frozen-one for each child in home. You can even layer the foods in a lunch bag with multiple of these if you feel it's necessary.

I have always been picky about my own foods and hate soggy sandwiches so I pack lettuce and tomato seperate to be added when it's lunch time.

Simple nachos are something that works well too! A healthy take is the baked Blue corn chips, shredded cheeze-tomatos-little sour cream-and guacamole or chopped avacado pieces. FOr those spicy kid lovers you can ad some salsa and include some canned beans or bean dip etc.

Little containers work great and I like the "disposable" snack cups with lids and I reuse them by washing in dishwasher top rack or sink. (AVOID heating foods in plastic to prevent dioxins from leaking into foods-these are linked to all sorts of health issues including breast cancer causes. This is the BPA FREE trend and reason that recyclable grade 1 and 2 plastics are considered safest.)

A slight change since sandwiches DO get somewhat boring is to change out the bread.

I have used dinner rolls, cresants, and biscuits with whatever between sliced sides and also just by themselves.

I've also placed a baggie with serving of dry cereal as the grain side of a finger food lunch. Honey nut or plain cheerios-oatmeal squares etc. Lots of choices with dry cereals some better than others-some can double as dessert. Ha!

It's much harder to incorporate veggies in a cold lunch so when I can I'm creative by finding recipes online through others that sneak veggies into cookies and brownies and breads. Think corn-broccoli in cornbread and cucumberor spinach in brownies. If it's disguised it's more likely to be eaten and it STILL counts!!

To top off my kids lunches not all the time but often-especially during difficult times (when daddy is deployed and they're missing him more or perhaps they're concerned about a test or whatever) I include a short simple note a teacher can read to the kiddo or kid can read to self. Preschool age loves me to sketch a goofy picture or include a photo magazine cut out of whatever they'll enjoy. Sometimes my kids save these little things and I find them later in their backpacks or tucked away in their rooms. It's the TLC added to their lunches. :)

Sometimes there's a SACK LUNCH required for field trips in which all disposable things are required. In this instance I use the paper bags that you can buy in colors and I either draw pictures on it with colored markers and their name of course or I put stickers all over it to decorate it. Ziploc bags also come in an environmentally friendly variety now.

Regular ziploc bacs come with School box top square to cut off and keep for those schools that are doing that-and Capri Sun pouches are also recyclable for schools and earn up to 20 cents EACH towards new supplies. You can look that up online as well if interested. I know other moms read these even when they don't reply so I thought I'd just share all this info in one fell swoop.




answers from Dallas on is SUPER HELPFUL!



answers from Dallas on

I've given my kids pizza for lunch - here's how, and they are a little older, so you'll have to decide if your son can do it. I put 2 mini bagles, a container with a little pizza sauce, another container with mozzeralla cheese and a few pepperonies. The kids make the pizza themselves and love it. I've also sent soup, chili, and mac n cheese in a thermos. Another idea is to cut up a hot dog and put it in the thermos so it stays warm. My last idea is a wrap. Use a tortilla to wrap up the meat, lettuce, tomato, etc. for a different lunch.



answers from Dallas on

I have the same problem! I try to mix it up by giving her plain noodles sometimes, I heat them up in the morning and it stays warm in her lunchbox. Sometimes I do cut up hot dogs, grapes, and a mozzarella cheesestick. I get those diced up peach cups and drain it out in the morning and place it in a plastic cup so she can eat it with her hands.

I also like to put in little gummy snacks, the ones that I find the softest for my 2 year old to chew is the Kelloggs Operation gummy snacks.

Chicken nuggets are also good.



answers from Dallas on

My daughter is almost a vegetarian; she eats very little meat and doesn't really care for sandwiches. She chooses to take her lunch to school every day. I, too, have had a challenging time sending her nutritious, satisfying lunches every day. I just do the best I can. I try to make a variety of her favorite things. I try to make sure I have a variety of foods on hand:
cheese strings
apple sauce
fruit (fresh strawberries, bananas, apples, etc)
juice boxes
cheese squares
ham or turkey
cut up pieces of lunch meat
I hope this helps.



answers from Dallas on

Those tortilla wraps are good, versatile alternatives and if you want to add cream cheese with your other fillings (diced chicken, spanish rice and green onion, carrots and raisins, etc) you can wrap them tight with plastic then slice them into cool coins or "pinwheels" that makes them a little more fun.

