Make Ahead Cold Lunches {A Weeks Worth of Lunches in a day!}

Cold Lunches for the Week all made in one day! In the morning, just grab food you prepped earlier in the week from the "Lunch Container" and you're DONE!! Genius!  #backtoschool #schoollunch (happymoneysaver.com) I am re-posting this awesome way to save money by doing make ahead cold lunches! Not only will this save you time but cold lunches can also be a lot more healthy too than the cafeteria mystery hamburgers. Before I tried this method I always had a tough time with packing a cold lunch for my kids.  Even though I always WANTED to pack the kids cold lunches it was a lot of time and work each morning.  I would usually get excited, do cold lunches for about 2 weeks and then get lazy. I found that if I didn’t prepare the night before, it was a mad rush in the morning and it was just so much easier to say – “You’re getting hot lunch today!”

Last year I tried out making ahead a weeks worth of cold lunches all in one day. And it worked! This idea is kind of like freezer cooking but for cold lunches.  Once a week I chop and bag up all the fresh fruit, vegetables, crackers and any other lunch items all at once. Then I add them to a cold or dry lunch bucket to store in my fridge or pantry. The kids can quickly grab the items to throw in their lunches when they prepare them themselves in the morning or evening before.

Cold Lunches for the Week all made in one day! In the morning, just grab food you prepped earlier in the week from the "Lunch Container" and you're DONE!! Genius!  #backtoschool #schoollunch (happymoneysaver.com)

Cold Lunch Bucket

The cold lunch bucket is just a tub I purchased at Walmart. It fits perfectly in my fridge. Once a week I will separate grapes, chop oranges or apples (if I did apples I would first soak them in pineapple juice or fruit fresh so they keep longer), chop carrot or celery sticks and even make up some sandwiches to freeze. Cold Lunches for the Week all made in one day! In the morning, just grab food you prepped earlier in the week from the "Lunch Container" and you're DONE!! Genius!  #backtoschool #schoollunch (happymoneysaver.com) Some of the items I have kept in my own personal cold lunch bucket this past year are:

  • String Cheese, Babybel cheese
  • Yogurt smoothies or other yogurt cups
  • Carrots ( I found little cups with lids at Cash n Carry that I add ranch dip to them sometimes)
  • Apples
  • Sliced Oranges
  • Mandarin Oranges, whole
  • Green Peppers, sliced thinly
  • Celery sticks
  • Grapes, Cherries, Canteloupe or other seasonal fruit cut up

Dry Lunch Bucket

The dry good lunch bucket has all the other dry type items such as bagged pretzels, crackers, homemade granola bars, trail mix, treats and more. This bucket sits in my pantry. Cold Lunches for the Week all made in one day! In the morning, just grab food you prepped earlier in the week from the "Lunch Container" and you're DONE!! Genius!  #backtoschool #schoollunch (happymoneysaver.com) Some of the dry items to consider:

  • Crackers or Pretzels
  • Homemade Granola
  • Granola Bars
  • Beef Jerkey
  • Trail Mix
  • Chips
  • Graham Crackers
  • Brownies or Homemade Cookies ( I bake up a bunch and individually bag them up)
  • Special Treats ( usually for a holiday – like a single candy on Halloween…)

Sandwiches & Wraps

I have found that the easiest way for me to make the sandwich part is to take a large roll or sandwich bun, add in meat and cheese, wrap and freeze individually. My children will take them out in the morning frozen and by the time it’s lunch the sandwich has thawed. If they must have the condiments on their sandwiches you can always add them in between the meat and cheese, so when it thaws it won’t sog your bread. Wraps will also freeze really well as well as quesidillas. My kids will eat them cold. By the way – my kids favorite is pepperoni + provolone cheese on a hard roll or bun.

How many to Make?

I count out the number of days for cold lunch that week times how many children. Here is my own personal math: 4 kids x 5 days = 20.  20 bags of various chopped vegetables, 20 bags of various chopped fruit, 20 bags of chips/crackers, 20 string cheese or even treats if I feel nice that week..hee hee. 20 Sandwiches, quesadillas, or other main dish options. So I make everything all in one day and get it all prepared.

Where do you get the cute lunch bucket?

The cold inside the fridge box is a 15 qt sterilite container. And the sterilite container for my pantry I found at Walmart.

You can order little Lunch labels through this etsy seller for only $1.50 each shipped!! That is one sweet deal!

Love this idea but want to be more “green” by not using tons of plastic baggies?

One idea you could do is to buy a bunch of re-usable sandwich bags – I love the ones from Neat-os.  They are see through, but are 100% re-usable. It can be expensive to buy a bunch, but it could pay off in the long run.

Consider making up a bunch of bento boxes in advance for the week if you have those containers. You could also just use a few larger gallon sized bags and fill them with all the carrots, string cheese and other items. Then if you are using a bento box or other type of container you can easily just grab some out the day of. It’s still better to be prepared.

For me while I want to be green, I am also on a very tight budget. So when I look at $2.00 for 100 little plastic baggies versus having to spend hundreds on re-usables it’s tough. So I will be trying to buy a few re-usable bags each month and slowly reduce my waste in the world. You just do what you can! Every little bit helps.

Cold Lunches for the Week all made in one day! In the morning, just grab food you prepped earlier in the week from the "Lunch Container" and you're DONE!! Genius!  #backtoschool #schoollunch (happymoneysaver.com)

Have you done this as well? Any other great food ideas for kids, teens or even your husband lunches?

328 Comments

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Comments

  1. Misty Milton says:

    I do this everyday and now I have 2 kids going to school all day. My problem is finding something new and exciting to put in there lunch. School is starting soon so I guess it is time to start think of new lunch ideas.

    • I hear ya. We invested in thermos containers several years ago and they have been a life saver. You could plan ahead for the week and then assemble that part the morning of. We do leftovers, pizza rolls, chicken patty or hamburger (bun packaged separately, pasta or rice with cheese and meat (frozen meatballs or deli meat works well) and more. I heat water on the stove and have the oven heating if needed while I take my shower. Then put boiling water in each thermos (lid back on) and let them heat up. At the same time I cook anything that has to go in the oven. Once the stuff in the oven is done then I empty the thermos, wipe it dry quickly and add the hot stuff. It says warm until lunch. Hope that helps.

      • Oh? You heat up the thermos and then put a hot patty in it and it stays warm until lunch? I am going to have to try that!

        • Yes, my DD doesn’t like school or cold lunches…hates them with a passion! I bought a thermos that keeps food hot up to 6 hours and she take leftovers. From curry to lamb stew to simple stuff as cut up pieces of pizza. Everything stays nice and warm until lunch time which is around 11:30 am.

      • What type of thermos do you use? I have one but when it gets hot it is so difficult to open so we don’t use it. I would love to send my kids a bowl of soup during the winter months! Thanks in advance!

    • Danielle Ehler says:

      I agree about finding something new for lunches…my girl is starting grade 3…and vegs..and fruit is great….however in her school…no microwave use till grade 5 and 6…… not right….I agree….and my boy is starting grade 7….and he is just way to fussy….no fruit…no vegs…..wraps yes turkey and bacon….no mayo…just dry……hard to please everyone

      • your school has a microwave?!? that would make life a million times earlier……

        • Microwaves at school are always busy with a LONG line. Be careful sending things to be microwaved even if you school DOES have one.

          • My kids school serves hot lunch for $3 a meal. Never would they allow a meal brought from home to be heated at school an adult would have to run the microwave first and second it would take away hundreds of dollars from hot lunch program if kids could bring their own hot lunch.

          • The school lunches where I teach are $2.25. I think they have gone overboard in making the lunches fat free and whole wheat. I agree they need to be healthy, but the kids often throw the lunch away and often I think it looks gross. I always packed my daughters lunch. I can give her a variety of very healthy foods for about half the cost of the $15 a week your school charges.

          • I agree about the schools going overboard with the “healthy” lunches. The school my youngest daughter goes too has that “healthy initiative” program and the kids are ALWAYS throwing away the fruit/veggie cups that come with their meal. I never agreed with it b/c you can’t control what they eat at home for breakfast or dinner. IMO – that school lunch isn’t going to make a difference – and it is NOT as healthy as they make it out to be either.

    • I make “Monkey Roll Ups” my Twins LOVE them!
      You can make other roll ups as well… Nutella or Peanut butter & honey…

      I take a Tortilla and put peanut butter and then 1/2 length-wise banana and roll it up!
      They love it and the kids at school try to steal it. :)

      • I am glad to hear there is still a school left in the world that lets you send peanut products to school. It has become an epidemic in our country (Canada) that no one is allowed any peanut product at all because there may be a child who has allergies. I understand the difficulity it is for a parent that has such a child but I often wonder what is going to happen to them when they get out in the world, after all not one place of work is going to dictate to workers what they can and can not eat. They will have to rely on themselves to keep their hands clean and not place them in their mouths I guess. I also love celery sticks with peanut butter in them :)

        • I fully agree with you. Remember thou, minority rules on just about everything these days.. IT SUCKS !!!!!

          • Tamara Watters says:

            I disagree. By the time the child finishes school and enters ‘ the world’ they will have learnt the skills needed for ensuring their own safety. Not packing peanuts at school seems like a small inconvenience when you could be avoiding the chance of a child dying. Anaphylaxis is a terrifying and DEADLY consequence. Taking peanut products to school can be just as risky as allowing a child to take a knife – chances are it will sit in the bag and not cause any problems – but would you take that risk?

          • I disagree with not allowing peanut products as well. Children can be allergic to anything. You can’t just ban kids from eating! There are kids allergic to dairy, wheat, strawberries, soy, and lots of other specific foods. Children allergic to these products could eat them accidentally too.

        • I am a parent of a child with a peanut allergy and cannot understand people who are so judgemental about a 4 year old child’s life which could be cut short because of a peanut butter sandwich. Parents who have a lack of understanding and allergy bullying are not acceptable. When they become adults they will be able to monitor situations. Right now, we have to send our child to school and HOPE everyone respects the rules. Sorry for the inconvenience.

          • My kid has 12 food allergies. Should I consider everyone inconsiderate because she might die at the sight of a strawberry? Sorta just have to go on faith with some things. We do all we can as parents and hope and pray for that which is out of our control. My two cents.

          • So home school them.

          • I understand your concern about the peanut allergy with your child. But, it is a two sided coin. I have a child that can not eat, and relies on a feeding tube for his nutrition. I make his meals that go through his feeding tube, and peanut butter is one of the ingredients that I use for numerous reasons (it is actually prescribed by the doctor and dietician to be used for him). Because of schools going peanut free, my child is not able to “eat” at school and is expected to go from 8am-3:15pm with only water to drink. I don’t have a solution, but I think getting rid of peanuts/tree nuts is not the best option. Why should my child suffer and be put at risk so others are safe? Obviously the schools have to chose 1 group over the other – but how do you make the decision that Little Sally is more important than Little Billy?

          • SewGinger says:

            Allergy bullying, Bob…really?! I have compassion for the children who have food allergies and have taught my children to be sensitive and aware of this for others. However, what I have a problem with is when my child has been separated from the rest of the group in a summer camp during lunch time as she had something that “may” contained peanuts in her lunch. (There was no notice sent home that we couldn’t pack these things!). She was sent into the camp office to eat alone….now who was bullied in this situation?? There has to be a better way to handle these situations and I certainly don’t have all the answers.

            While everyone has unique differences and when there are life threatening food allergies involved of course some action needs to be taken. Instead of isolating the “offending” children who have brought a peanut, or “May contain nuts”, fruit, etc. to their school, practice or camp, there needs to education for everyone on this issue. If your child can die from the sight of a strawberry or from the smell of a peanut then I would question why they are actually sent to school at all instead of home schooled where they will be in a safe environment that you have provided for them. Why should hundreds of other children be told what they can and cannot eat? Teaching your child of the potential dangers of the foods that harm them is your responsibility and this is something they will be faced with for the rest of their life. Put the responsibility on yourself and your child.

          • My daughter has a peanut allergy as well. The school is carefull, and she is to, not sit next to someone with foods that have nuts. It is NOT easy. Accidently eating a peanut, or getting peanut butter, on her food could kill her, and almost has. Having a peanut allergy can be deadly, and HAS killed many kids. I have to watch her like a hawk. Most people just don’t “get” it. It can be wierd foods that you wouldn’t think contain nuts. I have educated her from a very early age that she will have to look out for herself. As soon as she could sound out words, I had her start reading labels with me. I have her practice giving herself epipen injections, with the practice pen. The parent that has the child requiring a feeding tube, I understand why peanut butter would be prescribed, as it has a high caloric content and has protein, however, certainly he, or she does not live on peanut butter alone.

          • Parentwithfoodallergies says:

            I don’t know how to reply just to Jeanette, but if your child really has 12 food allergies then surely you are aware that a strawberry allergy is not a deadly allergy like the peanut allergy is. There are only a few “major” allergies – ones that are deadly, and only a couple are food. The fact that you seem to not be aware of the difference leads me to wonder at your “allergies” and your comment. A peanut allergy is deadly, and they don’t have to be ingested. Just touching them is enough. If it was your child, what would your opinion be? I can’t help but wonder at children who find it a hardship to not have peanut butter at school – surely they have it often enough at home that having something else at school is not that difficult.

          • As a mom whose child recently was cleared from his allergy I understand your frustration. It is a terrifying idea, the thought of something so trivial as a peanut could kill your child and for people not to be understanding about it, is very frustrating. That is one of the reasons we must teach our own children very clearly about not sharing food and the harm it will cause them. My sons reaction was to the peanut butter itself in that form. I get it. Never apologize for another’s lack of empathy towards your situation.

          • Our classrooms have a no peanut rule and our lunchroom has a peanut free table (anyone can sit there as long as their lunch is peanut free.) This seems to help all parents. My kids love peanut butter sandwiches and it would be difficult to find other alternatives. I understand the severity of the allergy and have found most children with allergies are aware by school age of what they should avoid.
            No way to please everyone.

          • Shame on you selfish people! My daughter will die if she accidentally ingests peanuts! Why is so hard for others to keep the peanuts at home?? Thankful our school bans nuts and other peanut-like products.
            My heart aches when I see negative comments for our little children who we are trying so desperately to protect and live as much a normal life as possible. Bringing a peanut butter sandwich to school is no different than bringing a loaded gun.

          • my son used to go to school with a little girl who had a severe milk allergy. Even contact with milk could send her into a life threatening reaction. They didn’t ban milk from the school.

