Lunch Box Diaries

Lunch Box Diaries

I’m exactly 5 and half weeks into my career as a lunch maker so naturally I’m ready to share all my wisdom with you. Ho ho ho…. so far from the truth. So, so far. In fact, as much as making lunches has taken over my life I manage to squeeze in a part time job of pestering other people for lunch ideas. Don’t think I’m not hitting all of you up for ideas! There seems to be no way to predict which lunches I send will get eaten and which will return untouched. It can be an almost identical lunch and get a different reception on a different day. What the hell? 

I think it’s party due to the snack that Esme is served at her school. (I have so much more to say about that but I’m saving that rant for next week. Aren’t you excited?) Or maybe it’s about what other kids get in their lunch boxes? Who knows? Well, Esme probably does but I’m lucky if I get the sketchiest outline of her day, let alone a break down of what happened at lunch time. However, she can use about 25 words in French already and can sing “I’m a Little Teapot” in Cantonese! Well, that’s what she says she’s singing…

I’ve been posting my instagram (@cerimarsh) shots of my lunch trials and have had so much response to them that our friends at asked me to blog about them. But I thought why not share them with you, too? And yes, I absolutely want to know what you’re packing in lunches! My friend Terra made me laugh/cry by sending me a note the other day that read: “4 weeks down, 12 years to go!”

Here are some of my wins and losses, along with links to recipes so you can try some of these with your kids.

This (above) is the most popular combination so far: mini quiche, wholegrain blueberry muffins, fruit and veggies. Well, actually the most popular combo was when Ben slipped a piece of chocolate under Esme’s sandwich. But I am not going down that road…

I could probably just pack the mini quiche (above) every day since it’s what consistently gets consumed. I bake a batch on Sundays and then get them in the freezer. I pack them frozen at night when I’m making Esme’s lunch and by the time she opens her lunch box they’re thawed out. Simple pimple. You could really put anything in them. Oh, and those little cookies beside the quiche? Shasha mini chocolate cookies – so good.

Okay, this is what Esme lovingly calls a Rollie Sandwich and has been her favourite lunch for about three years. So of course I’m packing it in her lunch, right? And of course it comes back most times untouched. But perhaps your children are less fickle?

And another failure… sigh. I thought this was such a great idea. I often make frittata for dinner when I’m out of time and ideas. Nothing is faster and you need very few ingredients to get dinner on the table. When we had left overs one evening I thought it would make a great sandwich alternative. Esme? Not so much. I still think it’s a good idea.




