Monday, August 18, 2008

School lunch dilemma and a chance for YOU to win a $5 Starbucks gift card


School starts on August 25th around here this year, and that is [gulp!] next Monday! I was flipping through all the papers that came from school and couldn't help noticing that they have raised the cost of school lunches: it's $2.90 now.

Last year we got a lunch card for Victoria, so she could get a hot and nutritious lunch at school. We had a mixed success with that: depending what's on the menu, she would either eat what she liked (usually pizza and/or a piece of fruit) or just get some milk and eat a snack that I packed for her daily. I tried packing lunches, but she brought most of them back as she "wasn't hungry", or complained that her lunch got cold and she didn't want to eat it cold (our elementary school doesn't have a microwave for students to heat their stuff. We wanted to donate it last year, but due to some norms and standards it's apparently not allowed :( I used a thermos jar and a FunTainer, but neither would keep the food warm enough until Victoria's lunch time)

So here's my cry for help here: even though we are generally happy that school lunches are available, we really don't want to spend $2.90 every day, especially if Victoria doesn't eat. We are looking for quick (to prepare and eat!) and inexpensive lunch ideas that would meet nutritious needs of a 7 1/2 year-old and would be appealing enough so she would actually eat her lunch and not trade it or bring it back. (Victoria doesn't eat peanut butter, so PB&J sandwiches are out; I usually also pack a piece of fruit and a cereal bar or crackers as a snack). Any tips on how to keep her food warm are also appreciated (like I said, we were using an insulated lunch box and a thermos jar or a FunTainer, but they weren't working well for us).

For every comment with school lunch ideas you will be entered to win a $5 Starbucks gift card. Links to your older posts are ok, pictures encouraged, but please try to limit your comments to one per day :)
One winner will be selected randomly on Sunday, August 24th, and announced on Monday, August 25th. If among the comments received we find an idea that would work for us, we may award another $5 Starbucks gift card to the author!

Thanks!

67 comments:

Cheryl said...

Wow, $2.90 a day is alot! Maybe you could compromise and she could get pizza every friday and then other days take something cold. The only idea I have for keeping it warm is to ask the teacher if she would allow one of those little portable cooler/heaters to be kept in the classroom. I had one I bought for around $30 and it would keep food cold or it could be turned to keep food hot. She could put her lunch in every morning and plug it in, then just make sure she unplugs it at lunch time. Maybe you could bribe the teacher by giving her some free school supplies. For cold lunches, maybe try packing some fruit or veges with a good dip. They make caramel fruit dip and small portable ranch dips or you could make your own. Coolwhip mixed with strawberry cream cheese is a great fruit dip and you can dip bread too. How about salsa & baked chips? I've always found kids get interested in eating new things when dip is involved, and they don't have to be high in calories. Ham & cheese rollups with a creamy mustard dip always seem to get finished when sometimes a sandwich with the same items is not as appealing. That's my 2 cents - sorry for such a long comment!

Just.Me said...

I read about this idea: Marinate a variety of sliced vegetables with low-fat Italian dressing and use with turkey in a pita pocket. Healthy and yummy.

linda said...

Try canned soup or pasta in a thermos, at my daughters school she can use a microwave to help break up the cold sandwich lunch. Also try a big soft pretzel to dip in cheese or mustard alond with some healthy veggies.

Amanda said...

What we have found works great is to first make sure you have a real thermos, one with stainless steel inside. (Be prepared to pay about $15, and I've never been lucky enough to see one on sale!) Next, boil some water and pour in the thermos to heat the steel up. Let that sit for about 1-2 minutes, and THEN add your soup or whatever. I've had lunch with my kids and tested it, and it was still quite warm at 12:30! We have the same issues at our house, and I loved some of the other ideas.

JC said...

Investing in a divided container may help the food stay separated from each other and thus more appealing. Also, cleaning one lunch container is so much easier than cleaning many.

My parents use to pack me soup or leftovers in a small thermos and I have done it as a teacher. Sometimes the old standards are still good today.

