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Announcing The Happiest Home’s "Lunch Box Challenge" with a GREAT Giveaway!

by Meagan Francis on September 3, 2011

UPDATE! This contest is closed, and winners have been chosen. Check the bottom of the post for the winning comments.

After doing a lot of reading about school lunch programs (okay, and maybe after watching a couple seasons of Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution, too) I’ve felt more convicted than ever to make it a priority to send my children to school with home-packed lunches. Our school system’s lunch menus don’t seem too bad on the surface, but when you consider:

  • cost – our school lunches run about $200/month for four lunch-eating kids. For that money, I can pack really good lunches.
  • quality and nutrition – there are healthy options like a salad bar, but the kids tend to eat the not-so-great stuff on their plates, like breaded chicken and breaded cheese nuggets and bread sticks and breaded corn dogs and huge white-bread rolls, and if all that breading wasn’t bad enough, I am skeptical of the quality of ingredients overall;
  • taste – most of my kids don’t like school lunch, so they either just pick at it or,  in the case of the older boys, use their pocket cash to buy junk from the a la carte line;
  • waste – all that food the kids don’t like? Guess where it goes – the trash! Many (most?) schools don’t even have programs in place to recycle packaging and trays.

When I’m honest with myself, I know I have the time to pack a lunch just about every day. Even packing three or four at a time takes no longer than five or ten minutes. The biggest obstacles for me are preparation (having the foods I need and any other materials on hand), organization (knowing where everything is when I need it, and an established routine that makes lunch-packing just part of the day) and commitment.

That last one’s a biggie. When I don’t commit to something, it’s only too easy to believe that I “don’t have time” to do it…when the reality is that I just didn’t prepare, plan, or prioritize. The point of this challenge is to get us committed for one month – enough time to figure out time-saving strategies and put routines in place that can help make it much easier to continue once the challenge is over.

As somebody who’s turned to the ease and availability of the school-lunch program many times, I totally understand why packing a homemade lunch isn’t always a priority – or even when it is, often falls off a busy parent’s radar. But committing to packing my kids’ lunches this year is one thing I can do just a little bit better.

No guilt or pressure if you’re focusing on other things right now, but if you’re up for it, I hope you’ll join me over the next month for my Lunch Box Challenge. For us school starts on September 6, and my personal “challenge” will run through October 7. Along the way I’ll be posting every Saturday about how it’s going, how I’m simplifying and streamlining the process of packing lunches and what I’m learning along the way. I hope you will join in and share your experiences here in the comments or on Facebook or your own blog.

Some notes about the way I’m going to do school lunches “a little bit better” (rather than aiming for perfection):

  • I will still let my kids eat lunch at school a few times a month so I get a little break and they’ll get to eat their favorite school meals. We’ll look at the menus together, pick those days ahead of time and put them on the calendar.
  • My lunches will not be particularly creative. A lot of moms are into artistic Bento lunches, and I think that’s great! But while I may feel occasionally moved to draw a mustard smiley face on a turkey sandwich, pretty lunches are not a priority for me during this challenge. If you’re looking for more creative ideas than what I have to offer, check out the fabulous and inspired Wendolonia.
  • I’m not going for 100% natural, from-scratch, homemade food in these lunches. They’ll be a reflection of the way I feed my family in generalmostly whole, fresh foods, as many organics as possible, a lot of locally-sourced produce (while it lasts)…and some packaged and convenience food, too. For most families, real life includes making some small tradeoffs for a larger benefit, so let’s embrace “good enough” lunches during this challenge!

Okay, now the fun part. Several brands have offered to donate a selection of great products so that  two readers will win one really fantastic prize package that includes all of the following:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bento Boxes from EasyLunchBoxes.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • A set of bento lunchboxes from EasyLunchBoxes.com. I love these because unlike many Bento lunchboxes, they have plenty of room for a full-sized sandwich and the entire box closes with one lid that’s easy for small fingers to take on and off. A set includes four dishwasher-safe lunchboxes and lids, plus an insulated tote that carries up to two at a time. (I like that a set comes with FOUR boxes, because there are always plenty to rotate so you don’t have to wait for the evening dishes to be done before you can pack tomorrow’s lunch.)

and,

  • A Lunch Bundle from One Step Ahead, including:
    • BabySteps Multi-Slicer I find that cutting up fruit, cheese, etc. into chunks and slices is probably the most time-consuming part of packing a lunch. This tool (with two different blades for coring/slicing and cubing) makes the cutting part a snap and is great for after-school snacks, too.

  • A Wrap-N-Mat reusable sandwich wrap and placemat. If you’re like me, you hate the idea of throwing away baggies, but they aren’t always easy to get clean and you have to prop them all over your kitchen to make sure the insides dry properly. Here’s the genius solution – a re-useable mat you can wrap your child’s sandwich up in. Love. It.
  • A Mini Bites Crustless Sandwich Cutter. I had a round sandwich cutter at one point but always hated how much sandwich it left behind – I always felt like I had to pack two sandwiches to make up for the bread lost. This cool little device keeps a lot more of the sandwich and divides it up into four neat triangles while sealing the edges for less mess. As for the crusts left behind? Don’t worry, I eat ‘em. I love crusts. (My kids actually like crusts too, but they get really excited over triangular sandwiches.)
  • Insulated Lunch Bag. the EasyLunchBoxes containers fit inside the lower half of this roomy bag, and there’s a compartment in the top half for a midday snack or drink. Options are good.
  • EZ Freeze sandwich container and EZ Freeze snack container. I often worryabout sending easily-perishable foods like tuna sandwiches, yogurt, or mayo to sit in my kids’ lockers all day, but had a hard time finding an easy way to keep them cold. These containers feature a built-in freezer pack so you don’t have to worry about separate gel packs or baggies full of ice (what, I’m the only one who’s tried that?)

and,

  • A month’s worth of lunchbox snacks from Revolution Foods. Supplementing your lunch-packing efforts with healthy, organic packaged snacks makes it easy to do a little bit better without having to blend up veggie smoothies during the school-morning rush. My kids especially love the Yo’Drops – crunchy little balls made of 100% certified organic yogurt and fruit and natural flavorings.
  •  

     

    The winners’ Revolution Foods Snack Kit will contain the following snacks, enough for lunches Monday through Friday for four weeks:

    To enter, leave a comment on this post – I’d love to hear if you’re planning to try the lunch box challenge! Have you had plans in the past to pack lunches from home, but they fizzled? How can you overcome lunch burnout this year – will you set aside a specific time to make lunches, invest in certain tools, enlist your child’s help, etc?

    For extra entries, you can do either or both of the following:

    • Share this post on Facebook and/or Twitter, then come back and leave a comment letting me know.
    • Post the badge above on your own blog (feel free to grab the code in the sidebar) with a link back to this post, and leave a comment letting me know.

    The contest will close at 5:00 PM EST on Friday, September 9, and I’ll choose two winners randomly using the plugin “And The Winner Is.” Check back to next Saturday’s Lunch Box Challenge post for the winner! And I hope you’ll follow the challenge for the next month. Thanks, good luck, and happy packing!

    The contest is closed! Two winning comments were randomly chosen:

    Your Winner

    Author: Martha (chi…@gmail.com)
    Comment: permalink
    After homeschooling for many years off to school go the youngest two. I am committed to pack lunches, and was successful for the first week. but I can see it getting harder and my kids are already asking to buy! but I hope by including them in the picking of food and the packing each day that we will succeed. Winning the prizes would be oh so fun!

    Your Winner

    Author: christina (c…@comcast.net)
    Comment: permalink
    School just started for us last week and my energy and creativity are high for making lunch. I HOPE I don’t fizzle out. Hopefully doing the challenge will keep me accountable.

    Congratulations, Christina and Martha! Look for an email from me. If you’re just finding this giveaway and didn’t win, I hope you’ll follow along with the rest of the challenge – check back each Saturday for a new post and giveaway!

    Want more ideas
    for creating a happier home life?
    Ginger September 3, 2011 at 1:28 pm

    My plans always seem to fizzle, but I never stop trying. I love some of these packages you featured that have a built in freezer part.

    Kate September 3, 2011 at 1:37 pm

    We try…but it doesn’t take long for life to take over. Love these packages though, it might just make it easier to stick to the plan!

    Angie September 3, 2011 at 1:44 pm

    I love this challenge, and we’re going to try it! I occasionally pack for the kids, but not consistently.

    Abby Emanuelson September 3, 2011 at 2:01 pm

    Great idea! I am in for the challenge!

    Meredith September 3, 2011 at 2:02 pm

    I’m on board! Helps that Ford has to have a lunch packed for preschool, so I just go ahead and pack one for Alexander while I’m at it.

    Meredith September 3, 2011 at 2:05 pm

    I shared your post on Facebook!

    Megan September 3, 2011 at 2:05 pm

    I’ll be seeing my daughter off to Kindergarten on the 6th and have to pack a lunch and separate snack every day. I am determined to make them myself and ensure they are as healthy and non-processes as possible!

    Megan September 3, 2011 at 2:08 pm

    Re-tweeted and shared on Facebook!

    Abby September 3, 2011 at 2:12 pm

    I just shared on FB and Tweeted it out. Thanks!

    Amanda Stallman September 3, 2011 at 2:15 pm

    Ok the ice in a baggie totally made me LOL! I send Reya with the ice packs that came with my breastpump, and a month into school I still haven’t purchased a proper lunchbox. She’s using a purse… oh my.

    Amanda Stallman September 3, 2011 at 2:15 pm

    And I shared on FB!

    sue v September 3, 2011 at 2:20 pm

    the kids always have the same type of sandwich but i try and make sure they have different snacks each day.. and a mixture of fruit, veg and crackers… i like to buy the large stoneyfield youghurt so i can serve up a portion at a time in an individual container and they can add whatever heatlhy toppings they want

    STEPHANIE September 3, 2011 at 2:23 pm

    LOVE THE MULTI-SLICER! MAY HAVE TO GET THAT!

    becky September 3, 2011 at 2:38 pm

    I have the easy lunchbox system – it is AWESOME! It is especially helpful in packing hubby’s lunch.

    Carrie C. in VA September 3, 2011 at 3:07 pm

    I already pack lunch every single day n/c I do not approve of the menu at my daughter’s preschool: nuggets, corndogs, fruit packed in HFCS, poptarts, fruit loops, etc are on the menu too often. My biggest challenge is cutting things into manageable bites every morning because she is still only 15 months old.

    Kris erickson September 3, 2011 at 3:38 pm

    I pack a lunch everyday for my 6 year old. The things I find challenging are having enough variety to make it appealing all year and finding things that he will have time to eat in the 20 minutes he has to eat. This is a great idea…I tagged my fb friends with it.

    erp September 3, 2011 at 3:46 pm

    Sounds like a great challenge!

    Shelli (@shellipants) September 3, 2011 at 3:53 pm

    Sounds like an excellent challenge! But since my child isn’t old enough to take a lunch to school, I’ll use em on my husband’s lunch. Sounds great!

    Jennifer September 3, 2011 at 3:57 pm

    Last school year I packed lunch everyday for myself and my two youngest in pre-school. Once to twice a week, I would pack for my two older children as well, but frequently they would buy the school lunch. I was constantly having to replish their lunch accounts. It just got to be too expensive. So this school year, I am packing 5 lunches every morning…one for myself (the teacher/mom needs to eat too!) and 4 for my kids. I even changed my morning schedule to give myself 30 minutes extra in the morning to pack lunches. We do a combination of fresh fruit or veggie, yogurt and cheeses, with sandwiches and the only prepackaged food I buy are chips, which I alternate with a chex mix or pretzels/crackers. It’s been two weeks of school and we are going strong!! I looked at the easy lunchboxes and had them in my Amazon cart! But have been using small containers, sandwich boxes and zipper bags.

    Jennifer September 3, 2011 at 4:03 pm

    I just put a lunchbox challenge badge on my blog too! Looks great! ;)

    SusanP September 3, 2011 at 4:11 pm

    I find this topic really interesting. When I was a kid (one of 8) my mom made our lunches every day without so many gadgets! I seriously ate the same thing for school lunch every day from 1st grade until Junior year of high school (that’s when my friends and I started leaving campus to eat out). Peanut butter sandwich on white bread. Bag of chips. Little Debbie. Juice box. Every.single.day. It wasn’t the healthiest or “greenest” but I survived! Now we parents are pressured to send healthy / green / and daily variety. It’s no wonder so many have a hard time!

    As a parent now, I have made school lunch every day since my oldest started preschool — I knew my kids would never eat the junk they serve in the lunch program. I do minimize packaging by using tupperware sandwich containers and their small containers for the sides. For sandwich use the 100% whole wheat minibagels (Pepperidge Farm and Thomasville are both good) with a slice of cheese (ok, so it’s the processed and not the best… I get one that has extra calcium), and a slice of ham or turkey. I found if I sent the meat/cheese on bread it would come home half eaten – but on the bagel, all gone. On days I’m out of meat then I send good ‘ol pb n j on 100% whole wheat bread. Or I’ll smother the whipped strawberry cream cheese on the bagel. For the side – always a big container of fruit (grapes, cantaloupe, berries, watermelon are some examples) or sliced roma tomatoes and cucumber. For drink, I send a 100% juice box — it’s the ONLY juice they drink all week. 5 juice boxes a week isn’t that big of a deal to me — the rest of the time they drink water or milk. For snack they get anything from another container of fruit, sugar free applesauce, string cheese and crackers, teddy grahams if I’m feeling extra fun, raisins, trail mix, yogurt raisins. I don’t buy individual packages — I buy big ones and send little amounts in the tupperware containers.
    My boys have not complained about the lack of variety in their lunches… yet. They are 7 and 5 and easy to please. Sometimes I think moms make it too hard on themselves!! If you start with variety, they’ll expect variety.
    Oh and last thing — I prep all of it the night before. Takes about 10 – 15 minutes. I use the freezer packs that came in the lunch bags we use – bought them at Costco.

    Meagan Francis September 3, 2011 at 4:17 pm

    You’re right, Susan, we have over-complicated things, haven’t we? Maybe that’s why so many moms feel paralyzed to even try packing lunches. The bar has been raised. That said, I think the gadgets and gizmos can save time and definitely make the process more fun :)

    SusanP September 3, 2011 at 4:51 pm

    Oh yes, I love my gadgets too!! Even though washing out all the containers I use is a major pain I feel like it’s better than using the throw away stuff. And I really need to check out that multislicer from one step ahead. With two toddlers I spend so much time cutting up stuff. It looks like it would be a great time saver!

    Jessica September 4, 2011 at 5:38 pm

    Isn’t one of the objectives of packing/cooking to teach the kids that you need a variety of foods to be a healthy person. It isn’t just about filling them up, it is about making sure they have the nourishment to get through the rest of the day. There is so much more expected of kids now, mentally, they need the health benefits of variety. That being said, I have packed for all 4 of my kids and my teacher husband, and myself several times a week, for over 2 years. I have gotten better, and smarter at it. Now I make a calendar, just like the school does, and I may add things/delete items, but just like school it rotates each month. Easier to shop, easier to pack and the kids only can put their 2 cents in when the calendar is posted, not by boycotting the food that they are served. Everything is made the day before, sometimes 2 days worth in 1 effort, then they pack it in their tote that morning with a water bottle, spork, and a cloth napkin.
    The Easy Lunchboxes are the BEST! After using smaller containers, and washing them times 4 kids, I graduated to the Easy Lunchboxes and haven’t looked back. Add a good steel(holds the cold) water bottle and some Mabels Labels(nothing gets lost) and we have had the same set of lunch “stuff” for 2 years. Awesome investment!

    Andrea Ginsberg September 3, 2011 at 4:11 pm

    I am definitely going to be part of the challenge. Sounds fun.

    Andrea Ginsberg September 3, 2011 at 4:13 pm

    I announced the contest on Facebook.

    Caitlin September 3, 2011 at 4:24 pm

    I just bought a PlanetBox to try to reduce the amount of ziploc baggies we go through. I think it will be easier than keeping track of all the different types of containers and lids I used to use. But it doesn’t keep food hot, so it won’t work for leftovers from the previous night’s dinner. I’ll see how it goes. I’m inspired by the Bento lunch moms but some mornings it’s all I can do to make a cheese sandwich and toss in some crackers and fruit.

    Kris Underwood September 3, 2011 at 4:41 pm

    Just shared on FB. We have to pack a lunch every day this year. Trying to experiment with what works best.

    Kris Henderson September 3, 2011 at 4:50 pm

    I pack my daughter’s lunch 4 days a week, and let her buy on pizza day. The menus at her school are ridiculous – pizza, tacos, burgers, and nuggets. That’s it. Blech!

    Renata September 3, 2011 at 5:09 pm

    I always pack – I’m too cheap to let them buy! My challenge this year is to pack them the night before. No more fixing breakfast and packing lunches at the same time!

    Adventures In Babywearing September 3, 2011 at 5:09 pm

    Would love to win these prizes. This is exactly what will get me motivated! I have 3 lunches to prepare for school and Gray’s has to be packed from home because of his allergies but I’m seriously slacking with the other two!

