Monday, February 27, 2012

Healthy Lunches in a SNAP! With a giveaway from Wean Green

It was when we first started going to a Waldorf school that I began to wonder if the way we were eating as a family wasn't as healthy as I thought.  Our school at the time recommended reusable containers and no prepackaged foods but rather emphasized whole foods, fresh foods, and balanced meals.  I quickly had to expand my lunch packing options to attempt these goals but I was afraid my daughter would rather go hungry all day than eat many of the options I came up with.  It turned out, I had less faith in her palate than she deserved.

Over the years of lunch packing our family has developed a bit of a repertoire of foods for our lunches.  Today the bigger girls pack their own lunches, following the expected guidelines of a balanced meal and going off a list we created together to be sure we have plenty of variety and interest.

Each lunch is expected to have the following:

Two (or more) proteins
One (or more) veggie
One (or more) fruit
No more than one "pantry food" (i.e crackers, pretzels, bread, baked snack, etc. not central to main dish)

For a while we included grains in our list but since that tends to happen anyway and is often covered in the main dish or pantry food option, we don't worry about it too much any more and instead just aim to have healthy grain options available to make for easy lunch packing.

Our family's favorite homemade granola bars

Easy grains for lunch options:

(Adaptable for the gluten-free diet as well.)

  • whole wheat bread
  • cooked brown rice
  • cooke quinoa (actually a high protein seed)
  • cooked barley
  • oatmeal
  • homemade granola bars (we love this basic, build your own recipe)
  • whole wheat tortillas
  • corn tortillas
  • whole wheat pita bread
  • whole grain crackers
  • whole grain baked snack (a delicious and fun recipe that is easy to convert to whole wheat are these soft pretzels, my girls love helping to make them.)
  • whole wheat pastas
  • whole wheat couscous
  • popped popcorn
  • whole grain muffins
  • whole grain pancakes

Together we sat down and brainstormed lunch options, making a list to go on our refrigerator and color coding based on food type.  With thick colored pencils and a few block crayons and we had a colorful list of foods to fill our lunch pails and lunch baskets.  Not only does it make it easy for the girls packing their own lunch, but daddy and I use it too, not only for packing school lunches but often for inspiration for lunches and even relaxed dinners for the family.  With a simple list of nutritious and tasty foods we've already agreed upon and enjoy, preparing our shopping list is easy, and putting our lunches together even more so.  We are omnivores so there is meat and dairy on our list but it's simple enough to adapt to your family's diet and preferences just by following the basic outline above.

Homemade avocado/carrot/cucumber/cooked tuna sushi
with an apple, pretzels, hard boiled egg, and peanuts

Some of what's on our list


Brain food, muscle food, growing food.  Don't skimp on this one.

(At the time of this writing, Bayou Village School had no known nut allergy issues, so nuts are on our list.  If your child's school is a nut-free-zone, you would want to be sure there were no nut options on your list.)

  • almonds
  • walnuts
  • all nuts
  • roasted chick peas (a huge family favorite- recipe coming!)
  • tuna fish
  • hard boiled eggs
  • egg salad
  • nut butters
  • quinoa (or anything made from quinoa)
  • cooked beans
  • hummus (homemade)
  • black bean and spinach hummus (homemade)
  • chicken salad
  • strips of meat (often from left overs)
  • taco mixture
  • cheeses
  • yogurt
  • seeds


If at first you don't succeed, try, try again.

  • any vegetable julienne (carrots, celery, zucchini, summer squash, bell peppers, etc. Best w/a dip like hummus!)
  • salad (keep it simple and dressing on the side or it gets soggy)
  • homemade salsa (corn chips as the pantry food make this a real treat for my kids)
  • avocado slices/chunks
  • veggie based sauces for pasta
  • slice cucumbers
  • whole fresh, raw veggies- wash and go (asparagus, mushrooms, broccoli chunks, etc.)


The best kind of sweet is the kind packed with nutrients and flavors straight from the earth.  Earth's dessert!

  • fresh and contained fruit (apples, clementine, berries, peaches, tangerines, plums, pears, etc.)
  • chopped fruit (pineapple, fruit salad, fruit kabobs, etc.)
  • kiwi (cut in half, accompanied by a spoon to spoon out the insides)
  • fruit rolls (fruit with nutbutter wrapped in a tortilla)

Dish ideas

When you can, make it fun but don't stress over it, share the experience with your child.