Anne-Marie said...

With my step kids, I usually only packed cold lunches, sandwiches, fruit, and snack items usually. Likewise with hubby...he's a challenge, as I need to keep things new and different for him. Some of the things that have gone over well...
Individual containers of -applesauce, jello, pudding, yogurt, or diced fruit.
-String Cheese
-Veggie slices with dressing...a small sealable container is perfect for the dressing.
-Salad, with dressing on the side (rubbermaid sealable bowl for the salad, smaller container for the dressing)
Wrap-type sandwiches...lettuce, lunchmeat, tomatoes or other yummy additions all wrapped in a flour tortilla.
-Cold, leftover, bbq chicken...or fried chicken...these are often quite tasty cold.
-Cold Pizza
I'm sure there are some other yummy cold items that can keep things interesting, depending on your daughter's tastes. Find a good ice pack to keep things cold enough.

As far as keeping things hot, if you can find a way to do so, then burritos would be a great option. If I were doing more than a couple, I would wrap in foil to hold the heat, but I'm not sure it would work well on small scale without a heat source.

Hope these help!

Anne-Marie

Julie said...

Check out this month's issue of Parents Magazine. I received mine in the mail yesterday and there are pages of ideas for school lunches. A great protein idea is to send cheese sticks or string cheese. Pair that with crackers and fruit for a quick and easy lunch.

dahris said...

The way to get the thermos to stay hot is to fill it with boiling water and let it sit for 5 minutes before putting in the hot food. My kids take thermos of soup, mac & cheese, and pizza rolls.

Ryann said...

I was reading my Parents magazine last night and specifically about school lunches. Although my little one doesn't go to school yet, my husband and I have decided to start packing our lunches for work to save money and calories. I found the article interesting so thought I'd post some other links to the parents magazine webpage.

http://www.parents.com/recipes/cooking/kid-friendly-food/lets-do-lunch/

http://www.parents.com/recipe/vegetables/lets-do-lunch/

http://www.parents.com/recipes/cooking/kid-friendly-food/kiddie-kabobs/

Good luck!
Ryann

Kelly S said...

1. I often get lunchables on sale for $1.
2. Also, you could roll up her favorite (cold) meat (such as pepperoni, deli ham, etc.) in crescent rolls and bake them. My kids don't mind these cold. You could include a small cup of her favorite dipping sauce to go with it.
3. Home-made rice crispy treats are as healthy as any pre-sweetened cereal.
4. You could try veggie pizza - the cold kind with cream cheese/ranch dressing base on baked pizza crust topped with fresh veggies.

Hope you find something that works!

Amy said...

One lunch that I pack for my kids (on day trips) is a homemade lunchable. We have two kid-sized divided section plates with lids that we got in the baby section at WalMart for $1 each. In these I pack: grapes, cheese slices, crackers, and pepperoni slices. Any finger foods that your daughter would like would work.

Anonymous said...

My kids were very picky, there favorite and made every other kid jealous a pita face. Fill pita with cottage cheese stuff carrot sticks in head for hair. Place fruit on front for a face example: Raisin eyes, cherry nose, pineapple mouth. The kids loved these so much they ased for extra fruit and carrot stick to dip into the cottage cheese. You only need to keep it cold which is easier that keep it hot. Side dishes can be peanut butter crackers. My children are in college now and still talk about the Pita face. I don't know how to post other than Anonymous. I can be reached at janetmgoodman at yahoo dot com I have an entire book of lunches I have made that are unique and do get eatten by picky school aged children.

fuel4him said...

I was going to say preheat your containers.

We are fortunate that we have microwaves available. Good luck.

Anonymous said...

Even though my family has always homeschooled & me & my husband plan to homeschool (therefore not needing to pack lunches), I still managed to come up with a few ideas.

