Back to School Lunch Ideas!

Happy Eclipse Monday!  We ran around outside with our paper glasses on this morning, and watched the moon come and go – very cool!  It got noticeably darker and cooler here in Seattle – very cool but also creepy?

We just got back from an amazing trip to the Oregon Coast with my family! It was the perfect week of sunshine and beach exploring, along with quality family time all together.  I have looked forward to it all summer long and I can’t believe it has come and gone.  Never long enough!  Now that we are back it is officially “back to school” mode here.  We still have a few weeks of summer left to squeeze out as much fun as possible, but I’m trying to get all our back to school stuff ready now so I’m not scrambling!

I’m sorry that I’ve been so absent here lately!  I hope you guys know I haven’t forgotten you.  The days of long baby naps and breaks are long gone, and these days I find myself rushing between school and little league, the kombucha shop, and then once we get home I’m throwing dinner together while refereeing over hot wheels garages and Magna-tile towers.  I know I never write about food here anymore, but I promise you I do still cook – ha!  If you’d like to follow along on our food adventures, the best place for that is my DG Instagram account!  I try to post snippets of what we are eating, seasonal easy meals, and most recently – school lunches!  So if you are missing your foodie fix, please follow along!

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Speaking of school lunches, I thought I’d share my approach here today, as we are all gearing up for packed lunch season to begin again.  Graham’s preschool actually started back up for the year in July (hallelujah!), so I’ve been packing lunches year-round.  My approach?  Keep it SIMPLE.  We eat hearty breakfasts and composed dinner dishes, so I don’t feel like my kids need anything fussy or fancy at lunch.  I go with basic, easy finger foods and aim for things that do well at room-temp, hold up to abuse in the lunch box, and add up to a well-balanced nutritional meal.

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And since I know you will ask – our lunch containers are the Boon Trunk and Boon Cargo boxes from Amazon.  I have had these for each of the boys since they were babies, and they have held up for several years and hundreds of lunches.  We will likely upgrade to something new for Cullen for kindergarten (whyyyyyy can’t I decide!?), but these have been perfect for the early years.

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Here are some basic packed lunch ideas that we rotate through on a weekly basis:

  • Fruit: sliced apples, fresh blueberries, sliced peaches, frozen cherries, sliced strawberries, fresh melon, applesauce cups
  • Veggies: sliced cucumbers, snap peas, cherry tomatoes, carrot sticks, pickles
  • Protein: hard boiled eggs, Field Roast veggie dogs, frozen peas, sliced cheese, hummus cups, shelled edamame
  • Main: sunbutter & honey sandwich, cream cheese bagel, Fig Bar (when I am desperate), hummus & veggie tortilla, chips & guacamole cups, grilled cheese sandwich, hot dog bun sandwich,
  • Extras: kalamata olives, Pirate Booty, fruit leather, string cheese

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My kids are creatures of habit and I think they actually prefer repetition versus lots of new things showing up in their lunches.  To me, dinner is a much better time to introduce new or more interesting foods, in order to have the best chance of them actually trying and enjoying it.  Most days I’d say they eat 90% of what’s in their lunch, and they don’t usually ask for snacks til 3pm ish, so they seem to be getting enough!

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I’ve been packing their lunches for three years now, so it’s routine for us these days.  Some day they will be old enough to do it themselves (this will happen, right?) but for now I don’t really mind it.  I only wish I packed something nearly as colorful and nutritious for myself!

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I will be sad when all these fresh summer foods are gone and I’m left with their frozen counterparts, or I’m roasting giant sheet pans of veggies each week.  For now I’m taking full advantage of quick fresh finger foods while they are still available!

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Even though Graham’s preschool is year-round, it’s still felt very much like summer.  I tried not to overplan or pack too much in this year, and it left us feeling really relaxed and able to enjoy our city.  We had so many great beach and swimming days, and I can’t believe it’s all coming to an end so quickly!

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This guy starts Kindergarten very soon, and while I know he is more than ready, it still blows my mind that we are at this point.  It truly feels like yesterday that I was bundling him into the Ergo and looping Greenlake while he slept on my chest.  And now here I am jogging behind him while he rides his bike down the very same path.  Please pass the tissues.

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We are going to live up every minute of these last few weeks of summer, with one more trip to the lake planned, and as many swims as we can squeeze in before the weather turns.  Wishing all of you luck as you send kiddos off on the school bus and pack up backpacks and lunch boxes for the first time this year!

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Don’t forget to follow along on Instagram to see what we are packing and eating these days!  I might not make it over to this space as often as I’d like anymore, but I promise I’m babbling over there all day every day.