What Mamas Have to Say Monday

by Guest Author on August 13, 2012

It’s What Mamas Have to Say Monday! Each Monday, our panel of mommy bloggers weighs in on wacky questions that we – or you – think up. Have a question you want our panel to answer? e-mail it to us at info@mamasagainstdrama.com. We’ll notify you if your question is selected!

Here’s what mamas are saying today!

Question: What are your best tips for packing school lunches?

Sarah Knight

Both of my kids are very picky eaters and barely touch their lunches so packing lunch always seems futile. In the morning, I pack a sandwich, cheese sticks, crackers, yogurt and fruit. Then when they get home, I unpack a sandwich, cheese sticks, crackers, yogurt and fruit…Sometimes there will be a small bite mark in the corner of a cracker.

I recently saw a picture of a Bento box for kids lunches and thought it looked really cute and like a great idea for snackers (like my kids). I may give that a try and I’ll report back if it works. It may even inspire them to take TWO bites of food…

*Sarah Knight is the co-founder of Mamas Against Drama. You can follow her on Twitter at @sarahsknight.

Shannon Hembree

School lunches are the one area (in my opinion) where having a picky eater isn’t such a bad thing. My daughter will eat turkey and cheese sandwiches and peanut butter and jelly or peanut butter and honey sandwiches. There is no guesswork on the main part of the meal. Ever.

The part where I can get creative is the “side dishes” if you will. Here are some fan favorites:

  • Fruit leathers from Trader Joe’s (thanks to Brooke). They are like fruit roll-ups…only with actual fruit.
  • Danimals yogurt smoothies
  • Veggie sticks from Trader Joe’s (these sound really healthy, but really, they are like a crunchy potato chip shaped like a french fry, which is probably why my kids love them.
  • Juice boxes with a fruit/veggie blend (I have to sneak those veggies in there somehow!)
  • Fresh strawberries or raspberries
  • Boiled eggs
  • Apple slices
  • String cheese

The only real tip I know isn’t actually mine. Someone I know (who shall remain nameless, because that’s how I roll), freezes the Trader Joe’s Crushers (pureed fruit in a squeeze pack) and puts them in her daughter’s lunch box. They serve not only as part of the meal, but also as a mini ice pack.

Personally, I would love to know if anyone has found an alternative (as in one that doesn’t get disgusting) to using ziplock bags for school lunches or other great ideas for packing lunches!

*Shannon Hembree is the co-founder of Mamas Against Drama. She wrote her entry last night at 11:45 p.m. after spending eight and a half hours in the car with her soon-to-be first grader and twin toddlers. She is pretty confident there are typos in her section, and even more confident that if you judge her for them she will throw you in the car for eight and a half hours with her soon-to-be first grader and twin toddlers. You can follow her on twitter @shannon1hembree.

Farrah Ritter

I have packed 3 lunches for the 3 boys just this summer, 2 days a week- so I am not all that experienced. I can tell you, however that they love things that are already packaged and ready to go. How much do I love that? Examples:

string cheese sticks, Annies single serve snacks from Costco (bunnies), Peter Rabbit Organics pouches, juice boxes (because they are a forbidden treat any other time), carrots (my guys aren’t to be trusted with the baby carrot sticks- so I get them those round carrot ‘coins’ as I like to call them), crackers, etc.

I love making their lunches and sending them off. Mostly because lunch time at home is just an absolutely miserable and horrific experience.

*Farrah finds sporadic moments to jot down her adventures at The Three Under. Her 3.5 year old and 21 month old twins are all boys. Someday she will own nice furniture again. Catch up with what she’s dealing with on Twitter as @momofthreeunder and Facebook.

Wendy Bradford

I have given up on sandwiches. My oldest only eats fruit and yogurt. I try to include “three” items–because that is the number of foods my daughter likes to have in her lunch. I include a yogurt, cup of or a whole fruit and something from the food group of “whatever we have in the house.” The only issue we have had is that her camp is kosher dairy and my husband recently sent her to camp with a turkey sandwich. Which is why I make the lunches.

*Wendy writes truthfully about life in New York City with twins plus one at Mama One to Three. She includes many references to wine and coffee. Find her using bad judgment and even worse language on Twitter, @mamaonetothree, and Facebook.

Brooke Bernard

My no. 1 tip for school lunches: Don’t buy the school lunch. Seriously, unless Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution has been to your child’s school, just don’t do it if there’s any way to avoid it. Ick.

