Packing Kids' Lunches

Melanie P. asked:

So my question is, what do you give your kids for lunch? Do you moderate carbs for your kids? My family eats a moderately low carb dinner – well low carb, because it’s what I eat, but I do still give them oatmeal or higher carb smoothies for breakfast. I’d love your thoughts on this, or perhaps you’ve already written on this before?

Hi Melanie! You ask such a great question.

I do keep my nippers on a fairly moderate carb leash, but this is the general caveat for the house. I’m going to share what these caveats mean as we go. I’m just hyper, so let’s get to it! Notice the corn starches should be up near gluten starches, but blogger is being a stinky-schnozzed blarg demon tonight, so we’re going with this.

Gluten/Wheat Starch:
Gluten and wheat are generally verboten with the following caveats:
1.Spelt Bread. We do use Rudy’s Spelt Bread. While not low carb and some say still with wheat/gluten, it doesn’t seem to cause any of the wheat/gluten issues.
2. Dreamfields pasta. It’s just good stuff. We use this about once per week.
3. Pancakes. My hubby makes the best pancakes ever. We do this about once a month.
4. School snacks/lunches. On occasion when it’s a Birthday or they really want something from the lunch line, I give the thumbs up.

Lunch choices:

  • Bento (or other small foods packed in tiny Glad/Tupperware containers)
  • Rice cakes with schmears
  • Meat roll ups with cheese, fruit and veggies
  • Low carb wraps
  • Corn chips for scooping things like chili
  • Peanut butter sandwich on spelt
  • Hard Boiled Eggs
Bento fun includes the important food groups.

Sugars are generally verboten with the following caveats:1. Only rarely will I allow anything with HFCS in the house. It’s usually for parties for the kids in the form of sodas and cookies, which happens fairly rarely.
2. Jellies are fruit only, but the peanut butter, even organic, will contain some sugar
3. I do allow orange juice from time to time, and if we’re having pancakes, we go with maple syrup.
4. When we eat pancakes, the kids get regular maple syrup.
5. If there’s a party at school my kids are allowed to have the shared treat. Choose your battles.

Lunch choices:

  • Fresh fruit
  • Gluten free cookies
Mini pumpkin pies are great in a punch, especially around the holidays

Potatoes, Corn and Rice: Starch
These are used moderately with the following caveats:
1. Served with protein and fat.
2. Served as chips in lunches where fat is present or as a bread replacement.
3. Products containing the top three should be gluten free and without MSG
4. For the gluten free family, rice cakes make an excellent lace to schmear cream cheese or peanut butter for lunches.

Lunch choices:

  • Corn chips for scooping
  • Nut crackers (contain rice flour)
  • Cauliflower rice
  • Popcorn
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Fresh, crunchy veggies
This salad is portable and crispy.

I try to keep dairy to a minimum because of the lactose with the following caveats:
1. Full-fat dairy from cheeses, cottage cheese, yogurt and milk
2. If skim due to type of product, combined with protein or near a meal.

Lunch choices:

  • String cheese
  • Cream cheese
Cheese on a BLT sandwich made with oopsie bread? Yes, please.

More tips:

  • Make sure condiments are packaged separately to keep food from becoming soggy.
  • Likewise, keep pickles, tomato or other juicy vegetables away from foods that tend to get soggy
  • Watch yogurt containers, which tend to explode in lunchboxes when care isn’t taken.
  • Cottage cheese doesn’t generally travel well, especially when lunch boxes aren’t kept chilled.
  • Even if it’s tempting to send a juice box, go for school milk instead or, better yet, send a BAPA-free water bottle the kids can fill with ice to keep food chilled and then bring home at the end of the day.

I hope this answers any questions you might have about how I send the kids to school with lunches!

What say you, Lighter Side readers? What tips and tricks do you have for sending your wee ones of to school? Leave a comment below and share…just make sure you bring enoug
h for the whole class… 

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  1. Queen of the Nook says

    Thanks for sharing this info! We run into this dilemma daily at the Nook. My three year old daughter has started to beg for some of our old sweets that we used to have regularly. Her top two requests are chocolate chip cookies and pancakes. Your crepes have satisfied her pancake tooth…the cookies I just have to hold off on because I don't have the willpower to say no yet if they are in the house and I bake them myself. She does get lots of carby snacks at daycare…and Sunday school so I don't feel too bad.

  2. Melanie Peskoe says

    Hey Jamie, Thanks SO MUCh for answering my question! I LOVE your ideas and tips. One thing that I have begun to incorporate at snack time for my 3y/o is celery and natural peanut butter. He loves it and I know he's getting a good protein and fat combo with few carbs.

    I don't ban carbs for the kids and what we're doing now isn't that much different from what we've always done (no sweets except for holidays or birthdays, no junk food around ie chips, stuff like that). I just felt stumped about packing the lunch for my 11y/o. Now I can't wait to try some of your ideas!

    Thanks again,

  3. Thank you!! I have a two year old I am transitioning to a lower carb as both hubby and I do as well. She still wants her pasta and toast, oatmeal and cookies…and especially goldfish crackers!

  4. This is what I think about and do every day, as I help run a school lunch company that promotes sustainable eating–we serve 15,000 kids a day! Unfortunately, my son's preschool is too small for my company to serve, so I pack his lunch. I pack lots of your suggestions, always a protein (cheese chunks, edamame,leftovers from dinner before) and two fruits and veggies (snap peas and a banana today). One of things I have to be mindful of is that although I am SUPER strict about carbs (since 1999) my son is not me (in fact he is adopted, so not the same DNA even). I also give him rice, whole grain breads, crackers, etc., but always with protein and healthy fats!!

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