I’ve really been enjoying being able to choose what my daughter has for lunch at school. It’s been a bit of a challenge to my creativity, especially when I didn’t think about it the night before to ensure that basic ingredients would be ready.

Those are the days I resort to chicken soup in a thermos. It works well enough if not ideal.

The simplest way to make providing a healthy lunch easy has been to send leftovers in the thermos or to have something precooked, like pasta, and add veggies and a sauce to it. Very quick and simple pasta salads go over quite well.

I’m definitely not a fan of Lunchables and similar. I know a lot of people like them well enough but they really aren’t to my taste, mostly for nutritional reasons. I’d rather pick better quality meats and cheeses and make something like a Lunchable on my own for far less.

I always include one or two kinds of fresh fruit. Since my daughter is in kindergarten she gets both a snack and lunch. If the fruit is small, two kinds can keep things a little more interesting.

Fresh vegetables work really well for us too. Most common are carrot sticks or slices, but leftover salad, cauliflower and broccoli have gone over quite well on a regular basis. Then again my kids have what I understand to be a rare love of raw vegetables.

On occasion I do include something that is more of a treat, aside from the fruit. The school forbids candy, but we have sent shortcake with berries on top for a really fun dessert.

One of my best purchases was a container that could be split into several small sections. These are available in many forms, but I like the overall function of the Laptop Lunches bag from ReusableBags.com best. It has a lot more room than the little box I have right now, and once my daughter needs something a bit bigger, that’s what I’m getting.

Having a lunchbox that has compartments really does make packing healthy, interesting lunches easier. With my current little box I can pack a sandwich by cutting it in half and stacking it, then using the little compartments for veggies, sliced fruit, crackers or whatever. Or I can put pasta salad or other foods in place of the sandwich. I just love the flexibility.

Things I don’t pack include fruit snacks or rollups, the aforementioned Lunchables or anything else with too much sugar or overly processed. I’ve put a lot of effort in avoiding those at home, so I don’t want to suddenly add them just because my daughter eats lunch at school.

Do any of you have favorite school lunch recipes or ideas?

[tags]school lunch,lunch ideas,kid lunches,lunch,laptop lunches,healthy food[/tags]