          • When I was going through school, and no it wasn’t that long ago, right from grade primary we had kids in my class and in school that had nut allergies. I am not the only one in the school to eat peanut butter sandwiches, just about every day..and trust me, I didn’t like them that much..lol. But that is what my parents could afford. I sat right next to one boy who was allergic to peanut butter, every day for 2 years, primary and one, and is the same class right though all. No one even knew he was allergic, until after we graduated!! The thing is his parents taught him very early in life about is allergy, and to never take other peoples food, only want his parents packed for him. Yup, he is still kicking!! I also have a daughter now who goes to a middle school 6-9 and not only is it peanut free, but fish free. So, I guess I can see your point, to a point, let the little ones be safe, and be in a peanut free school..but really, once you hit the 12-15 age arrange..these kids SHOULD know not to touch, share or even go near what they are allergic too. My girl only likes peanut butter and tuna sandwiches..she is 15..come on..by then the parents had better educate their children. My daughter goes without lunch most day..she is picky and the hot “healthy” lunch at school are gross! On another note my daughter also has someone on her bus to school, an elementary school on the way to her school, that this child gets dropped off at, that even peanut butter on someone’s breath could harm them..so yes, brush your teeth really well, just before going on the bus..That I get!! Only because she is young..maybe 7, but come one when she gets older is everyone around her going to have to wear a face mask! NO she will have to..hopefully she will out grow the severity of this before she has to go and get a job? Just my option on this subject, everyone has one, and I respect them all. :)

          • What about those for whom peanut butter is one of few options? Like vegetarians, vegans or those allergic to tree nuts?

          • my son’s allergic to milk – ban that too? ridiculous.

        • I live in Canada and we can send peanut butter in lunches at our school (my kids are in elementary school) so maybe it will change for you too!

          • I live in Canada too, and my JK son was sent to the office over something that “may contain nuts”. I think that certain schools should allow themselves the option of allowing nuts. I know many autistic children who will only eat something with peanut butter on it. What will they do come school time?

        • Really !!! My child almost died from peanut/ tree nut exposure……how selfish. Hopefully when they are in the workforce they are old enough and educated to understand their allergies. Get a clue and be thankful your child doesn’t have these awful allergy.

          • with all due respect i do not think it selfish for a child to want to eat their favourite lunch and to be able to do so at school.
            “once in the workforce” is very old , in fact too old to learn good habits. children can be educated from preschool age.
            one child”s medical condition should not limit the enjoyment of others to a regular life.
            my child has congenital bowel defects but the entire class doesnt miss recess or stay in the bathroom for 40 + minutes each day because he does, and if my son isnt careful and we do not monitor him well he , too, can die. an ill child is a terrrible thing and i mean no harm to yours and no disrespect, but , my point is that my son”s health is threatened by food such as corn, strawberries and raw broccolli and cauliflower. i would never ask others to NOT eat them in his presence, even though he loves them and will be tempted, but i have taught my son to be responsible for his intake and instilled the importance of his health.

            a four year old is young, but not too young to know to ask, “does that have peanuts? ” better yet, DO NOT accept food from others, a simple rule that child can follow and teacher can enforce.
            in my kids classes teacher had a peanut butter table, so that those who should avoid it , would, and all hands were washed properly. educating all kids is best way, not to throw th baby our witht he bathwater, or offending food out of the life of all kids.

          • Rebecca,

            I also have a son with a peanut allergy and it can be terrifying. I completely agree with your statement.

            Theresa,

            Even the presence of peanuts in a room can send some into an anaphylactic reaction. My child knows about his allergy and knows not to eat other peoples food but young children my eat their sandwich and then touch everything before washing their hands. It’s easier and safer to not allow it in the schools. Someone can die! I understand your son has some health issues as well but being in the same room as cauliflower is not going to cause your sons throat to close and his chest to fill with mucous making it next to impossible to breath. Have you seen someone with an anaphylactic reaction. It’s not fun. As a mother I hope you read this and think …is the PB &J really worth it! My son did not ask for this and for all those wondering, he was breast feed for 14 months.

          • Nothing selfish about parents wanting to send lunches their kids will eat. many feel parents forcing everyone to adapt for their one child is selfish. However, there are many pb substitutes on the market these days. WoW Butter for one is so close to the real thing I have made cookies with it. Both sides need to co-operate but I don’t agree with everyone doing without for one or 2 kids. Where does it stop?

          • Really Rebecca! My daughter has a severe (anaphylactic) allergy to red food dye. I don’t see schools telling all other students that they can’t have anything with red dye in it. I know that as a parent I will have to be diligent in teaching her what she can and can’t eat and when in doubt don’t eat it. She is so allergic to it that she will react to hand soaps in bathroom. Go take a look in you cupboard and see how many things contain red dye! There are many more severe allergies than peanuts and its a little selfish to think that everyone should cater to a single severe allergy when there are many more out there.

          • REALLY!!! ARE YOU KIDDING!! It is your job to teach your child as soon as they understand and can read! Not every other child in the school!! WOW! If you educated your child long BEFORE they become adults, this issue would not be a problem..and if you can’t do that, keep them home, it is called home schooling. People/ children have had these allergies for many,many, many,years, but now because their parents don’t want to do the work, every other child in a school, of hundreds, has to be told want they can and can not eat. In my day, it was the child with the allergy who was told what and how to eat!! My goodness, teach your child, and we will teach ours about these allergies! By the way, I have already down with my daughter, starting went she went to daycare, 14 years ago!!

          • Selfish? You are suggesting one child’s needs usurp another’s! Who exactly is selfish?

          • There are so many issues we as parents face. I think the major issue for me is that not all children are accommodated in the safest way possible, and we all want what’s best of our children. I see no mention in the thread of Juvenile Diabetes– I have a son who has this deadly illness and has to have each food calculated and administered insulin. Peanut butter actually is one of the best foods for him- to sustain and maintain his blood sugars so they don’t go too low and cause him to go into a coma. He can’t have peanut products at all at school. We have also asked for a diabetic friendly birthday treat list– but the school won’t share this information– they will only share the peanut free treat list- which doesn’t have the best options for him. One party last year, they specifically asked parents to bring “sugared donuts” and pop. HMMM…where is the logic and equality?

        • Some kids and adults are so allergic that if they even touch a surface that contained peanuts or peanut containing products they could potentially die. What if that was your child….or yourself???

          • Mrs. Claus says:

            I truly wish that schools didn’t have to be peanut free. It’s unfortunate for those children who love peanut butter. However, there are truly some children who are so horrifically allergic to peanuts and tree nuts that just touching anything that has touched them can put them into anaphylactic shock almost instantly. Soooo……… if your child eats a peanut butter sandwich, then goes out to recess and plays a game with a child who has a severe allergy without washing their hands…… BAM! Child on the verge of death. This is serious. Our children are not old enough to understand how serious this can be, we need to protect them. Those who are angry and petty about something so serious should really step back and consider this from another point of view.

          • Scottymac says:

            Is it really too much to ask that other parents take the necessary precautions so that another child WILL NOT DIE?

          • How sad so many of you have zero empathy for something that can KILL someone else’s child. I have a friend who if the peanut particles are in the AIR it sends her daughter into anaphylactic shock. Please take a second to think about how YOU would feel if your child was endanger of DEATH because of a food allergy. Your children can live w/o peanut butter for lunch. Seriously. Would you not do everything in your own power to make sure your child is healthy and safe? But it’s not okay to do that for another person’s child? That is seriously selfish, no matter how you slice it.

            I dare those of you who just don’t want to take it seriously, find a mom whose child is deathly allergic and spend a few days with her. The steps they have to take to protect their child are something most of us cannot even fathom and yet, she does it because she loves and adores her child just as you do.

            The mom who said she can’t make a stink about red food dye. Is there any possibility of that allergen being airborne? No. So that argument is silly. And we have been requested not to bring snacks to the classroom that had red food dye in them.

            Be respectful people. You would die for your child, right? So would that mom whose child is at a high risk of death because of peanuts. They’d give anything to not have this allergy. To not have this constant nagging fear that one little thing could send them to the hospital with their baby, hoping and praying that this time they got them there in time!

          • Instead of being so concerned about your child not having their favorite lunch, why not talk to them about why it is not allowed and show them to have compassion for others? I know I would not be able to stand the thought of potentially harming another child over something so trivial. Look at it as a great opportunity to teach your child a valuable lesson and have fun finding alternatives!

          • Debra Hanson says:

            I raised 8 children and have 26 grandchildren. I am interested in the FACTS As I read the comments here my first reaction was, wow I need to learn more about this. So I went to the internet. I found a lot of worthwhile information and decided that I would share the facts. This is from Wikipedia and I hope it helps:
            While the most obvious and dangerous route for an allergic individual is unintentional ingestion, some reactions are possible through external exposure. Airborne particles in a farm- or factory-scale shelling or crushing environment, or from cooking, can produce respiratory effects in exposed allergic individuals.[25] Empirical testing has discredited some reports of this type and shown some to be exaggerated. Residue on surfaces has been known to cause minor skin rashes, though not anaphylaxis. In The Peanut Allergy Answer Book, Harvard pediatrician Michael Young characterizes this secondary contact risk to allergic individuals as rare and limited to minor symptoms.[25] Some reactions have been noted to be psychogenic in nature, the result of conditioning and belief rather than a true chemical reaction. Blinded, placebo-controlled studies by Sicherer et al. were unable to produce any reactions using the odor of peanut butter or its mere proximity.[25]

        • I’m from Canada and my kids attend a nut & peanut free school. I use WOW butter for them instead: http://www.soybutter.com/. If you’re ok with soy products it’s really great. Tastes just like peanut butter, and the school allows it. Each tub comes with stickers under the label for you to put on your kids’ sandwich/wrap so that they know it was made with WOW butter. You can even make cookies and stuff with them. It’s totally nut free. My kids’ favourite is a tortilla, spread with WOW butter, then I spread strawberry jam on half the tortilla and roll up from the end that has the strawberry (put too much and it squirts out at the end lol). Cut it in half so they have two mini wraps each. They love it!! I know you can get it at Superstore and Independent.

          • I live in Ontario and we are not allowed to send the Peanut Safe alternative “wow butter” to school. It is too similar for those children who have peanut allergies and can cause anxiety. I was told that it would need to be purple so the kids could see it is not peanut butter.

          • We don’t have the option of using *anything* made with soy because of my daughter’s hypothyroidism (soy is a goitrogenic food that affects thyroid health even in people who don’t have thyroid issues. http://www.womentowomen.com/hypothyroidism/goitrogenicfoods-thyroidhealth.aspx).

            She also has Type 1 diabetes (auto-immune disorder, NOT caused by diet or lack of exercise) and peanut butter works great to keep her blood sugar from going low due to the high protein content. And she likes it. Low blood sugar can potentially cause death just as fast as anaphylactic shock.

            For the first 3 years after her diagnosis with diabetes, we home schooled so that we could keep her safe. I think that home schooling, or finding a nut free school, would set my mind at ease (as a parent…if I had a kid with severe allergies) more than anything else. And it’s really not fair for 1 kid’s health to dictate what the rest of the kids can or can not do. Should I ask that no one else bring anything high carb or sugar loaded to school because my kid might eat it and get sick from high blood sugar? Do we ask that all class parties only consist of vegetables (because fruit is high in sugar / carbs too)? If her blood sugar is low during PE, do we ask that no other kids do physical activity because her continuing with said physical activity could kill her? No. If I thought that any of that was necessary I’d keep her home with me…for her safety as well as for the fairness to others.

        • I was told of something here in Canada called “Wow Butter” which is a substitute http://www.soybutter.com/ which really does taste like peanut butter. Leslie

          • It really does taste like peanut butter and the container of the WOW butter has little stickers to put in your child’s lunch to inform the teachers that is lunch is made with WOW butter and not peanut butter. It’s such a good alternative and it actually has more protein then regular peanut butter.

            Has a parent with a child that doesn’t have allergies, I still don’t understand the big deal of taking peanuts out of schools. These are kids and kids don’t always make the best decision so why take the chance. Just think if this was your child with the allergy would you be questioning the peanut free rule?

          • There is also something called “Sun Butter” that is made with sunflower seeds. This is what my son brings to school every day. I have made cookies, pies, and lots of other things with it! It is very similar in taste to pb but won’t kill my son! My friend and her kids who are not pb allergic actually prefer it to pb! Just posting another option.

          • Debra Hanson says:

            I just looked up WOWBUTTER. It is made from toasted soy, soy oil and granulated sugar along with monoglyceride. It may work for some who have no problem with soy in their childs diet.

        • I was surprised to see my sons school not only allows peanuts but actually serves pb&j as a lunch option 4/5 days each week.

          • I am in the U.S. and my kids are in Charter school I have made my son PB&J almost every single day during school lunch for the last couple of years. It seems the only thing he really likes for lunch. He is in High School this year and He wants PB&J again this year.. sigh. I do know he sits with the same group of boys so no one will be affected by peanut allergies. I have spoken with him constantly about being proactive to protect other kids.

        • Anaphylaxis Epipen says:

          They will be alive to get out into the real world. That’s what will happen.
          Thank you for forgoing your peanut butter so my kid can stay alive.

          Gees Louise–is it too much to ask for a nut-free school so
          my kid won’t DIE?

          • There are potentially 21 meals a week – you are asked to not include pb or nut products in FIVE of these – to prevent another child being hospitalized and potentially dying. I do not think this is too much to ask.
            Children who have behavioural preferences for only certain types of food can be worked with to change/adapt their preferences (food chaining, for example, is a therapeutic approach to introducing new food). Children who have anaphylactic allergies have no choice.
            Parents live in fear because of the loss of control and the attitudes that are so apparent in this discussion string. My son has been hospitalized once because a TEACHERS AIDE thought it would be okay to give him pizza because she didn’t see any egg on the pizza. Imagine the phone call I got at work that my son is in the ambulance, on the way to the hospital, with difficulty breathing, vomiting and uncontrollable diarrhea. He was four, we had taught him not to accept food, we had taught him to ask, the adult responsible for him told him it would be okay.
            Five meals out of 21 – show some compassion, show some kindness, support these kids and parents.

        • Try “Wowbutter”. It’s a peanut free peanut butter that school’s accept. The jar even has little labels that you can put on the lunch so that the teachers know that it’s not real peanut butter. It’s a little more expensive than traditional peanut butter, but it works. There isn’t really a taste difference either. My daughter loves it. It can be found at any grocery store in the peanut butter section.
          Here is their website:
          http://www.soybutter.com/wowbutter.html

          • My child is VERY allergic to SOY! But, there is no restrictions for that. Our school has 1 peanut free class room per grade. Peanut free tables at lunch. It works well. She has 2 friends with nut allergies, they have had no issues at school.