    Steph

    Tara September 3, 2011 at 5:10 pm

    My daughter is in preschool and I have to pack a lunch every day, so I’m not sure that counts for the challenge. But we’d love the extra tools to make it happen, now and into kindergarten.

    MelissaS September 3, 2011 at 5:11 pm

    Since my son has food allergies and many school lunch foods are unsafe for him, I have been packing his lunches since he started 1st grade. So while it is second nature now (he’s in 3rd grade), at the beginning I would scramble in the morning to find something suitable for him. Now, we have a system. I put his lunch together while he eats his breakfast. I keep the foods I need near each other in the pantry and fridge, so I can grab and pack. He uses reusable containers for snacks and his sandwich. If we have good leftovers, he takes those in his little thermos. He loves this as it breaks the sandwich rut we get into. I always make sure there is a “main” item, two grain snacks and 2 fruit or veg snacks. He eats every bite, every day!
    Granted, I only do it for one child, but you will get the hang of it and your kids will be in good moods when they don’t come home from school famished :)

    Alison B September 3, 2011 at 5:23 pm

    I am ready for this! Give me your best tips!

    Kat September 3, 2011 at 5:24 pm

    Already on board with this challenge as my chickins have been back in school for nearly a month. But I’m with you on the doing it how it works for you and extra time for creativity rarely happens around here.

    I have found that dividing the box of crackers or Goldfish or whatever into smaller containers at the beginning of the week helps out. I also pre-wrap homemade granola bars in wax paper (then store them in a sealed ziplock container)….easy to grab and throw in the lunchbox and the wax paper is good enough till lunchtime.

    Oh…and I will not get my knickers all in a wad about sending nearly the same lunch several times in a week or two. My kids don’t care! In fact, they like the repeats and often ask for them!

    StephJ September 4, 2011 at 10:09 am

    I agree that the kids don’t need the variety. I think the emphasis on variety is that societal pressure on Moms that you have to pack a creative, beautiful lunch every single day. Kids don’t need the variety to be happy, and whether they need it to be healthy is debatable as well. For my part, I try to pack nutritious lunches with all the food groups represented, and at the end of the day, the fruit and veg is often still sitting there in the lunch box. :P

    Michelle September 3, 2011 at 5:36 pm

    We don’t have a school lunch program, so packing a lunch for mine is a must. We usually toss in some homemade muffins and/or cookies for snacks. The key for us is to make things that can be eaten quickly, and possibly, on the run….recess is a priority!

    Angela September 3, 2011 at 5:38 pm

    My daughter’s kindergarten doesn’t have the option to provide lunch, so I pack lunches every morning. She went to preschool half-day at the same school and every day would come home at noon and ask when she could be a school luncher. Now she is a school luncher and she couldn’t be happier! Normally she gets meat rolls or a sandwhich, cheese or a small cup of yogurt and a piece of fruit, veggies and milk. She started coming home with her veggies every day until I threatened to send her a lunch of only veggies! Now she eats them fine. I love your ideas for making lunches easier!

    Sarah Paturalski September 3, 2011 at 5:39 pm

    I just grocery shopped today in preparation for the “school lunches”. I only have one daughter to worry about in the lunch department. I plan to let her pick one or two of her favorite school lunches to purchase there, and make the rest! I am hoping to send her with things that I can make the nigh before and just send her with in the morning. I’m sure we will pack basically the same thing everyday. She went with me and helped pick out some snack type foods that I knew she would eat! Half the battle is knowing that she will only eat a small portion of what I send! I was impressed that she picked out two different types of granola bars!

    Amy A September 3, 2011 at 5:48 pm

    Love this idea! My first kiddo just started kindergarten last week. I totally get, already, how packing lunches can be overwhelming. I have 2 younger ones, so I have been trying to pack the lunch before I go to bed. LAST thing I want to do, that’s for sure! Thanks for the opportunity!

    Amy A September 3, 2011 at 5:49 pm

    Just shared on FB, too!

    nopinkhere September 3, 2011 at 5:50 pm

    I’m glad I only have to make one lunch, not 4. But I do HAVE to make it. My son is at a private school and that’s the only option. I love some of the prizes! I’ll have to check out those sponsors.

    Chrissy September 3, 2011 at 6:00 pm

    I am so excited about this. This is our first year making lunches and I am excited to dive into the challenge! My son is gluten free so I will not only be making lunches but the bread to make a sandwich on. (I have a feeling by Fridays he’s going to be getting a lot of ham and cheese roll-ups!) I think all these gadgets will help us to have a lot more options.

    Kim September 3, 2011 at 6:10 pm

    Due to food allergies, I pack my four boys lunches everyday. I desperately need new ideas because it has become a chore that I dread each night.

    Ashley September 3, 2011 at 6:18 pm

    I went to a private school, and eating lunch in the cafeteria was mandatory. We weren’t allowed to pack our own lunches. Now that I am responsible for making lunch for my daughter, I feel like a rookie with zero experience. This will help soooo much.

    Ashley September 3, 2011 at 6:21 pm

    tweeted

    Sara September 3, 2011 at 6:23 pm

    My husband and I take a few minutes every night after our two boys fall asleep to clean up the kitchen and make lunches for me, my husband, and our 6 year old. We make 10 peanut butter & jelly sandwiches (organic one-ingredient peanut butter, organic low sugar preserves, whole wheat bread) on Sunday night and stick most of them in the freezer for their lunches (I eat leftovers from dinner). Then each night we assemble their lunches- hubs gets a sandwich, yogurt, fruit, and some kind of snack; son gets sandwich, fruit, annies bunny crackers, and a snack like yogurt covered pretzels or fig Newman. They each bring a water bottle.
    The challenge this year is that I will be going to nursing school beginning in January, so my time in the evening is going to be extremely limited. It would be great to win one of these prize packs so that I don’t have to clean the laptop lunchbox every night!

    Hillary Grace September 3, 2011 at 6:26 pm

    Preparation, organization, & committment. Well said.

    Alison Alfredson September 3, 2011 at 6:40 pm

    I have been packing lunches for one child since she went off to pre-school and I was pleasantly surprised when I learned from her teachers my daughter had the best meals out of all the kids. A little pat on my own back. But it isn’t easy! No Lunchables coming out of my house. At least for the little kids the teachers could warm up food for them. But now in elementary school everything has to be cold and I feel it is more difficult to get creative. I have no idea why, but my kids like cooked veggies way more than raw.

    We recently started a school that has an amazing lunch program. No fried foods, all baked. No white breads or coating, all whole wheat. Featured state and local foods, etc. I have no guilt about letting my kid pick which days she wants to eat off the menu. And honestly, I beg her to pick at least 6 days a month. Moms do need a break.

    Oh, and about yogurt/dairy, we freeze the yogurt tubes and cheese sticks and they thaw out nicely and stay cold. They also serve as a back-up ice pack.

    Stephanie September 3, 2011 at 6:40 pm

    For me the hardest part is planning. My son likes variety. He refuses to buy school lunch and he refuses to eat the same thing two days in a row. I’m looking for fast, creative, and nutritious ideas. By the way, he is a 5th grader so the food also has to be “cool”.

    Kelly September 3, 2011 at 7:22 pm

    Great post! Right thetech with you on the rationale for packing school lunches. Looking forward to a month of fun, easy, healthy lunch ideas with everyone. :)

    Catharine September 3, 2011 at 7:36 pm

    Just found your blog and i’m up for the challenge! I’m always looking for new ideas for the 5 of us!

    suburbancorrespondent September 3, 2011 at 7:41 pm

    We educate our kids at home; but I am toying with the idea of packed lunches, anyway – it’s always fun to open up your lunchbox and see what you have!

    Leah September 3, 2011 at 7:48 pm

    i’m going to try to join the challenge! School starts on Tuesday and it’s my first kid starting Kindergarten, so hopefully i’ll manage to get lunches together and not peter out quickly. :)

    Sarah September 3, 2011 at 7:55 pm

    I’m definitely participating. I’ve actually been considering doing something fun and bento-ish, though I know that won’t last long. But my son likes the same old pb&j every day, (or Sunbutter, for his nut-free school) so it’s not too difficult.
    I got lazy over the summer when his summer program offered free lunches (and breakfasts!), but I have sampled some of the meals on that lunch menu, and I know it was nothing good for him.

    Priscilla Cavalca September 3, 2011 at 8:07 pm

    I always pack my son’s lunch – but this year I’d like to try to be a little more creative! Looking forward to new ideas.

    Gwen September 3, 2011 at 8:14 pm

    I am taking the lunch box challenge. This is the first year my son won’t be having lunch at home. I am worried that most of what I pack will not be eaten, but I am hoping that by making lots of small things he will eat it by the time we get home. :)

    Z September 3, 2011 at 9:08 pm

    We do lunch for our kids 3 times a week for their daycare and I would love love to win this. It would make packing lunch so much easier with all the wonderful gadgets and the bento boxes

    Karen K September 3, 2011 at 9:18 pm

    This would be great for packing DH’s lunch (our little guy is still at home with me). He is pretty good about packing it himself but this would give him so many more options for things to bring!

    Angela S. September 3, 2011 at 9:21 pm

    I’m not at the school lunch packing phase of mothering yet but, I’m sure I could use this for something else in the mean time!

    Calee September 3, 2011 at 9:27 pm

    My daughter’s preschool provides a lovely lunch for all the students, but I still pack lunches for all sorts of outings. BTW- we LOVE the Revolution Foods lineup. I swear, my toddler will eat anything that comes in their packaging.

    Mari September 4, 2011 at 7:21 am

    This year we are tackling home made soup for lunch in cute thermoses.

    Calee September 3, 2011 at 9:30 pm

    I tweeted!

    stacy September 3, 2011 at 9:49 pm

    I definitely plan to take the challenge and follow along. Hopefully you can set me straight in the next month… school lunches are generally terrible in many regards.

    Elizabeth September 3, 2011 at 11:23 pm

    We’re trying with the lunches. The bigger problem is getting Carter to eat, when he’s far rather play. I so miss his home daycare—Jeff and I wanted to eat there! Lucy gave the kids snack, lunch, snack, dinner (at 4:30 pm, so he wouldn’t be hungry at the end of the day!). Did I mention it was all homemade food? Remind me and I’ll send you the new WO cookbook The Lunch Box (out in October). It’s fabulously inspiring!

    Betsy C. September 3, 2011 at 11:36 pm

    I love this challenge! My daughter is heading to kindergarten this year while we are serving a military assignment in Madrid, Spain. Now I admit, I have a bit more incentive since lunch costs 7 Euros. That is $10. For lunch. I will definitely be packing, but I hope to make them as healthy as possible. The challenge will be doing so while satisfying my picky eater!

    lindsay September 4, 2011 at 1:23 am

    I have picky twin daughters just starting school. Making their lunches will not only save us money, but will help to ensure that they are actually eating their lunch.

    Sabine September 4, 2011 at 1:51 am

    Making lunch attractive for kids can be hard. Thanks for the challenge and the chance to win.

    Deborah September 4, 2011 at 3:11 am

    What a great idea! I packed lunch for my kindergartner for about half of last year. Then I got lazy. :) And I was pregnant and super-tired – lots of things fell by the wayside. We’re trying to pack lunches again this year. It’s nice because I can make sure there are healthy items that my son will eat – carrots, apples, pears, granola bars, etc. And I do give him the choice to eat lunch at school when he wants – he loves the school taco day. Packing lunch helps him with having time to eat, too. His school gives 15 (maybe 20) minutes for each grade to eat lunch. If he brings a lunch, he can go right to the table to start eating. Otherwise, he has to wait in line, and his lunchtime is a little shorter.

    Susan M September 4, 2011 at 3:19 am

    I think this is great! I laughed at one of the comments…I think I ate the same thing for all of elementary school, too. Ham and cheese and an apple.
    I’ve totally been inspired to eat healthier from Jamie Oliver and we feel much better for doing it.
    Although I think we’ll qualify for free/reduced lunches this year, I think it’s worth making them for their health. And those bento lunches sure look good…I think I’m going to try that, too.

    Susan M September 4, 2011 at 3:23 am

    I put in on FB.

    Susan M September 4, 2011 at 3:25 am

    Your button’s on my blog, too….I hope that will help remind me to make those lunches the night before!

    sara September 4, 2011 at 3:26 am

    After wanting hot lunch for years, the kids decided this is the year for Mama to make all their lunches. Five lunches to make everyday might just kill me.

    sara September 4, 2011 at 3:27 am

    I tweeted!

    deb September 4, 2011 at 3:46 am

    been making school lunches for 8 months now – great to get new ideas! and also to be more efficient

    Sheila September 4, 2011 at 3:53 am

    To be honest when my daughter started kindergarten this year I though “yay no more packing lunch for her” (we packed for daycare) & then I saw some of her choices& thought “nope we’ll be packing!” So I’ll be scrutinizing the school menu& figuring out what is a good pack day & what isn’t. Good luck to you!

    Michelle September 4, 2011 at 3:58 am

    I plan on being more creative and brave with my son’s lunch and to get him more involved in putting it together. He loves eating the muffins and cookies we make together so I hope I can get him as excited about his lunch!
    Thanks!

    Christine Long September 4, 2011 at 4:04 am

    I try to pack my kids lunch and provide wholesome and healthy foods. This is a great challenge…good luck to you!!

    Southern Gal September 4, 2011 at 4:29 am

    We homeschool. I know. But we’re right here in the kitchen most of the time and I’ve found if I pack snacks and lunches the day before then we aren’t grazing all day long on the not so healthy stuff. I don’t do it often enough, though. This challenge is a great incentive to make sure we eat well and not too much.

    Cath in Ottawa September 4, 2011 at 4:33 am

    This is Bs first year staying all day so I’ve been thinking about this a lot- i will happily follow along for this!

    Martha September 4, 2011 at 4:47 am

    After homeschooling for many years off to school go the youngest two. I am committed to pack lunches, and was successful for the first week. but I can see it getting harder and my kids are already asking to buy! but I hope by including them in the picking of food and the packing each day that we will succeed. Winning the prizes would be oh so fun!

    Martha September 4, 2011 at 4:50 am

    add i posted the contest on facebook :-)

    Marie September 4, 2011 at 5:03 am

    I am a committed lunch-packer. I admit, though, about a couple of months into the school year, even I get bored with the contents of lunch, I don’t blame my kid for being bored, too. This year I will be more creative!

    Leighann September 4, 2011 at 5:04 am

    We do a combination of buying & packing lunches. The reality for us is that it costs half as much to buy! Obviously it’s because when I pack, I use better ingredients.

    I’m going to look into the containers with built in ice packs. And I have a friend who swears by the better lunch box.

    Krista September 4, 2011 at 5:08 am

    i allowed my son to eat lunch at school for exactly one year. at the end of that year i discovered that he had been choosing the peanut butter sandwich option EVERY SINGLE DAY except for when there was pizza!!! that put an end to school lunches. i’ve been packing his lunch for two years now and having fun finding different ways to get my picky eater to try new things. he often comes grocery shopping with me, so i will give him the opportunity to try something different for a snack or main item, and that has helped a lot.

    Krista September 4, 2011 at 5:10 am

    tweeted, which also goes to my facebook page – done and done!

    Stephanie Williams September 4, 2011 at 5:12 am

    I try to pack healthy lunches every day for my 2 school aged kids. It gets discouraging when most of the lunch( or at least the healthy parts) come home with them at the end of the day! Maybe winning all the fun snacks and supplies will help encourage my kids to EAT.

    Cate September 4, 2011 at 5:30 am

    My daughter’s only a toddler, and we plan to homeschool eventually, so I don’t need to pack lunches for her. My husband is a teacher, though, so I pack his lunch each day. Like the kids, he only has about 20 minutes for lunch, so it’s hard to pack a healthy, cold lunch for him each day. I would love to win one of these packages to make packing his lunches easier!

    Elana Lederman September 4, 2011 at 5:33 am

    I pack lunches 4 days a week and let my kids pick 1 day for “hot lunch”. The kids LOVE when I put food in their food jars – pasta and cheese w/ veggies, quinoua, or even cottage cheese (to avoid the pre-packaged stuff).

    Theresa September 4, 2011 at 5:35 am

    My son made a pact with his friend that they will NEVER eat school lunch. So after burning out on packing last year, this year we sat down and he made up lists for each the following: protein, fruit, vegetable, other (like crackers). He got very creative, and now I just pick from his lists.

    Brittany September 4, 2011 at 5:47 am

    Great Challenge!

    thordora September 4, 2011 at 5:51 am

    Packing lunches is a necessity since I can’t afford school lunch more than once a fortnight or so….and then it’s a treat since it’s not the best quality. I managed to pick up a bento lunch kit for one kid cheap last spring, but refuse to pay 50 bucks for another. So we find lots of tupperware and stuff to reduce the baggie issue.

