Lunch Kits That Will Have Both Mom and Kids Smiling

Chow on 07.19.11
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For the past several months, my son has been pushing me to buy him those store bought lunch kits in which the kids can "build" their lunch because he's seen his friends at school and camp with them. You know the ones where they put the bologna on top of the cracker with the American cheese and have a side of a candy bar and juice. He really wants the one that you pour the "red stuff" into the water to make juice. It makes me want to cringe and I refuse to buy them. Besides the fact that the cost adds up to buy pre-packaged lunches every day, as a general rule I don't buy anything that has high-fructose corn syrup, nitrates, nitrites, sucralose or lots of other preservatives. I'm not saying that my kids absolutely never have these ingredients, but I don't stock my fridge or pantry with foods that have them as I personally believe they aren't great for their health. So how do I appease my son's unending request and provide him with a lunch that I feel is healthy for him to eat?

This morning I made him a DIY lunch kit with foods straight out of the fridge. It's amazing what a small round cookie cutter (or in my case the rim of a measuring cup) can do to get a kid excited. It works best if you have a covered dish that has dividers for them to take, but you can use a sandwich size food storage container as well.

First, I took the rim of my measuring cup and pressed out approximately two inch circles of two slices of ham (I use Hormel-nitrate and nitrite free), one slice of cheese, and two slices of whole wheat bread which I stacked in a compartment for him to assemble. Rather than add a candy bar, I added in a chocolate cookie from the health food section of the store, and the last spot is saved for fresh fruit. I couldn't find any powdered drinks he could add to water which don't have the stuff I avoid so a juice box will have to do for now.

Despite the fact that it wasn't the exact same as the ones his friends bring to school, he was beyond thrilled with his first lunch kit. The fact is that it's the idea that his friends' lunch involves the activity of building their own sandwiches that is exciting and that they come in these different shapes that make it interesting so by offering him the same activity and shapes I'm giving him what he wants. The other beauty of making these kits yourself is that you can tailor them to the types of foods your kids like rather than be limited to what's pre-packaged. If they only eat peanut butter and bananas, you can make that work. The sky's the limit. And suddenly lunch is fun for everyone!

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