          • I am totally for a nut free school. Anything to help save our children. What I am annoyed about is adults calling each other selfish and ignorant over the fact that they might dare have another out look or opinion about something. I think you can have a normal discussion about allergies without name calling and making other feel, their feelings are irrelevant.
            Also to say, all children can be changed and adapt to the change of their eating, also isn’t accurate. I have a special needs son who diet consist of a few things and he refuses to eat anything else. His response is gagging, choking and vomiting or not eating at all. Lucky for me PB isn’t one of them but if it was I would be happy to home school him to ensure others safety and his health. I think if breathing in something would cause him death, I would do the same thing. I would have a hard time, having the entire class or school, have that kind of pressure of ensuring my child’s safety.

        • If your child was the one with the allergy you wouldn’t be complaining about the fact that the schools are peanut free. Seeing your child’s face swell up so much that his eyes swelled shut plus having problems breathing is not something that you enjoy seeing. If it were you with the child, you’d be happy to know that school was one less place to worry about.

          Also, for the record, my work has a list in the cafeteria where people with allergies write down what they’re allergic to so people know what to avoid having near that person. For potlucks they also include a list of allergies in order to either not bring something with that particular ingredient, or so that the person that makes it knows to put a sign in front of it saying that it contains a certain allergen.

          • Bridgette says:

            As a mom with lactose intolerant, gluten sensative, soy intolerant, sesame seed allergic children I know how hard it is to find a food free of what your child can’t have. My kids weren’t able to have the snaks at parties and I wasn’t allowed to send an alternative because it wasn’t the same for everyone. There is the problem. You can’t make a rule that make is good for everyone. There needs to be a system. The next school had peanut free rooms, lunch tables, we were allowed to send a treat for our kids if they couldn’t have what the whole group was having. Do you know what happened? The kids took note and would have peanut free days to sit with this friend and bring non chocolate candy for my kids and another with a chocolate allergy. The kids with the allergies and food intolerances no longer felt isolated and the frustration because someone couldn’t have something because of them. No one died and my kids and I know one of the peanut allergy girls felt in control of the situation for once. No one this is worse than the other. We almost lost my daughter before they figured out what was wrong. It was nice that my son who couldn’t have lunch meats and only homemade peanut
            butter could eat protein lunch at school again besides boild eggs. There are ways of working around all of these if all side are willing.

        • I used to teach nutrition education to elementary students (this was just a few years ago). I did it for 3 years. Part of the program was to provide a healthy snack each visit. Over 3 years, 20 classrooms and about 500 of kids, not ONE had a peanut allergy. I went into the poorest classes in our city. I’m certain some kids are actually allergic out there, but the fact I didn’t come across one makes me wonder about the whole peanut allergy (and other allergies) epidemic. In fact, not one of these kids I saw had ANY food allergies.

          • Mother of 2 says:

            I’m sorry. I’m not seeing your point. Are you suggesting that peanut allergies don’t exist or something? They are real. Believe me.

        • Our school has a special table for kids with allergies. That way, all the other kids can still eat their food w/o fear.

        • Sandra G. says:

          Some peanut allergies are airborne, though … so washing hands or just not eating it doesn’t matter. I worked at a school where one of our Kindergarten children had an airborne peanut allergy. This means that if another child ate a peanut butter sandwich or cracker … the allergic child could still have a severe allergic reaction just from what is in the air and what the child who ate the nuts breathed out. So you see, it isn’t quite as simple as just avoiding the food oneself.

        • Nursejibz says:

          I’m sorry, but I felt compelled to reply to this comment. It is not a ‘difficulty’ as you say, it’s an actual life threatening reality. I’m a paediatric registered nurse and it astounds me that some people think that their right to have peanut putter for lunch somehow overshadows a child’s right to um…stay alive? Are you kidding me?? And if it was your child?
          It is the parents responsibility to look out for their children….furthermore, when a child is old enough they can be taught to manage their allergy themselves. Providing people who are so narrow sighted such as yourself allow them to make it to adulthood.
          Good god, what is WRONG with you??????

          • THANK YOU!
            i wanted to thank you on the behalf of my son. he had peanut and tree nut allergies. he is one of the lucky ones who has “out grown” the allergy which means he is able to have nuts now within reason. so now he no longer has the allergy but he can still have a over dose of nuts. another words if he has nuts today then tomorrow and maybe a third of fourth day he could have a allergic reaction to nuts. his body has built up a tolerance to nuts to a point. because of this we keep track of his nut intake to keep him from having a reaction. i also wanna say that my sons school was amazing! we had a meeting before he even started kindergarten to talk about what is required to keep him safe. the school set up a table in the lunch room which was nut free all the time. they also washed the table before he came to lunch to make sure there was no contaminants. because of my son the school still keeps a nut free table. his classroom was also nut free. i do not think nuts should be banned from schools but i do think real precautions need to be done. because it is a deadly thalergy and its not something that the kid asked for. its not like the kid chose to blow up like a balloon and stop breathing.
            so thank you again!

          • As a mother with an 8yr old who sadly has peanut and tree nut allergies as well as food allergies to soy, rice, corn, milk and more, I am almost in tears at the insensitivity I read here. Peanut butter sandwiches are more important than the life of my child?? Did I mention I am also a nurse?? Medically speaking the reactions from this particular allergy are scary to see, hear and are often deadly. Epipens do not insure that these children will survive. Here in California a few months ago a little girl who was 13 or 14 DIED after she took ONE bite of a chocolate covered rice krispy treat that had peanut butter under the chocolate. ONE BITE! And her father who is a Physician was there at the family camp with her and administered 3 doses of epi while waiting for emergency team to arrive. Sadly his lil girl died before they arrived. It takes ONE bite. My baby who is 8 now, had an episode of anaphylaxis in the middle of the night while we stayed in a hotel the night before my uncle’s funeral. She did not have any nuts, but perhaps someone who had stayed previously did?? Idk. all I know is my baby woke up clutching her throat and gasping for air (she was 3) and by the grace of God I hadnt been to sleep yet so I was awake.. And by a small miracle the nearest e.r. was in back of the hotel. so barefoot and crying I ran carrying my pretty babygirl to the e.r. and she was saved. I still have her with me in bed most nights out of sheer terror that what if I were asleep and hadnt heard her?!! Wake up people, this allergy is deadly!! Please help us keep our babies safe. Please!!!

        • Seriously, a child could DIE and you’re bemoaning the fact that peanuts are banned? Peanut products are as important to you as a child’s life? Please get some perspective here.

        • My sons go to a school in rural Missouri, and peanut butter is actually what the school feeds them if their lunch account goes below $0.

        • Coming from a parent who has a child with a severe all nut allergy, I am on high alert always. Our school is not peanut free, but they do take precautions to keeps those with any food allergy safe. We have had two incidents at school and one with my wicked step-mother in law that sent our son to the hospital fighting for his life. To be in that spot, I can tell you, is not fun, and you wish that the school and world was nut free. He brings an epi-pen everywhere and we make sure “everyone” knows about his allergy. He has known of this allergy since 17 months, and we have taught him well. Our 4 yr old son also knows and he tells everyone we come in contact with. He has had to miss out on school field trips to the circus, but its worth it. The children at school are so cautious of him, warning their parents of lunch or snack items. So, I do understand the concern you bring to the table, because my two other children love peanut butter. We use it carefully, bleaching all the surfaces and making sure our one son is not around. I make these sorts of lunches in batches so that he is not exposed as greatly with an everyday exposure. The cafeteria has photos of the kids and what allergy they have; this is true in the high school, elementary, and pre-k environments at our school and most others. Our son sits at special table with the other kids and they think it’s fun! His coaches are aware of the condition, and also inform teammates and parents. I cannot control what others bring for lunch, but I can educate people of this condition. I think that all adults need to keep kids safe, and if you know that there are children in your child’s class with an allergy (our teacher send a note in the mail prior to school, 1st day, and throughout the year AND posts a sign on the wall next to the door) you should do what you can to make it a safe environment for all kids.Because, what if it were your child? You would want kids, parents and staff at schools (anyway really) to be mindful-aware- of your child’s life threatening condition.

        • I also have a child with allergies (fish, milk and eggs). They still serve those items in the lunch room. She is very allergic to fish and can’t even go in the lunch room when they have it therefore she has to eat in the hall or in a classroom by herself. She is now a senior in HS and so far we have been lucky. We never know what she may eat and be allergic to or what the next bite she takes might bring on. She had to learn at the age of 2 that fish was off limits and she loves it. You have to teach the child about it because you can’t be with them all the time. It’s very hard for a parent, but you can’t expect everyone else to give up everything for you.

        • sunflower butter tastes almost just like peanut butter, it’s an easy switch! (and most places will allow sun butter, at least our schools do)

        • At our school, they give the kids with food allergies other options to keep from making the same rule for every child. They have a table set aside for students with food allergies & will allow a friend to sit with them that doesn’t have anything that the child is allergic to.

        • Have you tried Sun Flower Seed butter instead of nut butters? Both of my girls have peanut/nut allergies. My son does not. I can’t keep peanut butter in the house, because let’s face it, it gets everywhere! He eats sun butter. It tastes great! I served it to my dad with jelly and he didn’t even know the difference! Good alternative to nut butter and other kids can feel safe at school! Give it a try!

        • My grandsons school has a special table for kids with allergies. None of the kids seem to mind and it makes it easier again for everyone else.

        • being that my son is one of those kids that have a peanut allergy I will not take any chances. He knows that he is allergic but that does not mean that kids that have lunch at the same time will be as careful. I would rather be safe than sorry.

        • And my mom ends up hospitalized at the SMELL of a ripe banana! In the peel! Should all be disallowed bananas? Many many varied things can cause the throat to close and swell. For me it is perfumes and air fresheners. Ban those?

      • I love wraps with pb, but most schools near us are nut free, and sometimes they tell us not to send anything that even looks like peanut butter. No soy butter either. Boo :(

      • Oooh…those sound so delish!

      • Some schools here are going as far as ” no high allergy foods” My childs school tried that until I confronted them on weather they even knew what that meant. I asked if they were banning milk, bread, strawberries, citrus, soy, seafood and fish, ( no tuna sandwhiches) apples, banannas.
        If we accomidate peanuts why are we not accomidating all allergies? My daughter who is allergic to peanuts ws taught at a very young age to not eat from someone elses lunch, They had a peanut free table and it worked just fine. Guess what happened all those kids who were exposed but didn’t actually eat peanuts, thier allegies decreased. My daughter can now eat about 5-6 peanuts before her mouth starts to itch. This means is she accidently eats something with peanuts she won’t die.
        Completly isolating your self from your allergen makes it worse because your body can’t build up an immunity to it.
        If your child is that allergic to something that a wiff will harm them then you definatly need to build up an immunity. What will happen when that child grows up and go goes to university or work? Does this child not go to the grochery store, the mall, the movies, any resturant, playdates?
        Are you sure it is the food they are allergic to not something it is sprayed with . My sisters severe allergies went away when she was in Europe for a monthThey don’t allow the same pesticides and fertilizers we do.

        • That was very well said Tamaya. I think you’re on to something with the immunity angle.

          Our elementary school also is peanut/nut free. What I’d like to know – what happens to these children when they go to HIGH SCHOOL? Forget the working world – the high schools are not peanut/nut free. So what then? If the kids can’t even be *near* the allergen, then what happens when they go to the cafeteria for lunch in high school and the kid next to them is eating a pb & j? It really seems odd that the system goes to such great lengths to prevent the allergens from being in the grade schools, but the high schools are exempt.

          • Mother of 2 says:

            Because they are children and need to be protected. Sure I can tell my kid to only eat their lunch, but if their classmate eats pb and doesn’t wash their hands, there could be deadly consequences later when they are holding hands while singing an ABC song in class. When they are in the 9th grade and up, they can sit wherever they want. They can move if someone is eating a pb sandwich. She can inject herself with her epipen if she needs to at that age.

          • a high schooler knows to stay away from what they are allergic to. if someone is eating a pb&j they won’t sit next to that person or they will up and move. elementary is more restricted because they are so young they are still learning about there allergy themselves. there learning what to stay away from and what they can have. but as a teen and a adult they are old enough to control their own environments and educate others about there allergy.

        • I totally agree. We have an allergy of DEET in our family and she can go into anifalactic shock just by walking by someone that has bug spray on that has DEET in it. Do we ask that all schools become DEET free? (even though it’s just as common as a nut allergy) NO. She has an epi pen, knows how to use it and her teacher is aware of it. We also have supplied the class with an alternative bug spray that has been clinically tested and did better at repelling mosquitos than anything else on the market. But we still had each person decide whether they used it or used their own. Even if we control the school, what about the mall, or parks, or super market, or . . . We need to teach our children what’s safe and what isn’t in the world, sometimes that includes what they can eat (although I remember my mom telling me not to take candy from strangers).

        • yes, it is what the food has been sprayed with. Please watch “the gamble of our lives” . It is a documentary about GMO products. They create food allergies, autism, birth defects, the list is endless. “Roundup Ready” as they are called are seeds with pestiside already in them. The marketing angle is you don’t need to spray them with pesitside, what they don’t tell you it is because they are already loaded with them.

        • The lack of valid information in this comment stream is astounding. Rather than take the time to educate on the origins and risks of peanut allergy, let me just say this. As a Mom, I honestly see it as my duty to protect ALL children. If I saw a child on the street and that child was about to get hit by a car, I wouldn’t hesitate to RUN to save that child. As a Mom of a child with a severe peanut allergy, all I am asking is for some consideration from other Moms, whom I would think *might* understand. My son is 9 and most definitely knows what he can and can’t eat,, not to accept food from any unknown source (including your kids), and knows how to administer epi to himself. We have educated and trained him to be very aware of the nature and severity of his allergy. However, every single day that I drop him off at school, it was a little leap of faith and a prayer as I stepped away from the school. Are many of you aware of how quickly the anaphylactic response takes hold? Sometimes the time it takes for a recess yard duty to gain access than epi pen is too long. And sometimes all it takes is peanut butter on the hands of a child who had his precious PB&J sandwich for lunch to touch a ball or monkey bar and that could mean death to a child like mine. I hope and pray that you never have to put your child in the back of an ambulance not knowing whether they will recover from anaphylaxis. It is the most horrific thing in the world. And if you could just for a moment consider that feeling and put aside silly arguments (like the red dye one, for instance), you might be able to muster an ounce of compassion and understand why parents like me truly don’t give a darn that your child has to “miss out” on his peanut butter crackers for snack.