    My goal this year is to make them pack lunch themselves!

    jeannett September 4, 2011 at 6:17 am

    my son is in preschool this year, but even packing lunches for that is a challenge! it’s such a discipline and so tempting to send him with money instead! love those bento boxes!

    jeannett September 4, 2011 at 6:18 am

    tweet tweet!

    Heather September 4, 2011 at 6:19 am

    We started school in August and I’ve made a pact with myself to pack school lunch the night before – no more morning rush! It is so nice to wake up knowing lunch is already packed. Can’t wait to follow along with your challenge and get some great ideas.

    Argyllmac September 4, 2011 at 6:22 am

    Awesome! We’re joining the challenge. My children started school on august 22, and this challenge exactly matches the lunch philosophy we’re adopting this year: some homemade, some organic, mostly natural but maybe a prefab packet of this or that thrown in for fun, plus the kids may choose hot lunch once a week (it’s triple digit weather here in Texas and I’ve got no problem if they want to buy hot lunch on ice cream day!). My goal is to teach them moderation: enjoy your ice cream, now eat your fruit too :). Can’t wait for more inspiration from others taking the challenge.

    Zee S September 4, 2011 at 6:25 am

    I usually have good intentions but then my plans fizzle out because I have a super picky eater. I am going to buy a Thermos container so that I can put some hot home-cooked foods in it. My son loves homemade mac and cheese and chili so I might try and add that to his lunch repetoire this year. Hopefully it will stay warm enough because he cannot eat cold food that is meant to be hot. Did I say picky? Other than that we will also look over the menu and he will he school lunch on the days that we know he will like the lunch. I am lucky that our school uses a lot of home grown and local ingredients in their foods. So their spaghetti and meat sauce is home made. It gives me a little piece of mind when he is eating school lunches.

    Kris September 4, 2011 at 6:25 am

    I think I’m up for the challenge…I’ve decided to pack lunch for my oldest this year (he’s in third grade) and he is excited in helping to choose lunches. I’m always looking for ideas past the standard PB & J – so glad I found this!

    Leigh September 4, 2011 at 6:28 am

    I’m on board! This will be the first year my girls stay for lunch at school, so we’ll see how it goes, but I’m excited to try

    Argyllmac September 4, 2011 at 6:28 am

    Just shared on FB :)

    Misty September 4, 2011 at 6:30 am

    I love packing lunches!! All these great goodies would make it a lot more fun too.

    Laura September 4, 2011 at 6:40 am

    We pack lunches for our kids everyday, but it’s easy to get into a rut and send the same lunches day after day. My goal is to try to add some variety!

    Rebekka September 4, 2011 at 6:43 am

    I’m going to do the lunchbox challenge. Since my kids are still little and not in school, I will be doing the challenge for my husband’s lunches for work!

    Kelley September 4, 2011 at 6:47 am

    We do packed lunches but your post was a great encouragement! This is a fantastic giveaway.

    Christine September 4, 2011 at 6:52 am

    OK, I can do this. Might need to buy some of these prizes now. Love the easy bento boxes and sandwich cutter.

    Erin September 4, 2011 at 7:16 am

    My son is entering preschool, so I will be making his lunch. He likes cooked broccoli with dip, so I planning on putting it in cold at least once a week. It will be an adventure!

    Also, I am an RD who worked with a school food service. While we aren’t perfect, the programs really do have the kids best interest at heart. Lunch ladies rock! Write your congressmen, on providing more funding to the program, to make it better.

    Carrie September 4, 2011 at 7:17 am

    My 4 year old is in preschool and eats lunch there. When I return to work in Nov she will be full time and in Jan the bab ( 13 months then so not so baby then I guess!) will start. I try to go for as healthy as possible but this year I want to be more creative. The baby is allergic to oats and that is limiting us on some healthy convenience foods that we used to use!

    Miranda September 4, 2011 at 7:22 am

    Love the challenge idea. I agree that commitment and stocking the kitchen are going to be essential.

    Jennifer Zeisse September 4, 2011 at 7:23 am

    I have a picky eater and remember picking the most unhealthy foods from the cafeteria myself when I was young. So I have packed lunches for my kids since they started school. I pack them the night before so mornings aren’t too crazy. Of course, variety is a challenge. Looking forward to new ideas! Thank you!

    Mandi September 4, 2011 at 7:24 am

    I try to pack lunches most days, but sometimes last year I admit time got away from me. This year I have taken my oldest completely off sugar and limited his dairy. That means I have to pack his lunch. I do it after dinner as we clean up. This way it seems to be part of the routine and the four little ones remind me if I am not doing it. Hopefully, this will keep me going!

    JJ September 4, 2011 at 7:26 am

    I will have 2 kids in full-day school this year (K and 2nd), and my boys don’t like most of the school lunch options, so I will pack lunch daily. The challenge will be that they both like different things but it will of coure be easier if I can just pack 2 of the same! Also, if anyone has suggestions for reusable bottles good for milk, I would love to hear them! The reusable water bottles are just too big for milk, and bc it’s milk, it really needs to not leak.

    Lynette September 4, 2011 at 7:31 am

    Here in the UK I can pack a healthy nutritious lunch for my children for a fraction of the cost that a school lunch would be. I also don’t like the fact that the school lunches seem to rely too heavily on wheat wheat and more wheat.

    Kristen M. September 4, 2011 at 7:32 am

    This is my first year packing a lunch! We are pretty consistently dedicated to healthy eating around here and my daughter’s school does not allow any “junk” , so my goal is to get some variety in there and making one homemade item per week that I can include in lunches (like a muffin, homemade granola bar, etc.) I would love to have these items to keep me inspired, as I have kept the purchases to a minimum for this school year!

    Jennifer September 4, 2011 at 7:37 am

    I pack my children’s lunches everyday and sometimes it is a struggle! It would be way easier to pay the $2.50 for them to buy. We are trying to eat healthier. I love the challenge, hopefully I can think “outside the box” and come up with some creative options! I would love to win your prizes!!Thanks!

    Jennifer September 4, 2011 at 7:38 am

    I liked this on facebook!

    Janel September 4, 2011 at 7:43 am

    I’m in! So far I’ve stocked the pantry and fridge with lunch-able items. I’ve also gathered some freezeable meal options for my 2nd grader and prepared some sandwiches to freeze ahead of time.

    My plan this year (when neither of my girls’ schools offer school lunches) is to be more intentional about planning lunch items on my grocery list. I’m great at buying dinner stuff and breakfast stuff, but I need to be sure to stock snack and lunch foods.

    We’re going to package/prepare things on Sunday together to be ready for the week’s lunches.

    Thanks for the inspiration!

    Janel September 4, 2011 at 7:44 am

    And I shared on FB!

    Janel September 4, 2011 at 7:44 am

    And I also posted the image and info (with link) on my family blog.

    Krissa September 4, 2011 at 7:45 am

    I’m in! This sounds great. :)

    Christy September 4, 2011 at 8:00 am

    I pack my kids their lunches all year….but it does get really boring! Our school promotes “nutritious” lunches only and serves a healthy lunch once every two weeks, so I capitalize on that and make the lunches the rest of the time.

    MemeGRL September 4, 2011 at 8:00 am

    This is my first year packing lunches for three, and all with different preferences and restrictions. New gear would help a lot and I can’t tell you how much they love Revolution Foods–we’re stocked up already but it will go fast!

    MemeGRL September 4, 2011 at 8:05 am

    Your button is now on my blog. And I didn’t even title it “please nobody enter because I really want to win” even though I wanted to! Thanks for the awesome giveaway!

    Katie September 4, 2011 at 8:11 am

    I’m so glad you posted this Meagan! My 16 month old son just started daycare last Thursday (eek!) two days a week and I’m not too crazy about the food they supply. I also want to start packing lunches for myself to bring to work…it’s all too easy to get stuck in a PBJ rut! I can’t wait to follow along on your lunch making adventure!

    Katharine September 4, 2011 at 8:33 am

    I’m in. My kids are in 1st and 5th grades, so they are fully capable of packing their own lunches, and have really gotten interested in doing so this year (a product of buying them both cheap lunchboxes). As long as I purchase the items they need and do some minimal prep at the beginning of the week (chopping the veggies and throwing the yogurt in the freezer), they take care of the rest. The items listed would help a lot, though, in making our lunches more green and fun!

    Lisa September 4, 2011 at 8:53 am

    I love this challenge! I would love to see every school across our nation serve a healthier fare! There are so many kids on the free lunch program who rely on school lunches – sometimes as their only meal of the day. As a preschool teacher with no real lunch break, I have to pack my lunch everyday. So every week night my kids and I (yes, I have them help with the lunch preparation) pack 3 lunches after dinner. Sometimes we use leftovers, sometimes they want noodles or something warm in their thermos, we wait until morning to do that step so it’s warm for lunch hour. It’s fun for them to see what I’m eating and to help pack the lunches. I do let them have school lunch when their favorites are on the menu and there are days when I am just too tired to even think about lunches – so school lunch it is and a stop somewhere on the way to work for my lunch. It’s not always easy, but as you said Meagan – it doesn’t really take that much time – especially when I enlist help.

    Jen September 4, 2011 at 8:53 am

    I am drooling over this giveaway…so much fun stuff! My boys are home for lunch, but I have been trying to use sectioned plates to ensure they’re getting the essential components at mealtime. I also have my three-year old make the shopping list with me and talk about meal ideas, so he’s invested.

    cagey (Kelli Oliver George) September 4, 2011 at 8:55 am

    At my kid’s preschool, we had to pack lunches, so I am well-trained in this area and plan to continue packing lunches when they are in elementary school full-time. Hope they are on board with that!

    I use Laptop Lunch boxes and LOVE THEM. However, for quick sandwich take-alongs I am completely over the moon with those sandwich wraps that you linked to — will be buying a couple of those for sure!

    Erika September 4, 2011 at 8:56 am

    I’m in! I prefer to make lunches in the evening. I find it easier to prepare them while I’m prepping dinner. I always include some sort of cut veggie snack. When the veggies and cutting board are out for dinner it takes little effort to add prepare a box of veggies for lunches. And mornings are often so rushed that it is nice to have one less thing to do!

    I sometimes get burnout and that is why I LOVE your idea of embracing a few times a month of doing school lunch. Having one day/week when you have a planned “night off” without guilt sounds great!

    Blh September 4, 2011 at 9:02 am

    I too let them pick a favorite meal a week. It’s a nice break and they don’t feel left out of the hot lunch scene. I cut up veggies twice a week which makes daily prep a snap.

    Lynn September 4, 2011 at 9:02 am

    We live overseas and I pack my kid’s a lunch and snack for “tea”. We do not have ANY of the prepackaged lunch foods, sandwich meats, or sandwich bags, or saran wrap available here (those sandwich wraps look great). I often give my kids cheese and crackers with fruit, nuts, and some sort of treat. Mac and cheese, ramen noodles (once in a while it’s a treat-the kids here eat them dry!). Guacamole with homemade chips, or fried rice. It’s not that hard to make a little extra of something your kids like and save it for lunch a day later. My kid’s get school lunch every Thursday since it’s “Injera b’ Wot” day (their favorite). It’s a traditional Ethiopian meal consisting of a kind of sour flat bread made of teff kind of between a crepe and a pancake with assorted spicy meat and veggie stews ladled onto it).

    Heather C September 4, 2011 at 9:10 am

    My youngest daughter has to take her lunch everyday because her preschool doesn’t offer lunches there but my oldest daughter’s school does. She started off taking her lunch to school but then I got lazy and let her eat the school lunch a few times. I definitely want to have her take her lunch more often than not and this stuff will make it so much easier to get it ready!

    Stephanie Sikorski September 4, 2011 at 9:25 am

    I would send my kids off with a packed lunch everyday if I could but the truth is it’s been a hard year and qualifying for free lunches really, really helps our strained budget … yet I don’t feel good -at all!- about what school serves!
    Rather than give in this blog inspired me to get better! So I’ll take the lunch box challenge! I’ll even link it to my blog!
    Thanks for the inspiration!
    Mother of 5!

    Cathy R September 4, 2011 at 9:31 am

    We’re 3 weeks into school and so far, so good with making homemade lunches. It helps that my kids HATE school lunches and complain if they have to “buy”! Looking for inspiration to keep us going!

    Kristi September 4, 2011 at 9:38 am

    I, too, pack everyday. I agree with SusanP “If you start with variety, they’ll expect variety.” When it starts coming home unfinished I know I need to change it up a bit.

    Stephanie Sikorski September 4, 2011 at 9:40 am

    I embed the Lunch Box Challenge code onto my blog side bar! I love this and will encourage anyone who reads my blog to do the same! Thanks again!

    Tristen September 4, 2011 at 9:42 am

    With 5 kids, 3 of them off to school everyday I need to be prepared. School lunches are always such a burden but i need to come up with new ideas too.

    Julie September 4, 2011 at 9:50 am

    I’m in!

    Jessica Davenport September 4, 2011 at 9:54 am

    What a great giveaway! We home school and, while we don’t have to deal with school lunches, I often will pack the kids lunches to eat in the car on the way home from co-op, field trip or other activity. We also pack picnics and travel fairly regularly. So these items would be helpful to have! As far as the challenge, I am stuck in a rut and often feed my children the same things so I am willing to try to venture out to more creative meals!

    I have a question…how to you make sure that all those containers get back home?! :)

    Maria September 4, 2011 at 10:00 am

    I’m in

    StephJ September 4, 2011 at 10:12 am

    Shared on Facebook.

    Andi September 4, 2011 at 10:13 am

    My oldest will be a senior this year & will be buying or packing lunch as he chooses since he works & spends his own money. My baby, however, will only be in 1st grade, so packing her lunches every morning is still on the schedule. We try to plan ahead for the week every Sunday, to ensure there’s enough of everything to last. I love the idea of switching from baggies to compartmentalized lunch bowls — & I’m betting my high schooler would jump on board too, since the days he packs he usually brings lots of fruits & veggies since he’s Mr. Healthy. I’ll be purchasing some of these for our household pronto — thanks for the pointer! :)

    Katie September 4, 2011 at 10:13 am

    I pack lunch almost every day for my 1st grader. I use a bento box system, but would love some different containers for variety/ease. Thanks!

    Andi September 4, 2011 at 10:17 am

    PS. I just “liked” this post on FB & left a comment! :)

    Alissa H. September 4, 2011 at 10:18 am

    I have the Easy Lunchbox system and I love it. Best thing since sliced bread in my opinion. I found you via my friend Martha Mason who just posted about you on FB. If I were to be picked, I’d like you to pass it to her. Good luck to everyone on the challenge. It’s such an important parent topic.

    Cheers!

    Choe September 4, 2011 at 10:23 am

    I love this challenge. I pack lunches everyday for my twins because of cost and the fact they don’t really like anything on the school menu. I would love to win any of these prizes. I try to make lunch fun using small cookie cutters. I also cut cubes of cheese and meat and put them on toothpicks. I try to keep it interesting just the other day we got mini bananas…they love anything mini! It is hard to come up with new things everyday. Iw ould love suggestions and tips!!!

    Carrie Rudolph September 4, 2011 at 10:25 am

    I’m up for the challenge!

    Laurie September 4, 2011 at 10:34 am

    I make lunch every day for my preschoolers– there isn’t an option of school provided lunches even if I wanted one! I use cute sandwich cutters (train, hearts), vary the fruit, but my kids still won’t eat veggies. I keep offering them, but so far have had very limited success. Whole grain crackers, mozzarella sticks, fig cookies, pretty standard stuff due to picky eater palates. Looking forward to getting inspiration from your challenge!

    Heather September 4, 2011 at 10:38 am

    We are homeschoolers so I don’t pack kids lunches but I do pack my husband a lunch. We have the easy lunchboxes set and they are so nice!

    Tara September 4, 2011 at 10:45 am

    I would love to break myself from the pre-packaged lunch stuff!

    Leigh September 4, 2011 at 10:46 am

    preschool this year so it is packing a snack for pick up

    erin September 4, 2011 at 10:47 am

    Posted on my facebook page!

    Rookiemom heather September 4, 2011 at 10:51 am

    My best tip for our household is to pack lunches at night.

    Jackie R September 4, 2011 at 10:54 am

    I just started working at a preschool this year so for the first time we are packing lunches twice a week. All of these goodies would make that job much easier!

    Melissa K. September 4, 2011 at 10:57 am

    We are just starting school next week, definitely trying to pack lunches and be green and healthy! I have reusable baggies and containers ready to go to try to be green and I’m planning on trying to make them the night before to avoid taking the easy way out in the mornings!

    Aprille Tenorio September 4, 2011 at 10:58 am

    my oldest child wont be in school for another year, but i have never planned to do anything but pack her a lunch every day. maybe it is because my mom sent me to school with a homemade lunch every day for 13 years… i have just never even considered purchasing a school lunch for either of my children.

    Jaime September 4, 2011 at 11:26 am

    My kids are in preschool, so I have to pack lunches. I try to get it done as i’m cleaning up after dinner. I also just went to Costco and stocked up on packages of goldfish, fruit, etc. Maybe that’s cheating, but it’s made life much easier.

