Back in August, my friend Jill inspired me to put together an article taking on the issue of picky eaters vs. school lunch. It's an issue I can relate to. Packing a healthy lunch for my eight year old daughter is a daily challenge. It's involved much trial and error and a lot of uneaten food. I think I have it figured out for now, but my formula alone was not enough to solve the woes of all the other parents out there. So, I consulted the EXPERTS: my dream team of amazing mom friends. Thanks ladies!

I started off the discussion with one of my daughter's lunchbox favorites:

HOMEMADE TRAIL MIX: What's great about this is that it's a fun activity as well. We start out by picking healthy items from the grocery store ~ nuts, dried fruits, seeds, whole grain cereals, etc... Have the kids pour all the ingredients into a large zip-loc bag and shake to combine. Instead of buying all of those prepackaged snacks that are loaded with preservatives and sugar, you have a fun and delicious snack that will last for weeks, is packed with protein, omega 3s, and whole grains.

The next great idea came from one of the hippest mommies I know ~ Ahnalisa, who said:

"My kids love soup of any kind. Noodles, vegtable, bean you name it. It is quick to heat on the stove in the morning and we pack them in a stainless steel thermos we picked up at Rite aid. Trader Joes has great soup selections. I have them pick a fruit and this usually does it."

Fellow foodie, Iris offered:

"For easy stuff I don't have to make, my kids LOVE Hummus with pita and veggies. Also, grilled cheese with tomato and black forest ham."

School chum Jacqueline (now an elementary school teacher herself) took the hummus concept in a fun new direction:

"Big pretzels and hummus!"

Emily, a very creative and crafty Mompreneur, added:

"black olives and dill pickles-not together but they are a great "something else" when I feel like the lunch is lacking."

Geri, who never fails to put a smile on my face said:

"Wraps! When I feel like it's time for a little change in the ol' lunch pail, I use whole wheat flatbread instead of whole grain bread. You can spread all kinds of things (cream cheese, mustard, hummus, you name it!) then add whatever kind of meat you like (or not), then lettuce, dill pickle, the possibilities are endless, then roll it up, press down to flatten just a bit and cut in a diagonal and presto...a really cool sandwich!"

Jill, the gal who started it all, chimed in with:

"We like to make our own version of healthy lunchables. I put my own spread with a kid friendly knife (p.b, cream cheese, whatever) and then cut out our own shapes of cheese, nitrate free turkey and whole grain crackers"

It was my friend Catherine, however, that had me wishing that she was packing my lunch!

"Sliced cucumbers with a dash of rice vinegar. Rice & black beans with corn, shredded cheese, tbl spoon of salsa verde. Dried fruit & nut mixtures. Whole wheat naan bread & hummus or edamame dip. Almond butter-honey sandwiches. Frozen mango chunks mixed with berries. Whole Wheat pasta w/ Parm cheese. Salmon salad sandwiches. Ham or turkey roll-ups. Small, whole apples. Melon slices. Oatmeal-raisin-walnut cookies."

Kristen, another childhood pal offered several delicious ideas:

"My son LOVES strawberries or bannana slices with vanilla yogurt to dip them in. Plus celery with cream cheese, cinnomon & sugar. He also loves pita bread with cream cheese & ham slices..Then I cut in funny shapes"

Sarah Henry of "
Lettuce Eat Kale" did a wonderful feature on "Beating the Brown Bag Blues a.k.a. Taking the Stress Out of School Lunch". Check out her article HERE.



  1. Thank you for putting these all together. Yummy ideas.
    Holly @

  2. Thanks for the great ideas. I don't have to pack lunches for anyone but cooking for one can be a real trial. I've come away with some great ideas for myself.

    Thank you for following my blog. I'm newish at this, so I never really know what I'm doing !

  3. Jenn, your comments on my blog were greatly appreciated! Thank you! And welcome to my humble cyber-home. I hope you'll make yourself a frequent guest!

  4. Thanks for stopping by Stir-Fry!

    My kids are both fairly picky eaters at home. The strange thing is that the youngest eats school lunch everyday. (Of course, I have no idea what he is actually eating and what get thrown away.)

    I pack a lunch for the oldest. His school is peanut-free which makes things a little difficult at times.

  5. O.K. one thing that is truly important in a lunch is nutrition. I get and support that. BUT, what about the way we package our are some ideas to help pack your child's first day of school lunch.

    Use a reusable insulated bag or lunch box instead of a brown paper bag, to hold your child’s lunch every day. A reusable ice pack can be used to keep perishable food items cold.
    Use reusable plastic containers that can be washed and used over and over instead of using disposable plastic sandwich bags for sandwiches and snacks.
    Use a thermos or reusable jug instead of a bottle of soda or a juice box.
    Use metal silverware or wash plastic utensils and reuse them instead of plastic utensils that are used once and thrown away.
    Buy in bulk and pack individual servings in reusable containers.
    Use cloth napkins that can be washed and reused instead of using paper napkins or paper towels.

  6. Love the idea of cream cheese and "stuff", as my kids can't eat PB.

  7. This is very helpful, Jenn. Thank you!


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