          • Sorry not sorry says:

            To everyone creaking out about peanuts in schools: I am not belittling the danger of a peanut allergy! I get it. I have a serious allergy to yellow jacket and wasp stings. I get it, that’s different, but hey I still go outside :) And I just wonder, if your child can breathe peanut particles and die or touch a surface that had contact with peanut butter an hour ago and die, is it safe to take them ANYWHERE? If schools have to be peanut free, what about airports, parks, friends’ homes?? If it is dangerous at school it must be everywhere. So what we really need to be focusing all this energy on is finding something that protects children from allergies that may be anywhere anytime maybe…

        • I totally agree with you…I don’t believe it’s our foods, it’s everything our foods are being sprayed with. When I was in school, there was ONE child in a class of 400 who had a peanut allergy and none of use ever knew about it. I think it’s a spiraling scale of what all our foods are processed with. Wheat back in the day is not the same as wheat today, for example.

          I also have several friends who’s kids are deathly allergic to bananas, but I don’t see schools banning all fruit, milk, gluten, etc. Who is to say what allergies are considered the severe deathly allergies, when there are TONS of things others are allergic to and could die from but no one is concerned about them. To call others selfish for not considering JUST the peanut allergies…really? Do you send your kid to school with bananas, strawberries, blueberries? Because, guess what, someone’s kid could die from it, so are you selfish too? The hate and judgement coming from people is so hypocritical, I can’t stand it. The key to dealing with allergies is teaching your kid from day one, what is and is not safe for them. If you just ban food all together in schools, maybe then we could make sure every single kid is safe. And obviously that is not going to happen….so education and awareness of any potential allergies and not allowing children to share food, even if there are no known allergies, they don’t know if their friends have allergies, is key.

      • That sounds delicious! I am not a mom but I do make my own lunches for school. Your idea is great.

    • Angela Walker says:

      If you use cookie cutters for the sandwiches it adds a bit of a surprise for the kiddos at meal time.

    • Even though it is not an exciting food I like to put little notes in their lunches. Things like mommy loves you have a good day or (at my kids school they give awards sometimes and the kids do not know they are getting them until the ceremony at the end of the day but parents are notified in advance) on those days I say congrats on your award. Also happy whatever holiday and you are so special to me.

      • I love it – kids will remember those nice positive notes. :)

      • I loved adding little notes to my daughters lunch, but sadly she’s getting bigger and cooler and now thinks its soooo embarrassing(why do they have to grow up)

        • That is too bad that they don’t like the notes anymore. I have 2 in high school and 2 in middle school and they still like finding little notes from me (that’s what they tell me anyway). I try to find new places to hide them as they don’t always take lunches with them, especially to high school.

        • On the first day of school I send in a chocolate bar with a wrapping over it, telling them good luck on the first day, or have a great day, or thinking of you…mine are in junior high now, but it’s become a tradition…now my twins start K, and will send them a treat with a smiley face…since they can’t read.

          We have a no nut elementary school too, I think it is an easy thing to avoid now that many pkgs are labelled, my kids get treats, and as for peanut butter…that is the breakfast or after school snack option…my kids have never given it another thought, esp when they’ve become best friends with someone who has that allergy…they care about their friends and want them safe too.

          Junior High…the ban is lifted?? We still don’t send full nut products, like a pb cookie, but we do shop for what’s on sale…which could be made in a reg factory vs nut free ones…instead of always buying nut free.

          I wish I had the nerve to prepare the sandwhiches the night before…I still make them fresh in am. But what I really want to do is a better job for their breakfast and instead of toast…maybe giving them scrambled eggs and toast. Give them more energy to make it to lunch. Mine love a good protein/fruit smoothie…that I can add spinach, chia seeds, flax, greek yogurt…and they love them.

      • I always draw a little heart on their napkins. Even my high school kids notice if I ever forget – “Hey mom – you forgot the heart!” It is the little things done in love they remember!

    • Debbie Douglas Fivecoat says:

      My kids liked pigs in a blanket made with biscuits and little smokies. Put mustard or ketchup in mini containers. Pizzas made with biscuits flattened out or english muffins are also good. Or use those bread rounds you can buy and put toppings in mini containers and let them make pizzas themselves like a lunchable. Do the same with mini taco shells. Inside out sandwiches are good, too. Wrap a slice of ham or turkey and a slice of cheese around a soft breadstick and secure with a toothpick. Make kabobs using fancy toothpicks with ham and cheese cubes. If they like condiments, put them in mini containers and refrigerate and let them spread with popsicle stick or dip. You can also add a small ice pack to lunch boxes to keep things cold.

    • I also have freezer containers with individually wrapped lunch items. A fave for my teen is bacon, cheese, chive biscuits or muffins. I make up muffins (sweet or savory) and loaves (zucchini chocolate always a winner) and wrap them individually in freezer paper or saran and freeze, then add them to lunches in the morning. The frozen items keep the rest of the lunch cool too. I’ll also make up freezer bento boxes using ziploc containers that go in the freezer with leftovers like the last bit of noodles and sauce leftover from a spaghetti meal or a few pieroghi’s with a slice or two of sausage no one could fit in their tummy. I label them and have a section of freezer set aside just for lunch things so it’s easy to find.

    • We do the thermos heating too. One thing my kids like in their thermos is hot dogs. I prepare the hot dog (usually boil or bake them) put it in the bun with the cooked dog split down the center and add their ketchup and mustard in the split so it doesn’t make the bun soggy, then wrap the whole thing in foil. Then I stuff it into the preheated and dried thermos. It stays warm until lunch! Chicken nuggets work well this way too but I will also send them cold. Soft tacos can work too!

  2. I have to do this too. I was among the “first wave” of people in our Country to lose their jobs almost 3 years ago and one of the first things we cut from the budget was HOT LUNCH. I started sending sack lunch with my son and “allowing” one hot lunch per week (he chose Pizza day) and we made due. We prepack lunches for the week and have enjoyed the time together doing it. This year he will be joining “middle school” and lunches are $2.65 each; and he usually only eats the main item…. SO NOT WORTH THE $. he will be pre choosing his lunch items this year and assembling himself. Thanks for sharing how you pre package! Love new ideas to make life easier.
    Kari

  3. Love these ideas! I am planning on making uncrustables (an idea from my friend Mandy). You use a pampered chef round ubcrustable maker, bread (the cheaper breads hold together best) and pb&j or pb&honey. Make a bunch bag them up and freeze! Kids can pull one out and stuff it in their lunch frozen! These are a perfect make ahead lunch idea! Also, for quick (but healthy and filling) breakfasts. On the weekends I cook a bunch of waffles (I have a waffle maker that makes 4 square eggo sized waffles). Freeze them and we pull them out and put them in the toaster during the week. It is better to undercook these a little as the toaster makes them crispier and you don’t want to eat hard wafflehere’re normally have cereal, but these fill my kids up more and they love a warm cooked breakfast!

    • Pancakes work well also. My kids like to have pancake sandwiches in the morning. Also, make a pb&j “hot dog” by simply putting the pb&j on a hot dog bun.

    • Love the uncrustable maker!!! I save the bread scraps and make my own bread crumbs and toss them in the freezer until I need to make homemade stuffing.

    • This is an awesome idea – but please keep in mind with those doing Peanut Butter & Jelly or Peanut Butter & Honey – there are kiddos with peanut allergies and a lot of schools these days will NOT allow peanuts of any variation. Might want to double check on that before you make up a whole bunch.

      • We solved our peanut butter issue with a product called WOW BUTTER it’s a soy based product that my daughter actually asks for over peanut butter at home. since our school doesn’t allow actual peanut butter due to several severely allergic children we gave it a try.

        • Philippine says:

          Hi – be sure to let the teacher or lunch time staff know it is not “real” peanut butter! My daughter had wow peanut butter in a labeled (not PB) container and the kids in her class thought she was eating real pb! Not a good situation!!

          • FYI the WOW butter comes with labels that identify it as non-nut butter. If you lift the jar label where indicated, you will find a set of small square labels meant to go on lunch containers.

          • My school does not allow WowButter – even with the accompanying stickers. They say it looks too much like PB and what if parents just said it was Wowbutter and actually used PB… What kind of parent would do such a thing? It would be nice if they could trust parents to use an alternative (especially when there are sticker labels to send with the lunch) and thus a compromise could be reached…

  4. Try this for something new! Fun pasta noodles cooked up with Italian dressing on top, olives, cherry tomatoes(cut in half) and mozzarella cheese are fun to throw in too. At home we throw in cubed ham but I’m not comfortable sending meat in cold lunches. Kids love it and change it up based on the foods your child likes!

  5. Meranda H says:

    What a fantastic idea!!! We homeschool but I’m needing to make cold lunches for co-ops and field trips, this will save time and essentially money.

  6. NaDell Ransom says:

    I make lunches the night before. I am NOT a morning person and the morning is already so rushed, I don’t want to make it cost me $2.50 for an elementary kid’s lunch. She does get to have a school lunch once a year. =)
    I put everything in her lunchbag right into the fridge. Sandwich, water (in a cheap reusable bottle), cheese stick, crackers/pretzels, fruit cup (which i might have to make with a little reusable bowl and fruit cocktail this year with more than one kid in school for lunch), carrots or baby cucumber (Costco has these in a bag of 10-12 for $4 or so and my kids love them!), sometimes a hard boiled egg, and a treat if they’ve gone to bed good the night before.
    This might sound like a lot, but whatever they don’t eat becomes their after school snack.
    I think I’m liking your pre-made idea though…

  7. Christine says:

    I love this idea and I do something similar with the pantry items and fruits/veggies, but the one thing I haven’t figured out is how to make the main dish items stay fresh all week… My kids would not eat a peanut butter sandwich the next day and I can’t say that I blame them since I think that they’re kind of gross the next day too once everything has soaked into the bread. Is there some kind of trick to keeping these things fresh?

    • All you have to do to keep sandwich filling from soaking into the bread is spread a thin layer of peanut butter or mayo (depending on your fillings!) an both slices of bread. It provides a barrier that jelly or tuna can’t get through to “ick-tify” the sandwich. My kids think it’s a sign of how much I love them!

    • leave out the “wet” ingredients put them in little reusable containers like little ramikins. also i started making jello and putting in containers i get a weeks worth out of one box so essentially it costs me .50 for a weeks worth of jello or pudding and i finally found a use for those mini containers that came with the rubbermaid set lol

    • Put PB on both slices of bread and jelly in the middle. The PB will seal the bread and it wont get soggy.

  8. I was just reading another blog post and this person suggested making sandwiches ahead and freezing them. I wondered if this would work or if the sandwiches would be soggy? You couldn’t out lettuce in and maybe should leave out the condiments??? The suggestion was that you could include condiment packets. That seems wasteful. What does everyone think?? I have 5 kids who take lunches and was also searching for ways to make it easier as I am starting a part time job also.

    • Rebecca says:

      If using Mayo put it between the meat and cheese
      !

      • Smurfy Mom says:

        Our kids love having roast beef sandwiches. We buy a HUGE roast from Costco, shred it up and make 75-100 sandwiches at a time! (Use whipped dressing, not mayo-as the egg in mayo separates.) Whipped dressing, roast beef, mustard and cheese-they taste fantastic when they thaw! We always make up a whack of paper bag lunches with a granola bar, fruit snack, fruit cup, or little packages of crackers, etc. and store them in our pantry. Then all the kids have to do is grab one of those bags and put a piece of fresh fruit and a frozen sandwich in and their lunches are done! This has saved my sanity so much!!!

        • I couldn’t use up all those paper bags. We aim for a garbage-free lunch.

          • High and mighty, much?
            You could say this nicer, or keep it to yourself. You don’t want to use paper bags. So what? Then buy 5 reusable-hemp-soy-ink-imprinted-dye-free-fairy-dust-covered-feel-good-lunchsacks and do the same. All the original poster was doing was sharing a good idea for pre-making lunches. Make it work for you, or don’t. No need to insult her or act like you’re better.

          • @Jennifer, absolutely love your “5 reusable-hemp-soy-ink-imprinted-dye-free-fairy-dust-covered-feel-good-lunchsacks” description. Hilarious!

            On a serious note though, our school wants us to use all reusable container/snack bag/lunch bags/boxes. My child would probably be shunned for using a paper bag, or maybe a trip to the Principal’s office, ROFLOL.

            (For those serious souls out there, I am kidding about the principal’s office. She wouldn’t get in trouble for it).

        • Wow! 75-100 sandwiches at a time? How many kids do you have?? LOL! Thanks for the idea about the whipped dressing vs. mayo. Would not have thought of that.

    • My mom made 5!! sandwiches from one can of tuna. She made a few cans worth & froze them, wrapped in waxed paper. We took, and ate, a soggy sandwich most every day for years. So it was soggy, kids gotta learn to deal with less than perfect. You moms posting here are giving a lot of time for your kids, now give yourselves a pat on the back & let the kids ‘suffer’ thru a bit of sog. They’ll be ok.

      • Haha! Amen to that–thanks for keeping it real!

      • My mom always toasted the bread and put on a bit of butter and made tuna sandwiches with that. By lunchtime the toast was soft, but not soggy. One of my favorite sandwiches as a kid!!!

      • so did my mom. I just didn’t/couldn’t eat the sandwich (she never did accept that cucumber on sandwiches is NASTY by noon, or that tuna made the bread revolting), so it was a total waste of time, money and food. And I either came home hungry, or eventually spent even MORE money by buying stuff at the tuck shop. I refuse to do that to my kid, and put tuna/soggables in a small container to be added to the rest of the sandwich at school, and have done so since he was tiny. Great if you can choke down that disgusting slime, or if you like it, but I don’t see the benefit of knowingly sending a lunch that your child won’t/can’t eat.

        • Wow, D! It sounds like you have all of the answers!

        • My boy loves rice crackers. Skip the bread all together and put in some crackers to scoop the tuna. Kids love to scoop! My younger boy doesn’t share the love of canned fish so he gets “Superman Peanutbutter” (for those who can send PB to school) and sliced apples. Superman Peanutbutter is PB mixed with ground flax and/or hemp seeds. Hope this helps!
          PS, my mom gave us sliced cucumber and cheese sandwiches. Loved them fresh…couldn’t eat them by lunchtime tho. Please mom, no cukes!

  9. Looking back the best cold lunch I had was the one my dad would make if he had time. Toast bread, add turkey, cheese, slice of tomatoes and lettuce. That was only a once a month item. It was up to us to pack our lunch since our parents worked really early. My lunch consisted of carrots, chips, a p&j sandwich because I was too lazy and I always ended up tossing everything away but the chips. Now as a mom, I really enjoy reading this post, I love the ideas! Thank you!