-Leftovers. (From dinner, pizza, mac & cheese, etc.)
-Trail mix.
-PBJ.
-Tuna.
-Fruit.
-Taco meat with a shell included seperately (in order to avoid a soggy taco shell.)
-Granola bars.
-Cut up fresh veggies.
-Cheese & crackers.
-Grapes.
-Cucumbers or other veggies with dip.
-Cut up hotdogs to dip in a little container of ketchup or mustard.
-Chips or pretzels.
Eden Caouette
nathanielcswife@yahoo.com

Rachel said...

You know with the bento box craze there should be some things that we can figure out.

I pack my husbands lunch every day, true-- he is not a picky 7 yr old :) but, i cute up small sandwiches and send string cheese and carrots with ranch dip on a usual basis. He also loves yogurt! I would also recommend trail mix or nuts if she doesn't have allergies!


jc mentioned a divided container. the ms. bento container might be perfect for days you wish to send a warm meal!!!

anyways I always love looking at the bento boxes that ppl prepare... its my greatest source of inspiration....(there is a flickr group)

here two links from my blog...


:)
http://jacobandrachel.blogspot.com/2008/05/some-sunday-stuff.html


http://jacobandrachel.blogspot.com/2008/05/food-for-thought.html


have a lovely day!!!

Jenny R said...

One of my favorite meals as a child was apple bagels. My mom would take a half of a bagel and then stack on it think slices of apples, cheddar cheese and a dash or two of cinnamon. She would toast it in the oven or broiler for just a minute until the cheddar melted around the apples. You can actually make a whole bunch of these and then refrigerate the rest for later in the week, as they hold well.

I ate this all the time when I was young. It was like a special treat whenever she made this, and the flavors are complex enough for everyone in the family to enjoy this!

Joshua & Heidi said...

You could use one of the hot thingys from a pyrex portable to keep things warm. That always seems to work for us when we take things to pitch-ins:) Good luck!

Joshua & Heidi said...

You could use one of the hot thingys from a pyrex portable to keep things warm. That always seems to work for us when we take things to pitch-ins:) Good luck!

Hearts And Home said...

The only way I found to keep hot things hot in a thermos is to
1. Pour boiling water into the thermos and let it sit while you heat up what ever is going in.
2. Heat up the soup above what is normal
3. Pour out the water
4. Pour in the soup or other item and close quickly
5. By the time she eats it will be at a eatable temp

Another idea is heat packs, they are made for lunches; you microwave it and place it in the lunch box, only down fall is everything in that container stays hot not just the food.

Jen B said...

I think to keep the food hot, you could use the same idea that you would use to keep a casserole hot on the way to a party. I put a casserole in a pyrex portable pouch, along with the package that you put in the microwave to keep it warm, and have left it for up to 2 or 3 hours, and it's still been incredibly hot.

Otherwise, could you possibly dress up the food so that it would be more appealing cold? Cut it with cute cookie cutters (flowers or animals), or maybe add some ranch dressing to dip the food in (color the ranch dressing her favorite color).

jaymeebird said...

If peanut butter is a no-go, how about cream cheese? We do cream cheese on top of graham crackers, or cream cheese and jelly wrapped up in a tortilla and then cut in to little bites sushi-style. Of course, you could always do all kinds of stuff inside the tortilla, like ham and cheese, tuna, chicken salad, etc.

Hope that helps! :)

Wendy said...

The first thing that came to mind was a bento box. There are several different boxes and recipes that could make it fun.

http://lunchinabox.net/

http://www.recipezaar.com/bb/viewtopic.zsp?t=131883

http://www.diylife.com/2008/05/19/tempt-your-kids-with-bento-treats/

Jennifer said...

My daughter likes pasta salad like Suddenly Salad or macncheese cold. I just put some pasta salad in her lunchbox with and icepack and she enjoys that for lunch.

-A- said...