If you want to get a little fancier you could buy a few mini-bread muffin tins with lids and bake some single serve mac and cheese, mushroom lasagna, chicken and dumplings, turkey and dressing, stroganoff, . They may not be hot, but they won't be unsafe or unappealing at room temp either, I don't think. ??

You could look up a good empanada or maybe a calzone crust and fill them with meats, cheeses, or veggies. Make a batch and freeze the rest for the whole fam. If you wrapped them up after reheating or straight out of the oven they may even retain thier warmth til lunchtime.

I wish I had my oven back this sounds like fun to me.

Good Luck!



answers from Dallas on

Looks like you got lots of great suggestions. My daughter loves cooked chickpeas and rice in a thermos. She ate this last year at age 4, but it could be a bit messy. Some other things we've done: Hummus in pita bread. Plain pasta in a thermos. Goat Cheese on baguette (sometimes with turkey, ham or chicken slices or turkey pepperoni) - the baguette could be sliced into round bites to make them easier to eat.

Nutella is delicious, but obviously not an option because of the nut allergy in the class... same with almond butter.

Sunbutter is great if your school will allow it. It resembles peanut butter so some schools don't allow it out of concern that someone might have sent a nut butter sandwich instead and they couldn't tell the difference.



answers from Dallas on

I got these shallow thermoses for my 2 sons. I give them hot dogs, leftovers from dinner the night before, Amy's burrito's (the frozen kind, I just cook them then put them in the thermos), raviolis. My younger really likes just cheese and crackers but instead of the lunchable since they are SO high in sodium I give him some squares of cheese (usually the Cracker Barrel squares from the grocery store) and wheat thins, then add some fruit and maybe a few chips.



answers from Tyler on

* cubes of meat and cheese

* or meat and cheese roll ups

* plenty of cut up fruit and veggies

* a simple wrap type sandwich using flour tortilla

* you can heat soup up and put in a small bowl shaped thermos - if he likes soup or stews or chicken and dumplings - should stay pretty warm for him.

Perhaps buy some different sides (fruit, veggies, cookies, raisins, applesauce, pudding, jello) and you make the sandwich or wrap or cut up meats... and let him pick out 2 extras to add to his lunch.



answers from Dallas on

I had the same problem with my daughter and son. I went to many websites but didn't really get a lot out of them. I did find one website that I found really helpful. It is a lady that packs her kindergarten son's lunch and took a picture each day of it. There are many great ideas in it. Hopefully it might help you some. The website is:

Good Luck!!



answers from Dallas on

You can buy sunflower butter, which is just as yummy as pb w/o the nuts and do it with ww bread and all fruit jelly. You can do hummus with veggies, chicken or tuna salad, or even a salad rolled up in a tortilla. My kids love those. More and more information is coming out about how unhealthy lunch meats are (like we need another thing to worry about), so I try to avoid them with my kids.



answers from Dallas on

try a turkey and cheese tortilla, my daughter is 14 and loves these, I just put meat and cheese on the tortilla and roll it up and cook it on a skillet until cheese melts and cut into pieces, she loves it and so do her friends, you probably would like it as well.



answers from Dallas on

I also highly recommend the thermos, it has greatly increased our lunch options and we don't go to a peanut free school! I have never had a problem with the thermos leaking (only when my 4 year old put it in his lunchbox to come home without the lid on it and he hadn't finished the contents- we had to have a talk about putting the lid back on before putting it up). We do mac n cheese, nuggets, hot dogs, ravioli, spaghettios, soup, etc.



answers from Dallas on

I run into the same issue myself. And, I pack almost all organic for my daughter, so the selections can sometimes be more limited without some pre-planning. The thermos idea is great, because you can put almost anything warm in there and it will still be an ok temperature at lunch. Also, if your child really only likes sandwiches, then try getting some large cookie cutters and cutting the sandwiches in fun shapes. My daughter likes hers cut in a heart shape right now. When it's a holiday time, like Halloween, I find my pumpkin or leave cutter. This elimates the crust, too, for those pickier eaters. Also, try making your own lunchables (less sodium and more control over what's in the food), with whole wheat crackers, cheese and meat. I also pack grape tomatoes or carrots and hummus sometimes. Your child is probably less bored than you are with the selection, but you can usually tell if they are consistently coming home with most of their lunch intact. Good luck!



answers from Dallas on

Almond butter and jelly sandwiches! I make it for my kids every day. (Or, cashew butter, or Tahini nut butter).