  • Veggie Rainbow Wraps
  • bean pizza (mashed beans with garlic, salt, and pepper, spread on bread or tortilla, sprinkle with cheese and veggies)
  • lettuce wraps (shredded carrots, a touch of dressing, tuna or other protein wrapped in lettuce)
  • sandwiches (think beyond peanut butter and jelly, almost anything can be on a sandwich!)
  • left overs
  • pinwheels (just about anything protein plus veggie/fruit topping rolled up in tortilla and sliced in pinwheels)
  • sushi (whole wheat rice, sushi wraps, tiny chopped veggies, and tiny pieces of protein, roll and slice)
  • pancake sandwiches (left over homemade whole wheat pancakes with nut butter and fruit slices)
  • beans and rice
  • stackers (protein options and veggies sliced to stack on whole grain pieces of bread or crackers)
  • couscous surprise (couscous mixed with protein options- beans and/or meat with cooked veggies usually)


  • nut butter mixed with honey or agave nectar (fruit dip)
  • live culture yogurt or sugar-free yogurt with molasses and honey/agave nectar (fruit dip)
  • nut butter mixed with soy sauce, ginger, and honey (veggie dip)
  • 1/2 plain yogurt, 1/2 cream cheese in food processor with cilantro, cumin, spinach, salt, pepper, tablespoon of salsa (veggie/chip dip)
  • yogurt whizzed with fruit (fruit dip)
  • hummus (easy to make your own: chick peas, tahini, lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, salt pepper)
  • bean dip (any bean can be made into it's own version of hummus, experiment!)
  • guacamole
  • marinara dip (veggies- left over spaghetti sauce!)

  • Take advantage of left overs and don't be afraid to "repurpose" food, creating a new dish from left overs.
  • Don't underestimate the power of dips, veggies and fruit with dip is fun to eat and maybe even new foods will be attempted this way.
  • Small portions, try not to over pack food, it can overwhelm and just gets thrown away.
  • Individual containers in lunch box/basket makes it easier for young ones to manage.
  • Introduce new foods along side a favorite.
  • Include home rituals such as cloth napkin, utensils, etc.
  • Intentionally create left overs- make too much rice and set aside, grill an extra piece of chicken, etc.
  • Ask your child what their friends have for lunch that looks good, try it if it fits with your lunch standards.
  • Pack foods that can last most, if not all day unrefridgerated and encourage finishing lunch for after school snack to avoid waste.
  • Aim for whole foods (not processed, whole grains, fresh produce, etc.) for more nutrition, less chemicals.
  • Have an idea of lunches for the week so shopping is done ahead of time.
  • When possible, make the night before and have ready in the fridge to grab and go.
  • Involve your child, even young ones, in packing lunches.  Ownership tastes better.
  • Have occasional treats, specially homemade ones like these fruit roll-ups.
  • Make food together over the weekend that can keep and go in lunches later like the roll-ups or granola bars.
  • Limit refined sugars and high sodium foods to help your student's attention span.
  • Reusable containers save money and avoid trashing our planet.
  • Be creative- we're often boxed in by our ideas of meals, branch out and be creative.
  • Trust the old standbys too- if your child likes the same thing every day, if it's balanced then why not?!
  • Pack it fun and attractive but don't stress over presentation, they won't care.
  • Know when to stop trying if a food keeps coming home uneaten and wait for another time to try again.
  • Clean out the lunch containers together immediately and talk about tomorrow's lunch then.
  • Let your child get creative, they may surprise you with interesting and nutritious choices to try.

More links for ideas:

Some of our favorite lunch containers are the tempered glass containers with snapping lids from Wean Green.  Wean Green is a family owned, eco-friendly company with practical and affordable products that help make packing lunches and storing food safely a snap.  I love this company.  Featuring tempered glass (break-resistant, and we've tried, trust me) and BPA-free snap on lids, Wean Green's containers come in a variety of sizes to meet all your lunch packing needs.  I love how colorful my 4 year old's lunch basket is with the bright Wean Green container lids and she loves helping pick which containers to use when we're packing her lunch.

Wean Green is generously giving away a set each of their wean tubes, snack cubes, and sandwich cubes to one lucky winner, a $40 value.

To be entered, please leave a comment below sharing your favorite packed lunch tip.

For a second entry, visit the Wean Green site and come back to post here with the link to the set you'd like to have today.

That's it, two easy steps for a possible two entries.  Please also be sure to head over to the Wean Green Facebook page and thank then for this opportunity and click "like" to keep up with news, information, and additional opportunities from this wonderful company.  Opportunity to enter the giveaway will be available from February 28 - March 28, 2012.  A big thanks to Melissa Gunning, the mom behind Wean Green, for this giveaway, their generous support, and for caring for families and the environment.  Good luck everyone!

Important: only a possible two entries per person, any additional entries will be deleted and abuse will possibly result in all of an individual’s entries being deleted.  Please be patient in waiting for comments to show up as some have to be moderated from the spam filter.  Thank you.


  1. Bean burritos are always a hit with our kids!

    Almond butter on whole grain bread w/ sprouts of some sort (alfalfa and red clover have been hits here)

    Definitely sharing this!

  2. pink is my favorite color!

  3. I really love the idea of the bean pizza. We always make hummus ourselves and do make pizzas using tortillas but have never combined them. Definitely checking that out. Great article. I have been packing vegetarian lunches for 6 years now and sometimes it is hard to stay creative.

  4. I love the bowls seen here:

    I wil be making my own baby food in a few months and these bowls would be perfect!

  5. I like to include things to nibble on when packing lunches... pita chips, baby carrots, grapes, almonds. Chances are they won't always get finished at lunchtime so it leaves a healthy snack for later.

