Alrighty then! The second week of school has wrapped, as well as the long weekend. We were busy, busy, busy this weekend with Augie’s birthday (he turned 6!), time with friends and lots of projects around the house. Also, I stepped on a bee and my foot swelled up and itched like crazy. Yikes!

The bento report for last week is also jam-packed with a lunch and a snack for the boys every day. Here’s what they had:

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Strawberry Guys PlanetBox

On Monday I pulled out the PlanetBox Rover for Wyatt’s lunch. He had deli turkey roll-ups, apple chunks, lemon and herb popcorn (from Trader Joes), blueberries and strawberries with silly eye picks. I like the way the points of the strawberries ended up looking like noses!

Strawberry Guys Snack

Have I mentioned yet that Augie is not allowed to bring anything sugary into his classroom? Nothing — not even for birthdays! I don’t usually put a ton of sugar in my kids lunches/snacks (aside from fruit) but I do find it’s easy to send granola and cereal bars now and then and I like to bake for their lunches sometimes too. It’s not a huge problem or anything, but I’m having a little trouble adjusting to these new snack rules because some of the things I’m used to packing are off limits. And I’m not sure where the teacher draws the line. Is a whole grain muffin taboo? What about something like canned peaches? I don’t know! We also had a little trouble this week because Augie is so afraid he’s going to get in trouble for the wrong snack that he opted not to eat what I packed a few times. So frustrating!

Anyway, this week I hit on the idea of popcorn. It’s a whole grain, it’s fun and the kids love it. And as long as I stick with savory toppings it should be OK for snack. I’ve found I need to keep it separate from anything even vaguely moist so it doesn’t get soggy though. So for this snack I pulled out a set of cute nesting car boxes and put lemon butter popcorn in one and blueberries and strawberries with eye picks in the other.


Star Wars-ish Laptop Lunches bento

On Tuesday Wyatt asked my to pack his lunch in a Laptop Lunches box. He had an applesauce pouch, carrots, black bean dip (in the blue box), turkey meatballs, catsup for the meatballs in the green box, and lemon herb popcorn. I also included a few Clone Troopers rings because Wyatt was actually up for a little decoration in his lunch. Fun!

Iron Man Popcorn Snack

Augie had lemon-herb popcorn with an Iron Man ring for decoration and an applesauce pouch.


Mini Tacos in the Yumbox

On Wednesday, Wyatt had mini tacos (from the freezer), carrots, black bean dip, white cheddar popcorn, blueberries and strawberries. This was packed in our Yumbox Panino.

Panda Berries Snack Box

Augie’s snack was really simple — strawberries and blueberries with a piece of panda baran for decoration.


Simple Pasta and Applesauce Lunch

Dang! This lunch was so easy I felt sheepish taking a photo of it: leftover pasta in our LunchBots thermal jar and an applesauce pouch. That’s all. Lunch came home completely finished.

Popcorn Snacker

Augie’s snack was just as easy: white cheddar popcorn and an applesauce pouch. Boom! Done!


Lettuce Wraps in the EasyLunchboxes

Oh boy! Wyatt’s lunch on Friday was so yummy that I wanted the same thing, so I made it for myself at home! I gave him leftover minced turkey and veg along with some lettuce leaves for DIY Asian turkey lettuce wraps, dried pineapple rings (as sweet as candy) and a mess of blueberries. This was packed in an EasyLunchboxes bento box.

Blue Snack for Kindergarten

It was “blue” day at Kindergarten, so I made Augie a blue snack. Besides blueberries, there aren’t a whole lot of naturally blue foods so I relied on accessories a lot for this one. I poked a blue crayon pick into a few of the berries, then I filled a blue silicone cup with cucumber slices and layered a piece of baran on top that was shaped like a blue dog. Finally I filled a small blue Snoopy cup with a little hummus. I was pretty happy with the way it turned out!

Lots of Love Lunch for my Kindergartner

BONUS CUTE LUNCH: When I picked Augie up from Kindergarten he was feeling a little down. He’s been a trooper about all the changes that have occurred in the past few weeks, but with a new teacher, new school, new kids and new expectations it’s been a pretty stressful time for him. By Friday, he was worn out and having a hard time keeping it together so I decided to give him a little extra love with a special lunch.