  10. This is a recipe that I used for my daughters school lunchs, and I am pleased to say that my husband loved taking them to work with him as well. The recipe travels perfectly, we have used these for family picnics, baseball games, and just about any grab-n-go event we have to attend. Perfect little after school snack too! They are super hot out of the oven warm with a salad for a simple dinner, or just as yummy served room temp in a lunch box. The best part is they really taste like a cheeseburger with half the fat and calories. = o )

    Cheeseburger mini muffins

    1/2 pound ground beef ( ground turkey or chicken works well for this recipe as well )
    1 small onion, finely chopped
    2 1/2 Cups- All purpose flour
    1 Tablespoon- sugar
    2 teaspoons- baking powder
    1 teaspoon- salt
    3/4 Cup- Ketchup ( I have also used tomato sauce as a substitute )
    3/4 Cup- Milk ( any variety you use, I normally use 1 or 2 percent )
    1/2 Cup- butter or margarine, melted
    2- Eggs
    1 teaspoon- prepared mustard
    2 Cups- shredded cheedar cheese

    In a skillet, cook beef and onion over medium heat until meat is no longer pink; drain. In a bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. In another bowl, cobine the ketchup, milk, butter, eggs, and mustard; stir into the dry ingredients just until moistened. Fold in the beef mixture and cheese. Fill greased miniature muffin cups three-fourths full.

    Bake at 425 for 15 to 18 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool for 5 minutes before removing from pans to wire racks. Refrigerate leftovers.
    Yield: 5 dozen

    Note: Muffins may be baked in regular size muffin cups for 20 to 25 minutes, reciped makes 2 dozen.

    I have also made these as ham and cheese mini muffins, using left over ham bits in place of the ground beef, swiss cheese in place of the shredded cheddar, and chopped green onions in place of the cooked onion.

    I have also made these with half all purpose flour and half whole wheat flour. Made both ways, they taste great and are a fun alternative to sandwiches!

    • Wow – thank you so much for sharing your recipe! That seriously looks to die for good – going to try to make those for sure. Thanks!

      • sounds like a great recipe, can’t wait to try it!

        Another good one is egg muffins

        Add what ever you would like…for example:

        -Saute onions,peppers, mushrooms
        -divide them equally in your muffin tin
        -add some cooked bacon, or ham
        -pour in your egg mixture(eggs with a bit of milk, beaten)allow enough room for egg to rise
        -top with a bit of cheese
        Cook at 350 in your oven for about 30 min(check with a tooth pick)

        *taste great hot or cold…easy to grab ‘n’ go

    • Thank u so much this is the best reciepe if have found for lunches in a long time!! U are a life saver!

    • I am looking forward to making this for the family and if its a hit I will be sending this to school with my first born. ♥

    • Smurfy Mom says:

      Do these freeze well?

    • Love this!! Thank you. You’ve all inspired me to try harder to save money on my kids lunches!!

    • Already printed and added to my arsenal – thanks for sharing!!!

  11. Suzanne I have made the “uncrustable” pb&j’s and frozen them – they are great! The kids grab and go (the boys usually 2 at a time) and I have even caught my hubby grabbing one. Anything that is pre-made at my house is a winner! Also someone had mentioned making pb&j on hot dog buns, good idea :) we also make garlic bread out of our old hot dog and hamburger buns. My daughter loves it when I make turkey sandwiches on hamburger buns and sometimes I flip them over (to the flat cut sides), butter them and make anything grilled – grilled cheese with ham/turkey/bacon, using my bacon press to press them together while they are cooking. YUM :)

  12. To help not get soggy pb&j’s spread the peanut butter on each piece of the bread, making sure to cover all the bread, and then put the jelly in the middle. This “protects” the bread from soaking up the jam or jelly. Also we use whole grain wheat tortilla shells for sandwiches too. I have made Cesar Chicken Salad Wraps for the kids lunches the Sunday before and they never get soggy. I will make up a batch and my husband and I take them for lunches all week too, and they are healthy and taste great. Also, we have a recipe for Asian Chicken Salad that can be packaged in tubberware and taken in lunches too. There is nothing that gets soggy in it and it holds up well all week. Other than that I just pre-bag the side stuff and throw it all together the night before.

  13. During the school year, every other Sunday I take time out to make two weeks worth of lunches. I have a pantry shelf designated for 10 lunch sacks (it use to be 15, now we are down to 10. Son went off to college!) The sacks are filled with items that do not need refrigerating (chips, cookies, juice box, etc). I then make 10 sandwiches (usually meat and cheese with mustard. Sometimes tortilla wraps to be different or PB & J) and freeze them all. Each morning, kids grab a filled bag out of the pantry and frozen sandwich and they are off. Come lunch time their sandwiches are perfectly thawed and I do not have the stress of making their lunch every day or arguing with them to make their own lunches. Makes us all happier in the morning! :)

  14. Mrs. Elli says:

    No kids in our home, but hungry hubby and myself, think I will tackle the lunches so when I get up I am not in a hurry to get lunches for us both all hurried…Looks good to me, you are wonderful, love your blog, how you manage to do this blog, feed your hubby and your kids, do lunches, clean etc. is beyond me I only had one child she was a very picky eater, had to bag stuff not usually found in a normal grocery store, lots of picky stuff, she is fine, tall, beautiful and healthy at 34, she is a great cook and knows her preferences well..happy first days of school our local school district starts 8/31/11!

  15. Awesome idea! I do have a question – when you make the 20 sandwiches, do they get soggy or “old-tasting” after several days? What kind of sandwiches do you make?

    • Hi Rebecca, I hadn’t thought through the whole sandwich thing too much, but I have read that you can freeze sandwiches all ready made up – as long as you add peanut butter to both sides of bread and jelly/honey in the middle – then it wont get soggy. Same thing goes for meat n cheese – add condiments to the middle or not at all. No lettuce either in the freezer. Often times also for the main dish I will do leftovers from dinner too so that might be what I do there. Or I like the idea of lunch muffins like in the recipes shared..I can freeze them too I bet.

  16. Oh Yay! This idea is fabulous on so many levels. I’m an elementary teacher with a special needs daughter who is a freshman. Getting out the door in the morning is “eating our lunch”! To top it off, I’m having surgery in a week and she will have to assemble her lunch each day on her own. She already does it but this will leave out any guess work for her on appropriate amounts and on which items she can include. I love the cheeseburger recipe and will add those to our choices. I already do the same thing with meatloaf in muffin tins.

  17. A friend of mine gave me this recipe for frozen fruit cups great addition for a quick breakfast or lunch.

    11 0z can mandarin oranges – drained
    1 cup diced peaches
    1 cup crushed pineapple – drained
    1 cup fruit juice from drained fruit
    30 oz fresh or frozen sliced strawberries – drained
    6oz frozen orange juice concentrate
    2 TBSP lemon juice
    2 Banannas diced

    Thaw OJ concentrate. MIx all ingredients. Freeze in little cups with lids. She buys the little disposable cups from URM however he has used tupperware as well.

    Change the fruit depending on what is in season. My sister is doing melon balls for her kiddos.

  18. Northwest MAMA says:

    Girl, might I venture to say: YOU HAVE SAVED MY life – AND my sanity! Lordy – how many times does it chaotic in my house when I roll over and say, OKAY – TODAY you both are getting HOT LUNCH! Have you been a’lookin in my window! Your idea is THE best! Mama’s active (for survival purposes of course!) lol Thank. You!

  19. Rhonda Goff says:

    I did that for my own kids about a million years ago….I had a problem with them eating up all the lunch stuff before I could make the lunches! Another thing I did was make up a whole loaf of bread into french toast, freeze on cookie sheets, then bag up in the bread bag in the freezer. My son who loved french toast every day, would grab two slices, put them in the toaster and he’s have hot breakfast really quick! He was always hard to wake up and this way he could still have a nice hot breakfast.

  20. So, I just ran across this and to add another quickie version of a PB sandwich….is to slather PB on each slice of bread and then one of the slices sprinkle mini chocolate chips. Both of my girls LOVE LOVE these sandwiches.

  21. Try putting raw noodles through cut up hot dogs and then cook in water its fun to eat

  22. We do something similar but I freeze the sandwiches. We use the deli slices (round bread) which works perfectly for round sandwich meat and cheese. I have one kid who likes butter on her sandwich and one who likes mayo. Both freeze well. I make them all well in advance and we just pull a sandwich out of the freezer in the morning. It’s thawed by lunch time and never soggy.

  23. Another good idea i do for my kids lunches is use a flatbread or tortilla couldnwork too spread it with creamcheese and cucumbers and roll into a wrap… kids love it!

  24. Love these ideas! We too freeze sandwiches, pb&j and turkey/cheese/butter. I slice diagonally and some days my kids like to grab two different triangles for different “flavors” that day. I also make mini lasagnas in the mini muffin pan with wonton wrappers as the noodles, these keep well, freeze well, and are crowd pleasers. Try pizza pinwheels too, premade dough or bread (we use philsbury pizza dough, but I’ve heard of cresent rolls being used too), sauce, favorite toppings, cheese. Roll into a tube, cut slices, and bake. Super easy, and these store and freeze well. I’ll definitely be trying the cheeseburger muffins too, thanks so much!

  25. How do you keep the sandwiches from getting soggy?

    • I don’t add mustard or mayo on them, just meat, cheese and bread. But I have heard if you add the mustard/mayo between the cheese and the meat it will not get soggy either. Mine don’t get soggy.

  26. Just found this blog today! I think it’s amazing! One of the biggest problems with me is when the kids come home and tell me they need more lunch money by tomorrow! With your tips I will know that they have a lunch everyday and that I made it! With a new shopping list frozen meals and coupon matching I feel more organized. God Bless You and Thank You!

  27. Love these ideas! I definitely need to get better at organizing instead of rushing to get a lunch packed the night before! My son’s school does not offer a hot lunch so that’s never an option! I also roll a hot dog in a crescent roll and bake them, and send them in his lunchbox with a small container of ketchup or honey mustard! He loves them!

  28. Meranda Huffman says:

    Wonderful Idea! I WILL be giving this a try this year!

  29. Thanks for the make ahead lunch ideas. Don’t know why I didn’t think if it before. Genius I tell you… genius! I can sleep in an extra 10-15 min. To quote one my kids favorite shows they have been watching over and over and over… all Summer “Yay Me… clap clap clap” ;)

  30. Cold pizza, cold spaghetti, and tuna, chicken, or egg salad in little reuseable bowls with crackers are also able to make ahead. Just remember a good insulated lunch bag and a frozen juice bottle or frozen water bottle to keep it cold. One could also cube a big block of cheese and package it much cheaper than prepackaged.

    • We bought Ice Sheets from QVC – they are wonderful, wrap around whatever I need them to (water bottle, sandwiches etc and can be cut to fit. I think they were like $20 but you get a big set – we’ve only used 5 for the past year and they’ve lasted so I’m happy. You can also use these in your cooler for the beach/picnics etc and when you are out doing errands and can’t make it home right after the store. I love love love them – well worth the money

  31. Karrie,
    I’m obsessed with your site, typically viewing it multiple times a day! Keep up the great work. These posts on cold lunches are great. I bag lunch EVERY night for 2 (of 4) boys, hubby and myself. These ideas will definitely come in handy! My question is about your labels… (Laundry Soap) (Lunch), etc. They are so cute. Where do you get them? And if they are individual letters how do you manage to get them on so straight?

  32. One of our favorite quick lunch ideas are mini bagels and condiment sized cream cheese or cream cheese in a mini Tupperware. The kids spread them at school so they are fresh and they love them. Great blog! Thanks for all the suggestions.

  33. Great idea I love planning ahead!! I have one picky eater I have to pack cold lunch for!! BTW I’m also a school lunch lady and I promise it’s not mystery meat :)

  34. Jewel Burgess says:

    This is exactly what I needed to hear today! Thank you kind lady! I was stressing lastnight about how long the lunch making process was each night and I needed some help – this is a great idea and I will begin implementing it immediately – I never really kept up with blogs – but I love yours and keep up on it regularly – keep up the great work – you are a mom’s best friend!

  35. Great ideas here!

    A little tip in the cheap-and-easy vein: Bottled lemon juice will work great for preserving apple pieces. Put a little bit in a baggie of apples and shake/knead it until the juice has contacted all surfaces, then dump out any remaining juice (I also use a little bit of lemon juice in my palm to rub on the cut surface of a head of cabbage to keep it from greying when I leave it in a bag in the fridge for a few days). This might be cheaper and easier to get hold of than pineapple juice (unless you use a fair amount of canned pineapple in its own juice), and it’s great for people who like a tart/sour kick, though it only gives a slight tang unless you let the apples *sit* in the lemon juice for a while to soak some up.

    The first time I tried lemon juice, I left the apples to sit for ten or fifteen minutes, unsure of how long it took to get whatever chemical reactions might be needed; I felt the experiment failed because they ended up tasting so strong, but they were a HUGE hit with my husband and his friend :-D

  36. What a great idea!! I’m going to try this!

  37. I do bagels with cream cheese regular cheese and lunch meet and freeze them individually for hubby’s breakfast or lunch whichever he prefers with the leftovers from dinner….he’s hypoglycemic and I have to do things he can keep on hand I also do mini bagels the same way

  38. I cut apples in fours and then sprinkle them with cinnamon. It hides the brown and tastes yummy!

  39. Sunday Burquest says:

    Love these lunch ideas! One thing I do is make cupcakes and use a filler to put the frosting in the middle. That way the frosting is inside the cupcake – otherwise what a mess! Great ideas!!

  40. Great ideas…I also invested in good thermos so my two kids could take their own healthy “hot” lunch. Their favorite is left over taco meat which they will add to a taco or salad, left over pasta or cowboy casserole (beans and hotdogs) are also inexpensive faves that only take moments to reheat while we are eating breakfast! Much healthier and a lot cheaper than me buying school lunches.

  41. We homeschool so we don’t need to prepare bagged lunches. Our days are busy though and this looks like a good idea. What could I use to make this process “greener”? Since we are at home, I don’t like the idea of using all of these baggies. Plastic containers take up a lot of room though. Any ideas appreciated!

  42. Love these ideas, thanks ladies :) One of my daughters favorites is pasta salad, won’t go bad in the lunchbox and very filling:
    Large shell pasta
    pepperoni
    cheddar cheese
    green bell pepper
    green onion
    italian dressing – I make extra to add the next day as it drys out a little overnight.

