Cadence

Kids Lunch Ideas

19 posts in this topic

I need some inspiration. My poor little first-grader is not thrilled with the lunches I've been sending him (mostly leftovers from dinner). He's been a good little boy and has been eating everything, but tonight he told me, "Mom, I used to get excited about snack and lunch. I don't get excited anymore." Not that his lunches were "exciting" to begin with - a ham and cheese or peanut butter sandwich with some fruit or vegetable and a juice box. Every single day. I don't know how he didn't get bored! But I'd love to bring him more on board with this whole thing by offering lunches he'll look forward to. Any suggestions? I've yet to find any kind of compliant lunch meat (it's funny to see how unnatural the stuff they label as "natural" over here really is) and he doesn't like olives, so those are out. But I'd love other ideas that you can pass my way!

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For lunches, my kids' boxes are usually various combinations of this:

Protein: deli meat, jerky, tuna or cooked chicken breast cubed

Fat: olives, almond butter, coconut flakes, nuts/seeds, avocado

Carbs: fruit, all fruit, although I limit the bananas, sliced cucumbers, celery, baby carrots, cherry tomatoes, jicama w/lime, kale chips, apple sauce, raw spinach, peppers (they like the orange ones)

Not W30, but bacon wrapped dates are a big hit with my kids. Dates mashed then rolled in coconut. Homemade granola bars. Homemade granola. "Paleo" pancakes with almond butter...kind of like a sandwich. Sweet potato chips. Plantain chips. Again, NOT W30 by any means, but we are talking about kids here and in my opinion, just getting them off the Gold Fish and whole wheat bread is a win!

For drinks: water, ice tea, kombucha, may sound weird, but they also like bone both soup.

I applaud you for encouraging your little man to transition! My kids are doing very well and have even thanked me. Melts my heart!

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Kids seem to love things they can eat with their hands or that are in packages (like a juice box), here's a few ideas I have:

Gorilla Sandwich: Almond butter and banana rolled up in a romaine leaf. You have to tell them it's a gorilla sandwich and make it fun or they won't eat the lettuce :) You could possibly pull of a chicken avocado in here....gorilla burrito? Make sure you cut out the thick spine!

Shish kabob....we call these "muscle sticks"...emphasize how these will make you big and strong: Get a fun stick and put on meat and a few veggies he likes on it

Chicken nuggets: Most kids love these, make yourself or find some without breading and get a fun sauce for dipping....check whole foods, they have some great bbq sauces.

Chicken legs

Fruit

Peeled hard boiled eggs chopped in half...if you want to get creative, use these as eyes and make a smiley face with asparagus or something for the mouth. Or just call them monster eyeballs and stick an almond or blueberry or something in there for the pupil.

If they will eat veggies as chips, make a guacamole and have them dip veggies in it. In my experience, most kids don't go for this, but if you have a veggie lover! If you use brocolli or asparagus etc, make sure you blanch.

Ants on a log (celery or carrot with almond butter and raisins)

Meatball lollipops: I had these once in an italian restaurant and all the kids went crazy for them! Again, try to find a fun sauce for dipping.

Anything with a fake face put on it....stick berries for eyes on a piece of cold chicken, apple slice for lips, etc.

Fun containers are always a hit...like a bento lunch box with different compartments for each thing.

For a drink, I wonder if you could find some kind of reusable juice box with a swirly straw or something...then just fill with water. Maybe google eco juicebox!

hej, StephannieL and Emma like this

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Thanks! Fantastic ideas all the way around. Part of our problem here is simply availability. I've tried making almond butter (didn't grind it very smooth) and he didn't like it. But I'm going to try roasting the almonds first next time and see what he thinks. Once summer rolls around, it will be easier, but right now I've got to find things I can put in his lunch bag. Next year I'm buying each of my boys a planet box and then we can REALLY have fun with their lunches!

Emma likes this

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hm... would that be a sugar free bbq sauce?

I have yet to find one that doesnt have sugar/cane/honey/molasis.

Cadence, check out the everyday paleo blog, she has a ton of kid's lunch ideas.

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I find my son just won't eat most of the ideas for Paleo kids foods. He has texture issues so there are many things he literally can't eat due to how they feel in his mouth. He won't eat eggs, avocado, celery, almond or other nut butters, jerky is too hard and chewy, deli meat is too slimy, etc... He would eat homemade turkey sausage and apples for every meal if he could. And he is one of those kids who won't eat, all day or more, if it is food that grosses him out. He always tries what we give him but often just can't get it down and swallow it.

Even non-Paleo he would not eat many typical kid foods like sandwiches and such.

Anyone else with kids like this? His doctor says they have found this texture problem to be a true medical condition and you need to work around it but in a paleo diet there are far fewer options.

praxisproject likes this

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I find my son just won't eat most of the ideas for Paleo kids foods. He has texture issues so there are many things he literally can't eat due to how they feel in his mouth. He won't eat eggs, avocado, celery, almond or other nut butters, jerky is too hard and chewy, deli meat is too slimy, etc... He would eat homemade turkey sausage and apples for every meal if he could. And he is one of those kids who won't eat, all day or more, if it is food that grosses him out. He always tries what we give him but often just can't get it down and swallow it.

Even non-Paleo he would not eat many typical kid foods like sandwiches and such.

