Boy leaving for school with lunchbox

Keeping lunches fun five days a week

When it comes to planning school lunches, it's easy to fall into a rut. Here's how a couple of working moms made lunchtime fun and took their weekly menus beyond the turkey sandwich.

I've gone totally bento

Blogger Wendy Copley shares lots of helpful lunchtime tips and inspiration for packing bento boxes at her site Bento boxes are compartmentalized containers that originated in Japan. These boxes have been used for takeout and for taking home-cooked meals on the go. Wendy shares a list of kid-friendly foods that her kids like and will eat cold or at room temperature. She uses those lists to plan the weekly lunches for her children, ensuring that she provides them with an interesting variety of foods that will keep them eating and well-nourished.

Pre-pack bento compartments for the week to make assembly each morning something that you can actually do with at least one eye closed. Match different colored containers with types of food -- blue with proteins, green with vegetables, etc. -- to make sure you're covering all of the food groups each day.

There's an app for that

For more proof that there's really nothing that your smart phone can't do, check out the LaLa Lunchbox app developed by working mom Gillian Fein. She created a system to deal with the what's for lunch question in her home.

According to her blog, Fein originally developed the system for her daughter and asked her to pick out what she wants packed in her lunch for the week. Of course, there had to be a few ground rules. Each lunch had to contain a fruit, a vegetable, a protein and a snack. After her daughter made her selections, Fein wrote up a grocery list, bought the weekly supplies and called it a day. Her app brings the system into your home. Just give your kids your phone and let them make their choices. The app will then give you a grocery list and schedule to work from.

Quick and healthy sandwich ideas

Nutritionist Tina Ruggiero shares ten quick, healthy and yummy sandwich ideas at Her ideas include offering up an omelet sandwich made with mozzarella and served on whole grain bread and using leftovers to stuff pita pockets and build hearty sandwiches that your kids will love. Work hummus and veggies, almond butter and other less conventional, but completely healthy, ingredients into your kid's lunch to continue to foster variety and avoid a lunch rut.

More lunchtime articles and info

Back to school lunch treats
Keeping your kids on a healthy diet
Brain boosting foods for kids


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Comments on "Working moms share: How I plan school week menus"

Gillian September 04, 2012 | 5:27 PM

Thanks for the shout out! BTW I loved your post about after school snacks that kids can prepare. Getting into a healthy routine for school lunches (and meals in general) can be so daunting. LaLa Lunchbox wishes all parents out there the best of luck with the new school year. We're hoping to make lives easier (and healthier) so we welcome any feedback and suggestions - just send an email to help@lalalunchbox. Thank you!

Lauren September 04, 2012 | 10:09 AM

I agree that variety is key. Also, if your kids really love BBQ chips or apples or something, feel free to keep that consistent. I'm the type of person that doesn't mind eating the same thing everyday, but my kids really like to change up the main thing in their lunch. Thanks for the great tips!

Karla September 01, 2012 | 10:27 AM

As a mother and an educator, I always try to avoid the school lunch rut. Variety is the key to optimal learning, and this is why I try to never pack the same lunch for my kids more than two days a month. Furthermore, I am a strong believer in allowing children to choose their own school lunches – after all, it is THEIR lunch – but I also think it is important to set nutritional ground rules. I also fill my kids’ lunchboxes with surprises and inspirational notes. I believe that if every parent follows this advice, lunchtime for your child at school will be a happy and fun experience rather than a boring and routine drill. :)

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