Lunch Wrap Up: Week of Nov 7th

Recently I chatted with my son’s caregiver to get more information about how the lunches are going over. She told me that he eats well. However, sometimes his lunches are too big and that other times they are too small — then he complains of hunger. I think this is the struggle of many meal planners — how much, how little. Even during my year of school lunch last year, I remember that some meals felt more substantial than others.

Am I wrong to look at these lunch boxes and think they are overflowing with food for a three-year-old? I think some of this comes from that fact that at home, my son doesn’t eat a whole lot at lunch. Normally we might be lucky if he ate half of one of these lunches at home. However, he really will load up one meal per day (sometimes it’s breakfast or dinner and not lunch — it varies).

To think that some days at school he’s still hungry makes me sad, but part of me finds it hard to believe. He is running around and having fun so I can imagine that he is burning more calories at school than he does at home. Still, he spends almost every weekday night throwing footballs and hitting baseballs around the living room — he’s not a couch potato.

However, I get hungry a few hours after lunch. I think it’s very possible that my lunches are too small. I think I need to bulk up my own meals. Also sometimes I need to bulk up my breakfasts because many mornings I can barely find the time to feed everyone and I’m grabbing something on my way out the door.

Many of you asked about the fact that my lunches aren’t matching up to the school’s menu. I stopped doing it because I ran out of time. My son has not seemed to notice. I did mention this to his caregiver and she seemed pretty much indifferent, but hinted that I could check out the menu. I think I’ll try to do a little better matching up his lunches, but overall it seems like a non-issue.

(Also those of you who questioned my declaration that our lunches are “dairy free” — you are right. They are not dairy free because we use goat milk products, but they are cow dairy free.)

Charlie’s lunches

Turkey wrap; mandarin orange; pretzels; toasted squash; brussel sprouts

Charlie is nuts for the wraps and for brussel sprouts. The wraps are made from teff flour (sort-of hard to find). He told me he tried the squash. Child care menu: Baked lasagna, veggie blend, sliced pears, wheat bread

Pasta and sauce; crackers; carrot sticks; egg; sliced pears

This would probably be a lunch that wasn’t enough, but it would have been plenty for a regular home lunch on the weekends. Perplexing. Child care menu: Turkey taco, cheese, lettuce, tropical fruit, tortilla

 Rice and pickles; mandarin oranges; brussel sprouts and BBQ chicken; applesauce

The last week of applesauce containers. I have phased them out. Child care menu: Chicken tenders, salad with ranch dressing, cinnamon apple slices

 Turkey wrap; mandarin orange slices; chickpeas over “grass” (pea shoots); pepitas; applesauce; rice cakes

All I can say is YUM. Child care menu: Turkey hot dog, rice, veggie blend, banana, wheat bun

 Turkey wrap; applesauce; brussel sprouts; chickpeas; pear slices

I asked my son what he wanted for lunch (keep in mind I STRUGGLE with keeping momentum up when packing lunches on Friday). He said turkey wrap. I said ok. Child care menu: Mashed potato bowl, green beans, applesauce, wheat bread.

My lunches

Chicken sausage, squash, brussel sprouts, rice; mandarin oranges; pear sauce, KIND bar

My son didn’t like the pear sauce that I bought at Trader Joe’s so my husband and I are finishing it off.

Butternut squash soup (CSA); chips; BBQ chicken drumstick; sweet potato; carrot (far right)

I had never made butternut squash soup before because, well, I had never purchased a butternut squash before. So I had to do something with the squash I got in the CSA box and then my mom showed up with some more butternut squash that she bought at the farmer’s market. The soup was heavenly, but my son was not a fan.

Turkey wrap; mandarin orange; brussel sprouts

Delicious, but probably not enough food.

 BBQ chicken wrap, raisins; chickpeas; pear sauce

 Now that lunch was filling!

(And Friday 11/11 was Veteran’s Day so I didn’t pack. Instead I stayed home and did a bunch of interviews, like this one on dietsinreview.)

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22 thoughts on “Lunch Wrap Up: Week of Nov 7th

  1. I always felt like you packed a lot of food for your young son. However, I realized that with him at day care for many many hours, not all of the food is eaten at once through snacks over the course of the day.
    Hunger is also probably a complex relation of fiber/protein/activity rather than size.

  2. Wow. No matter what I pack my 6-year-old daughter for lunch, she takes two tiny bites of the protein and starch, two bites of the fruit, eats her small dessert, and she’s done. And that’s on a good day! On a bad day, it comes home untouched. I have no idea why she doesn’t starve to death!

  3. I understand what you mean about struggling to pack enough food. I pack my own lunch and try very hard not to run out and pick up a sandwich or soup (to save money). Sometimes I open the bag and think “oh boy what was I thinking this morning? There is NOTHING HERE” and then I vow to pack more the next day. I guess I have the luxury to keep protein bars and fruit leather in my desk that a kiddo at school wouldn’t have.