First I made three heart-shaped peanut butter and jelly sandwiches in three different sizes. I did this so I would waste as little bread as possible, but I also liked the way it looked. Then I added a couple rings of dried pineapple and some strawberries. At the end I decided to cut a couple of the strawberries into heart shapes too, since I had the cutter out anyway.

I don’t usually get to see how Augie reacts when I make him a cute lunch so it was gratifying to see how excited he got when he came to the table to eat his meal. “You made a lunch with lots of hearts, Mom! I know what that means. It means you love me a lot!”

Right-o, Buddy Boy! That’s exactly what it means.

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My older son, Wyatt, has never been a big eater at lunch time, but last spring he almost completely stopped eating his lunches. He’s always been the pickier of my two kids and getting him to eat vegetables is always a big challenge, but I could usually count on him to eat the majority of his lunch if I packed it full of things he liked. But as his 4th grade year wore on, his lunch box came home with less and less food missing from it. Some days I couldn’t tell if he’d eaten anything when I opened his lunch box at the end of the day!

It got so bad that by the end of the year we were butting heads over his lunch nearly every day. I was fed up with the energy it took to find something he would eat and even more so, I was tired of all the wasted food. So I went on a lunch-packing strike. I decided that if he was going to waste a meal anyway he could eat school lunch and I could save a little time in the mornings.

Now that the new school year has started, we both want to start things off with a clean slate. Neither of us was happy with the school lunch solution. My son doesn’t like the meals they serve at school because he doesn’t think they taste good. I don’t want him to eat school lunches because they are overly processed. I’d much rather he had a lunch filled with good foods that fuel his body and give him the nutrition he needs the thrive. At the end of the summer the two of us put our heads together and we came up with a few strategies that have helped make lunch packing more pleasant for both of us.

1. Get Buy-in

The first thing we did was sit down together and go through the lunch box idea list. I handed Wyatt a highlighter and had him mark everything on the list that he would be happy to see in his lunch. Some of the things he highlighted were expected — mini bagels, strawberries and pretty much any kind of meat — but other things were big surprises. Cherry tomatoes? Red bell pepper? I can work with that!

We also pulled out some of my lunch box cook books and he dog-eared some recipes that sounded good to him. Some of these I’ll be making on my own, some we’ll make together.

And finally we’ve agreed that he’ll choose two kinds of fruit and two kinds of vegetables for his lunches when I’m making the weekly grocery list. Taking ownership of of what goes in his lunch box makes him feel more in charge and he’s significantly more likely to eat the items he chooses.

2. Make nutrient rich foods more appealing

Or maybe I should say, “make appealing foods more nutrient rich.” Basically, I’ve identified a few different foods that Wyatt loves and I’ve looked for recipes and techniques that boost their nutritional profile. The first place I started was smoothies. I make these at home with loads of fruit, a little yogurt and soy or coconut milk then spoon them into pouches and freeze them to include in lunches. They’re pretty healthy to begin with but recently I’ve started adding flax meal and spinach to them. Even better! I also add grated veggies to pasta sauce and taco meat and I’ve started messing around with adding carrot puree to apple sauce with pretty good success.

3. Ease up on the treat rules

One of the main reasons Wyatt stopped eating his lunches was that he wanted more “treats” in them. More precisely, he saw what some of his friends were bringing in their lunches and decided his ideal lunch would consist of Doritos, cookies, bacon, and a Capri Sun — with a cupcake for dessert. I’m not opposed to an occasional treat now and then, but I think they should be just that — occasional. This led to a lot of teasing from the kids who brought the junkier stuff and Wyatt would reject his lunch because he was embarrassed or his friends would share their lunches with him which would fill him up enough that he wasn’t starving when he left the lunch room.

After discussing this with him a lot, we’ve made a deal: I’m going to start including a treat in his lunch most days and in return he’s agreed to eat the healthier items in his lunch box. Don’t get me wrong — we’re not suddenly talking donuts and Coke every day. Instead I’m including stuff like whole grain tortilla chips, a couple cookies, popcorn, or boxes of Horizon vanilla milk. Delicious food, but still pretty healthy!

How do you encourage your reluctant eater to finish his lunch?

This conversation is sponsored by Horizon Organic. The opinions and text are all mine.

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