Some things we do:
-make a big batch of whole wheat pasta salad. Use cucumbers, shredded carrots, chicken, and any other veggies you have lying around. Dress it with either Caesar or ranch dressing and top with shredded cheese.
-Cream cheese rolls. Use the colored tortillas and mix cream cheese with red peppers and chives, spread on tortilla, roll, and slice
-If you figure out a way to keep soup hot, fill a thermos with tomato soup, tie a hot dog on a string and put it in there. Pack a bun and fixins. The soup keeps the hot dog warm.
- Do a taco bar. Send a taco shell or tortilla and containers with ground beef, shredded cheese, lettuce, sour cream, salsa, etc. They can make their own right there at lunch. My oldest never cared about the meat being cold. SHe always got compliments from her friends on this one!

MrsAdams06 said...

Wow, $2.90 is a lot! How about bagel sandwiches with lunch meat or veggies? Or perhaps (canned?) soups in a thermos? Thanks for the giveaway.

Elizabeth M. said...

I remember when I was a kid I never wanted to eat the boring sandwiches my mom packed. Maybe if you pack something that doesn't seem so "lunch"y - something that seems like a snack. Granola bars, yogurt, string cheese, homemade muffins or quick bread with cream cheese, veggies and dip - those are just a few ideas off the top of my head. Good luck!

perdita300@hotmail.com

Briana Almengor said...

I hope someone's suggestion(s) end up being a solution for you.
I don't know if you work outside the home or would be available to do this, but in order to provide a hot lunch for your daughter w/out her having access to a microwave, perhaps you could bring her a hot lunch once or twice a week and "bargain" with her to eat cold lunches the other three or four days a week. Just a thought.

Also, if she's picky about eating healthy items, I would suggest checking out one of two cookbooks:
"Deceptively Delicious" or
"The Sneaky Chef"

Both of these cookbooks have recipes that involve all kinds of normal "kid" food but that have purees mixed into them to add nutrition.

Karen said...

We have done the stainless steel thermos and poured boiling water in first to heat it and that works, as do the heat packs.

However, sometimes my kids want to eat the school lunch, so I made arrangements to pay ahead, and they are only charged if they choose to eat on a particular day (we discuss the menu each week so I know when they should be eating there).

Also, sometimes they don't want either, and they eat at 12:30 and get out at 2:30. So, on those days I feed them an extra large breakfast, and pack a few snacks only in their lunchbox, then they come straight home and I have a hot meal ready (not one that would've stayed hot in a thermos, such as fish sticks, fries, broccoli, etc) for them instead of just a snack. Certain foods they like get soggy or limp when you try to keep them hot all day.

The variety in choices works for them, and since they are involved in deciding what they want, they are much happier, and there isn't any complaining.

Miranda said...

I would suggest cheese sandwiches, deli meat roll ups, or cold pasta salads. I grew up on PB&Js... and still love them! So I'm not much help. :)

Ames said...

I used to bring my own lunch in highschool and we found the BEST way to keep a casserole dish hot (my favorite lunch - leftovers!) was to buy an OLD thermos at a thrift store - it was ugly gold colored..., fill it with boiling water for a minute, dump out the water, then put in the steaming hot casserole. That was at 7:15am and I would eat it at 11:45-12:15 depending on the day and it way always toasty hot!

Danielle said...

One of the best ways to ensure your daughter will eat her lunch is to involve her in the packing of it. Give her several choices and/or ask her what she would like and then let her choose what to bring. One favorite at our house is to bake up several chicken breasts (breaded or unbreaded, seasoned or not) and then to cut them into slices. Take a tortilla (flour, spinach, tomato, etc, lots of flavors to choose from) and lay a piece of lettuce on it. Lay 2-3 slices of chicken on the lettuce and sprinkle on some shredded cheese and diced tomatoes (or not, whatever she likes) and then let her choose a "sauce" (Ranch, honey mustard, BBQ, etc) to add to it. Fold up the bottom and each side, and wrap in plastic wrap or foil.
These are very versatile and you can make them to fit her tastes and whims. You can substitute the meat, fillings, tortilla, and sauce to whatever you have on hand and she wants.