    MemeGRL September 4, 2011 at 11:28 am

    Tweeted, reluctantly! Also: 100 Days of Real Food blog has some great lists of stuff for lunchboxes and snacks…good luck to all with the challenge!

    Tracey September 4, 2011 at 11:33 am

    I actually do pretty well with packing lunches. I focus on including fruit and limiting processed foods as much as possible.

    Tracey September 4, 2011 at 11:36 am
    sarah may September 4, 2011 at 11:46 am

    My oldest is only in pre K and I HAVE to pack his lunch everyday but sometimes it feels like a rut of same ol same ol. I’d love to win these cool fun gadgets and will be reading to see if I can pick up some new ideas :)

    Maleka September 4, 2011 at 11:48 am

    I would love to win this giveaway!

    holley September 4, 2011 at 11:55 am

    This is great, and a great challenge. A great way for us as parents to tangibly love our children well.

    Elizabeth September 4, 2011 at 11:56 am

    I am trying the lunch box challenge as well. I allow one school lunch a week, which we mark on the calendar. Biggest challenge is adding variety to our packed lunch. Seem to make the same things over and over. Look forward to your continued posts.

    Elizabeth September 4, 2011 at 11:56 am

    I “liked” your post on fb.

    Ledys September 4, 2011 at 12:01 pm

    It’s a great challenge! My children are not school age, but it is always a challenge to come up with good ideas of what to serve– I can’t imagine what you mothers of school-age children go through in planning! I am committed to being more intentional about my lunches. Thanks for the inspiration!

    Jennifer B September 4, 2011 at 12:07 pm

    I’m glad I found you. Even before reading this post, we had decided that the kids would eat school lunch on the days they liked what was on the menu and the rest I would pack them a lunch. I was tired of asking what they ate at school only for them to reply “Bag Lunch” (ham sandwich, chips, and fruit).

    Sue September 4, 2011 at 12:11 pm

    I’m looking forward to learning a lot and improving lunches for all.

    kristin September 4, 2011 at 12:15 pm

    Posted on Facebook! :)

    Donna A September 4, 2011 at 12:17 pm

    We are up for the challenge.

    Kristin September 4, 2011 at 12:20 pm

    I am the mom of 3 kiddos – 1 is in public school and the younger two are in a Montesorri school. My oldest is super picky and won’t eat most of the school lunches – which aren’t the greatest anyways. So I pack his lunch probably 4 out of 5 days. My younger two are in Montesorri school and they don’t offer lunch so its always packed and its supposed to be healthier foods like the Montesorri way…
    2 of my 3 kids are super picky and packing different things in lunches is a challenge. So my challenge is to pack a variety of things that offer nutritious value (since the picky ones eat so little anyways – every bit has to have a punch to it) without it always being the same thing. And there is no warming up foods for any of them. In addition to that – I teach at the same school my oldest attends and I pack my own lunch about 2-3 days a week also. So I’m ready for lunches with lunch boxes and thermos – but ideas I’m lacking on… I also LOVE those containers — I have an whole cabinet of containers becuase I hate using plastic bags but all in one is great!

    Bonnie P September 4, 2011 at 12:25 pm

    I homeschool so I don’t pack a lunch for my last child, but have always packed lunches for my working husband and now son. Its important to fill them with good things and appreciate the chance to win this pack. Thank you.

    Elizabeth September 4, 2011 at 12:29 pm

    I am going to try this challenge! I pack lunches for preschool, but definitely get in a rut and could use some new ideas!

    Elizabeth September 4, 2011 at 12:30 pm

    I posted on FB, too.

    Mandy September 4, 2011 at 12:30 pm

    I’m just starting the lunch routine with my kindergartener this year. These tools seem like a great idea!

    Laura September 4, 2011 at 12:31 pm

    I prepare a loaf worthof sandwiches at a time, then pop it in the freezer. Take one out each morning and it’s thawed by lunch. Also, prepackaging other items on Sunday evening makes a smooth packing in the morning.

    Trena September 4, 2011 at 12:32 pm

    This is a great challenge!

    Laura September 4, 2011 at 12:33 pm

    I shared on facebook!

    Sarah September 4, 2011 at 12:50 pm

    We back our son’s lunch two days a week for Mommy’s Day Out. It’s been going great the past two years although we do get stuck in major ruts some times!

    Karyn Hostetter September 4, 2011 at 12:53 pm

    Even though I homeschool, I pack my husband’s lunch everyday. These items look great.

    DeeT September 4, 2011 at 12:56 pm

    My kids are super-picky so I always pack lunches. The challange is getting a variety of healthy foods in each and every day and doing it all the night before!

    Emily September 4, 2011 at 12:57 pm

    Oh my goodness, what an incredible prize pack! I know my son would LOVE the Bento boxes. He’s very into lots of different items in his lunch, and he hates having different foods touching. :)

    This is the first year that I’ve had a child in school, so packing his lunches is a new thing for me. I’m really committed to doing it, though, for all the same reasons that you are, really. We’re picking out two “hot lunches” per month, but other than that I’ll be packing.

    I pack in the evening, at the same time that I pack my husband’s lunch for work the next day. I’ve been doing that for years, so it is a pretty solid routine for me, but I have to admit that packing for my son is harder than for my husband – hubby can warm up dinner leftovers, but DS can’t.

    I love this challenge – it will help keep me on track!

    Nicole September 4, 2011 at 12:59 pm

    We are doing the lunch box challenge here. For our two kids to eat school lunches a month would be $150. We are already a week into the school year and I know I need the motivation and extra good ideas on how to fill thier lunches daily.

    Mary G September 4, 2011 at 12:59 pm

    I packed some lunches last year and will try harder with this challenge! My now-first grade loved when I included a small note in the lunch box. Nothing fancy, just a post it that says “Mommy loves Julia.” we also include cloth napkins. I have a large collection found at a second hand shop.

    Emily September 4, 2011 at 1:01 pm
    Amanda Smith September 4, 2011 at 1:02 pm

    I’m going to try it! I have 2 school age kids and a baby, so it can be a bit tough. The schools don’t allow nut products of any kind, and I try to limit the amount of processed meats we ingest, so I sometimes run out of good ideas.

    Sarah September 4, 2011 at 1:02 pm

    Shared on facebook!

    Amanda Smith September 4, 2011 at 1:05 pm

    I shared on Facebook!

    Allison September 4, 2011 at 1:05 pm

    Great post – am dreading the back to school lunch routrine – with two every day this year! This prize package would make it a lot more fun!

    Emily September 4, 2011 at 1:05 pm

    I put your button on my sidebar. You can see it on my website: http://www.laundryandlullabies.blogspot.com

    christina September 4, 2011 at 1:11 pm

    School just started for us last week and my energy and creativity are high for making lunch. I HOPE I don’t fizzle out. Hopefully doing the challenge will keep me accountable.

    Sarah September 4, 2011 at 1:14 pm

    Shared on twitter!

    Judie M. September 4, 2011 at 1:15 pm

    My youngest son started kindergarten this week, so I’ll be packing 2 lunches most days. I love what you said about being creative. I try, but usually mid-week, we’re back to either PB&J or turkey cheese sandwiches. (And my son had a hard time with the beautiful fruit kabobs I took the time to make last year – he asked me to just put the fruit in a cup.) Great giveaway!!

    Judie M. September 4, 2011 at 1:17 pm

    Shared on FB.

    Jessicah September 4, 2011 at 1:19 pm

    I don’t have a school age kid yet–but my goal is to fix my toddler lunch more frequently! I was working, and it was a whole lot easier to just nurse her when she was asking for food than to stop and make her a meal. But I quit my job a week ago, so one of my new goals is to get her eating more “real” food!

    Abbie September 4, 2011 at 1:20 pm

    I’m only packing lunches for a first-grade girl so far (the rest of my kids aren’t in school … yet!). She helps me pack her lunch almost every day – depending on time and what we’re packing. I do it mostly for the cost, I can pack her a lunch for much less than the price of school lunches – which is higher here than where you are. And she sure isn’t able to eat that much food anyway. We mostly pack leftovers and fresh fruit and veggies. Sometimes cheese or hard-boiled eggs if we don’t have leftovers. It took me several tries last year to find small containers she could open by herself at the beginning of the year.

    Marie September 4, 2011 at 1:20 pm

    What a great challenge! Mulled and I are up for it. They are responsible for helping with lunches. It seems to help ensure they know what goes into making lunch as far as effort ,time, and money. These awesome lunch supplies would really motivate us.
    Thank you for organizing the lunch nos challenge!

    Sara September 4, 2011 at 1:30 pm

    My goals are to 1) up the ‘coolness’ factor since I have one going into middle school this year and 2) pack lunches when I’m cleaning up after dinner. Wish me luck!

    Amanda September 4, 2011 at 1:37 pm

    I was really good about packing lunches for my oldest until our youngest was born…too tired and too hectic trying to get everybody out the door with a new baby. This year with 2 in school, I’m committed to packing lunches for our sons in elementary school, but I’m sure there will be a few school lunches that “sneak” in when they get tired of pb&j. :-)

    Sonia September 4, 2011 at 1:37 pm

    My son’s school doesn’t have a cafeteria, so I have to pack a lunch every day anyways. I’d love to have something more fun to pack it in though! My problem is always trying to come up with something creative that he will enjoy eating. He is a peanut butter loving kid, going to a peanut free school :(

    Viki September 4, 2011 at 1:40 pm

    Great challenge. I have been packing lunches for Ever. One child out of school now and the other in 12th grade. Neither have Ever bought a school lunch; one because of allergies and the other because “ew” and her sister never did so why should she? Mixing it up is a challenge for us because, well, she is 17. She doesn’t want to seem “odd” AND they have such a small amount of time to eat. I also take my lunch 2 days a week to work. I work at a preschool/MDO. I eat with the kids I teach. I always take good food so as to set an example. Lunch time is learning time in preschool. We talk about growing food, and just what it is, where our food comes from, why teacher is drinking water instead of juice or soda…

    Viki September 4, 2011 at 1:44 pm

    liked on facebook as well.

    tina September 4, 2011 at 1:44 pm

    I’ve gotten pretty good at this; my son’s in 3rd grade this year and — since he’s wanted the same lunch almost every day since he was 2 — this takes hardly any thought or prep on my part. (That’s not cheating, is it?) Would love to win some of the cool lunch stuff!

    Sonia September 4, 2011 at 1:45 pm

    Posted the link on facebook!

    Amy miller September 4, 2011 at 1:48 pm

    Ooohhh, yes I am up for the lunchbox challenge. I have one in school and one in preschool and one still at home. I am committed to making all 3lunches the night before and pray that I make it turn into longer than a month!

    Idaho Jill September 4, 2011 at 1:49 pm

    We have to pack my daughter’s lunch every day – she is in 4 yr old preschool. It always has to be something that doesn’t need to be refrigerated and doesn’t need to be microwaved. I have made a list of things we put in there most often, so we can rotate and mostly she is happy. I would love those bento boxes – need to get some!

    Idaho Jill September 4, 2011 at 1:51 pm
    Jamie September 4, 2011 at 1:53 pm

    Hi I am a school cook and want you to know how hard we try and make healthy meals. We use homemade ingredients whenever possible and have fresh salads and veggies on the lunch menu..and much to our sadness, most of it goes in the trash. They wont even try it. They are so used to Mcplaces to eat that real food is a mystery..so please stop blaming the cooks. Try incorporating real homecooked foods at home so your kids know what mashed potatoes are …or broccoli. We serve around 400 3rd thru 8th graders and really try to make good food but we can’t make them eat what they don’t know.You would be shocked at the amount of fresh fruit that goes in the trash..plums, grapes, raspberries, apples, oranges, bananas…its the parents job to educated their children on good food choices..we try hard to do it every day for 400, so you can try it for your family before you attack the school lunch programs.

    Christine S September 4, 2011 at 1:56 pm

    I love how organized you are about it.

    Patty September 4, 2011 at 1:58 pm

    We have all the healthy ingredients, the biggest deal for us is just getting it made. We have to commit to making lunches the night before.

    Meredith September 4, 2011 at 1:59 pm

    I’m looking into seeing if I can freeze sandwiches as a way to save time and money!

    Jessica September 4, 2011 at 2:57 pm

    Meredith,
    I experimented with this last year. I froze PB&Js for my son. It worked great!

    Sarah C. September 4, 2011 at 2:04 pm

    My challenge this school year is not packing lunch for my daughter, but for me. I work at a high school in Manhattan and we have lots of places around us for lunch, but those lunches out sure do add up. I’ll start small and commit to packing my own lunch for the school days in Sept–it’s only 17! The trick will be packing something my first trimester tummy actually wants at lunchtime.

    Karmen September 4, 2011 at 2:08 pm

    neither of my kiddos are in school yet but my husband is a full-time student and has to take his lunch so we can save money…I’m taking the challenge for him and it is great practice for next year when i do have a kiddo in school!

    Katie September 4, 2011 at 2:11 pm

    My son starts pre-k on Tuesday and his school has no lunch to offer. So, I’ll have to take the challenge! Plus, the school has a policy against any kind of snack foods with sugar. No chocolate anything, including his favorite chocolate milk. Sadly, despite my best efforts I appear to be raising some pretty picky eaters so I’m afraid this will be more of a challenge than I’d bargained for. But, I’m trying to plan all our meals and stick to it. And having to make and pack a healthy lunch is the first step to getting me to stick to my meal plans and my son to eat healthier overall.

    Ceejay September 4, 2011 at 2:18 pm

    I’m actually pretty faithful at packing lunches, but I always need extra inspiration. Some nights I just don’t feel up to it.

    Ceejay September 4, 2011 at 2:20 pm

    I shared this post on twitter (@halfasmany)

    Wendy September 4, 2011 at 2:33 pm

    Thanks so much for the nice words and link, Meagan! (No need to enter me in the giveaway, I have lunch stuff coming out of my ears.)

    Meredith September 4, 2011 at 2:39 pm

    I’m one of those “bento” moms but I’m needing some help gearing up for the new school year. I’m in!

    Meredith September 4, 2011 at 2:41 pm

    Just linked up to this post on Facebook!
    https://www.facebook.com/meredith.gioia

    Thayer September 4, 2011 at 2:42 pm

    Love these options! Thanks for all the tips!

    Valerie September 4, 2011 at 2:46 pm

    Like the idea not so great at following through. I just read an article about how much bacteria has grown by lunch, so the cold packaging sounds great!

    Ginny September 4, 2011 at 2:48 pm

    I will absolutely be taking the challenge. My son is in pre-k and they provide lunch (and don’t encourage sending) but last year he was not a fan of most of the lunches; they are gross, over-processed, and not all that healthy. I sent lunch almost every day from January to June after he LOST weight due to not eating. I’m not always creative (sandwich, veggie, fruit, crackers, chesse, etc) but I try to make it healthy.

    Jessica Michaud September 4, 2011 at 2:53 pm

    I often pack 6 meals a day for my family. My kids eat both breakfast and lunch at school since my husband and I are both teachers. I tried having them eat at home before we left but it took up A LOT of time and they like sitting with there friends and eating in the mornings so I pack a breakfast AND lunch for both of them and then a lunch for my husband and I (if he is lucky). On thing I found to save time is making a bunch of PB&J’s ahead of time and freezing them. They are JUST like those expensive uncurstables! I also luck out because ALL kids get free fruit at my school so when I am out I don’t have to worry about them not getting a fruit!

    Ginny September 4, 2011 at 2:57 pm

    spreading the love on facebook … http://www.facebook.com/#!/profile.php?id=687307370

    Jessica Michaud September 4, 2011 at 3:00 pm
    Lisa September 4, 2011 at 3:01 pm

    I pack lunches for my kindergartener, he is so picky I get lost for ideas. I’m really hoping I can get him to try some new things this year.

    Sommer Emery September 4, 2011 at 3:04 pm

    This is my son’s first year having lunch at school (he’s in Kindergarten) and I REFUSE to let him buy cafeteria food. I feel that I can pack a much healthier lunch for him at home, and I have control over what he is eating. Until he starts fighting with me about it, I am sticking to my guns! So, I guess you can say that I am participating in the challenge! :)

    Sommer Emery September 4, 2011 at 3:05 pm

    I tweeted!

    Diane Bortle September 4, 2011 at 3:06 pm

    I would love this as my daughter goes to daycare. She is a picky eater and this will help her try new foods. Thank you!

    Ali hinshaw September 4, 2011 at 3:07 pm

    I pack a lot of school lunches but what this challenge means to me is trying to make healthier, fresher & more creative meals for my 7 & 2 yr old boys. Thank u for the challenge, information & contest!!! :)

    Jen September 4, 2011 at 3:08 pm

    I’m anxious to try the challenge. My child is still a year away from school lunches, but I pack mine almost everyday. I try to choose healthy options for myself that keep me from eating the junk that’s always available at work. I hope I can use some new ideas to make school lunches that are healthy and interesting so my child will want to take them AND eat them. I’m going to use this challenge to put more thought into my own lunches and keep them from being boring sandwiches and a bag of baby carrots. Maybe by next year I’ll a lunch bag pro!