    • Great idea Pam! My kids love that pasta salad too!

    • I make a pasta salad as well. I use tunafish, miracle whip, a little mustard, and for flavor depending on how I feel, I may add onions and green and red peppers. Its a big hit at cookout and other parties. Great as a side dish or main dish. You can have crackers on the side.
      Great as a leftover as well

      • Have you people ever thought about food poisoning? Mayo, meats, yogurt, etc., anything that needs to be kept at no warmer than 40 degrees for 3 hours or less before bacteria starts to grow?

        • Most people I know have grown up on/raised their kids on sandwiches made with meat/cheese/mayo … Heck … tuna salad, chicken salad and even egg salad (in sandwich form or salad) have been common for at least 50 years.

          YES, you have to use common sense… if it comes home from school, toss it out. However, if it is refrigerated/made fresh in the morning it will be fine by lunch time! There is bacteria absolutely everywhere all the time…. Your body can deal with some.
          IF you are worried, add a small freezer pack to your lunch box. Or, freeze a juice box/water bottle and put that in your lunch box. It’s really NOT something to be overly concerned about.

          (sorry but your post got under my skin…. I think it was the “you people” remark…)

          • keep in mind that in 50 yrs some things HAVE changed, including the bacteria present on foods (thanks to overuse of antibiotics as growth promoters, primarily). I’m not too worried, however I am aware of what foods I pack, knowing they won’t be refrigerated. I’m probably equally triggered by people who think nothing has changed in 50 yrs as you are by those who worry about food safety.

          • Christine says:

            I agree. This should be a place for friendly comments

        • Hello Jeanne, yes I am extra paranoid about leaving food for too long, not only does it taste yucky but no one wants to get their kids sick. I use a cooler style lunchbox and with the rock hard frozen sandwiches I add to the lunch as well as a frozen yogurt sometimes the box stays cold for those 3 hours. I also add in the frozen ice packs to keep the lunch cold too. By the time it’s lunch time the sandwich has thawed to the perfect temp and the kids have a non-soggy sandwich. It’s great!

        • I put a small ice pack in my kids’ lunches strategically positioned between the refillable milk container and the yoguart cup and her lunch container is made with insulated material on the inside. Often the ice pack is still half frozen when they get home.

        • When I pack my daughter’s school lunches I place an ice pack in her lunch box. Her food stays cold as does mine. And she eats her lunch much earlier than I do.

  43. Great idea! But I’d love advice on reusable packaging. Too much waste and plastic this way.

    • See my comment above…

      • I learned to start saving ketchup, mustard and mayo packs from EVERYWHERE…. McDonalds/Subway or ANY convenient store and I will throw them in the lunch bags for sandwiches.

        • lots of packaging there. Check out bento lunch suppliers (and dollar stores, etc) for refillable condiment containers, and divided lunch boxes, and tons of great containers that are kid-friendly and waste-reducing.

          I read an article not too long ago calling that practice false economy, as you pick them up “free” while purchasing expensive and unhealthy (generally) fast food. I tend to agree.

    • We use Planet Wise reusable and washable bags. They are FDA food safe and come in a variety of colors and styles. I bought mine at Moms Milk Boutique on-line. You can also find them online at Amazon.

  44. I have four kids but three go to school and one to daycare two times a week……this is a great idea……my only problem, my kids come home for lunch…..no one gets to stay in school regardless if you are a working family or not……its a nucence but could still do this for recesses…….thanks :D

  45. While at the store one of my daughters saw cheese cut into the shape of Mickey Mouse. She wanted them but, of course, there was no way I was going to pay extra for shaped cheese! So I bought a brick of cheese (we like marble jack) and made my own shaped cheese. I used a cheese slicer to make uniform slices of cheese, then used small cookie-cutters to make fun shapes. I have the set from Pampered Chef that comes with about a dozen different shapes. I put about 10 cut-outs into snack-sized baggies and put them in the fridge.

    I like to use the “snapware” containers for my girls’ lunches because they are easier for the girls to open. I used to use “gladware” but they had a hard time getting the lids off. These containers come in many sizes/shapes. I like the little round cups that are about 1/4c. size. I use these for many things: applesauce, fruit, cottage cheese, yogurt, you name it. Anything you can buy pre-packaged in the store, you can make your own in these cups for much less. And since they are reusable there is no waste. They are leak proof so you don’t have to worry about the lunchbox getting messy either!

  46. What a wonderful idea! If you are ever bored you could repost a sample w/o dairy and wheat ;) I have the hardest times filling lunches on that requirement…

    • Jody, I’m in that boat… no gluten/no dairy… and now no nuts because of school requirements…
      I’ve found that anything I used to put in a sandwich can be eaten out of a container small container instead (e.g. cut up meat and goat/soy cheese and put in a container… add a baggie of gluten free crackers and Voila!) Also, any and every veggie can be cut/sliced up…. Peppers, celery, carrots, rutabaga, peas, edamame (aka “Flying beans” in my house), string beans, baby pattypan squash (yummy raw! who knew!) ….. Kids in general love raw veggies if given a chance.

  47. I’m a middle school teacher, in a portable building, that is far away from the main building. What I’ve started to do, is to put some of those plastic, freezer cube things in the bottom of my lunch bag. Every Sunday night, I take a pack of Hawaiian Rolls (12 in a pack), slice them horizontally, and make a huge sandwich out of the whole bag. Then, I just use a bread knife to cut them into 12 portions. 3 into 2 bags, then 2 into 3 bags. I have sandwiches for the whole week! My favorite is ham, cheese, and mayo.

  48. Our children are grown now,.but for several years we had all five in school, and my husband also needed a lunch at times. With so many opinions, I learned to supply lunch stuff….but not put things together…each child did. One likes butter, no mayo, another mayo with mustard, another no dressings…aaahhhhh!!! So I would make up a dozen eggs into egg salad, have another filling like tuna, chicken, ham, leftovers, and lunch meats…switching it up every week. I also had all of the fruit and snacks in small containers or bags. The kids took what they wanted, and lunches were actually eaten!! I did try to buy or bake a variety of breads, wraps, pitas, buns, and the best loved?? Home made biscuits. :). Enjoy this time…it’s flown by before you know it!!

  49. While a great idea to prep all at the beginning of the week, our school and many others in our area are “litter free”! No throw away packaging allowed. While this is great for the environment, it does make packing lunches more difficult to do in advance. One would need many many reusable containers!

    • Our school is the opposite, they are worried about allergies, so you aren’t allowed to send homemade baking or granola bars, etc. Excuse me? I don’t want to spend more money to feed my kids crap. I can bake just fine allergy free, thanks.

  50. debbie english says:

    this has been around for years

  51. Great ideas, but my environmentally friendly mind ticks for 2 reasons:

    That’s a lot of packaging. Those look like Ziploc bags. I hope you reuse them. I prefer using containers that I can wash and reuse.

    The food remains in contact with plastic for a long time before it’s eaten. I’m not fully comfortable with that either.

    • So, is there a difference in the food sitting in reusable plastic containers rather than ziploc bags? I understand your desire to reduce waste, but you contradicted yourself.Just sayin’

  52. My problem is… btw I really like your ideas .. but we are not allowed ANY NUT products!!! No almonds, no peanuts, no walnuts, no pecans!!!! NUTHING!!!! Any suggestions for HEALTHY home made snacks? Anyone?

    • “Sun butter” …. If you have a high speed blender it is super easy to make… just roasted (shelled) sunflower seeds and a bit of oil…. (our school is the same way and my son is a “gluten free/Dairy free” kid… nuts used to be a huge part of his regular diet :(

    • Maybe make your own granola bars, or homemade crackers and chips? Quesidillas, wraps, carrots with ranch, fruit, yogurt. There are still a lot of options for you.

  53. fab idea! I ran it past the high schooler in this house (cause she’s the pickiest) and she gave ti 2 thumbs up! My kids have never really liked buying school lunch and they don’t like the same things so this is perfect. Am gonna start next week once they get into a routine.

  54. I have 4 kids + a couple of foster children over the year… making ahead… saves the hectic mornings… this week… Tupperware has the sandwich containers./snack container/drinking glass with lid/5 different colours…on sale… I have used the same sandwich container for my kids… each child a different colour … for years… they stand the test of time…

  55. These are great ideas. My kids make their own lunches every day, they have to manage the morning so they have time to get it done. Otherwise, they buy their own school lunch. They could still make their own sandwich, or pack leftovers from the night before but I like the little packs of pretzels and all the stuff being in one place would be helpful for them to quickly grab something.

  56. One thing that worked great for my kids was freezing yogurt . . . .by the time lunch came, it was delish and helped to keep the other things in lunch chilled. They still freeze yogurt when I bring it home for these hot summer days.

    • I’m gonna do that too, will keep their lunches cool, and if it doesn’t thaw in time, they love eating it frozen. Very glad I found this, has my wheels turning for sure :) Thank you, am going to check out the rest of your blog. :)

  57. Hi. I’m trying to add my email to,receive your newsletter but its not working. I really enjoy your site and would like to receive your newsletters.

    Becky

  58. We live in Hawaii and for lunchboxes here all the stores sell “bento” lunch boxes… they are link tupperware with little compartments in them to hold all different kinds of sushi. They work great for vegies, salads, sushi etc… Sushi is big in the islands, all three of my kids 10,12 and 13 LOVE it when I make homemade california roll sushi for their lunches. It’s all vegies, brown rice, avacado, sometimes a little crab meat or salmon. It sounds complicated, but it’s easy to make and keeps for several days in the fridge. I also sometimes make fruit boxes ahead of time, chopping up a weeks worth of cantaloup, watermelon, mango, papaya, pineapple etc… and filling tupperware with the mixed up fruit salad, and a few with just watermelon, or just grapes in them… it makes for a fast snack when the kids are hungry, I’m like “EAT Some FRUIT”… they will gripe, moan and groan… but eventually eat the fruit.

  59. That’s a lot of plastic waste, when in this day and age, we should be using reusable containers. That is 20 X 20 X 20 X 20 X too many, over the years, what a shame to do this to our environment.

    • I think more people commenting on this blog need to remember “if you don’t have anything nice to say…” If your only comments are to criticize and condescend, maybe this isn’t the place for you? I appreciate this idea so much (and I will use disposable baggies! After all, the companies making them will continue to make them regardless, so the plastic is already wasted, whether I use them or not!) Rock on, Mommas!

      • My thoughts, exactly! It always amazes me how many people get on someone else’s site and do nothing but criticize. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist how to figure out how to make these ideas more environmentally friendly, if that’s how you choose to package the lunches. Just take the great ideas and ADAPT!!!!

    • Sometimes I like to spit in a lunch sized Ziplock bag just so it gets dirty. Then I can throw it away.
      ;)

  60. I love this. We have a dry food/snack bin in our house but the idea of doing a cold one and even sandwiches and wraps ahead of time is great! With so much going on, making lunches ONCE a week sounds fabulous! Plus it gives some choice as we can grab what we want the night before to make the lunch bag easily with different pre-prepared snacks and still be healthy!!!

    Cheers,
    Amanda
    http://alonganderson.blogspot.ca
    @MsAmandaLong

  61. Fabulous ideas but our school is “garbage free” when it comes to snacks and lunches so everything has to go in tupperware/rubbermaid/some sort of container…I’d have to buy way too many containers to have enough to pre-make lunches for 3 kiddos for a week.

    • I appreciate the intent of the school, but the kids have to practically carry a backpack alone to accomodate all the neccesary containers. I guess there is reusable sandwich bags that would cut down on space. Lunch is so complicated!

  62. My younger son is on a honey sandwich kick, so thats super easy, and although I havent tried, I dont see why it wouldn’t freeze. My older won’t eat a sandwich to save his life so I plan to just make extra supper, and freeze it for him, as he’ll devour leftovers. And it will stay cold enough that I won’t fret about accidentally poisoning him:) love the chopped up fruit salad idea!!!

  63. So my problem is multiple food allergies, dairy, eggs, beef, seafood, wheat and sulfites (common in lunch meats, hotdogs etc). Any more ideas? one likes WOW butter but hates cheese or anything in a thermos, the other likes cream cheese but no meat at all, the 3rd likes GF oatmeal and pretty much nothing else. So they can’t have deli meat, hotdogs, 2 can’t have dairy or eggs, none can have seafood(tuna etc,), 1 can’t have wheat and no beef, add that to no nuts or eggs at school! I hate making lunches!!! I started the prepacking a few weeks ago because they always stole all of the “prepackaged” convenient stuff before the week was up…so I can do most of it with fruit and veggies, allergy free granola bars etc… just need ideas for a “main” for them, We have balanced day (so 2 larger recesses /day) and my kids have HUGE appetites! most of the time I can’t fit all of their lunch in one bag and they typically come home empty…they are all very athletic so they eat ALOT and haven’t an ounce of fat on them…( I wish I could do that!)…these allergies are making things so difficult!

    • How about hummus with veggies or rice cakes? You can also find rice pasta (I’ve found it at Trader Joe’s and it’s not too expensive) – maybe to make a pasta salad (with veggies only for the one and then with veggies and diced chicken for the others.

  64. Having read all the comments on both sides of the peanut butter argument, I think that education,compromise and negotiation would be the best options. In “real-life” education, compromise and negotiation are going to be the way that these people have to deal with their medical conditions.

    The school can make a peanut/nut free zone in the cafeteria or vice versa. All children should have to wash their hands after eating. Child with the severe allergy should have their epi pen on them at all times (same with inhalers). Regardless of age — by the time a child is attending school, they should be fully informed on their allergy and know how to deal with it. Parents should have an IEP in place to deal with this medical issue and require the schools to comply with the medical condition requirements. If the school is uncooperative then, there are remedies. Barring all that — home school the child. Your child’s life is ultimately the most important thing. But, requiring the rest of the world to accommodate is not a “real-life” solution and does the child no favors in the long run.

  65. sewginger

    So a child that has allergies isn’t entitled to an education like your children? I think if your child had an allergy you would be singing a very different tune. The statement that they shouldnt go to school is so close minded of you. Do you know how many children would need to be home schooled if kids with allergies aren’t allowed to go to school…
    By the way my children don’t have nut allergies but I think that for one meal and a few snacks everyone can lighten up. Make your child a pb wrap for breakfast or after school snack or supper whatever. Not having nuts won’t kill your child but it could kill someone elses. And I live in BC where there are some workplaces actually do ban nuts and peanut products.