Anyone else with kids like this? His doctor says they have found this texture problem to be a true medical condition and you need to work around it but in a paleo diet there are far fewer options.

Hi RevKT,

 

I just came across your post about your son and his issue with food textures, not sure if you have found any answers (I know your post was in 2012), but it sounds like he has sensory processing disorder.  My son was just diagnosed with it in January.  My little guy is on the opposite spectrum (craves too much input - always putting things in his mouth or licking things that he shouldn't along with other issues), but I have done a lot of research and what you are describing fits it exactly.  There is lots of information online and a book that has been a huge help in understanding is called The Out of Sync Child.  He was officially diagnosed by a pediatric occupational therapist and is now in therapy to help.  It has only been 2 months for us and we are already seeing some progress.  There is help for kids that struggle with SPD, and many times they are able to overcome it with the help of therapy and work at home.  Just thought I would put that information out there for you.  I know for us, it has been a huge relief to finally have someone who understands our little guy.  

drtracyb and praxisproject like this

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Lots of adults with aspergers and OCD have real trouble with food textures too (sauce, "bits", crusts). It's worth playing with ingredients they like the taste of, but not the texture (raw apple -> apple sauce -> baked apple - apple juice), make it an experiement of finding what they like

 

Anyone looking for kids lunch inspiration, there are great photos of lunchboxes like Lunchbots, packed. Not all are paleo, but there's always loads of ideas. Some kids really like the bento-shaped eggs and things on toothpicks. 

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It still has a bit of sugar in it but I get turkey meat from costco and it's gluten free and has no fillers. They love that or you can get whole 30 approved hot dogs and he can eat that cold. Pumpkin muffins made with tapioca flour and almond flour are good and my boys love them! They think they are getting a treat but it's actually good for them. You can even use squash in place of pumpkin. I send carrot sticks or cucumbers and you could also make an avocado dip to send with him. Hard boiled eggs are another favorite here! Then I will usually send some grapes, melon, a banana, berries, or an orange. My kids aren't completely paleo but when I cook for them they are. My husband still lets them have "treats". I also let my boys make their own trail mixes, I buy pecans and almonds and a few different types of dried fruit and let them mix it up. They eat those for snacks sometimes. The other day I sent my 6 year old with coconut cream and raspberries and he loved it! Maybe make a green smoothie to send in a thermos too?
Good luck! I know it's hard!

 

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This morning I packed my daughter's lunch.  I bought some 'bento box' type tupperware.  It has a sandwhich (square) section and then two smaller sections with one lid that snaps over all three sections.  She thought it was cool the way it was in all one container but everything was separate.  I sliced up an apple for the big section.  Then I put 4 deviled egg halves in the next larger section and pistachios in the smallest.  For a snack, she helped me make 'trail mix'.  She wanted to buy some tail mix with M&Ms in it at the store a few days ago.  I said no, but then we went home and made our own version.  It had sunflower seeds, unsweetened coconut flakes, chopped dried apricots and some baked plantain chips (her idea, not mine :) ).  We were missing a veggie, but I figured it was a better lunch than PB&J and a juice box.

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I made crock pot italian meatballs and sent those last week - the kids loved them.  I have the three section ziplock containers so I put some carrot-parsnip puree in one square, meatballs in another, and fruit and some carrots in the big section.

 

My son also loves costco hot dogs.  He has ASP tendencies and is very sensitive to textures and temperatures.

karaj likes this

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Bacon wrapped sausage stuffed dates with sugar free bacon from US Wellness meats would be Whole 30 compliant right? 

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Sounds yummy.

 

My kids had left over steak in one section, carrot puree in the second, and cut-up tomatoes and carrots in the big section, with some paleo ranch dressing.  They are not whole30, so they also got some paleo pancakes spread with almond butter for their snack.  Both boxes came home from school empty - score!

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I make bento style lunches for my kids.

 

Favorites include:

 

Hotdogs shaped like an octopus or flower

Nitrate-free ham cut into shapes or folded into a flower

Eggs shaped like a bunny, heart, car, etc.

Rolls of cucumber and carrot slices (thin sliced wuth a vegetable peeler than rolled) on a cute pick

Veggie or fruit kebabs on a pick

Meatballs on a pick

 

Picks make everything cuter! lol You can get disposable picks cheap at discount stores in the party section. Just buy cupcake toppers (usually a sticker on a long toothpick). My kids don't mind "different" lunches when theirs look fancy and cute.

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My DS eats his lunch from school so I don’t have to bother about it. Also the school posts their lunch menu on their website, http://www.sunnybrookschool.com/school-news/lunch-menu.html so on any day if I feel like the lunch is not enough for my child then I pack something for him. Packing lunch for your kids is a very tough job. It has to be interesting, nutritious, and healthy. I am glad that the school offers lunch; or else I would have spent sleepless nights thinking of what to make for my DS the next day.

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My childcare centre posts their lunch menu online . They've created some really healthy idea options that I've started adopting for my meals at home. I'd recommend checking them out and seeing if they have anything that might inspire you (or anyone else here). 

Another thing I've found to work with helping kids get excited about food is having them help make it. If they help cook the meal (or in the case of p&js, put it together), they tend to get super into it and look forward to eating it more. Here are a couple of ideas for things you can make with your kiddos. Hope they help!

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