Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Tuesday Tips: Lunch Packing Help! Sandwich Alternatives

It's that time of year when our favorite lunch go-to's may be too played out, I'm talking to you peanut butter and jelly sandwich. While we all know are children are fortunate to be having a homemade lunch, it's also hard to find lunch inspiration. Packing lunch does not have to be a time consuming process. I take about 5 minutes to put lunch together in the morning (I'm not a night before packer). While I would love to make creative lunches everyday for my girls, the reality is time and what's on hand. I am a huge fan of using leftovers for lunch, which also means thinking ahead like making some extra pasta or buying an extra package of dumplings. I only pack a sandwich a couple times a week, otherwise I repurpose leftovers in a fun way! 

Sandwich alternatives:
  • Dumplings from a Japanese fast food restaurant (Whole Foods also makes them). Purchased an extra order when getting our take out for dinner. Perfect for lunch.
  • Cheese quesadilla, I place in toaster oven and remove just as cheese starts to melt, if you wait too long, the tortilla turns into a hard cracker by lunch. My girls prefer softer.
  • Tri-colored pasta (leftover of course) with some balsamic vinaigrette, vintage cheddar, and pepperoni. 
  • Leftover pearled couscous. 
  • Macaroni and cheese (pictured with broccoli).
  • Turkey meatballs on a little skewer with ketchup.
  • Soup or chili. 

** Items like the macaroni and cheese, dumplings, soup are all heated here in the morning. I do have a thermos style bento I pack Sj for soup, but I like to take the edge off of really cold food from the refrigerator being sent for lunch. By heating it up, it's softer and more edible. 

Vegetable & Fruit, Go-To's:

Edamame is one of my favorite vegetables to pack for lunch because I always have a bag in the freezer. Always buy Organic edamame, as 95% of soy grown in the United States is genetically modified to resist Round-Up pesticides. 

Other fruits and vegetables:

  • My girls love melon, either cantaloupe or watermelon
  • Applesauce
  • Carrot sticks and organic ranch (I typically cut up my own carrots, more favorful)
  • Cucumber and organic ranch
  • Red pepper cut into strips and organic ranch
  • Berries! Always a hit with my girls.
  • Edamame
  • Snap peas
  • Canned packed in 100% juice pineapple, pears, peaches. 
  • Raisins
  • Grapes
  • Jicama sticks! My 7yo loves jicama. 
  • Apples and peanut butter (if you cut them in 1/2 carve out center and fill with PB or almond butter)
  • Broccoli 
  • Grape tomatoes (super fun on a pick stacked)
  • kiwi
Have an favorite alternatives to sandwiches? Please share!

My favorite waste free way to pack lunch, hands down Laptop Lunches. We own a few and I love them, especially for my oldest daughter because they hold plenty of food. 10% off if you enter "eatplaylove" at checkout, I'm an affiliate! 

For more inspiration, visit my other blog, Colorado Bento (all about lunch packing). 


  1. These suggestions are also much appreciated for us bigger kids, who pack a lunch to take to the office. ;)

  2. I've definitely been getting the lunch making blah's, so it is nice to see some new ideas to try. We're definitely stuck in a rut. I think I'll try a quesadilla soon and the meatballs again...we tried those at the beginning of the year, but they didn't go over very well. Now that she's tired of sandwiches, she might be more open to it. :) We do send Annie's Bernie O's as a warm lunch since my picky daughter won't eat soup or chili. They are yummy & I can pronounce all the ingredients.

    I would love to see a post about snack ideas too, I think I've played out the cheese & crackers and dried fruit & nuts.

  3. Thanks for these great ideas! We are in a lunch RUT!!!

  4. Love the ideas! I have to remember the skewered edamame.


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