Sandwich-less, Nut-less Lunch Ideas

Corduroy– My pseudo-granddaughter’s school lunch options consist of less-than appetizing processed foods.  She’s not a big sandwich eater.  One sandwich she does like is peanut butter and jelly–but nuts and nut butters are banned from the class due to allergy concerns.  Any ideas for what a 5-year old might enjoy at lunch that would travel well? –CLS

Depends on the five-year-old, I suppose.  Here’s a list of ten ideas.  Anyone else can free to leave a comment and start at number 11.  I bet we can come up with at least 25 ideas all told.

1) Hard boiled eggs.  Perhaps with a little packet of salt and a little packet of pepper.  Aurora would say forget the salt and pepper and give her a packet of mustard.  Greg would say a jar of hot sauce and a beer, but you’ll probably want to ignore his advice.  I’d say it’s fun to crack ‘em on your head.  Ramona would say watch out, your mom might have gotten distracted and put a raw egg in your lunch instead.

2) Whole Fruit.  such as grapes, apples, plums, peaches (in a small plastic container to reduce bruising), etc.  Bananas also tend to bruise.  Cut fruit tends not to travel well.

3) Vegetables.  Carrot sticks, celery sticks, cucumber sticks are some of the more obvious ones.  Depending on the kid, you might want to try broccoli florettes, leftover corn on the cob, cherry tomatoes, leftover roasted sweet potatoes, and so on.

4) Yogurt.  Hold on a second while I climb up onto a soap box. And please, please, please, buy your children real yogurt, and if they want flavors in it, mix it up with actual fruit, or even jams containing actual fruit, or real maple syrup or something like that.  I look around the grocery store at the crap that is marketed to kids and I think it’s (pardon me while I curse for added emphasis to show how strongly I feel) fornicatingly wrong to sell artificial colors and flavors to children who are too young and inexperienced to know what it is that they’re actually eating.  Kids get poisoned every year because they drink the green or the blue or the yellow dish detergent hat has a picture of fruit on the outside of it because they’re used to being fed food that has those shockingly false colors included in them. Beautiful, interesting, and flavorful natural colors can be added with inclusions such as blueberries, cherries, strawberries, peaches, and so on. Encourage and guide your children to eating food that is actually food.

5) Muffins. And think beyond blueberry, banana, etc. How about carrot; zucchini; bacon and cheddar; or ham, scallion, and goat cheese?

6) Bagels. I like cream cheese on mine. I’ve seen people eat them with peanut butter. You can’t do that. How about sunflower seed butter? I’ve also seen hemp seed butter, which I understand is actually nutrient-dense and a legitimate food, as opposed to something you’d spread on one of Alice’s brownies.

7) Lunch meat rolls. Spread a piece of ham or turkey with mustard. Top with a slice or two of real cheese (not that individually-wrapped plastic crap), roll, and hold in place with a toothpick. Also tasty is mortadella wrapped with cheese and a spear of dill pickle.

8 ) Cheese and crackers. See above rant on using real, actual cheese as opposed to something called ‘pasteurized process cheese food product.’ You might also use small pieces of lunch meat. You could portion each up in its own small tupperware and house those in a larger tupperware for a ‘lunchables’ style lunch that would actually be worth eating. (do you catch my drift on the level of absolute feces that gets slung toward our children by large corporations?)

9) Sardines. I know, it depends on the kid. And the kid’s classmates. But I totally take sardines in to work for my lunch and I think it’s grand. A tin of fish, a sleeve of crackers, sume mustard and/or hot sauce. Okay, so this is probably more a tip for moms and dads who take their lunches to work than grade schoolers who compare lunches and trade things and ridicule each other mercilessly.

10) Cookies. Preferably homemade so that you can control what goes in them. And can even do things like add oatmeal into the chocolate chip cookies in place of the forbidden walnuts. And spice them with a touch of cinnamon and some allspice. And use real butter instead of hydrogenated vegetable oils. That’s a good cookie. And because it’s made with real ingredients instead of false ones it’s the kind of sweet treat that kids ought to eat.

5 Responses to “Sandwich-less, Nut-less Lunch Ideas”

  1. Becky Says:

    My son loves “hummus quesadilla”, which is just hummus inside a tortilla, cut into triangles. That and a little applesauce is pretty much lunch on most days.

    I plan on trying some Cous Cous salad- just Cous Cous with some veggies and feta. Also, we like a garbanzo bean salad- beans with shallots, feta, and lemon juice. Make some for a few day’s worth.

  2. Martha Says:

    Soy-nut butter is not bad and with honey is tasty — roll it in a tortilla or a nice piece of bread. Anything that can be dipped — mix cream cheese with olives, and/or raisins and/or cinnamon and/or maple syrup etc. then send nice chunks of things to dip in it like carrots, whole grain crackers, chunks of lunch meat etc. If you cut up an apple and dip it in some sort of acidic juice, like pinepple then put it in tupperware it doesn’t get brown. Some kids like edamame (the kind in the shell you have to pull out with your teeth - very cool)

    Leftovers in a thermos, I’m told, are “like barf” and should not be sent.

    That said, all my kid (11 y/o, 6th grade, afraid of the lunch line but don’t tell her I told you) has been living off of peanut butter on graham crackers, yogurt raisins and carrot sticks dipped in ranch dressing for the past few months.

  3. Martha Says:

    Oh yeah, and if you replace the liquid ingredients in a batch of brownies with pureed black beans (and I mean pureed until any semblance of chunks are gone - mix in a little water) are really good and bulk up a little fiber. While I don’t generally approve of pureeing vegetables to hide them in food a la Jessica Seinfeld, these are really good. I learned the recipe while following a popular diet program which uses the concept of “points”

  4. justin Says:

    I’ve heard of people smuggling small, personal-use amounts of various pharmaceuticals onto airplanes and buses by hiding the bagged stash in a jar of peanut butter. Perhaps an opposite approach is in call to sneak peanut butter into the cafeteria.

    Then again, maybe this gets filed with Greg’s “hot sauce and a beer” recipe.

  5. sarah a. Says:

    Thanks for a great post, Jesse. We have to start sending lunches with Kai this fall, and I’ve been starting to make a list such as this one to reduce the thinking some evenings/mornings…

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