    Tracy Owens September 4, 2011 at 3:09 pm

    I love getting new ideas for lunches. Thank you for doing this!

    cheryl September 4, 2011 at 3:09 pm

    I’m definitely taking the challenge. Every night we pack lunches and it really does get annoying but I know then what they’re eating! I’ve been reading all summer getting new ideas for “the same ol’ lunch” and could really use some of these gadgets!

    Emily Fairchild September 4, 2011 at 3:09 pm

    I packed my lunch every day from pre k through about 9th grade, then was allowed to buy the “healthy” subs, sandwiches etc. After growing up with that I know I can and will pack most days. I had pb&j, an apple and carrot sticks every day for 10 years. I do hope to be a little more creative for my daughters though.

    Jessica September 4, 2011 at 3:09 pm

    This will be my first year packing lunches for my oldest. I am excited to try the challenge and get in the habit from the beginning!

    Denise P. September 4, 2011 at 3:11 pm

    I am in! I have been trying to get my kids to eat better and I think packing fun but healthy lunches is a good start.

    I tweeted this: http://twitter.com/#!/hilandveil
    And made mention on FB: http://www.facebook.com/deniseproctor

    Catherine September 4, 2011 at 3:15 pm

    i love the idea of the lunchbox challenge! i love making healthy lunches for my son :)

    emily Fairchild September 4, 2011 at 3:18 pm

    I posted to facebook too.

    Kim September 4, 2011 at 3:23 pm

    We are pretty good about packing lunches and our lastest kick has been packing wraps. I have never seen that sandwich sealer though and think that would be great. Thanks for the opportunity to win.

    jessica September 4, 2011 at 3:30 pm

    I think these would be great things to make lunch packing headache free!

    Venia September 4, 2011 at 3:32 pm

    I’m taking the challenge!

    JoAnn September 4, 2011 at 3:36 pm

    What an awesome giveaway! It would be great to have some of those items to help pack lunches!

    Tanya September 4, 2011 at 3:43 pm

    ooo I’m in and I would LOVE to win! I just went on a mini-spending spree to get set up with the very basics to do bento lunches for my son, who starts kindergarten in 3 days. I love your guidelines (good enough, not necessarily pretty) :) too.

    Claire September 4, 2011 at 3:45 pm

    I pack lunch for my two kids and my husband every day. It is time consuming and annoying at times, but all of them tell me constantly that they are so glad to be able to eat healthy things that they like — makes it all worth it.

    Claire September 4, 2011 at 3:45 pm

    Shared on FB!

    Laura butts September 4, 2011 at 3:51 pm

    I am a recent bento box convertee. Both of my kids love it and eat so much more food than before. I love your challenge! It motivates me to keep going!

    Sara September 4, 2011 at 3:56 pm

    My daughter is at a preschool where we have to provide a snack and a lunch everyday that she goes (3 times a week). I have the hardest time coming up with new things that she’ll eat. Packing a lunch is challenging enough for me, packing for a picky eater makes my head spin. I’m hoping not to fall into packing-the-same-lunch-everyday rut.

    Jenny September 4, 2011 at 3:56 pm

    I just started school lunches last year and it sure is easy to fall into a rut. Looking forward to others suggestions for variety.

    Jessica September 4, 2011 at 4:00 pm

    My oldest is a kindergartner I think we’ll mostly be doing this challenge by default, so I’m up for any advice/learning that I can gain about preparing healthy, interesting, and nutritious lunches!

    Becky O. September 4, 2011 at 4:01 pm

    I pack my son’s lunch for preschool already (I don’t have a choice since they don’t provide lunch), but I’m going to start packing my hubby’s lunch, too. He often took his lunch, but it wasn’t the healthiest choices in the world, so I told him that if he promised he would eat what I pack, that I would start packing it for him. We shall see. I would love to have some of these things to use for my son and hubby!

    Tiffany Jones September 4, 2011 at 4:03 pm

    I am determined to serve my child healthy lunches and save money at the same time. I have been researching different websites and blogs for great nutritional ideas. I am very excited to take this challenge. Thanks to you and the other great websites for the suggestions.

    Judi September 4, 2011 at 4:05 pm

    I generally pack lunch because mine is a somewhat picky eater who also prefers hot food for lunch. After buying lunch a few times, I heard things like “it was too spicy”, so I do not even bother paying for a meal that is not liked. I am happy to make lunch. It is usually left over from dinner the night before or something simple like cooked ham rolled in a tortilla. Loaf bread is also not wanted. I plan my dinners around what I can easily send for lunch and that makes it so much easier.

    Candice Kingston September 4, 2011 at 4:05 pm

    School has been back for 2 weeks and I’m already fizzled out with school lunches! For three picky boys, it’s never easy. I would love to win some Fun tools to inspire me! Thanks!

    Leann J. September 4, 2011 at 4:08 pm

    I am fairly consistent with packing lunches, BUT I can get pretty burnt out and find myself using those less than healthy quick snackc and oodles of throw away plastic bags bc those washable ones aren’t clean! Here’s to kicking it up a notch. Thanks.

    Margaret September 4, 2011 at 4:16 pm

    Our little guy isn’t in school yet, but I pack for myself and send my husband to work with lunch fixings for the whole week at the beginning of the week.

    Amanda C. September 4, 2011 at 4:24 pm

    I cut my little guy’s sandwiches into cute shapes using cookie cutters. I don’t have time to decorate them but he’s thrilled to have a car shaped sandwich. I hate the waste so I usually throw the scraps of meat, cheese, and bread in the container and put the sandwich on top. He picks the whole sandwich apart anyway(eats the meat, then the cheese, and then the bread)

    Kim pham September 4, 2011 at 4:26 pm

    I always pack lunches but always pack the same thing. These would be great to motivate me to add some variety!

    Theresa Garcia-Taylor September 4, 2011 at 4:29 pm

    So far I have my lunches for my two boys half Bento style. I am trying my hardest to go farther, your suggestions will help!

    Meghan September 4, 2011 at 4:32 pm

    I pack lunches everyday…it’s just what we do. My kids love to have chips and cookies and things like that. My commitment this year is to try to give them more healthy AND tasty options. One thing that one of my friend’s does is make two containers of “dip,” one sweet, one salty, for the kids to use with lunch. It’s simple, fast, flavorful, and healthy. You start with large containers of yogurt-one plain, one vanilla, and a large container of cottage cheese. For the plain, you add either one large ranch dressing powdered mix packet or a mixed seasoning like Mrs. Dash, a little olive or sesame oil, and maybe a little or worchestshire, and half the cottage cheese. Blend it till pureed in a blender and pour back in yogurt container. For sweet version, use vanilla yogurt, other half the cottage cheese, and add honey and any spices you prefer for flavor (I like to add nutmeg, cinnamon, and a pinch of clove) and to make it extra yummy a handful of semisweet chocolate chips. Blend till just blended and put in yogurt container. Serve from big container to small lunch box sized ones-suggestions to serve with: sweet-fruit salad, graham crackers, animal crackers, dried fruit, granola: savory-chopped veggies, veggie chips, corn chips, crackers, pretzels. It’s a lowfat, healthy, and has protein. For extra healthfulness you could add in flax meal or flax seed oil. My kids really like it. Hope that was a helpful tip!

    Theresa Garcia-Taylor September 4, 2011 at 4:34 pm

    Posted on facebook!

    Meghan September 4, 2011 at 4:39 pm

    I forgot to add this idea too…we make a dozen hard boiled eggs at the beginning of the week and they can go far for a healthy snack, as do mini bagels with cream cheese and fruit or salami. Peanut butter and raisins, nutella and banana are also great ideas. It’s a way to get protein into my son who needs it, but is super picky. We also have a friend who makes homemade mini wraps, pizza pockets, and eggrolls and freezes them. Then you just pull them out & cook them the night before or morning of. We did this last winter and my kids would just microwave them in there cafeteria. Another healthy option is a thermos of soup in winter…with good rolls or one of them above options. A lot of things can be made ahead in bulk and frozen portioned.

    Jennifer September 4, 2011 at 4:42 pm

    Great challenge! One week bento-ing for two preschoolers. Trying to plan a weeks meals at a time….not going well. Pretty routine cheese sandwich and fruit bentos are punctuated with the occasional angry bird hard boiled egg or green piggy yakionigiri. One of my goals is to get the kids to eat more veggies. Like one poster’s threat to send kid to school with only veggies!

    Jill C. September 4, 2011 at 4:48 pm

    What a wonderful way to inspire and motivate other moms! My oldest just started school and I have been packing her lunches. I get excited to try new things to make it more appealing and fun for her. Although, I work full time, I try just like all the other moms, to make it a well balanced meal. Thank you for this awesome opportunity! Looking forward to more posts!

    Elizabee September 4, 2011 at 4:48 pm

    I just bought an Easylunchbox set and have been happy with it- it surprisingly saves time with no baggies, and I find that I try to put veggies and fruit in the side compartments. I think I will keep things pretty standard for the school week but maybe pick one day a week to do something special- maybe Mondays, since they are not too thrilling plus I actually have time to think about it on Sunday. . .

    carey September 4, 2011 at 4:50 pm

    I pack my girls’ lunches 4 days a week and allow them to buy one day a week. I try to go waste-free whenever possible, using reusable items wherever possible. They always get a thermos filled with their drink, some type of protein, a fruit, and a veggie. Desserts are usually sugar free Jello or yogurt (not waste free).

    carey September 4, 2011 at 4:52 pm

    Tweeted a link!

    Tricia Tanner September 4, 2011 at 4:54 pm

    Just shared on fb!!!

    kristy September 4, 2011 at 4:55 pm

    pick me, please! I’m in on the challenge.

    Aimee Mulligan September 4, 2011 at 4:57 pm

    I still remember how gross school lunches were! My son is in kindergarten this year and I def want to do this challenge!

    Mrs Q September 4, 2011 at 5:03 pm

    WOW — thanks for the mention!!

    Hannah September 4, 2011 at 5:15 pm

    I have only ever packed lunches for my boys. As a school teacher I have spent time in the school cafeteria not only watching the gross meals the kids were being served but also the massive amount of food that was not being eaten and thrown away. In addition, if I wouldn’t eat a “school lunch” why would I expect my boys would? When I am making dinner I make extra and send it along in their lunches the next day.

    Erin September 4, 2011 at 5:20 pm

    I love this challenge! We have to pack lunches for preschool, and while it sometimes gets really tedious, I love knowing exactly what my kids are eating. We use a lot of leftovers for dinner as lunches the next day, so we try to pack them up the night before (“try” being the keyword there). (:

    Lisa Powell September 4, 2011 at 5:26 pm

    This is a great challenge! And a great giveaway!

    Rachel September 4, 2011 at 5:37 pm

    My kids aren’t old enough yet to send packed lunches to school with them but we definitely plan on packing a lot when they do get to school. The giveaway is great! We can always use better things for packing lunches when we are out or sending lunch along with daddy for the day. Thanks!

    andrea y. September 4, 2011 at 5:45 pm

    I’m in! allergies & diabetes has made this a must in our home!

    Randi September 4, 2011 at 5:54 pm

    It’s my intention to pack lunches this year for my four kids (16, soon 15, soon 8 and 6) but I also know how easy that lunch money can be as a quick fix to “I didn’t plan well enough” or “life got in the way”. My kids actually like when I pack but I’ve created snobs – they don’t want “just sandwiches”, they want thermoses full of homemade chili or Mommy’s famous mozzerella subs!

    Lucy September 4, 2011 at 5:56 pm

    I usually pack my kids lunches – they don’t like the school food. But it is so hard to come up with new, fun, and nutritious things to pack and ways to pack them. What a great giveaway!

    MrsH September 4, 2011 at 5:59 pm

    I usually do pack lunch, though my daughter has loved choosing one day each week to purchase lunch. She often did it on a day she had soccer practice, that way she’d get her hot meal at lunchtime and her sandwich before practice. Great giveaway, and good luck with your challenge!

    Brooke September 4, 2011 at 6:16 pm

    We do packed lunches, but I get in such a rut! Need some mire great things my kids will eat!

    Angie September 4, 2011 at 6:22 pm

    I’ve been packing my twins lunches for 3 years now and I would LOVE some new ideas and thoughts about streamlining. It’s the one thing I absolutely dread about getting them to school, but I can’t bring myself to pay for their lunch everyday. I’m eventually going to have 4 lunches to pack so I need to get some routine down:)

    Shannon Owens September 4, 2011 at 6:36 pm

    I’m up for the challenge! I’ve made it three weeks now, so far so good! I find that the lunches I make the night before are a lot better than the ones I throw together in the morning. (I’ve only done that twice)

    Paige Woodruff September 4, 2011 at 6:41 pm

    I am in college and have to pack lunches since I am in class ALL day. I would LOVE to have some of these lunchbox accessories to take with me to class! I’m in SERIOUS need! (And no… you’re not the only one who has tried ice cubes in a baggie!)

    Thuy September 4, 2011 at 6:41 pm

    It’s definitely a good idea :)

    maryeliz88 September 4, 2011 at 6:42 pm

    My son just started kindergarten and he and I agreed that packing lunches is the way to go. My biggest challenge — beyond finding stuff he will eat — is locating the lids to all the little tupperware containers that we’ve accumulated over the years. Somehow the lids stay behind and the containers vanish. I’m still trying to figure that one out…

    Karen September 4, 2011 at 6:45 pm

    Love this challenge!! I have been making my two kids’ lunches since last year (inspired by Jamie Oliver as well!) and it’s been so fun! I try to make the lunches fun to make as well as fun for the kids to eat. A couple time savers I’ve found is washing the fruits & veggies (berries, celery, grape tomatoes, carrots, etc) at the beginning of the week and that way I can quickly grab them for lunches or snacks throughout the week. I also try to pack their lunches when I’m cleaning up dinner so that I can include leftovers or items that will keep overnight so it’s less to do in the morning. Good luck with your challenge, I know you’ll do a fabulous job!

    heather September 4, 2011 at 7:01 pm

    I am going to try the challenge. I make my kiddos lunch for mdo, but I just would like to make it a little better than the past. I will never be able to make the fancy artistic bento lunch. Love the challenge.

    Jennifer@A Blog of My Very Own! September 4, 2011 at 7:08 pm

    So…my son is not in school yet. But I love the idea of a lunch challenge. I have a tendency to fix all of those breaded things you listed in your post. Why? Because they are the things he will eat. I need find a way to encourage him to make healthier choices. This lunch challenge should be a great way to start. At least it will make me think. I love the bento boxes too. I might have to pick some up for my husband’s lunch…maybe I can include him in my healthy lunch challenge too :)

    Nikki September 4, 2011 at 7:17 pm

    I do 60% homemade lunches and 40% school lunches (ours are pretty healthy). I do get overwhelmed with new ideas while doing it efficiently as well.

    Cheryl September 4, 2011 at 7:20 pm

    I plan on making lunches more interesting at our house by “drawing” pictures with our food. My kids are 4 and 2, so no school lunchtimes for them yet. Lots of options out there.

    MomofTwoPreciousGirls September 4, 2011 at 7:41 pm

    Currently, my girls are in daycare and they are served fresh healthy lunches everyday…BUT that will change next year and these items are great…plus I need help on the weekends!

    Sunny September 4, 2011 at 7:56 pm

    This would be so fun!

    RLR September 4, 2011 at 8:01 pm

    I pack my kids’ lunches every day – I think my son has eaten school lunch twice, and my daughter not at all. We initially did this due to food allergy concerns, but have continued it (even though we are no longer dealing with food allergies) because I feel the lunches I send are healthier and more affordable.
    I have become less creative over time – I would occasionally do “theme” lunches, but mostly just put in a fun napkin or note every now and then. I need to work on variety, perhaps sending leftovers rather than the typical sandwiches .
    I’ll be following the challenge!

    RLR September 4, 2011 at 8:09 pm

    I just blogged about the Challenge, with the badge and link back to your blog.

    Dashtb September 4, 2011 at 8:10 pm

    I’m up for the challenge. I am a teacher and I get to see first hand the lunches that are served to the students. Not the most appealing, let alone nutritious. Love the bento boxes and the one step ahead lunch bundle!

    RLR September 4, 2011 at 8:12 pm

    I just tweeted and updated my FB status to spread the word about the Challenge! Great idea – thanks!

    Dashtb September 4, 2011 at 8:26 pm

    I shared on Facebook!

    Trish September 4, 2011 at 8:28 pm

    I am looking forward to hearing new ideas for lunch – my girls and I get tired of the same lunches! Thank you!

    Leanne September 4, 2011 at 8:50 pm

    I have always packed our lunches for our daughter. This year I am challenging myself to pack efficiently and more fun for her. I found a site that suggested a kids fishing tackle box as a bento box option. Also I am thinking of those little storage boxes for crafts from the dollar stores. Those are certainly fun for the young kids! Making it fun is what its all about ;)

    Allison September 4, 2011 at 8:57 pm

    I am in! I think this is very important. I was happy last year when my sons teCher gave us the advice to get our kids used to packing a lunch as the school ones are terrible. My son does not love variety which bores me but he eats it and is happy.

