What’s a Foodie to Pack?

Yes, we are a town of Foodies!  Deliciousness not only pours out of our local restaurants, but also out of kitchen windows from Montford to the South Side.  But our lunch boxes?  What’s a busy foodie parent  – with a picky eater – to do?  Here is our latest roundup of super simple lunch box ideas that still pull on the heartstrings of the Foodie in you:


First off, some tips for foodies testing the waters of school lunch packing:

  1.  Keep it simple.  Yes, I too was in your shoes once.  I drew out my bento box lunch design.  I cut everything just so.  I sent off my creation with a special note from mommy, a prayer and a goodbye kiss (one for my daughter also).  It returned, mostly uneaten (I imagine some prodding occurred), and closely resembling something you wouldn’t want to find on the side of the road.  Oh the humanity.  My advice to you is to skip the design board, make sure any effort you expend is for your own fun, and keep it simple.
  2. Give them some challenges.  As important as it is that your child likes their food and feels included with their peers, I think it’s also important to challenge our kids a little in what they eat.  The list below has some great ideas that walk that fragile balance between what’s interesting and tasty to kids but also helps grow their palette and nourish them too.
  3. Consistency.  If you’ve found a favorite, stick with it.  There’s nothing wrong with a similar meal each day if your child is riding that wave.  However, I also have found success with consistently trying new foods in different ways.   There’s a great article about how patiently French parents work to expand the range of foods their kids are comfortable with.  And that’s a big part of being consistent too.


  1.  Liven Up Leftovers:  I’ve had amazing results when I think ahead during dinner.  Leftovers lunches fall flat if everything from dinner just gets mushed together.  Try pulling out a few noodles while cooking and then serving the veggies fresh in separate containers.  Or, use the main protein from dinner with a different vehicle for lunch.
Liven Up Leftovers
Soba Noodles with fresh veggies and fruit


Leftover chicken on salad greens
Leftover chicken on salad greens

2.  Spin a Classic:  Use the familiarity of a classic, favorite dish like mac n cheese or roll-ups to weave in a few new ingredients.

Mac n Cheese with greens


roll ups
Roll-ups as a vehicle for new foods


3.  Think Outside the Bread:  The other day, I told my daughter we needed a break from bread.  She invented a cashew butter sandwich with lettuce leaves holding it together.  And loved it.  This may be an anomaly, but it’s a perfect example of taking something the child loves and adding in something a little outside the box.

Cucumbers as crackers
Cucumbers as crackers

4.  Lots of Little:  Offering lots of little things has also worked well for me.  A bright colorful lunchbox full of little tastes can be pretty exciting, even if a couple of the ingredients thrown in the mix are unfamiliar.


Colorful variety to try
Colorful variety to try


What about you?  We’d love to hear from you any tips for helping keep school lunches simple but also fresh, new, and maybe even a little expanding to the palette!

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