    • If you do pb wrap in the am isn’t that the same as during? Could be on there hands/breath for that allergic kid.
      I see both sides but what do you do with your kid at the park, grocery store, bus, anywhere touchable could have been touched by someone that had peanuts or whatever… Do you know what the mail man had for lunch?
      If you have a severe allergy you should carry an epi Pen out of the safety for yourself. :)

    • Not to make light of anyone with severe allergies, but the other side of the coin is that it’s not just one meal a day in a kid’s life. My kids don’t really like peanut butter, so it’s not simply foregoing a sandwich; it’s more than that. It’s being hungry for the majority of the day because kids are most active when they are at school and burn a lot of energy on the playground and during P.E. My youngest is a very finnicky eater. I have to be very creative in trying to make sure he eats so he isn’t hungry at school Since we are not allowed to send him with snacks from home due to another child’s nut allergy, he isn’t able to eat the heatly, protein-rich food (such as yogurt or a granola bar) I would normally send him with. My child shouldn’t have to be hungry. Do you know how difficult it is for a hungry child to concentrate and behave in school?

      • “My child shouldn’t have to be hungry”?? Seriously? In this day and age if you are unable to find SOMETHING that your child won’t eat that is peanut-free then my child who has a life-threatening nut allergy should pay the price for their pickiness. Let me say that again: if your child is picky, my child could die. See the difference here?? I’m absolutely blown away by the number of comments made by mothers – yes, MOTHERS – who are so close-minded that they won’t attempt to expand the list of lunch items to feed their own kids to help to save the lives of kids like mine. Please keep in mind that it isn’t only items like peanut butter that we have to worry about, but items that “may contain traces” of nuts. It’s easier for me now because my son is 10 and is very vigilant about reading labels on everything, but when he was younger, he just couldn’t be trusted to do it on his own.
        To those of you who suggest that my son should be home schooled because he has an allergy, I just shake my head. So your kid goes without PB&J or other nuts for one meal a day. Sorry but you won’t get any sympathy here. I am able to make lunch everyday for the entire school year without including a single item that has or may contain nuts. C’mon moms. Put yourselves in my shoes and those of moms like me. Our children’s lives are at risk and your comments suggest that our kids aren’t worth the time to try to find other choices. What a slap in the face.

  66. Our school is all about the “litterless” lunch. Sure makes it hard to get anything done in advance…

    • Why not make the sandwiches to freeze ahead of time, with reusable tin foil, and then just transfer them into the proper container the night before or in the morning! Foil can be reused many, many times if done carefully. Better yet, use heavy-duty! Problem solved!!!! :)

  67. robyn hively says:

    as your adding food to their lunches don’t forget the mom notes…have a great day – good luck on that math test – or just I love You! use your imagination and you can adjust them to the grade..just my thought to share!

  68. If they are SO bad that the mere presence of a peanut could kill them, why oh why would you put them in that position? Quit laying blame elsewhere. No way would I send my kid ANYWHERE I could not monitor them at such a young age!! YOUR KID= YOUR RESPONSIBILITY. Not the school, not the other kids, not the other parents…. YOU.

    • So basically what you’re saying is that a child with an allergy doesn’t have a right to an education like the rest of the allergy free kids? You’d rather have them locked away somewhere so you can do and give what you please to your child? You come across that if child with an allergy happens to accidentally consume something with their allergen in it at school because another child with a parent that had that ideology dies from the allergy you won’t bat an eyelash if it’s because of what your child gave them.

      What would you do if it was your child in that position? Tell him “sorry son, you have an allergy so you can’t go to school and learn like that the rest of the kids” or would you rather send them to school and ask the teacher to keep an eye on them so that they don’t eat what their allergic to? It’s their LIFE you’re being so nonchalant about; it’s your kind of thinking that could kill these kids. Do you really want that on your conscience?

  69. Christine says:

    Thank you for all these great ideas! I would have never thought to make ahead and freeze sandwiches for fear of soggy yukkiness but it sounds like that isn’t much of aproblem. I also loved the comment from the woman who said to stop catering to our kids – they’ll eat it if they are hungry. True and good advice!

    • Unfortunately, mine would starve before eating something he didn’t like (meat). One tip for keeping cheese from getting too soft is to keep cheese in small portions in the freezer instead of the fridge. So, keep the individually wrapped string cheese or cheese sticks in the freezer. Put them in the lunches in the morning and by lunchtime, they’re great. They also help to keep the lunch cold.

  70. We’ve been doing this for years. We use a drawer in our fridge (instead of a container) to store everything in. It works out great. We prep on Sunday. Some favorites: hard boiled eggs, pickles, olives, yogurt, cottage cheese, fresh fruit (whatever is on sale that week), carrots, celery, bell peppers.

    We also have a school policy similar to the “litterless” comment above. We use all containers. You only need to invest in them once. If you don’t like reusable containers, there are a lot of reusable sacks/bags out there now too (takes up less room in the lunch bag).

  71. Wow, I can’t believe all the selfish opinions. No one has the right solution…everyone has the ones that are best suited for their needs!

    I was just like some of you a few years ago with my opinion on allergies because I my children didn’t have allergies. However one day my child had a reaction by simply being touched by another child who had consumed nuts.

    As much as I educate my children about allergies there is nothing I can do other than hope that other parents who don’t have allergies also educate their children. I hope those of you who don’t have children with allergies realize that there are children out there who could stop breathing by simply being in close proximity nuts.

    Please consider other children with allergies at your own child’s school and be mindful of what they can and cannot have and pack your lunches accordingly. If you want to give your children items other kids are allergic to, do so at home and have them wash their hands and brush their teeth before exposing them to children with allergies. No child should be put at risk in their school due to an allergy that they acquired through no fault of their own.

  72. This is a fantastic idea! Thank you so much for sharing it. We’re driving cross-country soon, and I am going to use this idea to make lunches on the road quick and easy!

  73. I am fine with peanut and nut free classrooms and schools. We have a lot of family members with severe allergies/asthma and I have seen some very scary reactions to allergens. My issue is with communication from the school and or teacher. We moves to a new school and received no notification of any allergies or nut bans. My daughter was severely reprimanded and forced to eat by herself because I sent her with her favorite pb&j. I was so angry. We met the teacher, principal and spent a lot of time in the office before her first day and no one had said a word.

  74. Elizabeth says:

    For those looking for some fresh ideas check out
    http://www.100daysofrealfood.com/2012/04/19/school-lunch-roundup/

    :)

  75. My son eats pancakes with peanut butter on them every morning before school. If something happens and he forgets to wash, has some at the corner of his mouth, etc, he could touch someone at school that is allergic. Everyone, with allergies or not, needs to be educated and the best precautions taken, but I do not feel peanut butter should be an excluded option for children who bring their lunch. No parent wants any child to die, so those comments are ridiculous.

    • I envy you and every parent who has the luxury of making a comment like this. The fact that parents have to debate and fight for the right for our kids to have a safe place to learn is so unfair. To call our comments ridiculous is nothing more than pure ignorance. Be thankful that your child’s life isn’t affected by something as simple as a peanut.

      And, if I may be so bold to ask, why is everyone kicking up such a fuss about not being able to pack peanut butter for lunch? Use your imagination.

  76. Another idea is breakfast for lunch. Make mini pancakes and cook up some bacon or ham. Add some fresh fruit to make it a complete meal.

  77. One thing to consider. If you use normal bread slices, even without condiments on the bread, they may turn out a little moist or soggy. There isn’t enough bread to absorb the moisture that will develop when it thaws.

  78. Hi Karrie,

    You mentioned homemade granola bars, where is your recipe!! I would love to see that on here also!!

    Thanks for all the tips!

  79. WTH is wrong with you adults?! Anaphylaxis is not merely an annoyance and inconvenience meant to target you and your lunch. Kids can die. Grow up, make your kids aware that foods can kill. You only have to live with it for 5 rushed minutes in the morning when you are trying to figure out what to make. Some people have to constantly scour labels or bring their own food to events so they don’t accidentally ingest the allergen. No, no one has nut allergies in my household, but I’m adult enough to not endanger others with my choices. Seriously.

  80. In high school, it is miraculous. None of the peanut free rules exist and all the children manage to live. I think that many children grow out of it. They even serve pb&j in the high school cafeteria.

  81. I cannot believe how many people just really do not understand how severe a nut allergy is!! My daughter is 7 her classroom is labeled as nut free. Her and another student in the class have nut allergies. But it is because of parents who do not understand that I had to pull my child out of school for almost a week because people were sending nutella and didn’t care or understand that a child can eat the sandwich, touch something and then my child touches it and can almost die!! She could not breathe, had hives and had to come home. It took me a week to get her back to school because she was terrified and unfortunately the school would not guarantee people would not be stupid and for the rest of the school year she ate in a room with a friend just the 2 of them. Is that fair to her??? NO!! Sending wow butter instead of peanut butter or not sending a nut spread can potentially save a life. How could you not do that??? There is a child in her class with an egg allergy, my daughter loves eggs. But she eats them at home or anything with mayonnaise at home! And F.Y.I. to all the people saying that workplaces are not nut free….. I live in Ontario and MANY workplaces are nut free if there is a person with an anaphylactic allergy!

  82. purple peonies says:

    i like planning lunches several days in advance, but in reusable containers. bummer about all those plastic bags tho. costly and wasteful :(

  83. A child with that severe of an allergy should not be in public school until he/she is old enough to know how to protects themselves.

    • Omg Really ??? That is so incredably selfish. There is 1000 different lunch ideas that don’t include peanuts on this site. Stop being lazy, get some creativity, and send SAFE food to school.

      Its paperbag lunches. Not rocket sience.

  84. I understand you all but I do not live it. my kids do have a school with children that have nut allergies. . My child loves her granola bars but “they may contain nuts” so what are some good suggestions. Our school isn’t nut free just those classrooms. I completely understand and have made my children understand that it is life or death.
    Can you give some suggestions of not so normal snacks. Yes, pretzels, cheeses, fruits, veggies but any other suggestions. She has learned to bring an apple but my other one cant seem to find her nitch because of the no granola bars.

    • Sorry can’t help with the granola as they all contain nuts but if your child is missing her PB&J sandwich you can try Sunbutter. Closest thing I have tasted to peanut butter without the nuts. Sunflower seed butter… my kids LOVE it!

  85. Natalie Muoio says:

    Good morning karrie,

    I love you’re advice on make ahead lunches. I’ve been trying to get on this kick too. My question for you is you said you soak the apples in pineapple juice? For how long, how much, and is it only pineapple juice & apples? I love you’re idea of freezing sammies but my worry is the sammies that have sat in the freezer longer than the rest doors that effect the length of time to unfreeze? does your kids ever come home and say they were not able to easy there sandwiches cuz they were still frozen? Thank you for you’re wonderful advice and i love your formula, im the same way….

    • Hello Natalie, for the apples I usually buy the little 6-pack of small pineapple juice in the store. Then I will slice all the apples and pour the pineapple juice over the top of it, making sure each piece of apple is covered. I usually use only one of the little cans for a medium sized bowl of apple. The sandwiches are always thawed in our lunch boxes because I don’t use a frozen ice pack when I am doing the sandwiches. In three hours our sandwiches have always been perfectly thawed out. We usually use bread and meat/cheese on.y. Or rolls with meat/cheese. Hope that helps!

  86. Love this idea! What a great way to save time and money. This would make it so much easier to get the kids out of the house on time every day.

  87. I can not believe how judgmental and mean people are to each other. So sad! :-( Seems we are missing the big picture…

  88. The other thing to be concerned about with all the plastic bags – chemicals leaching into your organic or otherwise fruits and veggies. I use pyrex glass snack size dishes… they are heavy enough that they wont break easily but keep your food safe. Thanks for these tips… I am going to be using this idea immediately!

  89. I wash out my plastic ziploc bags. I didn’t realize there are reusable alternatives!

  90. Watermum says:

    There are some great idea’s on here. Here are a few more, I’m from Australia so how about you guys give Vegemite a go! Er Yuk I hear you say…well it’s much lower in fat then peanut butter, and is high in iron and vitamin B…it’s black so there’s no mistaking it for a nut butter…and it’s delicious on a sandwich or cracker with cheese and butter. And if you find it too strong a flavour, promite is a sweeter alternative. Give it a go, add a piece of cheese …you get protein and dairy and the vegemite vitamins/minerals….and yes you can freeze vegemite or vegemite and cheese sandwiches too!

    Also…I have been hunting nut free/seed free bliss ball and granola bar recipes and found this granola bar recipe without nuts for those interested:
    http://picklebums.com/2013/04/08/homemade-muesli-bars/

  91. I’ve been looking for some fresh ideas for my adult son’s cold lunches. I’ve been spending way too much time every single day getting it together – I had never even considered the idea of lunch tubs like this. What a great idea! Now, I just need to figure out how to keep the younger set from getting into his lunch bins! They will think all the little bags of goodies look inviting. :) Thanks for sharing!

  92. Plastic baggies are completely reusable anyway. you wash them, you set them to dry, I’m assuming the ones that cost hundreds of dollars are exactly the same process. you can even wash them in the dishwasher…
    Also, most kids will just plain suck at bringing home their bags, so you stand to lose a lot of money buying expensive bags. But really, they are entirely reusable. I don’t reuse the ones we use for foods that are really greasy or have tomato sauce or raw meat in them, because it’s just a hassle, and I don’t clean the ones we use for dry foods like pretzels. My ex husband always washed his in the dishwasher, and only ever bought one box of bags. Never ever ever shell out money for a fancy set of “reusable” bags, that would be like buying super expensive “gluten free” rice crispies!

    • samanthawsmith says:

      i always just use little plastic containers. it keeps things from getting squished too. I usually look for them on clearance after holidays. my kids don’t care if their containers have snowflakes on them after christmas.

  93. AngelaSun says:

    I have six children. One time I purchased 10 loaves of bread and, along with three other ladies from church, we peanut-buttered both sides of the bread and put jelly in between (to keep it from getting soggy). We individually wrapped each sandwich and stuffed them back into the loaf bag. I then froze all the loaves and pulled out sandwiches as needed. Lasted me half the Summer when cutting the sandwiches into 4ths.

  94. That is a TON of plastic bags. Have you thought of the reusable type like Snack Taxi. They are great, I use them for my child every day and just pop them in the washing machine between uses. They are made by a mom. I buy mine from this fair trade online shop.
    http://greenheartshop.org/plaidsportation-snacktaxi-snack-sack

  95. samanthawsmith says:

    My kids just have a nut free table at their cafeteria. Seems pretty reasonable. I don’t think you need to overcomplicate life so much. My kids enjoy pb and j pretty much everyday, since they love it, its so full of healthy fats and protein, and its more natural and affordable than over processed meats. We also use thermoses for left overs like pasta dishes or soups. i never thought to put in a patty like one commenter suggested. I don’t know my kid would prefer that over the normal cold lunch i pack her, but its an idea for the future.