Danielle said...

Oops! I forgot to put my e-mail address in my post. LDSMOM2201(at)yahoo(dot)com

Lynette in Michigan said...

Muffins, nuts or string cheese and grapes or cherry tomatoes would be a hit for my children. You can make pecan "muffins" from pecan flour. Kinda expensive, but very good for you and probably cheaper than $2.90 a day! I get my pecan flour from "We're Nuts" 1315 Tippettville Rd, Vienna, GA 31092. 1-800-635-0616.

tracy pulley said...

I agree that September's Parents magazine is the best resource (p. 230-232, using the Laptop Lunches box).
However, I'd also suggest having your daughter assist in lunch preparation. My three-year-old son seems to eat more when he had a hand in making the meal.
Final thought: Can the PTA voice a complaint about that school lunch price? That's truly exorbitant . . .
zuzutracy@yahoo.com

LeAnna C said...

Well, my kids aren't quite in school but I remember school lunches well. My mom would make me salads and include some dressing in a separate container. She would pack things like cottage cheese or applesauce, cheese slices. The good old meat and cheese sandwiches were always welcome too. Try tuna fish sandwiches, those are yummy.
That is sad her school doesn't have a microwave, many schools do, or so I thought, I wonder if someone just isn't being stubborn about it.
Good luck, hope some of these ideas helped. I didn't really care for too many hot lunches so these worked great for me.
clkiwis72305(at)yahoo(dot)com

sphinx63 said...

How about a mixed fruit salad? A few grapes, couple pieces of watermelon, pineapple, whatever her fav fruit is, mixed together, and serve with a yogurt to dip the fruit in? YuM!

Honey said...

Maybe yogurt, string cheese, whole wheat crackers with almond butter or cashew butter (I think you mentioned she did not eat peanut butter). My husband loves cold pizza, maybe your daughter would ,too. We also make our own "lunchables" when my children get tired of sandwiches. And sometimes just changing the bread can help (sunflower bread, orange cranberry bread, oat bread, sour dough, pita pockets etc-possibilities are endless). Also instead of mustard and mayo try honeymustard, ranch dip, barbeque sauce or we've used jelly on a sandwich with turkey (sounds weird, but it is remniscent of turkey and cranberry sauce and my kids liked it). Veggies and dip, fruit, beef jerky are other ideas. One last thing, South Beach (buy on sale and use a coupon) has a little lunch meal that is chopped chicken, walnuts, little packet of mayo, and packet of cranberries-this you mix in a little bowl they give you and eat with whole wheat pita chips that they give you in a little bag. It even comes with a sugar free strawberry jello and a spoon! This is a great little lunch and fun to "make" or mix rather. You could just take it out of the south beach box in order to avoid stupid comments from other kids and to keep the chicken packet cold. My email is honeysmith@bellsouth.net

Frugal Mommy said...

I thought 2.75 was alot. School for us already started and I wanted my 8 yo to take her lunch as much as possible so I 14.99 on a kids thermos stainless. I make mac and cheese in the morning till it gets as hot as possible the I put in in there we she brought it on monday and said it was still warm (not hot) but was good. Then I put things that do not have to be cold like ritz / fruit roll up ect. 1 box of mac and cheese is enough for 2 days.

MJ said...

I found this link on the food network website

http://www.foodnetwork.com/food/et_sl_back_to_school/text/0,1972,FOOD_9871_50997,00.html

it's all kinds of neat, kid friendly recipes for back to school... I'm a PICKY eater myself and I found some of them appealing!

pam said...

I find that if I put boiling hot water into the thermos for several minutes, then empty it and place the hot food, it stays warmer. Thanks.

Kat said...

Keep it simple. Put things she likes even if it repeats often. Kids don't seem to mind repetition like adults. There's always time to encourage variety at dinner and breakfast.

Anonymous said...

Let her pick out her favorite box of crackers each week and a new kind of cheese to eat with it! Finger foods always are a hit around here so I try to offer grapes, orange sections, watermellon chunks and whatever is on sale that I know they like; variety is a key!