    Julie Holland September 4, 2011 at 9:00 pm

    I admit, I’m a homemade lunch nerd! But I also admit I usually dread it. Katie from kitchenstewardship.org has me making homemade granola bars and yogurt, and also cutting up cheese and fruit/veggie slices a day or two in advance, which helps immensely.

    Lisa September 4, 2011 at 9:10 pm

    With a first grader in the house, we are just beginning adventures in packed lunches. So far so good, but it feels like the right tools and the right attitude will see us through. I love the reusable bags. Brilliant!

    Nico September 4, 2011 at 9:16 pm

    My kids are in daycare with no lunch provided, so I have to pack for them. Hadn’t really thought about what I would do once they get to big kid school. These lunch kits would be super helpful though! I do have a few standard things that I pack, which makes it easier than coming up with new things each day – but they also only go two days a week so I don’t have to worry too much about burnout. My standard is chicken nuggets + a starch (sandwich or pasta usually) + veggie (green beans or broccoli or something spinach) + fruit. I feel okay about the nuggets b/c they really don’t eat them otherwise.

    Posted on FB too :)

    abcndlaw September 4, 2011 at 9:28 pm

    Back to school us always such a busy time for a family of five with two working parents. We har started our snack and nutrition break supplies, even going so far as togetting bento boxes from Korea. We subscribed to a fresh veggie and fruit box to help us get through. I look forward to making lunches and snack now that the kids are old enough to help. Hope we win!

    Jenna September 4, 2011 at 9:35 pm

    I love your comments about not striving for perfection while packing lunches. I want to do the cute Bento style lunches but just don’t have time. I’m working on being ok with just doing better than school/daycare lunches. I’ll keep trying!

    Tara September 4, 2011 at 10:04 pm

    My little guy isn’t in school yet, but I have been trying to pack healthier lunches for my husband to take to work. We can’t afford for him to eat out at all, so every day I have to pack something!

    Carla September 4, 2011 at 10:41 pm

    I am embarking on the journey of school lunches for the first time this Thursday as my boy starts kindergarten! I know I dislike packing lunches for my husband, so I can only imagine how much of a “joy” packing for a 4 year old will be!!

    Kristen M. September 4, 2011 at 11:11 pm

    I am aiming for homemade lunches 50% of the time. It’s hard when my children’s school receives free lunches but I know that lunches from home are healthier. I will definitely need to plan ahead or I will fizzle out.

    Cindi C. September 4, 2011 at 11:37 pm

    Look like great products. Thanks for sharing.

    Camille September 5, 2011 at 12:16 am

    I did pack lunches last year for preschool, but got in such a rut! I’m starting out my kid’s Kindergarten year with good intentions, but need inspiration. Thanks for this post; can’t wait to see the challenge progress.

    Lisa P September 5, 2011 at 1:31 am

    What a great idea. I love all your suggestions and hope to use them to help me “get a grip” on the lunch thing. Thanks!

    Ellen September 5, 2011 at 4:22 am

    Great challenge Meagan (and yes, awesome giveaways!). My kids buy lunch 2-3 times a week and I admit I LOVE to not have to make their lunch, though I still have to pack a snack. I’m focusing this year on making their snacks healthier—fruit and string cheese instead of a pack of Cheezits, that sort of thing. I’ve also found that sometimes, my kids eat healthier when they buy lunch. My 7-year-old, for example, always picks up a little cup of salad in the lunch line. I ate lunch with her one day last year, and sat there in amazement as she ate every bit of that salad! She never eats the salad I serve at home. They are also more likely to eat their fruit when they get to pick it from the line, instead of taking whatever I pack. So I’m good with them buying now and then, but am trying to focus on packing healthy stuff when I do have to pack their lunch. I do always include a cookie, though :)

    sarah September 5, 2011 at 4:28 am

    love the bento idea….this is my first year sending someone to school, so i am new to this whole idea, but already love it! thanks for the giveaway!

    Michelle September 5, 2011 at 4:28 am

    My daughter is in 10th Grade this year, so she is responsible for packing her own lunch. She has done a fair bit of research this past month, trying to come up with new, healthy lunch ideas for herself. Along the way, she stumbled upon the Easy Lunchbox System and has been asking me to get some for her. I just haven’t had a chance to order them for her yet. Thanks so much for the giveaway!

    Laura September 5, 2011 at 4:39 am

    Aargh!! Packing lunches! Didn’t miss that all summer! Having kids with peanut/nut allergies, we pack lunch everyday. These giveaways would sure make the new year more interesting!
    Love them!

    Maria September 5, 2011 at 4:42 am

    I don’t need to pack lunches for my kids yet, but I’ve been trying to encourage my husband to take lunch to work more often. I’m committing to helping him out with that, because it will save us money!

    Rachel September 5, 2011 at 5:10 am

    Can you still enter if the lunch you are packing is for your husband? My kids aren’t quite old enough for school, but my husband just started his doctorate program and even at the doctorate level, the choices for lunch at school aren’t as healthy (or as cheap!) as packing your own. But it’s already been a challenge to make the time to pack his lunch. I’d love to win the goodies above to help spark my creativity in packing meals! Great giveaway and challenge – I am in!

    Lee W. September 5, 2011 at 6:22 am

    I pack my daughters’ lunches 4 days per week – they get to choose what day they want a school lunch (it’s usually pizza day!). I try to pack a fruit, a veggie, and a sandwich, usually on whole-grain bread. I wish there was a healthier alternative to lunch meat, but I haven’t found it yet. For snacks, I pack Cheez-its or pretzels, and the drink is a bottle of water. The girls picked out colorful water bottles at the beginning of the school year. That way we avoid the sugary juice drinks.

    Sharon September 5, 2011 at 6:29 am

    I make my daughter’s lunch every day and she loves it! I love trying to make sure she is eating healthy but this giveaway would make it oh so much easier!!! :) We would LOVE to win!!! Blessings!

    Vina September 5, 2011 at 6:50 am

    My oldest daughter is excited to be starting “big girl” school this year and she wants to be my helper with lunches so we are all in on the challenge.

    Rhea September 5, 2011 at 6:55 am

    We pack a lunch almost every day, but this would make life so much easier!

    Pamela September 5, 2011 at 7:07 am

    Just started school this year and I pack a lunch everyday. Since we are new to this, this give away would be a great starter kit!

    Pamela September 5, 2011 at 7:08 am

    I’ve posted on FB

    Angie Cooley September 5, 2011 at 7:13 am

    I love these thoughts – this year I have two, packing lunches so I decided to try something new. I took a basket and filled it with pre-filled ziplock baggies (pretzels, vanilla wafers, wheat thins) then I have a basket with treats (fruit snacks, nutter butters, etc). Each morning they get a sandwich, a fruit/veggie and then they choose one baggie out of the ‘snack’ basket and one baggie out of the ‘treat’ basket. Having them already pre-packed has save a lot of time for me, and they think its fun getting to choose what they put in their lunch!

    Susan September 5, 2011 at 7:27 am

    My 4-year-old recently started pre-school and she eats lunch there 3 times a week. I’ve always been interested in lunch boxes and containers and have been looking for good ones for a few years. Since my daughter was 4 months old, we have been in a Mom’s playgroup that does a lot of activities around the community, and mostly outdoors. We are always taking our lunch. I like to make my own lunches because it is cheaper, healthier, and better for the environment. Would love to win these fabulous products!

    Linda September 5, 2011 at 7:28 am

    Such great ideas. I too am making an effort to pack better lunches this year. My high schooler has access to a microwave and that really opens up a lot of options for her. My 5th grader mostly still wants the peanut butter sandwich. Looking forward to you ideas and tips. Love the divided containers though!

    Susan September 5, 2011 at 7:29 am

    Also shared on my mom’s playgroup site!

    Dani September 5, 2011 at 7:34 am

    Great challenge, the kids and I have been making a list of kid “approved” cold lunches that I can pack and I hope to limit the school hot lunches as well.

    Laura Heitland September 5, 2011 at 7:35 am

    Jamie Oliver inspired so many of us! I am excited about the challenge.

    Bernadette September 5, 2011 at 7:44 am

    All ready for this challenge! We have agreed pizza hot lunches on Tuesdays, but other than that it’s simple, healthy and what my child will eat (picky guy!). It really does take about 5 min-so long as I do about 5 minutes of planning before grocery shopping.

    Cori September 5, 2011 at 7:48 am

    It seems I end up making at least half of my kids lunches, as they just don’t like some of the school lunch choices. Those easy-open lunch containers are awesome! We always have container opening practice at our house to see if kids can open various containers.

    Gail at Gail's Scoop September 5, 2011 at 8:22 am

    Thanks for this post Meagan! We have been back in school for 2 1/2 weeks and I have been doing a pretty good job at packing lunch. We also review the school menu and allow a purchase a few times per month. There are a lot more healthy convenient choices available to pack. We buy some healthy snacks (love Annie’s products) in bulk and put them in reusable packs. My kids (1st & 3rd) have never gotten “dessert” in their lunchboxes and I am amazed at how many kids get candy for a “treat” every day which in my opinion is just creating a bad habit. When my kids buy lunch they opt for lowfat milk (even though choc. & strawberry are available). I work hard at teaching them how to make good food choices and they know that treats are fine but shouldn’t be the bulk of their diet.
    We are sharing your post tomorrow in our weekly e-mail to 2,400 local moms!

    Gail at Gail's Scoop September 5, 2011 at 8:28 am
    Gail at Gail's Scoop September 5, 2011 at 8:38 am

    Tweeted too: http://www.twitter.com/gailsscoop Need some motivation to pack school lunches? Check out this blog and #giveaway from @TheHappiestMom http://ow.ly/6lLmf #contest #moms

    Kimberle gamble September 5, 2011 at 8:39 am

    I’m so excited to join in on your challenge. My kindergartner and I have decided to write all of his favorite lunch ideas down on 3×5 cards. Each week he gets to choose 1 main meal, a veggie and fruit, and a healthy treat for that weeks meals. We then shop for the items together and this makes him much more excited about opening up his lunch each day. I store the cards in a recipe holder box and try to attach a picture of the item to each card. This also helps him to choose easily. I try to make his lunch each day before I clean up the dinner mess that way I’m already in food mode and don’t have to clean twice. A try to include a small message each day such as I love u or miss u or even a bible verse. He loves it and also seems to promote sounding out words since he’s learning to read. We would be over the moon to win any of these great items, it would add even more fun to our routine. I will like you on face book and twitter and add your challenge to my blog. Thank you for this opportunity.

    Dominie White September 5, 2011 at 9:04 am

    For me, the biggest thing to make this work and much easier is to know that I have enough reusable containers in the right sizes on hand. Before each school year I buy several of the ziploc version of the reusable lunch container. I also buy the condiment size container for ranch to go with veggie sticks, or yogurt etc.
    My little one is not so much into sandwhiches, so I do sliced turkey with cubed cheese, grapes, carrot sticks and a water . Whatever he doesnt finish he usually eats as an afternoon snack while we are waiting for his older brother to get out of school.

    Jocelyn September 5, 2011 at 10:01 am

    School started two weeks ago here. I am committed to packing a lunch everyday. The school lunches leave a lot to be desired. I love these reusable containers. I read that the average elementary school child will throw away 67lbs of trash by the end of the year. That is more than my first grader weighs. I am looking for the right containers that he can open easily. These look like they might it.

    Cynthia Crowell September 5, 2011 at 10:17 am

    I love this idea. I pack my kids most of the time. I can pack it healthier and cheaper than they can buy at school.

    Monia K. September 5, 2011 at 10:19 am

    I really like the look of the Easy Lunch Bentos! Although I’m not yet to make lunches or anything for my boy (he is only 2) plus we do not have the eat-at-school thing here in Switzerland I used to do lunch boxes for my hubby now and then and for me before I left work to be a fulltime mummy…

    Haidee September 5, 2011 at 10:23 am

    Where I live in Canada, we do not have an in-school lunch program, so I make lunches most days. (Sometimes lunch is brought in as a fundraiser, and there is a fee-based lunch delivery service, but my kids don’t like most of the food choices). My challenge will be to streamline the lunch-making process, and hopefully add more nutritious foods. Your challenge is timely, and has inspired me to make a week-long schedule of lunchbox menus that I can build on.

    Cynthia Crowell September 5, 2011 at 10:24 am

    I just linked to your post on FB!!

    Cheryl Spofford September 5, 2011 at 10:39 am

    I make lunches for my littlest two and let my 1st grader decide on her own. She makes her lunches on the days she decides not to buy.
    Thanks for the opportunity to win!

    Nora September 5, 2011 at 10:41 am

    I’m in for the challenge! Will include 2 kids and 1 hubby (who says he’ll make his own lunch, but never does). Would love to win one of these giveaways.

    Becca September 5, 2011 at 11:16 am

    We’re working on it– this is my son’s first year in school, so I haven’t run out of ideas yet– the challenge is to make his lunch “cool” enough that he doesn’t beg to buy a tray lunch!

    Amber H. September 5, 2011 at 11:42 am

    I’m always looking for ideas to make feeding my kids more efficient. Recently I placed a basket/tub in the pantry and another in the fridge. When I come back with new groceries, I take the time to peel all the carrots and place them in a large ziplock, separate all the string cheese, remove all the apple stickers and wash them, and hard-boil some eggs. For the pantry, I create pre-packed packages of trail-mix, dried fruit, and remove packages of granola bars and other snacks out of the box. No more reaching into a box early morning to discover it’s empty. Between the fridge and the pantry, everything is ready to grab and go! It save so much time during those busy mornings where time is already in high demand. Thanks for the tips and the challenge!

    Tragic Sandwich September 5, 2011 at 11:48 am

    Count me in! I pack food for Baguette to take to day care every day (they offer lunch for $4/day for older kids, but infants and toddlers need to have all of their food brought in), and I should be packing my own lunch as well. This may be the motivation I need!

    Anne September 5, 2011 at 11:50 am

    Just found your blog..and am loving it!
    I have a fairly recent Gluten-Free kid..so while I’ve always packed and let her choose 1 school lunch a week, we can no longer do that. She’s starting to pack her own lunches this year-and I am working to always have healthy, yummy food in stock for her to choose from. I’ll be checking back!

    Bernie September 5, 2011 at 12:48 pm

    My wife and I are now taking it up a notch with my daughter joining the schooling ranks.

    This is going to sound really involved but we’re pretty confident that the ground work will pay off.

    We had a meeting with our son and daughter and brainstormed a whole slew of lunch ideas they will accept. They are now listed on a whiteboard. The kids are allowed to add or delete at any time. This is the ‘kid approved’ menu the parents are ‘allowed’ to work from.

    As we wrap up dinner, we pack up lunches for the next day – often leftovers from that night or the previous night.

    We’re pretty good overall at staying committed but not always enthusiastic.

    Good luck everyone! Let the games begin!

    Ziva September 5, 2011 at 1:16 pm

    im actually going to take the challenge for me! if i dont pack lunch for myself to bring to work, i end up wasting money, losing nutrition (since there’s only fast-er foods nearby) and, inevitably, not eating food from my own home (which is more wasting)! so since my daughters actually get healthy meals at their schools, im going to try better for myself for a month – looking forward to sharing!

    Mary September 5, 2011 at 1:35 pm

    I have three kids, 5th thru 12th. I’ve been so, so in the lunch making process. I would love to take part in the challenge. I’m looking forward to reading posts and learning some new stragaties for lunch!

    tara September 5, 2011 at 2:09 pm

    I’ve been packing lunch for two weeks now for my kindergartener. I chop extra foods, veggies, etc. when prepping for my own lunch and when prepping for dinner. I stick the cut up foods in containers in the fridge to make packing easier. So far, I’m loving making lunches, but I know this may soon pass! :-)

    BreannaS September 5, 2011 at 2:13 pm

    I started packing my children’s lunches during the past school year for exactly the reasons you have stated. After some trial and error I enlisted the kids help in packing lunches. They chose a fruit/vegetable, snack, dip, and drink. I was responsible for the main course. After shopping day I would seperate fruits, vegetables, snacks, and dips into single serve baggies. I also had the kids select and pack as much of their lunch as possible in the evening so that mornings were not too hectic. Just in case we forgot or were running late I always kept something simple in the cabinet or freezer that both children liked. Good luck!!!

    Cindee September 5, 2011 at 2:44 pm

    I’ve found that my son goes through phases where he wants the same thing every day for lunch. It makes it so much easier! I AM committing to being more creative and introducing healthier options!