  96. Krista, mom of 4 says:

    I bought six sets of sandwich kits from Lunch Blox along with a few extra sets of the smaller lunch blox and my kids can put their lunches together – I fill all of the small ones with black olives, cherry tomatoes, grapes, etc, and the medium ones with celery, carrot or cucumber sticks, and the larger ones for sandwiches, meal oatmeal cookies or pasta in pesto (beware allergens in the pesto). We’ve had the same sets going on two school years, and they wash well, and we have basically a zero trash lunch (exceptions are cheese sticks and or baby bel cheese)
    We also LOVE SiliSqueeze with Eeze for Smoothies! (They have sales/free shipping quite often, an are on Amazon as well) https://thesilico.com/products/sili-squeeze-with-eeeze
    We put smoothies, pudding, applesauce (seriously SO much cheaper by the jar – you can get the same amount in one of these and you don’t have to worry about forgetting a spoon!) and anything else the kids come up with.

    • Krista, mom of 4 says:

      Oh, and one more thing – invest in some preprinted labels and label your containers with your last name and phone #, that way, you are more likely to get them back! Kiddotags.com has some nice ones that can go on and into the dishwasher – has made my life much easier!

  97. Jerrilynn says:

    Hi Karrie, in addition to some of the suggestions above, I use some divided containers called Easy Lunchboxes. They stack really well in the fridge and cuts down on having to buy a lot of bags etc.
    http://amzn.to/1oMImNW

  98. I recently found a pin that sliced an apple and put a thin rubber band around it to keep it together then put in a sandwich bag to prevent browning. This saves the step of soaking in juice.

  99. Hi finally read all the comments…. thanks for the ideas I’m disabled…. to get lunch for myself kids and my elderly dad is often left to crackers and cheese as I’m to tired and cant think of anything else….. your idea of packing cold lunch’s ahead is a great and wonderful idea
    As for allergies My child has several including nut and yes its so scary to see her go into shock
    I’ve chosen to stay home part time and homeschool her to allow the kids in our school to eat what they like including nuts I feel sort of on the fence if my child [and she is] is so sensitive to nuts or anything else id keep them home to school, but then maybe you need to work or something but I get a lady in 2 days a week who is a semi retired teacher and can help my little girl She doesn’t charge an awful lot and I can get some xtra work done round the house or go and hit the shops
    there is always ways around things My eldest son is diabetic, all his classmates know exactly what to do if he goes into hypo They recently visited a museum and he lied to me and said he had his breakfast when he did not and so by mid morning of course he collapsed his young classmates had his emergency bum bag open and giving him what he needed even before the adults could blink
    our local school [its rural] has an open policy on nuts there are a few kids who are sensitive but we have not had a bad incident as all the kids are taught about everyones allergies and what to do [get a teacher fast etc etc] but my dau is so sensitive and has so many allergies she stays home with me

  100. How in the world did those of us that went to school in the 80’s and 90’s survive with all the peanut butter and strawberries and milk and snacks filled with gluten? For the love of everything holy, it’s about education, not elimination. If we know that a child has an allergy, we make sure that the snacks we send it for school parties are safe for them, or sometimes, the parent of that child makes a safe alternative so they don’t feel left out.

    • Respectfully, how many kids did you know in the 80s and 90s that had life-threatening food allergies? Times have changed.

  101. I have sympathy for those with nut allergies and agree that it CAN/IS deadly for them. I don’t have nut/strawberry/fish/gluten/soy allergies, I have a rather rare and odd allergy. I am DEATHLY allergic to onions, the smell, the oils, raw, cooked, powdered, salted doesn’t matter. I have always had to be EXTREMELY careful with making sure it was not in anything. There have been days that I couldn’t go outside because of people GROWING ONIONS IN THEIR GARDENS and the wind would pick up the scent and carry it in my path.
    All that being said, there needs to be some form of compromise between the 2 “camps”, if you will, the “ban it all” and the “they’re over-reacting” camps. I don’t know what it is and I’m not saying either is right or wrong.

    Now to what this blog post was originally about:
    We don’t have microwave use for the kids at school either, but we use thermos bowls too.
    If you preheat the bowl with HOT water and get whatever (my girls like spaghetti) to just boiling it will stay hot till lunch. Craisins are another good, quick throw in the lunch box idea.

  102. I’ve read through a lot of the comments but not all.

    Our school does NOT have a peanut ban at school and I’m so glad they don’t. They are all monitored at school and are not to share lunches or snacks. For those of you saying well my child could die at the sight of a nut.. Will you start banning peanut butter at home for breakfast? What if a child eats toast with peanut butter and gets some on their clothes that is missed by a parent and goes to school??

    Will Peanuts be banned for breakfast too? I’m not trying to be mean or anything. I’m just stating a fact. And like others. when will it end? Peanut sniffing dog at the entry way of school? I’m serious. again, not trying to be rude. Until peanut butter is banned in the entire world your child won’t be 100% safe from coming in contact with peanut butter. So wouldn’t the best thing to do is teach the child how to use their epi pen at the first sign of a reaction. Educate teachers on who does and who doesn’t have allergies and teach them the signs and symptoms of allergic reactions. Keeping epi pens in all class rooms etc. Just my opinion.

  103. I like how an article that is giving healthy lunch ideas to send to school or work has turned into a peanut allergy blog!

    **Note: The article doesn’t even SUGGEST peanuts!

    • I’m right there with you! I was really hoping to get more ideas for my kiddos lunches, but didn’t read the majority of posts because truthfully I got sick of reading everyone’s negative comments on (both sides) the issue!

      Anyways, my kiddos like mini bagels with cream cheese for a change and chicken, cheese, and lettuce wraps. I grill up a bunch of chicken and freeze it to throw in their wraps. Also, they like cheese, sausage, and crackers.

  104. maybe a dumb question – but do you freeze your pepperoni and provolone sandwiches? does is get mushy?

    • Happy.MoneySaver says:

      Yes, I do freeze them. I keep them wrapped tightly and let them thaw naturally which I think helps the roll so it doesn’t get mushy!

  105. Cindy and Trish,

    I was hoping to get more ideas too. I also got tired of reading the “peanut” debate. That is not what this post was all about. Trish, our ideas sound good!

    If anyone has any other ideas, please offer suggestions! I need help with a major picky eater!

    I love the original post idea. This would save a tremendous amount of time. Especially when at the last minute your child says when your about to walk out the door, I want to take my lunch to schoo today…it would only take a minute to grab these items and be on our way!

  106. Sharon Koerber says:

    I know this is an old post, but wanted to let you know that my son HAD a peanut allergy and is now allergy free. My husband calls it voodoo, but it worked. He was also allergic to pretty much everything else; wheat, corn, soy, eggs, milk protein (so all dairy), B vitamins, tomatoes, potatoes, and a number of other things. I had to make everything from scratch and he still was covered in eczema from head to toe and of course we had to have an epi-pen at all times. Anyway, we had several treatments done using Advanced Allergy Therapeutics and it worked. All of his allergies cleared the first time except for peanuts that took two attempts, but he was very allergic to peanuts! I reintroduced all of his allergies one at a time like he was a newborn and we have never had another allergic reaction. On top of that all of his eczema cleared up with-in a week or so. I am not getting that he ate a peanut butter and jelly sandwich for lunch this week! It was such a miracle and we are so very thankful The treatments are not covered by insurance, but it cost less than $1,000.00 to complete and it was SO WORTH IT!

  107. I always think that’s a great idea. I am not a mom but I use the same theory. Although you could use some more ideas food wise I think its an awesome “game plan”.

  108. I am confused, this was a great, helpful article….Why on earth did someone feel the need to bring up their childs allergies???? these comments totally derailed off topic quicker than a blink of an eye on a completely unrelated topic…All because a parent wanted sympathy for something else??

  109. Wondering how much this costs per day? Anybody do the math?

  110. I have two that are allergic to peanuts (ages 9 and 8) Last year our non nut free school called me no less than 5 times because my daughter ingested peanut butter. Unfortunate for her that her classmates do not wash their hands and my daughter grossly puts things in her mouth.

    I however think we are lucky to have a non nut free school so we can teach others. We pack lunches and my kids talk to their friends about it. During class snacks or parties I was miffed that the teacher didn’t tell the parents not to bring peanut items due to a classroom allergy but then had to realize there were 28 other kids in the class.

    We will have 4 in elementary school this year and pack lunches for healthy eating not allergy related. I have 1 that claims she is a vegetarian. She loves fruits and veggies-3 fruits and 2 veggies and a tortilla shell and she is set. I have one who only eats…peanut butter sandwiches, I am infecting my own kids!
    Not really. I am confident that my kids know enough that if they ingest it willingly like eating that chocolate from the Christmas party I told them not to eat because 90% of Christmas chocolate has peanut butter in it, then she will feel the consequence. Of course we are not on the DIE scale of allergy but it does get scary. But how will they learn if I keep moving obstacles out of their way?

    I WISH WE HAD A MICROWAVE!

    Our school does not allow for it.

    My husband and I just discussed this tonight! We are going to fill containers with applesauce and baggies with fruit and veggies. We have a section of the kitchen that is school lunch zone so non refrigerated items are kept on shelves.

  111. Most schools and day cares are going nut-free now, and while it can be difficult for a parent of a non-allergic child (myself included) to find meals without nuts in them, it has to be ten times as hard for the parent of an allergic child, because their child can NEVER eat nuts, at ANY meal. Non-allergic children really aren’t missing out on that much if they can’t have nuts for just ONE meal a day.

    We, as parents of non-allergic children, should have more compassion for what the parents of allergic children have to go through, just to keep their child ALIVE each day. Yes, they do need to teach their children what is acceptable to eat, but WE also have a responsibility to teach our children to be considerate of others, which includes their allergies.

    My daughter has just turned nine and we are blessed that she is not allergic to anything. But she has been in day cares and schools that were nut-free since she started attending them. She has friends with allergies, and she is a very compassionate and caring person. She always makes sure I have a fun nut-free treat for them to eat when her allergic friend comes over. There is nothing wrong with teaching our children to be compassionate and respectful towards each other.

    I seems like a lot of the parents of non-allergic kids feel that the allergic person is depriving them, and their kids, of something. If our attitude is always self centered – “look what we have to give up” – then our children will pick up on that and we are teaching them that the situation is all about THEM. The attitudes we teach our children now will follow them through life.

    We need to teach our children to show respect for others, but we also need to DEMONSTRATE it with our own words and actions. If we as parents had more respect for each other, this wouldn’t even be a topic for discussion. The world would be a much better place if we all could learn to have compassion for one another, regardless of race, religion, or ALLERGY!

  112. BTW – I love your blog about the make-ahead lunches! There are many great ideas that I will be incorporating to help make our daily lunch-making much simpler. Thanks for the great ideas!

  113. As much as I think it’s ridiculous that this discussion devolved into a debate on peanuts, I can’t help myself from commenting.

    My thing is, why can’t these schools simply seat the children with peanut allergies together for lunch? Then they don’t have to worry about them eating peanuts. My son is a vegetarian with food phobias, and eats a very short list of foods, one of which is a peanut butter sandwich, which gets protein and whole grains into him. Thank GOD so far his schools haven’t banned peanuts. I can even see it for little kids (maybe 3-6), but I’m sorry, if your kid is 8 or 9 years old and not bright enough to not eat something he knows will KILL him? You’ve failed as a parent at that point.

    • I’m not even sure how to respond to this. For starters, a food “phobia” is VERY different that an allergy that could kill my child. Food phobia. That’s a new one.

      For you to say that my son isn’t “bright enough” and that I’ve “failed as a parent” is hurtful and unnecessary.

  114. None of this allergy crap has anything to do with this post. Here are my thoughts on the allery thing, though : If your child is allergic, teach him or her about their safety. Ask your school to have a special place for your child to sit. On the smart assed side of things….If my child eats peanut butter for breakfast at home, will your child not have a reaction if he or she is touched by my child, who still has peanut butter on her hands when she arrives? Will he or she not react if kissed by my child in the hall (teens do it, even though we tell them not to)? Come on. It IS yours and your child’s responsibility. And at four, my children all knew what was safe, if I taught them. Teach them from the beginning. They shouldn’t share food. They shouldn’t touch peanut products. Further, kids are mean and don’t process consequences as easily, anymore. Video games and TV make life seem like it can be reset. Who’s to say everyone has all these rules and johnny doesn’t rub peanut butter on sally in the hall to see what happens when she has an allergic reaction? Or what if your child’s bus crashes? Or the school burns down? Risks. If they are too much and your child isn’t ready for school……there are many dangerous things in the world. You need to do your job. I, in turn, will make sure my child knows not to share food with anyone who may have an allergy. I, like many other people went to school. I never saw anyone have an allergic reaction to food. They knew not to come into contact with those things. DUH!

  115. Wowbutter people -> Peanut butter replacement. But seriously, get more creative and just serve peanut butter at breakfast at home. It’s ok to roll your eyes at the inconvenience. But you’d feel like poop if your laziness hurt someone’s child. As adults we have more important things to worry and complain about, come on.

  116. kassi jensen says:

    If your child could die from just touching a peanut product Homeschool!!!!

  117. I love how all these people whose kids don’t have food allergies think the allergic kids just need to “learn what’s safe and not safe.” My four year old KNOWS she’s allergic to peanuts and she KNOWS to ask if something has peanuts in it. But she doesn’t understand who to trust and not to trust. So many people are uninformed and don’t really know how to check if something contains or may contain peanuts. She believes people when they tell her something is safe, even if she shouldn’t believe them. In the early grades, we need to look out for these little kiddos until they’re older and able to be skeptical and learn how to protect themselves better.

    I also love how people make these comparisons to vegetarians (What if we’re vegetarian? What if my kid is a fussy eater?” Those are not even remotely the same situations and are 100% personal choice. NOT life threatening allergies.

    My kids go to an elementary school that is NOT peanut free. The school offers a peanut-free table, but I choose to have my kids sit at the regular tables. That’s my choice, based on my comfort level and my kids’ allergy levels. I just find it horrendous that people are so cruel and heartless to those kids with histories of anaphylaxis. What a way to model empathy and compassion to your kids.

    • I also love all the comments of, “So just homeschool.” Guess what? Not all of us are stay home parents. Some of us have to actually WORK to support our families! Novel concept, I know.

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