You can pack a big, nutritious healthy lunch for that much money!

I serve our kids at home for about $.25 a day. :o)

Best wishes! momto3girls1@juno.com

Wendy said...

I start school on Monday again (teaching), and am always looking for easy cheap lunches. I found Tuna Salad and Chicken Salad kits by Bumble Bee at Kroger for $1.29. If they go on sale, you could stock up. The ease and convenience does it for me. They come with crackers and a little tool to spread the chicken or tuna. I can keep them in my desk and they don't need to be refrigerated.

wendyjoysanders@yahoo.com

Denise said...

My kids will eat anything on a tortilla (cream cheese, hummus, shredded cheese, ham, turkey, etc...) I roll them up and cut them in smaller pieces.

Heeya said...

Ipacked my sons lunch for first week. Make it simple. all kind a like finger food. pack with extra plastic glove and eat with that. now i am looking nice lookin skew for skewing fruit variety or chicken with vegetabel. Give point system if he gets 5 point(1 point=1 lunch) win chocolate bar.

Jen said...

I would recommend using tortillas to make healthy wraps and you can put anything in them- sandwich meat/ pb&J.

semtaylor said...

When my son was taking his lunch I used toothpicks alot trying to make lunch more fun. I put fruit cut up on them...Or ham/turkey/cheese cut up into fun shapes on them. As far as keeping things cold, I kept water bottles in the freezer. Put in lunch box and by lunch it was mostly thawed. Kept food cold and gave him a cold bottle of water to drink.

Anonymous said...

Try some of the recipes here for fun, nutricious ideas for kids...http://www.horizonorganic.com/kitchen/kids.html
Also think the lunchbox wrap might be just the thing for your dilemma.
Maura Gomez

lucy said...

My daughter just started school and her lunch is $1.50. I feel so lucky, sorry. She did take lunch one day she had chicken nuggets that i warmed up and did taste bad cold (tysons)grapes, raw veggies w/dip and juice. She loved it.
good luck. lmrmattk904@hotmail.com

justusseven said...

My kids bring a lunch every day. I allow them one day per week to have CEREAL for lunch. This is their favorite lunch day. I put a bowl, spoon and baggie of cereal in their lunch, along with milk money. They also get OJ to drink and either an apple or celery to dip in peanut butter. If your daughter doesnt like peanut butter, you'd have to get creative for the protein.

Hope this helps!
http://momsbyheart.blogspot.com/

Anonymous said...

Invest in a bento box or good quality thermos. Put Victoria's favorite leftovers from dinner in there and let her eat what she likes. It will stay warm if packed correctly.

Microwaving or heating up lunches is usually discouraged at school (speaking as a former teacher) because it takes more time to prep the lunches for 30 kids than it does for them to eat them. It's just not usually feasible.

Soup, pasta, and taco mix are usually things kids will gladly eat.

Anonymous said...

oops, previous post about the bento box was mine and I didn't leave you contact info :)

mariettaseller(at)yahoo(dot)com

CC said...

My oldest starts K in a few weeks so we'll be in this position too! We can't pay for hot lunches, so I'm racking my brain to determine cheap cold lunch stuff as well! I'm thinking we'll do lots of yogurt. Maybe in the thermos containers with sliced fruit. Maybe that idea will work for your daughter as well?

seesawstar said...

Have you tried making the lunches more appealing by adding in some personal touches? Like a note inside the actual food container (in a baggie), or arranging the food in a fun way. There are also lots of nutritious cold meals out there, but I understand your quest for keeping things warm - try heat packs that will keep your food containers warm. Foil is useful too. I would also look in the camping section for gadgets and stuff that will keep food warm, or warm food up again easily.

Good luck!

striving mom said...

How about a marshmallow fluff and honey sandwich? YUM ... what kid wouldn't like that? :) Also, have you tried other "butters", such as almond butter? That tastes yummy, too.