    Pear sauce sounds delicious, I will have to try it.

  4. Why don’t you send extra snacks to school with your child in case he complains of hunger after finishing his lunch? Long ago, I worked in a daycare and we had some parents who would bring, like, a bag of baby carrots or a basket of berries on Monday and tell us to only give the kid some at lunch if he or she asked for them. On Friday, we’d give them the leftovers. Sometimes, the kid never said they were hungry. Sometimes, they requested it daily.

  5. You should try keeping track of your calories. It’s not very hard to do. You can use a program like the daily plate online or through a phone app or build an old fashioned spreadsheet like I do. It really doesn’t take as much time as you’d think and you could have the peace of mind of knowing you and he are at least getting the right amount of calories (and other nutrients if you choose to track those too.)

  6. I have to pack my kids lunches everyday. It is tricky to make sure they have enough protein to keep them full for the day. The school does not heat up food for the children and sandwiches and wraps only go so far. Does your child care provider heat up his food? Regular public school does not allow this.

    My children are much older than yours so their appetites are larger. We do alot of soup and pasta in thermos to stay warm. It is quite hard and challanging.

  7. I take healthy snacks with me. There is no way that my lunch, eaten at noon, is going to hold me until 6:00. So I take fresh fruit and low fat cheese to snack on through the afternoon. Keeps me from hitting the vending machine, and I don’t have to worry about being famished at dinner!

  8. On your son’s lunch issue: have you considered that it might not be the quantity but the make-up of the food that is causing this? Personally, if I were to have a lunch that is mostly carbohydrates (like pasta, crakers, carrots, pears) and only a little protein and fat (one egg), I would be STARVING an hour or two afterwards. A better/more consistent balance of protein and fat in his meals might help a lot. More fiber might help too, so if he would tolerate, say, brown rice instead of brown rice pasta….?

    1. This is my thought as well. The balance of these lunches seems way off….seems like all could use more protein.

      Also on all the pastas – public schools don’t reheat lunches for students – wouldn’t some be a little gross cold/lukewarm?

  9. This is my favourite part of the week…lunch wrap-up!

    I like the “carrot-fork” that you used Tuesday, Mrs. Q 😉

    By the way, does the daycare provide cuttlery for the toddlers? because I don’t see any in your lunchboxes.

  10. Whether you match the childcare menu or not–I love reading these. Maybe because I have a toddler (who also eats more at the sitter’s than at home). Maybe because I love food. Maybe because I am a meal planner. Or just maybe because I am nosy. Whichever–keep posting. I’ll keep reading! 🙂

  11. I really enjoy these posts as well. I’ve been packing my lunch for almost a year now, and I love it! Although, I do pack the night before – I am not a morning person. I often pack more than I think I’ll eat – I’d rather have extra food in my lunch pack when I get home at the end of the day, than eat all the food I packed and still be hungry.

  12. I can’t believe they are saying your son isn’t getting enough food. I am 25 and wouldn’t probably finish half of his lunches.. I think they are plenty big for a young child!

  13. Unless the containers in his lunch box are really small, it looks like plenty of food to me. I’m surprised the daycare doesn’t have an afternoon snack time for the kids; the afterschool programs and day camps my daughter attended in elementary school all did. Even for adults, it’s hard to eat enough at one meal to stay full for five or six hours afterward – our bodies just aren’t designed that way – and for little kids with little stomachs, it’s even harder.

  14. Just a thought – maybe the daycare is trying to make you doubt the sufficiency of his lunches to convince you to sign him up for their meal plan instead? Maybe they get more money that way, or it would be easier for them if he ate the same stuff as everyone else? I know it sounds paranoid, but the “hinting that [you] could check out the menu” made me think of it.

  15. I also struggle with this, but like Mary have found that increasing protein and healthy fats, while decreasing traditional carbs like pasta, pretzels etc. has really helped. I don’t think it’s a matter of counting calories or quantity, but much more about quality, which you are all about 🙂

  16. You briefly mentioned phasing out the applesauce containers, but I must have missed why you decided to do that. I went and checked recent recap lunch posts, but couldn’t find it. I enjoy hearing your progression with all things nutrition, food, etc.

  17. I’m with the others that mentioned protein. Some of both your and your son’s lunches seem to be light on protein compared with the amount of carbs (white rice, fruit, starchy vegetables). These aren’t bad foods but both of you may need more protein to get through the day. You might consider adding some nuts like almonds to your lunches. That way if you think you maybe didn’t eat enough you can munch on some almonds to supplement. The bars you eat don’t seem to be protein heavy so do you really need them if you have a starchy vegetable, a grain, and a fruit in your lunch? Or if the nuts won’t work, maybe some beans or peas? Even just doubling the proteins you do include, like 2 eggs or 2 chicken sausages might help. You probably found your last lunch filling because the chickpeas added extra protein and fiber to your meal.

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