  6. We made a snack box in our house with little baggies of nuts, pieces of fruit, etc. Now when I am packing lunches in the morning, I can have everything packed in less than 5 minutes. It's great.

  7. I'd love to have the Garden Pack Wean Cubes for baby food!

  8. The best tip for us is to keep it tiny! My kids love anything that is bite sized and doing it that way helps them to get a great variety of foods.

  9. we like to make lunches out of mini snacks. My school aged children notoriously forgot to finish lunch. So this way they snack a bit, then go play. Then they can snack again later =)


    I like the Garden Pack Wean Cubes!

  11. My 2 little girls would LOVE the Raspberry Wean Bowls! For my two year old, EVERYTHING must be in a bowl!

  12. I like to make enough for dinner to have leftovers for lunch.


  14. We are a GF family and often have trouble finding solutions for all 4 children. One of their favorites are these tiny little panda pics (like a tooth pick but shorter and has a cute panda in different poses on the top) that we use to hold anything rolled in place. Even my 10yr old son loves to have these pics in his lunch!

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  16. My sons loves red pepper strips and carrots with hummus for dipping. He also often has a sandwich with fresh ground peanut or almond butter and fruit preserves on whole wheat bread. And I always throw in some fruit - today was easy peasy, jar threw in a few clementines :)
    All with water to wash it down. I'd love to try these containers!

  17. My kindergartner loves it when I use cookie cutters & sandwich cutters to make his sandwiches, fruit, and tortillas into shapes, he is always surprised when lunch rolls around. We also have to pack a snack for snack time and his favorite thing is yogurt so I keep some in the freezer and pop it in his snack box frozen and by snack time it is still nice and cold.

    Such great ideas here! We are doing our monthly shopping tomorrow and can't wait to pick up some new stuff to try out this month.


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  20. Oh the pea Wean Cubes are perfect! Small in size (4oz) but just right for my 3yr old and her preschool lunches, and they are her favorite color to boot! They would be great for trying new dips in lunches too!

  21. We love packing veggies and dip.

  22. my daughter loves to dip! So the nut/ginger/soy mix will be great.

  23. We love the Garden pack set or the raspberry lunch set!

  24. I always have trouble coming up with something for my son's lunch. These are some great ideas! One thing that always goes in his lunch, although it's not food, is an encouraging note telling him to have a great day, or good luck on his spelling test, or learning is fun or something like that. He'll have one of the teachers read it for him if he's not able to read it himself...they always make him feel good.

  25. This may sound odd but I love packing roasting pecans and pineapple in two separate containers and then eating them together ~ it's like a totally yummy dessert.
    quantmlife (at) yahoo (dot) com

  26. Love the garden pack wean cubes as for a choice ~ glass is great. Thanks for a great giveaway.

  27. Love the garden pack....very cheeful.....

  28. Also love these lunch cubes.....I want them

  29. I make our own "lunchable" with sliced cheese, crackers, and meat. Also I add some veggies with dip.

  30. We mix yogurt, chia, flax or hemp seeds and /or nuts and frozen berries. We put an ice pack in the lunch bag and it's good til lunchtime.

  31. We would love the Blueberry Lunch Cubes, manly enough even for my husband!

  32. My favorite tip is to "repurpose" leftovers. I've started using leftover spaghetti sauce with meat in it to make chili. Yum!

  33. Love the Raspberry Lunch Cubes. I bet these would be way better than my pyrex dishes...

  34. My kids like lots of choices packed in small containers- a typical packed lunch would be edamame, yellow pepper strips, strawberries and blueberries, and yogurt.

  35. We'd love the garden wean cubes. How cute are they?!?

  36. I always put snacks in a fabric pouch instead of using ziplock bags. Better for mother earth.

  37. I would love the garden wean cubes

  38. I love the idea of repurposing leftovers!

  39. my kids love pitas with health stuff in them even my baby :) and i love pink <3

  40. I just discovered almond butter. We love it as a fruit dip!

  41. I'd love to have the Pea Lunch Cubes!

  42. Raspberry Lunch Cubes are awesome

  43. I like the tip about "repurposing" left overs. I do that a lot (like left over spaghetti sauce with meat added to chili).

  44. I made cute fabric napkins to go with our waste less bagged lunches : )

  45. The pea wean cubes are way cute!

  46. I love this idea! "nut butter mixed with soy sauce, ginger, and honey (veggie dip)" It is different, but sounds like something that my kids might like!

  47. It would be great to get a set of snack cubes...

  48. I love the tip about using leftovers. I save a lot of money doing this!

  49. I really like the mixed colors of this set!

  50. Love this tip---Individual containers in lunch box/basket makes it easier for young ones to manage.

    1. Would really love to win the "Garden Pack Wean Cubes"

  51. Once a month I do freezer cooking and make up different lunches to freeze for my husband to take to work and heat up. He is in the military and needs a good hot meal.

  52. I could really use these! And they are beautiful!

  53. I like making my own trail mix - that way I can use organic nuts and dried fruits, and I can change it up so it's not boring.

  54. I like the nifty Pea Wean Bowls:

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