Anonymous said...

You might want to think of a bunch of snacks instead of one big lunch. Sting cheese, rolled up or diced cubes of ham are more fun to eat than the traditional sandwich. Fruit/pudding/jello cups. Good luck adavieau@harter.net

laura said...

Funny- I used to eat the peanut butter fluff sandwiches, they were tasty. But if you're daughter doesnt like PB, how about...

- hummus? Perhaps make some this weekend and see if she likes it. It's super healthy, and a good protein source. NOTE: I always roast my garlic first, or it will turn out very garlicky. Try this CL recipe:
http://find.myrecipes.com/recipes/recipefinder.dyn?action=displayRecipe&recipe_id=522358. Serve it with cut up veggies, or pita slices.

- This may sound odd, but I LOVE cheese and mustard sandwiches. I use a grain/wheat bread, emmentaler/swiss cheese and dijon mustard. But perhaps your daughter would like something a little more standard with frenches and cheddar, just to try it out and see if she likes it. Also good with crackers. Yum!

- Why not send her to school with a blueberry muffin every now and then. That and a string cheese stick should get her excited. Muffins are so similar to cupcakes, I cant imagine a kid turning them down or trading! If you're worried about the sugar, they have some pretty healthy recipes on the web - try a google search.

- Does she like asian food and noodles? You could try out a recipe over the weekend for a cold asian noodle salad with chicken.

- It also might help to interest her, if the sandwiches (can be cream cheese and cucumber, or whatever) are cut out with cookie cutters into fun shapes.

There are some great ideas listed by your readers, I'm really excited to write them down and keep them in mind for when we reach this obstacle. Good luck!

A happy heart at home said...

The first thought I had was a grilled cheese and bacon sandwich, on whole wheat bread if you prefer. Sounds good to me! Please enter me in your contest - thanks.

~Susan

Jennifer said...

I haven't read the other comments, but may I suggest bento style lunches that your daughter helps to prepare? Fruit, cheese, meat, nuts, mini crackers... they all sound like things she eats already. Maybe if they are present differently it will help her "be hungry." KWIM?

28 Caroline Lane said...

My kids attend private school and on top of tuition, they charge $3.50 per day for hot lunch. I try to discourage it. My children are extremely picky eaters, although PB&J works for them. Have you tried generic lunchables? Meat, cheese and crackers in one package. They are fairly inexpensive, and self contained!

Samantha said...

I pack several snack-like foods for my daughter's lunch so it seems like she is getting a treat. Different containers of fruit, graham crackers, etc. At least that way I know she is eating something to keep her going during the day!

Linda said...

My son usually buys lunch once a week and bring lunch from home for the other 4 days. Most days it is a sandwich that contains his favorite assortment of deli meats and cheese. Find a combination that your daughter likes. Another of his favorites is Lunchables. To keep his lunch cold, I pack it with either a frozen juice box or an ice pack.

Carolsue said...

Not much left to offer....but how about:
Hard boiled eggs; Cold leftover pizza; cooked hotdogs cut up and packed in a thermos; cubed chicken mixed with honey in a plastic bowl; Rice crackers; string cheese

Christina said...

I used-to make wraps with tortilla shells! The kids LOVED them! Mmmmmm... Ham & Cheese! Turkey & Cheese! We even did tuna!

ihchicky said...

In terms of keeping food warm, a good way that works is to pack the item you want to keep warm in tinfoil (while still hot) and then pack it in a tupperware container. Hope that helps. I agree that $2.90 is a bit crazy especially when the food given isn't being eaten. Thanks for the chance!

Holly said...

Lots of lunch ideas on our blog here: http://www.mommieswithcents.com/2008/03/packing-lunches.html

Jessica said...

I really can't give that great of advice, considering I loved lunchables for bring lunch to school. But I would say to try buying as many fresh fruits and vegetables as you can and making them fun to eat at lunch.

sundaygirl at gmail dot com