Surviving School Lunches - Week 1

My daughter started grade one last week, and with it came her first opportunity to eat lunch at school. In other circumstances, I probably would have brought my daughter home for lunch (we are a 10 minute walk or 1 1/2 minute drive away), but her school operates on a 'balanced day' schedule, meaning that the kids get two forty-minute breaks in the day, rather than the usual 15-/60-/15- minutes breaks.

I like the idea. The two breaks are each divided into 20 minutes for 'nutrition' and then 20 minutes to run around outside, and they come at 10:30 am and 1:00 pm. When I asked the principal whether or not they felt this approach was working, she was enthusiastic. The kids generally treat the first break as snack time and the second break as lunch time, but it means that the kids are less likely to rush or skip eating time simply because playtime is too precious to waste on eating. And better nutrition and management of eating time means that kids experience less highs and lows during the day, while longer breaks outside of the classroom help keep energy, behaviour and attention levels more steady inside of the classroom.

But it also meant that eating lunch at home was pretty much out of the question for my daughter. Students are permitted to go home during the second break, but I felt that travel time, prep time once home and the stress of having to be back at school within 40 minutes would essentially override all of the advantages of having a balanced day.

Plus, my daughter begged to eat lunch at school. She is also begging to ride the available school bus (unsidewalked country-ish roads mean busses despite the close distance). I'm not quite ready for that one, however.

Anyway, back to lunches.

You all know that I spent a ridiculous amount of money on a Planet Box lunchbox, and I have to tell you, it has been worth every penny. I realize it's not a necessity for everybody, but it makes me excited (or at least, not dreading) making lunches, so it's a gem to me.

The planning for lunches began before the school year began, and I did the planning with my daughter.
She sat beside me for about an hour, and together we scrolled through scores of pictures of lunches. As we did this, we wrote a list of all of the things that she would be happy to see in her own lunch. Hard boiled egg? Check! Mini muffins? Check! Goldfish crackers? Blech. And so it went, until I had two pages of acceptable ingredients to mix and match.

And so we began. Apologies for the low-res images; I don't have an iPhone and the camera was out of batteries, and yes, it takes me a week to change the batteries in the camera.


2 slices nitrate-free chicken breast, Pillsbury whole-grain croissant,
grapes, tomato and cucumber slices with hummus, one square organic
mint chocolate.


Smoked salmon, grapes, mini pizza slices (aka one left-over pizza
slice cut into 3 'mini' slices), frozen corn, organic mini cereal bar,
two liquorice all-sorts.

Organic cheese with melba crackers 2 slices nitrate-free chicken
breast, carrots, Pillsbury whole-grain croissant, pear and cucumber slices,  
Annie's organic gummy bunnies


Hard-boiled egg, grapes, homemade applesauce, mini chicken-
veggie wrap, melba crackers, mini-marshmallows

Hope you all had a great first week back at school!

A few other places for great lunch ideas:

These 10 lunches they'll actually eat via Parent Central

This comprehensive guide to school lunches via EverythingMom.com

These fantastic lunch plans via Today's Parent

These great tips for picky eaters via Canadian Family


  1. Those are about the prettiest lunches ever. Also? Don't let my kid know that your kid gets mini marshmallows. I would NEVER hear the end of it. ;)


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