    Maureen September 5, 2011 at 2:57 pm

    We are doing the same thing – letting the boys try a couple lunches from the school but packing the rest. Hoping to spruce up lunch some so it isn’t the same thing all the time. My goal is for them to actually eat what I pack but also keep it healthy (and fun if possible). Thanks, Maureen (jnomaxx at hotmail dot com)

    Betsy September 5, 2011 at 3:19 pm

    For many of the same reasons, I have always packed the vast majority of my kids’ school lunches. Now that 3 of the 4 are in school, I’m wanting to figure out some ways to plan ahead so that the mornings are not so hectic. Clearly I need to map out the goal a bit more if I’m truly going to make it happen. Thanks for the fun give-away. :)

    Jessica September 5, 2011 at 4:03 pm

    I usually plan a weeks worth of lunches, but as school starts this year I am on bedrest, expecting our fourth child…I have put lunch in my husbands hands and have been giving him as many helpful suggestions as I can.

    Jessica September 5, 2011 at 4:08 pm

    I pinned this to Pinterest :)

    Mom24@4evermom September 5, 2011 at 4:48 pm

    Fabulous giveaway! We’re definitely all packers, all the time around here. The school lunch is just junk. Low quality, low taste, yuck.

    Lisa September 5, 2011 at 5:06 pm

    We have to pack daily for our 3-yr old but I am also trying to pack most days for myself to save money. In both cases the lunches get pretty boring after a while (though the 3yr old loves having the same old stuff every day). I try to pack for myself the night before and he for him in the morning (his food is easier). That reminds me…time to pack a lunch for tomorrow…

    Sarah September 5, 2011 at 5:24 pm

    I let my first-grader buy one lunch a week at school, which she chooses from the school menu. The rest of the days, I send a lunch. We do traditional (PBJ and applesauce) and not so traditional (lettuce, boiled egg, and salad fixings, for example). We also sometimes do a snacky lunch, of popcorn, raisins, nuts, string cheese, etc. Whatever gets her fed in a little bit healthier way than the school lunches. Thanks for the giveaway!

    Mbranme September 5, 2011 at 5:54 pm

    Looking forward to reading new suggestions for the kids’ lunches!

    Natalie M. September 5, 2011 at 6:31 pm

    I’m giddy with the excitement of orgnaization and mix/match possibilites now in my future of lunch packing!!! My husband may even get lucky and get a lunch too!

    Natalie M. September 5, 2011 at 6:33 pm

    I’m giddy with the excitement of orgnaization and mix/match possibilites now in my future of lunch packing!!! My husband may even get lucky and get a lunch too! I think we could all benefit from a little more food in a box and less from a bag. :)

    Jeannine September 5, 2011 at 6:35 pm

    My kid just started kindergarten but I’ve been packing his lunch since pre-school. I love doing it.

    Michelle September 5, 2011 at 6:59 pm

    I’m new to packing lunches, so I will be looking for ideas. I’m joining the challenge!

    Briana September 5, 2011 at 7:19 pm

    I pack lunch for my hubby every morning. It’s a great way to get my blood flowing so that I can get up earlier than my kiddos, whom I homeschool..so no need to pack lunches for them. ;)

    Susan September 5, 2011 at 7:49 pm

    My daughter just started kindergarten and I’ve been making her lunches every day for 3 weeks now. I love it! It has gotten to be more of a routine now and I write down and sometimes take pictures of the lunches I make so I can remember how I put them together. Menu planning the lunches a week at a time also really helps. I just got a part time job so now I’ll be making my lunches too! My daughter loves that we have matching lunch boxes! :)

    Susan September 5, 2011 at 7:54 pm

    Just shared on facebook! :)

    Bethany September 5, 2011 at 8:17 pm

    I’m in! How fun and inspiring!

    Lorryn September 5, 2011 at 8:52 pm

    I’m in! I almost always pack lunches. It works for us by alternating the same two basic lunches with a little variation. While not very creative, I have a very picky son who is gluten free and little free time. I know that he’ll eat his lunch and it will still be healthier than what the school offers.

    Heather September 5, 2011 at 8:53 pm

    My daughter has multiple food allergies, so we’re going to be packing her lunches no matter what. I get stuck in a rut with the sandwich, fruit, and veggie formula, so I’m pledging to be more creative and vary it a little. I’m definitely checking these products out!

    Lorryn September 5, 2011 at 8:57 pm

    Just shared on FB!

    mom3boys September 5, 2011 at 9:48 pm

    I would LOVE to win this stuff! I have 2 in school this year (albeit part time) and have been trying interesting lunches. Great Blog!

    mom3boys September 5, 2011 at 9:49 pm

    ps. shared on Facebook as well.

    Erin(findingmysanity) September 5, 2011 at 9:56 pm

    Shared on FB and Twitter! My son is starting Kindergarten and I’m down with all the help I can get! Now if he would only go to BED! lol

    Maureen September 5, 2011 at 10:27 pm

    Just shared on FB. My daughter has been asking for the same for over two weeks: Salami and cheese sandwich, cherry tomatoes, bell pepper strips and an apple. Tried mushrooms and cucumber, but they didn’t go over well. Have successfully substituted nectarines for the apples.

    The school is rather strict about what’s good to bring. We were even asked not to send bananas; I assume because they stick to teeth and/or can make a mess if squashed in a bag.

    Tracy C September 5, 2011 at 10:33 pm

    I am looking forward to reading your blog for the next month-lunch ideas sometimes get to be so dull and similar. The balance between home meals and lunch room meals seems like a great balance.

    tracy September 5, 2011 at 10:45 pm

    shared on facebook – I am hoping to get inspired because my son will only eat chicken and cheese in a tortilla!

    Emily September 5, 2011 at 11:40 pm

    This really inspired me, and I spent part of an evening poking around for lunch ideas and pinning them to my Pinterest board. I thought it might help some of you, so if you’re interested, you can take a look here: http://pinterest.com/emilymoothart/kid-lunch-ideas/

    Michelle September 6, 2011 at 3:06 am

    you’ve inspired me to try again!

    phebe September 6, 2011 at 3:16 am

    I *love* this whole idea of streamlining the school schedule! I live in Florida and our schools started back in early August and here it is Labor Day and I’m still struggling to find a smooth routine. I know I can do better with my kids lunchs and I am really grateful that you are writing about it!

    Meagan September 6, 2011 at 4:12 am

    With a Kindergartener just starting and a preschooler who needs a lunch twice a week, my plan is to pack every day. My challenge is to eliminate any processed food in their lunches. Hoping to make a batch of mini muffins, zucchini bread, banana bread etc. to throw in the freezer and pull out each day for their lunches and snacks. We’ll see how that goes.

    Julie H September 6, 2011 at 5:53 am

    I’d like my kids to rake their lunches more often but I need to have more ingredients for them to choose from.

    Ellen Frank September 6, 2011 at 6:00 am

    After about 17 years of making kids lunches (that’s 12 years for my recent graduate and 9 years for my freshman, with a collective 5 years off when they went to a school with a really great lunch program0, making lunch is still a chore. So I’m joining the challenge to keep inspired! I have found that sticking to tried-and-true works for me: a small rotation of sandwich options, apples, carrot sticks, snap pea pods, baked chips, cherry tomatoes, low fat yogurt. It makes it easy to keep everything stocked and my kids never seemed to tire of the routine.
    BTW, I use the Wrap-Mats and love them. My kids say everyone at school always thinks they are way cool.

    laura September 6, 2011 at 6:12 am

    I feel that I can pack a much healthier lunch for him at home, and I have control over what he is eating. Until he starts fighting with me about it, I am sticking to my guns!

    Kendri September 6, 2011 at 6:54 am

    I feel like I do a pretty good job of packing healthy lunches, but I’m always looking for ways to do it more easily and economically!

    Nicole C. September 6, 2011 at 6:58 am

    I accept the challenge! I love sending my kids with some fruit and veggies to make sure they have the energy they need through the day as well! Love it!

    Nicole C. September 6, 2011 at 6:59 am

    I just posted this on my facebook wall for an extra entry!! Thanks for doing this!

    Debra September 6, 2011 at 7:23 am

    I’m going to try! My challenge is finding things that my very picky son will eat — it is so discouraging to have a full lunchbox come home in the afternoon with not much eaten! Always looking for easy and tasty lunchbox recipes.

    Cee September 6, 2011 at 7:31 am

    We’re working on packing lunches that my daughter enjoys, are healthy, and are also compliant with some of the school’s policies (no nut butters, etc.). For this week, I made a big batch of lentil and rice stew, and am also packing crackers and an apple and a banana for a snack. I consistently try to pack lunches.

    Karin September 6, 2011 at 7:40 am

    Today is “back to school” so I am thinking about lunches … my 1st graders lunch is late enough in the day that we need to send a snack, too, and that only adds to the challenge. I am looking forward to more ideas so that packing lunches isn’t a drag :)

    Mary September 6, 2011 at 7:45 am

    i have been making my kids lunch for several years. the trick that has helped me the most is that i make several sandwiches and freeze them. at any one time i may have peanut butter/honey on whole wheat tortillas, turkey on bagle thins, cheese/tofu quesidalls, pbj on wheat bread in the freezer. by already having several made up in the freezer, it is super easy to pull the lunch together and they can have several different main items each week. i also send leftovers whenever possible. i also try to pack the lunches the night before when we are cleaning up for dinner. the new thing this year is the kids get to pack their lunch twice a week. they get to put it together when they get home from school, after they have had a snack. i realized if they havent a snack yet, then they eat the items instead of puttting them in their lunch box:).

    Diane September 6, 2011 at 8:06 am

    I am quite religious about making my 5 yo boy/girl twins lunches every day. I felt lucky at their last preschool they were at for 1 year as they provided hot lunches as part of the tuition…otherwise, I always HAD to make lunch for my kids. It’s always shocking to me that they really don’t need a lot of variety. My son loves his PB&J and my daughter loves rolled up deli turkey breast. Now they’re in kindergarten they see the hot lunches that some kids buy and they’ve asked about getting their lunches there. I’m hesitant but it’s the novelty they like so we’ll work out some times when they can take advantage of that.

    Good luck with your efforts this month!

    Shannon Smith September 6, 2011 at 8:08 am

    I love using Bento boxes and supplies for my kids’ lunches. It’s so fun to make and they love to eat it! Will definitely be following your lunchbox challenge!

    Denise September 6, 2011 at 8:39 am

    I’m taking the challenge! I’ve actually been packing lunches all summer for camp and after two months, it finally has become a habit. We’re doing like your family – choosing a few school lunches and packing on the days when it seems nutritionally questionable or they just don’t like it. And my daughter has been gluten free for three months so we have to factor in that as well. Hope I win!!! :)

    Hands Free Mama September 6, 2011 at 8:51 am

    Thank you, Meagan! Boy, I needed this nudge! You have made it sound so much more doable compared to when I try to make it into a major production (and then give up!)

    This summer I packed lunches when my girls went to art camp. I thought your readers might like these two ideas … 1) imitation crab sticks. My girls loved them and two parents ended up asking me where I got them (Walmart seafood section) because their kids wanted them, too. 2) I also like to pack the individual serving hummus containers and a whole wheat wrap. The girls love to spread it on the wrap themselves. I pack cucumber slices and matchstick carrots for them to put inside the wrap, as well. That is my five year olds favorite cold lunch.

    Thanks for the great inspiration!

    Jessica September 6, 2011 at 9:08 am

    um, can you take the challenge if you are trying to pack your own lunch for work or is this a kids only challenge? my son is too young for school.

    Meagan Francis September 6, 2011 at 11:36 am

    Of course! Moms need to eat healthy too.

    Lindsey September 6, 2011 at 9:13 am

    Since my hubby works lots of extra hours so I can stay home with our son, I pack his lunch too when I can. Making lunches the night before is my first line of defense. I am also in school in the evenings so this applies to me too. I used to cook all day Sunday so we could have healthy hot lunches all week but I’ve fallen out of that habit. So that is my challenge to myself … get back in the habit of feeding my family healthy hot choices!

    Melanie September 6, 2011 at 9:40 am

    What a great post! I am definitely going to try to pack lunches this year – even for my husband and myself! I’m hoping to streamline the process by doing one grocery store trip on Sunday and then creating a lunch-making assembly line the night before.

    Nora September 6, 2011 at 9:57 am

    Great giveaways! We are definitely packing lunches here! Thanks

    Angela O September 6, 2011 at 11:24 am

    I just started packing lunches for my kindergardener and I have no idea how to make them interesting. I look forward to the challenge and to the new ideas! The bento boxes are awesome! Just shared this on facebook!

    Angela O September 6, 2011 at 11:27 am

    I would love to do the challenge! Just shared this on facebook too! I find it hard to keep those lunches interesting!

    choosy September 6, 2011 at 12:18 pm

    I have committed to packing daily and my daughter hates me for it :)
    New peanut free lunch room will be a challenge this year. So…we’ll see.
    I want those wrap mats but cannot justify the cost. Looking around for lower prices…

    Dana Boyd September 6, 2011 at 12:44 pm

    This a great idea! I am up for the challenge! I would love to improve on my “packing skills” for my kids lunches!

    Angela September 6, 2011 at 1:28 pm

    I’ve gone back and forth with school lunch and packing homemade lunches. This year I will be packing lunches for health reasons. I would love to win these gifts! I’m planning on making lunches the night before, and also brainstorming with my kids a few different lunch “menus” and having them plan what they’d like on what day to make it easier and have them invested in what they’re eating.

    Erin September 6, 2011 at 1:32 pm

    For the last 2 years, my husband & I didn’t let our 2 kids bring a cold lunch. It was much easier and we wanted them to try everything so now they know what school food they like and don’t like. This year we’re letting them bring cold lunch but starting slow. Each week they look at the school menu and can pick 1 day they want to bring a cold lunch. Later this school year I plan to let them bring cold lunch more often and they will need to start helping prepare and pack their lunches.

    jessica September 6, 2011 at 2:04 pm

    One of my biggest challenges is that my 5 yr olds bff’s lunch usually consist of a lot of processed foods that we just don’t buy. I try to explain that different families eat differently and that we try to eat more healthy choices but sometimes its hard not to give in and give him a bag of cheetos…

    Tragic Sandwich September 6, 2011 at 2:06 pm

    I’ve also added the badge (and a link) to my blog: http://tragicsandwich.wordpress.com/2011/09/06/lunch-box-challenge/

    Shannon September 6, 2011 at 3:04 pm

    Great challenge! My older daughter started preschool today, so this is my first time packing a lunch. It’s only 2 days a week, so I think I can handle it! My goal is to avoid getting into a rut with what I send her-making sure she has variety.

    meghan September 6, 2011 at 4:02 pm

    lunches seem to always be a challenge for me. i am trying to increase the amount of whole foods we eat as a family, but also find cutting and chopping fruit and veggies takes a bit of time. these tools would make it so much easier.

    Melissa September 6, 2011 at 6:36 pm

    I am onboard with the lunchbox challenge! What a great way to start packing healthier lunches…Thank you.

    Janet September 6, 2011 at 7:00 pm

    Who isn’t looking for good, healthy, FUN lunches these days? I think we all lack creativity at times.. I know I do, and my kiddo is only a toddler who only needs lunch packed for 2 days a week at the sitter’s!

    Anne September 6, 2011 at 7:11 pm

    We look at the school lunch menu during our Sunday evening family dinner and each child decides if they will pack or eat at school – I try to pack at least 2 to 3 times a week for them. So far, so good – this is our 4th week of school.

    Ashley September 6, 2011 at 7:54 pm

    I shared this on facebook.

    ellen September 6, 2011 at 8:05 pm

    4 kids, 4 lunches packed 5 days a week (they don’t like cafeteria food…that’s a GOOD thing!). I’d love to win a few things to throw in for variety!

    Angela O September 6, 2011 at 8:47 pm

    I am game for the challenge. So far this year my little kindergartner has gotten the same lunch every day… I am so interested in how to give her some variety!

    Angela O September 6, 2011 at 8:47 pm

    I shared this on facebook and have gotten several “likes”!

    Nena September 6, 2011 at 8:52 pm

    With 3 kids in school it is expensive to buy lunch every day. I am mainly motivated to make their lunches because I think that 2.50 per day each is just too much money. They complain and want to buy lunch but my rule is we buy lunch only occasionally when I am out of bread or just don’t have enough to put a decent lunch together. About once every 3 to 4 weeks they get to buy lunch. Love those bento containers.

    Lesley Billy September 6, 2011 at 9:11 pm

    I would love to win this contest. I make lunch for my daughter and myself everyday as our schools don’t have a lunch program or cafeteria. We are not allowed to send peanut butter and my daughter won’t eat cold meat so I am having a tough time coming up with ideas for healthy lunches. Luckily, Alana likes to help figure out what to take and is aware of what the healthy food groups are so I don’t get too frustrated.But she is only in grade 3 so I have years ahead of me to get creative!

