Ask almost any kid and they'll tell you that lunch is the best part of the school day. Can you blame them? We all remember sitting down with our friends, swapping snacks and enjoying the camaraderie that centered around food. But when you're a mom, well, school lunches are the damn worst. I asked moms to share real photos of the lunches they pack because I, for one, have had enough of the Pinterest-worthy bento boxes that make me feel nothing if not inadequate.
When my son started preschool two years ago I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to pack enough options for him to peruse during lunch time. My kid was a very picky eater, so I wanted him to have a variety of healthy options that he might, you know, actually eat. I started off OK, cutting up veggies and fruits every single day, but eventually I got lazy and introduced him to the wonderful world of Lunchables. I make no apologies, my friends.
My son is 4 now and, thankfully, has a pretty substantial appetite. For the most part he's happy to chow down on turkey and cheese sandwiches, sugar snap peas and carrots, apple slices, and the occasional graham cracker. I don't go for fancy, good-looking packed lunches, and it turns out that I'm not alone. So if Pinterest has you feeling down, here's what the following moms actually pack for their kids:
“Cheerios, grapes, miniature egg muffin, and orange glazed chicken with roasted parmesan cauliflower. That was for when [my son] was about 7-months-old. He eats more now at 11 months, but still the same types of things.”
“These are lunches (and some dinners) packed for my nanny kids and my daughter. We do sandwiches: peanut butter or lunch meat on Great Harvest bread, lots of fruit, cold cut veggies and dip, olives, pepperoni, hard boiled eggs, crackers, etc. We try to keep it ‘real’ with the food, meaning less processed but also easy. We often do some sides and a thermos of soup (homemade or a box soup).”
“I always vamp up our leftovers from dinner for lunch. This one, I turned our leftover mashed potatoes into delicious and veggie filled potato cakes. We homeschool so our lunches aren’t the same.”
“Chicken quesadillas wrapped in aluminum in the thermos to stay warm, popcorn, gummies, and a muffin.”
“My daughter only wants peanut butter and jelly sandwiches! I also pack extra snacks for the car ride home to avoid a ‘hangry’ girl. Now that she’s able to read, I have started writing a little note for her to read with every lunch, too.”
“Peanut butter and jelly ‘clam’ and ‘mermaid,’ ‘frogs on a log,’ blueberries and pineapple, and goldfish with marshmallow bubbles. This is the one I'm most proud of recently. I just thought the goldfish marshmallow bubbles were so clever. Oh! And homemade elephant-shaped 'lunchable.' It's got pineapple, raspberry, dried apple rings, avocado, olives, homemade shaped elephant chocolates and shaped cheese and pepperoni.”
“Just snacks today because they are buying lunch. If it was lunch, there would be another snack-y food and a peanut butter and jelly or a thermos of soup.”
“We do lots of muffin tin lunches at home, and division of responsibility.”
“Little guy gets an ‘Elmo sandwich’ every day (it’s cheese and mayo cut out with an Elmo cutter and he usually only eats the crust.) Today the big kid has prepackaged cheese and crackers, but she gets leftover pasta, mac and cheese or rice, or actual cheese and crackers, or peanut butter and honey rolled up in a tortilla. Then they get a fruit and a snack chippy thing.”
“For my 9-year-old: Peanut butter on oatnut bread (no jelly), goldfish, Chewy Chips Ahoy, juice box, and multi-colored baby carrots. For my 6-year-old: Peanut butter and jelly on italian bread, chocolate milk, popcorn, Chewy Chips Ahoy, pumpkin bread, grapes, and apple sauce. Yes, he'll eat all of it.”