A cheese sandwich

Creamcheese and jelly sandwich

Also, sometimes my son doesn't want a "main item" for his lunch, so in that case, I pack him a hard boiled egg (for protein), a piece of fruit and some baked chips.

Good luck!



answers from Dallas on

Hi T.,

I had this same issue this summer while mine went to day camp. He will also eat about anything so we did cold salads sometimes. He likes spaghetti or angel hair noodles mixed with italian dressing and any vegetable that is good cold, like tomatoes and cucumbers.

He also likes Salpicao, it is a brazilian salad. I put the recipe below, I left out hearts of palm, bought pre-grated carrots and only used a few tablespoons of mayonaisse-I would add a little and stir it in until it is to your liking, I think 1 cup is way too much. And I would put the shoestring potatoes in a seperate little cup so he could either poor them on top or munch on them. Also when I have had this dish in a restaurant, they often serve it on top of room temp white rice.

Salpicao *served cold*

1 lb chicken breast
4 thin slices of ham
1/2 cup frozen green peas
1 cup heart of palms chopped
2 large carrots
3 cups shoestring potatoes fries
1 green apple
1 cup mayonnaise

Cook chicken breast with salt until done. Drain and cut into 1/4-inch cubes. Coarsely grate carrots. Cut ham slices into fine pieces. Peel, remove core and cut green apple into 1/4-inch cubes.

In a large bowl, combine the chopped chicken, ham, peas, chopped heart of palms, grated raw carrots and diced apple. Mix all ingredients while adding the cup of mayonnaise. Finally, stir in the shoestring potatoes.

Makes 6 servings.

Hint: To have a crispy salad, just stir in the shoestring at the time you will serve it.

I'll post other things as I think of them, good luck!

---I just remembered something else!

We would do cucumber sandwiches and I used cookie cutters to make them into shapes. He LOVED it. I bought some animal-heart-circle shaped cookie cutters, they were all about the size of a sliced cucumber. I would make two sandwiches which produced 8 shapes of cucumber sandwich

Bread-Cucumber-Cream Cheese-Ranch dressing dry packet. It only takes a little of the ranch to flavor the cream cheese and you can probably buy it flavored already.

Edamame was also a favorite on days like this where I didn't have much protein in his meal.



answers from Dallas on

My dauther cannot eat nitrates, so lunch meat is a real struggle. I am not close to stores like Wholefoods, so finding nitrate free lunch meat is a hassle. At your child's age, she loved for me to make her pasta salad. I would use regular elbow or the shell or rotini pasta. I added thinly sliced carrots, snow peas or brocolli, tiny diced squares of a mild cheddar cheese, tiny diced yellow bell pepper and mixed all with Lite House ranch dressing because it did not have MSG. I stored it in a small rubbermaid bowl that had those tops that could be frozen. This way, her pasta stayed cool all day. She also loved for me to make her shape sandwhiches using cookie cutters. She loved chicken salad, tuna salad, almond butter, etc. You can find some really cute lunch storage boxes that have lids to freeze at many Asian markets.



answers from Dallas on

I'm so sorry about the peanut allergy - that really narrows your choices! Here's what I do to vary my 4yr old's options (and she goes 5 days/wk!)

Homemade lunchables: using silicone baking cups and fill them with cheese, crackers, lunchmeat cut into heart shapes, etc. She LOVES these, but they are a bit time consuming, so only one time a week for this.

Buy little Hawaiian sweet rolls (over by the deli) and use those in place of reg. bread every now and then...they're like little slider sammy's!

Tortillas, cream cheese, ham and roll 'em up

Pimiento cheese sandwiches. My kid loves these as well, still protein but she's not eating lunchmeat every day

Grilled Cheese sandwich? Again this is a little time consuming in the morning, so she doesn't get this very often.

Hope this helps a little!



answers from Dallas on

You can put a lot in a thermos. Heat water and pour in to get it hot, then pour out and add food. Should stay warm until his lunch time. Lots of possibilities, spaghettios, ravioli, mac n cheese. I've even heard of chicken nuggets staying warm this way, but haven't tried.



answers from Dallas on

Tuna salad w/crackers
Chicken salad w/crackers
Ham and cheese wraps

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