Secret Parent Worry: Packing Lunch

by Danielle Veith

With the number of days until my daughter finishes preschool now in the single digits, it’s time to start stressing about kindergarten--99 days to go! I’m sure there are any number of things I could get hung up on, but my angst has landed on … school lunches.

 At least I know she'll find a way to get a drink of water.

At least I know she'll find a way to get a drink of water.

When I was in elementary school (if you’re my mom, you can stop reading here), I threw away more of my lunches than I ate. We were vegetarian at a time when that had no cool factor. Tofu was a punchline, but it was also between two slices of bread in my little brown bag. I did not want to be different in any way and did my best to hide anything beyond the granola bar or whatever else seemed like something other kids’ moms would pack.

We’re raising our kids vegetarian as well, and my daughter is just learning that her best friends aren’t vegetarian, too. I’m waiting to see what she thinks of this. Maybe she’ll be less worried than I was—she’s certainly less shy than I was.

Kids today, at least in our neck of the woods, with all their allergies and whatnot, are more exposed to different diets and that there are foods certain kids can’t or don’t eat. So there’s a good chance that my daughter’s hang-ups will be different than mine. But I find my stress about not being too different when it comes to food still lingers.

And my daughter is not a big eater anyway. Unless pretzels or ice cream are involved or if it’s a second Tuesday and a waning new moon or whatever it is that makes her eat like crazy on seemingly random days. She could live on air for long stretches and never eat a thing I pack.

Of course, I’d rather fill her with healthy options for a growing body, nourish her expanding mind and keep her energy-level on an even keel. So, I’m starting to brainstorm lists of sandwiches and snacks that I can pack when I send her off this fall, and will try to add to this list as the summer drags on and the days count down.

(Now I just need to figure out what the cool kids are packing their lunches in these days. I’m guessing brown bags are out, especially in our environmentally-minded community. And not sure the Buffy the Vampire Slayer metal lunchbox we have for reasons forgotten would go over well with my little girl.)

School lunch ideas for kindergarten and beyond—happy to hear more suggestions!

On the main stage--

-        peanut butter and jelly (how much more “normal” could you get?)

-        cheese rolled up in a tortilla (note to try this at home first)

-        mini bagel with cream cheese

-        falafel in a mini pita

-        mini ravioli or tortellini with butter and parmesan

-        spaghetti o type things

-        rice and beans (not sure this will fly for lunch, even if it’s a fav for dinner)

And if those go uneaten… the understudies--

-        smoothie (will this be gross by lunchtime?)

-        homemade trail mix

-        granola bar or granola

-        veggies-baby carrots, sweet peppers, green beans

-        whole fruit-apple, clementine, pear, grapes

-        hummus and carrots

-        soysage, sliced in bites

-        cheese cubes, cheddar only

-        yogurt (I’ve heard you should freeze the tubes?)

-        applesauce

-        hard-boiled eggs (hasn’t worked since age 2)

-        squash soup

-        dried fruit or raisins

-        edamame

-        rice cake

-        squeezies (like these)

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