Looking Into the Lunchbox

Let me be perfectly clear on this one topic: I am not a lover of change. I get nervous, worried, twitchy, even when my rational mind knows everything will be okay. Case in point: making lunch for my preschooler. In the grand scheme of things, this is not a big deal. But now near the end of the school year looking back on the beginning of the school year, I will tell you this particular topic caused me considerable angst.

The daycare where Hazel happily played and grew from the tender age of 3 months to the big girl age of 3 years provided breakfast, lunch, and snacks -- amazing! When it came time for Hazel's switch over to preschool I had lots of concerns for her: about how she would handle the new teachers and classmates, new routines, and new settings. But she is a resilient and brave girl and she did just fine.

My main worry for myself, I admit to you now, was what in the world I would pack in her lunch box every day. I was baffled. As a full time working mom, I just barely have the time and energy to get family dinner together every night. Now I would have to add another meal prep after that? Was this humanly possible?

I'm thrilled to say it was. For me the absolute key to this process was to break lunch down into groups with options for each. At the start of the year I'd consult a written list and even jot down lunches in a notebook to make sure I was keeping things varied.

If your child's lunch box is looking cavernous or you just need some new options, here's how I do it:

Pick one from each category:


  • Leftovers from last night's dinner
  • Half a PB&J or other sandwich

Dairy (I sometimes double up here and forgo the main):

  • Yogurt
  • Cottage cheese
  • Cheese stick

Fruit or veg:

  • Apple Slices
  • Edamame
  • 1/2 banana
  • Broccoli spears



As all moms know, providing healthy, wholesome, varied, and well-received food for our kids ranks way up there on the list of essential parenting. From the day we brought baby Hazel home from the hospital, I have been awed by how big a role nutrition plays in the whole parenting experience. It's in my top three along with keeping her safe and showing her love. I'm proud to have cracked the code on the lunch box mystery. I'm intimidated no longer.

Next stop? PreK, here we come!

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