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  1. Joeymama
    October 11, 08:09 Reply
    Love the ideas, but yes, oh, so fickle... What I've discovered is that my seven year old loves the dinner the night of, but WILL NOT consume it the next day - perhaps the day AFTER that he will deign it edible. I guess we all have our idiosyncrasies! I tried the mini quiches and was so excited and he tried one and said "It's OK. Not my favourite. Needs more cheese". I swear the "stop making cheese" commercials were made with my son in mind... Love the blog!
  2. Laura
    October 11, 08:34 Reply
    I have very chatty girls, and sometimes they don't finish their lunch because they just spend too much time talking with their friends. I figure, if they're really hungry, they'll eat. After school, they usually finish up what they didn't eat at lunchtime.
  3. Dee
    October 11, 09:02 Reply
    LoL!! I can so relate :) - I have a little list on the fridge "my menu" that I use for prepping lunches - I am lucky I only have to do lunches Monday - Wednesday - Thursday is Lunch Lady (yay!) and Friday is Pizza Day (yay! yay!). So S pretty much gets the same lunch on Mondays, tuesdays, Wednesdays - diff items but its the same lunch on those three days - he doesn't seem to complain - and it comes back here goes. Mondays (in a PlanetBox) Morning Snack - Cheese cubes (cheddar etc) Afternoon Snack - Fruit Stix (SunRype) and snack size oreo etc cookies Lunch - Sandwich with cream cheese and cucumbers (cut out in either a dinosaur or train shape) Treat - 5 smarties (because he is 5;)) Tuesday (in a bunch of little boxes) Morning Snack - a Babybel cheese Afternnon Snack - Pretzels and a home made chocoalte chip cookie Lunch - in a thermos - warmed up "pocket pasta" with spinach and other such stuff mixed in - "pocket pasta" equals mini ravilois :) Treat - Angry bird gummies :) {yummy!!} Wednesday (in a Planetbox) Morning Snack - Apples Afternoon Snack - Granola Bar and some type of cookie (maple creme etc) Lunch - Egg salad sandwich Treat - Smarties! Thursday (in little boxes) Morning Snack - Carrots/celery + dip Afternoon Snack - Raisins and home made banana etc muffin Lunch - Lunch Lady (yay!) - she provides cut veggies - i usually find them mouldy when I make it to his school - in his cubby Treat - Angry Bird gummies! (see a pattern!?) Friday (in a Planetbox) Morning Snack - clementines/strawberries Afternoon Snack - Goldfish crackers + chocolate cream cookies Lunch - Pizza Day (yay! yay!) Treat - 5 smarties (lol!!)
  4. andrea from the fishbowl
    October 11, 09:49 Reply
    My girls are 11 and 13 now and they make their own lunches now. (YAY!) If there's one thing I learned about school lunches is that my kids really didn't care if they ate the same thing every day.... as long as it was something they liked. Other things I discovered along the way: - Lunch really wasn't the time to experiment with new foods and leftovers from the night before. - We agreed on a list of lunch items and it on the fridge. It helped me remember who likes mustard and who likes mayo etc. - It pays to invest in a really good thermos. They aren't cheap, so label it! (We are big fans of Mabels Labels over here) - a daily sweet treat isn't really necessary. It's nice, but i'd rather they ate their apple. Anyway, your lunches look gorgeous. Your kids are lucky to have you!
  5. karengreeners
    October 11, 09:54 Reply
    My kids don't like leftovers, unless it is homemade pizza cut up into pizza 'sticks' or the like. Lunches get packed in Planet Boxes and today's is pretty typical: smoked salmon whole grain mini-bun with butter cucumber rounds and red pepper sticks with hummus to dip homemade applesauce 5 mini marshmallows
  6. amomynous2
    October 11, 10:18 Reply
    It's funny, my kids are the opposite of what a poster above described; they do best when I rotate through several approved lunch types, never packing the same thing two days in a row. I also let them buy the *shudder* school lunch one day a week to cut down on arguing. A typical lunch includes: A sandwich like ham or hummus & cheese or peanut butter & nutella OR leftover pasta/rice meal in a thermos A tube of yogurt A serving of fresh fruit A granola bar or nuts/crackers A low-sugar juice box (they just won't drink water or plain milk at lunch, probably because that's all they're offered at home, and flavored milk has too much sugar) I don't offer an additional dessert because the yogurt and granola bar are already loaded with sugar, sigh. Your lunches are delicious for the eye as well as, I'm sure, the palate! I found that when my kids were younger they less consistently finished their lunches; now everything's gone, down to the crumbs. So it may be that as your child grows her appetite for lunch grows with her. Keep up the good work!
  7. Carol-Anne
    October 11, 13:07 Reply
    I've been packing lunches and snacks for my son since he started daycare at 1 year old. The daycare has a no junk food policy which has been great at getting me into the habit of packing healthy lunches. The amount for each portion has obviously grown has he has. I imagine I will stick to this formula when he hits kindergarten next year. What I pack varies, but I stick to: - 2 servings with carbs (one main item like a sandwich or pasta that includes protein, plus one serving cereal, granola, crackers, nuts, sesame snacks, pretzles etc.) - 2 servings of fruit/veg (cut up apples, grapes, strawberries or veggies with dip, dried fruit like apricots, mangos, rasins or bananas) - 2 servings of dairy (almost always a fruit-juice based yogurt like 'Lil Ones and cheese - babybell or string cheese on occasion) Some of the food comes back but he usually finishes it off in the car on the way home or before dinner. I need to get me some of those Planet Boxes - they look great! Thanks for posting - love this blog.
  8. pat reid
    October 11, 23:18 Reply
    be thankful she hasn't thought of just throwing it out yet!
  9. K. Fish
    November 19, 12:57 Reply
    Hi I arrived at your site via an article in Today's Parent and I was hoping to get the recipe for your mini-quiches but the link is broken in this post. Do you have the recipe and/or link?
  10. Ceri Marsh
    November 19, 13:05 Reply
    Hi, Thanks so much for pointing that out to me! I will fix the link right away. But here it is again. Let me know if you try them - they're so popular in our house!
  11. Ceri Marsh
    November 19, 13:05 Reply
    Aaaand then I didn't include the link! Sleep deprivation....

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