I don’t really have any tips for packing school lunches, but I can tell you what I do. It’s nothing very genius. I pack a Thermos of water – this year’s theme is Star Wars. I throw in an ice pack to keep the sliced mini cucumbers, baby carrots and red grapes or blueberries chilled. Also included might be a Boar’s Head slice of turkey and/or a Kashi cereal bar (I know, I know. It’s genetically modified. But it’s also dairy- and dye-free. I’m picking my battles. If you have no earthly idea what I’m talking about, click here.) For crunch, I might include some organic corn chips or veggie sticks.
I also throw in a dried fruit leather from Trader Joe’s and, as a treat, some fruit nuggets by Au’some or some dye-free gummy bears.

If your child has to wait a long time for lunch, you might throw some of these protein packed no bake (that’s right! no bake!) energy balls his way for breakfast or in his lunch box. My sister-in-law, two of my neighbors and a blogger I’ve mentioned before (Die, Food Dye) all coincidentally made these this weekend and raved about them: http://gimmesomeoven.com/no-bake-energy-bites/.

As lovely as it sounds to do all this the night before school, I don’t. I do it in the morning. Usually my three-year-old “helps” me. And it’s fine. But I have an elementary school student who follows the exact same routine every morning and doesn’t fight me to get out the door.

I did just read a tip this weekend where a mom lists three columns of choices on a menu for her picky/demanding/controlling kid. For each lunch, the child can choose one item from each column and there’s his lunch. Mom and kid are both satisfied. Mom made the choices, so she knows they’re healthy while her kid exerted his control and had a say in what he carries to school.

*Brooke Bernard is a mother of two and a freelance editor who blogs here at Mamas Against Drama almost every Wednesday. She can be found trying to tweet @BrookeBBlogs.

ML Philpott

Thankyoujesus, my kids have cafeteria lunch and we do not pack it. I’m sure I’d be a disaster at it!

*ML has a son and daughter who are both, thankyoujesus, past diaper age. She is a freelance writer and editor, as well as the author of the humor column, I Miss You When I Blink. Follow along on Twitter (@wheniblink) and Facebook.

Laura Herakovich

My boys are now at a school that does not allow one to bring his/her own lunch; lunch is included in tuition. It’s the greatest gift ever. Prior to that, each son had an LL Bean lunchbox, and we used reusable snack sacks from Script-n-Scribble for carrots, grapes, yogurt and nibbles of that nature. My boys are grazers anyway, so lunch at their Montessori school was never a big production. They do take a morning snack now (in the same Script-n-Scribble reusable snack bags), and we’ll freeze yogurt tubes for them sometimes. Otherwise, they take grapes, strawberries, mini-wheats (yes, I have one son who loves them), carrots or a banana. Very unexciting, in my book. But then again, not having to pack a lunch is the best thing since sliced bread.

*Laura Bedingfield Herakovich is the mother of three rambunctious, yet adorable boys. You can read her personal blog at http://www.jtandtheob.com/

That’s all the mamas have to say this week. Check back next Monday for another wacky (and yet profound and insightful…) round of answers from the mamas!

Read previous What Mamas Have to Say Monday posts!

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Caitlin August 13, 2012 at 8:46 am

I don’t do this, but I have a friend who fills baggies with individual portions on Sunday with grapes, carrot sticks, chips, etc, so she can grab them easily to put in the lunch. I want to try that this year. She said the one problem is that the kids will come home from school and grab the lunch baggies for a snack, so she runs out by Wednesday!

I’m trying the Bento box type containers this year since they are reusable and keep things from getting squished. My kids like things like macaroni and cheese, chicken tenders, leftover pizza, quesadillas… at room temp, so it’s nice to have tupperware style containers in a variety of shapes and sizes.

I always have good intentions for my kids’ lunches, but I don’t always deliver!


Shannon August 13, 2012 at 9:04 am

Wow — I love the idea of doing everything on Sunday, but I think I would have the same problem of them disappearing before the week was over. I have tried the mac and cheese and pizza in my daughter’s lunch, but sadly, she won’t touch it. Below is a link to some lunch containers from One Step Ahead. I haven’t had time to look through it, but need to do it today — school is just around the corner here!



Tracy Winslow August 13, 2012 at 3:01 pm

I am dreading this. My daughter heads off to kindergarten in a few weeks. She turns into a barracuda when she’s hungry. But, she’s a pain in the you-know-what to feed. This is going to be interesting…


Shannon August 13, 2012 at 3:26 pm

Good luck — we have had the best luck with sticking with the basics – e.g. bland sandwiches. Every time I go off the path in an attempt to expand her horizons…it goes horribly wrong…


When I Blink August 13, 2012 at 7:41 pm

Just don’t forget to include one of these notes, so the kids know how much the staff at Pottery Barn love them. -ML



Shannon August 13, 2012 at 8:16 pm


I am having a hard time deciding whether to laugh or just make a horrified face…


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