    Lesley Billy September 6, 2011 at 9:13 pm

    Shared on Facebook. :)

    Amy MacKellar September 6, 2011 at 9:15 pm

    I’m totally in with this. My oldest started kindergarten yesterday and we have picked exactly five days this month for him to buy lunch. The rest of the time, we’re packin’ it in. My biggest challenge is to pack healthy lunches that both kids (5 and 2) will actually eat and aren’t too stressful. Last year, I canned peaches and applesauce with the thought that I would have easy lunch sides all year. That was great until everything ran out in March. This year, I’ve tripled everything to accommodate bigger appetites and hopefully not run out. Also, I have made some dinners with lunches in mind the next day, such as soups and tacos that could be quickly reheated at daycare. Now that Will is in school, reheating is less of an option, but I do have a couple of thermos containers for soup or spaghetti at school. Oh, and I pack every day as well. No school lunch for me.

    Kristin September 7, 2011 at 6:13 am

    I struggle to avoid the lunch box rut–packing the same things over and over again. I am up for the challenge! My son is in Kindergarten and would love an exciting new lunch box–I would, too!

    Kristin September 7, 2011 at 6:16 am

    I liked this on Facebook.

    Amber September 7, 2011 at 10:25 am

    I’m definitely not one of those artistic lunch moms, but I do enjoy seeing all of the creative ideas out there. This will be my first year making lunches, so I’m just hoping that I can get a good routine established & have lunch packed & ready the night before.

    Michelle September 7, 2011 at 11:20 am

    I am packing lunches the day before, and use a thermos to keep things heated for school, it helps me with variety to have heated food in the lunchbox.

    Christa September 7, 2011 at 11:24 am

    My kids aren’t in school yet, but I do make lunches for my husband. At least I did :). I am planning to start the challenge.

    beth September 7, 2011 at 12:57 pm

    my picky eater has always carried his lunch, but i am recommitting this year to making them more interesting and healthy. i am also adding my more adventurous eater to the lunch packing routine as she goes to school for the first time! i would love a chance to try the products in your post!

    Julie September 7, 2011 at 1:34 pm

    My daughter is starting school tomorrow, and there is no lunch program, so packed lunches are the only choice. Made more complicated by the fact that she is UNBELIEVABLY picky. Eeeek.

    Stef Daniel September 7, 2011 at 3:25 pm

    Tweeted and shared on Facebook. Some great ideas and great products.

    Christine M. September 7, 2011 at 3:35 pm

    I absolutely love this idea! Thanks so much for the inspiration and ideas. I’m definitely going to give this a go, I’m always interested in new ways to keep the kids happy with lunch, instead of bored with the same ol things.

    Jeannie September 7, 2011 at 7:33 pm

    Great ideas!!! I am definitely in! I also shared this on FB and twitter. Thanks for all the great info. I am a mom of 4 and I love all the new
    ideas I can get my hands on :)

    Olivia September 7, 2011 at 8:48 pm

    Yes, yes, yes! I am definitely in for this challenge! I feel I am becoming a bit of a pro at lunchbox packing. I have three in school this year! I try to eliminate waste by packing their lunches in reusable lunch bags instead of brown paper, reusable lunch & snack tins instead of plastic and Kleen Kanteen bottles instead of plastic bottles!

    Christine September 7, 2011 at 10:08 pm

    Love those more practical bento boxes!

    KellyH September 8, 2011 at 6:05 am

    While we homeschool, preparing good lunches is still a challenge. Especially since we may not eat at the same time everyday. Plus, I’d like to take lunches when we go places, and not get snacks from a store or something. I’ll try it, but will need to take some planning ahead of time!

    Thanks!
    KellyH

    Jacquelyn September 8, 2011 at 6:17 am

    We homeschool, but this year, I want to get away from just sandwiches for lunch. The kids are so bored of sandwiches, and to be honest, I am, too!! And I want our lunches to be a lot more nutritious. I always add a fruit to their lunch, but that’s about the only nutritious thing in it. I am inspired by your post!!

    Kathleen September 8, 2011 at 6:25 am

    I am forced to pack a lunch as my kids go to a Montessori school with no cafeteria. The older kids sometimes make a hot lunch for the lower elementary, but for the most part it is pack lunches daily. Here is my secret to keeping it easy – sandwich, fruit and a veggie. Everything has to be in a reusable container. Some things like yogurt or a hard boiled egg are sometimes a substitute for the veggie or fruit. I can also send in leftovers that they can heat up on their own. I love knowing that my kids are eating healthy food and not processed lunch room choices.

    Clover September 8, 2011 at 7:03 am

    We qualify for free lunches, and while I share many of your concerns about the school lunches and the waste involved, it’s hard to argue with free. I do have to pack a daily snack for both kids, though, so maybe I can plan a little bit more so I’m not sending them to school with baggies of dry cereal! :-)

    Kathy September 8, 2011 at 8:06 am

    We’ve done “cold” lunches since both of my boys started school. I love knowing what goes into the things they eat, and it’s a lot cheaper than cafeteria lunches at $2.35 a pop. I also love knowing that they’re not throwing away packaging every day. We use tupperware style containers to hold everything – I’m a big fan of Lock & Lock. We also have one food averse child who doesn’t eat a lot of what’s on the menu at school, so it would not only be a waste but mean that he’d be hungry most days.

    At this point, they both make up lunches the night before school (they are 10 and 12 years old). I provide a main dish of some sort, produce of some kind, snacks, and a water bottle. My younger son likes a pretty simple cheese sandwich that he can easily make himself, apple slices (I cut those and swish in water mixed with a wee bit of lemon juice to keep them from turning brown), and trail mix. My older son doesn’t like cold food for lunch, so we bought him a wide mouthed thermos with a built in spoon. He takes leftovers that are warmed up in the morning and stay warm until lunch. He loves seaweed, jicama, and baby carrots, so we have them all available. If I make sure we have everything they need for lunches it’s pretty easy to assemble all of it.

    Kathy September 8, 2011 at 8:09 am

    Tweeted and Facebooked :-)

    Natalie September 8, 2011 at 8:11 am

    This is our first year doing school lunches! I am excited and nervous at the same time. Right now, I hardly have time or food to pack myself a lunch, let alone my children. But we are determined to give him healthy lunches with lots of options, after all that is what we eat at home. I think for me the difficulty will be creating unique lunches (I tend to get stuck in ruts easily).

    Chhaya September 8, 2011 at 8:56 am

    My son started kindergarten this year and i have also started sending him lunches from home. it will be fun to follow this challenge to get more creative ideas for packing lunches.

    Annie~Savor This Moment September 8, 2011 at 9:24 am

    We pack lunches on most days, and the kids have school lunch on “Cheese Pizza” day, a couple of times a month. We have certain go-to lunches, like sandwiches, chips, fruit, and snack. But we’ve added in homemade pizza lunchables that can be assembled ahead of time into a container they just pop into the lunchbox. Quesadillas, wraps, and even leftovers from dinner are faves of the kids, too. I have four kids, but my oldest usually comes home for lunch (sometimes I’m feeding his friends, too!) since he has open campus. Yay!

    Margot September 8, 2011 at 10:33 am

    I think I’ll take part in this challenge. My kids are actually provided with lunch at their daycare. However, my husband and I are not and I really have been fizzling out on that front. There are only so many ham sandwiches this girl can eat!

    Margot September 8, 2011 at 10:37 am

    Shared on Facebook!

    Jessica Weiss September 8, 2011 at 10:40 am

    This is a great challenge! My kids started school on August 22nd, and so far, I have packed the little kids’ lunches every day except one. The high schooler…well that is where I join in this challenge. He has so many options, that I was telling myself that he can find *something* healthy. But, does he? Not so much.

    I’m in!

    Jessica Weiss September 8, 2011 at 10:43 am

    I posted this on my Facebook Wall. :)

    Wendy September 8, 2011 at 10:43 am

    I pack a lunch for my son 5 days a week and for myself 3 days a week. I do pretty good with my lunches but all my son wants is crap. He’ll eat half a sandwich and will not eat fruit, veggies or applesauce if I put it in. So I need to get inspired! I’m so frustrated with how much food is getting wasted because he’s not eating it and it seems gross to recycle a soggy sandwich for another meal.

    Margot September 8, 2011 at 10:53 am

    I posted about your challenge and giveaway on my blog as well.

    mudmama September 8, 2011 at 10:55 am

    I’m in! My kids are at two schools this year and I need the accountability to stay with home made lunches with my middle schooler. Next year she can leave campus and buy crap at the corner store so I need to model the ease of packing a lunch rather than scrambling for change when we’re running late.

    mudmama September 8, 2011 at 10:59 am

    I invited my facebook friends!

    Aimee in Or. September 8, 2011 at 10:59 am

    What a great giveaway! Thanks for the opportunity.

    jennfurr September 8, 2011 at 11:05 am

    we try to pack lunches every day, but with twins, it can be a challenge!

    jennfurr September 8, 2011 at 11:05 am

    oh, and posted on facebook too!

    Kim September 8, 2011 at 11:18 am

    I always have a hard time packing lunches for one of my children because he rarely agrees to eat sandwiches. He declared one day when he as about 5 that he didn’t eat cold things, and that’s only improved slightly as he’s aged.

    Summer Fike September 8, 2011 at 11:27 am

    Ah yes, the inevitable back-to-school, back-to-boxed-lunches challenge that so many of us moms come to dread. On the SECOND day of school this year (yesterday) my 10 year old son came home with a note – he had thrown his wholewheat bagel into the garbage and then told the teacher he was hungry and got permission to go to the cafeteria to get a fruit tray. She realized LATER that he wasn’t lunch-less by accident but by choice! So here we go again… me trying to come up with lunch ideas that are easy to pack, nutritious, and don’t end up in the school garbage. Thanks for your great challenge! I look forward to reading your progress and being inspired along the way!

    Gisaco September 8, 2011 at 11:59 am

    I shared on FB! Good luck to all the challengers!

    Kat September 8, 2011 at 12:06 pm

    We do pack our kids’ lunches every day, but we’ve fallen into a boring rut of packing the same old thing each day. I asked my oldest son last night if he’d like to try a bento box with more variety in his meals, and he was all for it. My younger son is stuck in his own rut, wanting the same ‘ol, same ‘ol. We’ll see!

    Kat September 8, 2011 at 12:07 pm

    Annnnnd, posted on Facebook! :)

    Adrienne September 8, 2011 at 3:14 pm

    I have only 2 kids in school right now and I always pack their lunches. This is in no way a brag, it’s just that I have seen and eaten their school lunch (once!) and it isn’t something I can feel good about them eating. Sometimes I enlist their help in packing. I have a list of lunch options posted inside a cupboard door so if I am in a rut (or they are) it’s not hard to come up with something else. If I switch it up often enough it’s not a pain. Always a drink (100% juice or milk in a thermos), a fruit or veggie, a main dish (variety of sandwich options, bagel and cream cheese, cheese and crackers, a chicken patty, soup or mac n cheese or ravioli in a thermos) and a reasonable dessert. Sometimes also a small snack like a string cheese, a handful of nuts. We have a drawer of lunch friendly containers, some small sigg water bottles, and cute lunch boxes so I know where everything is and it’s pretty fast to throw together. If you’re considering this challenge I say go for it! I am by no means any kind of super mom but packing lunches is a small thing you can do for your kids that is worth your effort.

    Cary September 8, 2011 at 4:07 pm

    I try, I try. I’m once again starting this year trying harder than I did at the end of last year. I did the math on the cost once and realized that it’s actually pretty challenging to beat the cost of the school lunch, but that’s probably because my kids have a pretty limited list of what’s acceptable in their lunchboxes.

    Laura September 8, 2011 at 5:39 pm

    I’m going to try to pack not only my sons’ lunches (which I did all last year), but also my husband’s lunch. He, too, would benefit from healthier foods and less money coming out of our pockets.

    Heather September 8, 2011 at 6:44 pm

    At our house we pack lunches for my husband and myself – and while I am fairly easy to accommodate being a teacher and having many modern conveniences, the fact that he is a UPS driver and on the road all day is a real challenge! I try to look for things that can be eaten quickly but are still nutritious and can be packed in a cooler and either eaten cold or at room temp.

    We also have two toddlers that fortunately eat most of their meals at home or grandma’s. They both LOVE Jammy Sammies and one that has used the Mashups for ages now, always an easy way to incorporate fruits on the go! I haven’t seen the Yo’Drops but I am putting them on my grocery list for next time.

    Sylvia September 8, 2011 at 7:35 pm

    Hot lunch is not an option for my kids–we have to send lunch. But I REALLY need to streamline the process!

    Barbara September 8, 2011 at 8:08 pm

    I just shared on facebook. I am in on the challenge as well.

    Jessica September 8, 2011 at 8:37 pm

    It is one of my goals this year to be more consistent about making healthier lunches my girls will enjoy eating at school. We have set up a lunchbox station in our cabinets with all the containers they use and our frig has a section of lunchbox friendly items. My seven year old has really gotten into helping prepare her lunch the night before. Most days is the first things she asks to do when she is home from school. I found this article inspiring and encouraging.

    Lesismore September 8, 2011 at 8:43 pm

    I have young children, not yet in primary school, but I work full time as a preschool teacher and my children get to come with me to my school. I nurse my youngest on my breaks and don’t have a typical lunch “break” which means I have to bring my lunch and eat with the kids or I don’t eat-and I’m sure I don’t have to tell you what it’s like to be around a nursing mother when she’s hungry!

    I’m selfish, I want this for me!!!

    One thing I’ve been trying to do each night is clean the kitchen, if only just enough to clear a spot to make my lunch and get my coffee ready to go in the morning. The few minutes in the evening saves me my sanity!

    Jessica September 8, 2011 at 8:44 pm

    I just posted this article to my facebook — I hope it is able to be able to be an encouragement to other mom’s.

    beth September 8, 2011 at 8:48 pm

    My plans for making lunches and not throwing things together at the last minute include planning ahead the night before and getting up a little earlier!

    Julie September 8, 2011 at 9:01 pm

    What a great challenge. Figuring out what to pack each day to make lunch interesting, and what to pack it in that the kids can easily get into is truly a challenge! I will be interested to keep up with all of your ideas.

    Lindsay September 8, 2011 at 9:03 pm

    My kids started Aug. 4. They are finally at the same school. I let them buy lunch 2-3 times a month. I pack a lunch every other day. Ham and cheese or pbj or egg salad or wraps with fruit, flavored water and a sweet. They live it. I also put little ‘love notes’ in for them. They really live those. My husband and I both work, but we have it down, just make sure you have everything and it takes 6-8 minutes. Totally worth it. :)

    Chris Beirne September 8, 2011 at 10:10 pm

    Packing daily lunches is not my favorite part of motherhood (ooo…diapers! Those are my favorites.) but it is a relatively easy way for me to see what my kids are eating and what they are leaving behind. That info then informs what I offer them post-school and also the next day.

    Jenni September 8, 2011 at 11:29 pm

    Please count me in! We’re doing the challenge :) My son has food allergies so we avoid the school lunches anyway but it does get a lil boring around here…looking forward to some new ideas. thanks!

    Sarah September 9, 2011 at 6:22 am

    Fun! My 7 year old likes to make his own lunch. This will be fun for us, thanks!

    Natalie Anthony September 9, 2011 at 8:46 am

    Wow! My daughter is starting preschool in about a week, and I’ve never been so hopeful I might win a giveaway! Shared your link on facebook…

    Natalie Anthony September 9, 2011 at 8:52 am

    I just stumbled on wendolonia’s website last night. I am really looking forward to packing my daughter’s preschool snack box in a healthy and exciting way- we’re both a little nervous about being gone from each other, even though it’s just a short time. I think this is the best way for a mom to say “I love you and I’m meeting your needs even when we are apart.”

    Sara September 9, 2011 at 9:18 am

    When I have some free time I try to make big batches of noodles and chili and freeze it in individual ziploc containers. That way I can just pull one out of the freezer the night before and it’s ready to go in a thermos in the morning.

    Amy September 9, 2011 at 9:38 am

    My daughter ate lunch at daycare/preschool until this fall when she started taking her lunch. She’s taken her lunch for a month now and loves it. Cottage cheese “sundaes” with fruit, PBJ “sushi” rolled in a tortilla – sometimes with a banana or fruit, leftovers or if I’m really in a hurry – half a can of spaghetti Os in her thermos work great for us.

    danielle September 9, 2011 at 11:58 am

    I want to be one of the moms—and wives that pack the best lunches ever and everyone wants to “trade” for my family’s lunch :D I remember coveting my lunch neighbors yummy lunch when i was little! LOL

    danielle September 9, 2011 at 11:59 am

    just posted this to my facebook!!! great give-a-way thanks!!!

    kelly mcknight September 9, 2011 at 12:24 pm

    LOVE these ideas – and we already do some of them. My daughter is such a picky eater that she is a packer – plus she doesn’t like the ‘find a seat’ she has to do when she buys … she likes her food w/ her friends. Cute Goofy Kiddo !

    bets September 9, 2011 at 12:28 pm

    We made the commitment last year in Kindergarden to always pack a lunch and we did it!!! Start the night before filling the lunch box with leftovers from dinner, fruit, cut up vegi’s, or sandwiches. We did buy lunch out every few months from our favorite deli, my son loves Matzo Ball Soup.

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