Healthy lunches — and a giveaway from Libby’s

***Congratulations to #5, Elaine! You were randomly selected as the winner of the Libby’s giveaway! Thanks to all who entered!***

Do your kids eat school lunch, or do you pack their lunch?

Although it’s much easier to just send them off to school at the mercy of the school lunch menu, I’m trying to be more prepared this school year for packing lunches to send with the two youngest boys. (Boy #1 would probably rather die right now than have his mommy pack his lunch. How embarrassing!)

The fact is, I was sick when I saw what we spent on school lunches last year. And that was just for TWO boys. We now have THREE in public school. And then when I factor in the fact that Boy #2 is so darn picky that I probably paid $2.50 for him to eat a roll and a carton of milk on many occasions, well, I don’t even want to think about it.

But my concern isn’t just in the cost of the meals; I’m also becoming increasingly concerned about the quality of the food they’re eating. I’ve always been a stickler about eating fruits and veggies, but I’m starting to become more wary of processed foods and things with a million ingredients. Part of the reason is that one of my boys has digestive and intestinal issues, and what goes into his body definitely makes a difference in his day-to-day health.

One way I’ve tried to make a difference in our nutrition is by serving more “whole” or “separated” foods (FYI, I’m no nutritionist, if you couldn’t tell), as in cut up fresh fruit and vegetables, lean meat without a lot of doctoring or ingredients added, a sensible amount of lean dairy products and whole grains. So instead of making a hamburger casserole, I’m trying to instead fix things like cut-up chicken breasts on pasta with steamed green beans and grapes.

This approach actually works pretty well with lunches. Here are some of the components of a “cold lunch” that my kids seem to eat—and enjoy:

  • Whole-grain tortilla wrapped around sliced or cut-up turkey breast
  • Low-fat string cheese
  • Sugar-free and/or natural applesauce
  • Craisins or dried pineapple
  • Whole-grain bread with honey spread
  • Plain popped popcorn in a little baggie
  • Raw cauliflower, broccoli or carrots
  • Whole apple (I don’t cut it because they don’t like it to get brown)
  • Segmented oranges
  • Raw baby spinach (they like to eat it plain, like rabbits)
  • Graham crisps with dark chocolate (a good dessert)
  • Dry cereal in a little container, like Frosted Mini-Wheats or Multi-grain Cheerios
  • Grapes

I was contacted about doing a giveaway sponsored by Libby’s, and since school lunches were already on my mind, I thought it was a good fit. I didn’t realize, however, that Libby’s has, besides canned fruits and veggies, a product that was made for school lunches: Libby’s Jumbo Cups. Here’s the scoop:

  • Unlike the 4-oz. fruit cups currently on the market, Libby’s Jumbo Cups contain 6 oz. of fruit, offering 3/4 a cup of fruit toward your daily nutritional needs.
  • The cups are extra-thick and easy to open, minimizing spillage in lunch boxes, backpacks, or at the cafeteria table. That’s definitely a plus!
  • The Jumbo Cups are sold in 3-packs in 4 different varieties: Diced Peaches, Mixed Fruit, Diced Pears, and Cherry Mixed Fruit. I think Diced Pears would be my boys’ top choice, but they’d eat any of them.

I really wanted to try these out but was disappointed that I couldn’t find them at either of the two supermarkets I checked with in my area. So I’ll have to do a little more investigation to find out where I can buy these locally.

On to the giveaway: I have, courtesy of Libby’s, three packs of Libby’s Jumbo Cups AND this adorable bee lunch bag!

All you have to do to win is leave a comment on this post and give me an idea of something else I can pack in my kids’ lunch! That’s it! Would you like extra entries? Sure, why not. You can receive one extra entry for each of the following:

  • Tweet about the giveaway and leave me a comment with the URL of your Tweet.
  • “Like” Libby’s on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/LibbysTable and leave me a comment telling me you did so.
  • Follow @LibbysTable on Twitter and let me know in a comment.

I will randomly select one winner on Monday, Sept. 13, at 8 p.m. CST. Make sure you leave an email address so I can get in touch with you to get a mailing address!

7 thoughts on “Healthy lunches — and a giveaway from Libby’s”

  1. Excellent post! I needed this after this morning, where I realized I am already super tired of packing 2 lunches everyday!! BUT, you are totally right, and I need to keep on keeping on!! I enjoyed your list of ideas, I am in desperate need of some ideas! To add to it, a couple of things my kids like that are easy are cold pasta salad (fix pasta the day before, throw in assorted veggies, olives, cheese, a meat of some kind and salad dressing, stir), wasa crackers with peanut butter or cream cheese and meat on them, hard boiled eggs, and veggie and cheese kabobs with coffee stirrers as the skewer so my kids don’t get kicked out of school for bringing weapons. Hooray on your post! Hopefully someday the USDA will catch on!

  2. My girls love “banana dogs”. Tortilla with peanut butter spread, then roll up a banana! Easy and nutricious!

  3. Love it, P! I’ve been doing the same. Packing lunches and snackes for my girls and they are loving it too. I noticed K1 was putting on extra weight eating school lunches and no wonder! They are loaded with fat, sodium and processed carbs. While some of that is fine, deep fried lunch 4 days/week isn’t good for anyone!

  4. It’s our first year in the school public school system and I have to say that I have been pleasantly surprised by the school menus. The cost is $2.40 and each lunch has at least one,if not two, types of fruit and a veggie. And since I am lucky enough to have a child who isn’t picky about what she eats I haven’t packed a lunch yet.
    Jody´s last blog post ..Timeshare Rentals Are the Answer to Family Travel

  5. This is our first year in the public schools and was told by another mother that the school lunches were pretty good. However, I have to say that after looking at the menu I am not impressed. When I ran my daycare the most I was allowed to serve anything that was high in sodium such as; hot dogs, lunch meat, pizza, chicken nuggets, etc. more than once a week! ONCE A WEEK! and here they have it almost every. single. day! It’s outrageous! On top of that I too am becoming more aware of the foods we eat, like you said it’s about the whole food vs the processed foods. One thing particularly disturbing is high fructose corn syrup! It’s in everything and it’s horrible for you! Eating that stuff will lead to liver disease, no exceptions. I vote we should just have a whole country makeover with food, it’s seriously disturbing and while the government thinks that all their foods are low cost, it costs us dearly in health problems. If more people ate whole foods and bought locally we would see a raise in our economy!
    ok, geting off my soap box.. wow where did that come from???!!!
    I love your ideas btw, I’m still learning about what I can send to school with her, lke can I do leftovers? will they heat it up for her?

  6. Hi Paula, I know the giveaway is ove but I can still comment right? 🙂 I totally share your concerns about school lunch. In most cases it’s too high in saturated fat, sugar and salt. That’s why I prefer to send my little ones to school with a packed lunchbox. I just wrote an article on how to keep lunch attractive for kids. Feel free to check it out and let me know what you think of it.
    Alison @ Femita´s last blog post ..5 Back-To-School Lunchbox Ideas For Demanding Kids

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