School Lunches, or What Am I Sposed To Do Without a Fridge?!

Thu 12 Jul, 2007 01:46 pm
I purposely scheduled a few things this summer to be a dress rehearsal for first grade (all-day as opposed to half-day). Coming up is an all-day camp. I'm supposed to make some sort of filling nutritious lunch for her that doesn't require refrigeration. Ack!

Sozlet is the only kid in the universe who doesn't particularly like peanut butter. (She likes all kinds of weird food -- she tried pickled pig's feet happily -- but peanut butter is all ew. Go figure.) I can give her peanut butter and jelly sandwiches VERY rarely, but they're not something to count on.

I got some Turkey Jerky from Trader Joe's, hoping that'll be good.

Have lots of dried fruit and nuts.

Have lots of fresh fruits like grapes that don't need refrigeration.

She has no front teeth right now and doesn't do well with apples or other things she needs to take a bite out of (I know, might be a problem with the jerky, but she can kinda gnaw...)

Water will be provided.

Crackers and such are easy.

It's really the "entree" that I have the most problem with. Usually for lunch we have leftovers from the night before (taken out of fridge, and eaten cold or microwaved), or one of many variations of meat and cheese with fruit of some kind (often cut-up apples).

I'll need a week of lunches for camp but THEN, when school starts, I'll need to do this every dang day -- the school lunches look awful. Grease and lard and grease topped with lard.

Ideas very welcome!
Thu 12 Jul, 2007 01:54 pm
Oh man. Peanut butter was about my only suggestion. Duckie hates the school lunches (and I don't blame him) so we packed something every day last year except for pizza days. I did often send things that typically needed to be refrigerated with the understanding that they had lunch pretty early -- 10:30 in kindergarten and 11:00 in first grade. Cold pizza went over well. Already cooked chicken nuggets work too. This is provided the sozlet doesn't mind eating cold food. I'll try to think of some others.
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Tai Chi
Thu 12 Jul, 2007 01:56 pm
Well, I was going to tell you about my trick of mixing tuna with mustard instead of mayonnaise, but you have to REALLY like mustard...
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Thu 12 Jul, 2007 02:03 pm
I'm so old that.... we took lunchboxes with sandwiches (aw, baloney!) and cookies/fruit and sometimes a small thermos of soup.

Mayo is famous for going bad, but I've never had it happen, to me as a child or as an adult.

By now maybe they make lunch boxes with thermal type insulation; I suppose that would help, given a sandwich is put in cold in the first place.

I'll do some nosing around online about this.
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Tai Chi
Thu 12 Jul, 2007 02:06 pm
A really large insulated lunch bag with multiple freezie packs -- then you can send pretty much anything (although I'd still avoid mayonnaise in the summer months).
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Thu 12 Jul, 2007 02:10 pm
Yeah, our lunch boxes are insulated though I've never seen that it made much of a difference. We've done mac-n-cheese in a thermos before. Duckie is fond of ramen noodles. We've put them in the hot water in the thermos and sent him off -- they're usually soft by the time he eats them.
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Thu 12 Jul, 2007 02:11 pm
I never liked peanut butter either. Trying to remember what my mother packed for me in the warm weather. Salami and bologna (Hebrew National) on rye with mustard. Cheese sandwiches. Chicken sandwiches with ketchup. Cucumber sticks. Cherry tomatoes. Pickles.
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Thu 12 Jul, 2007 02:12 pm
Small ice packs? In a smaller cooler-type lunch bag?
Soup in a soup thermos?

Sometimes I do well with fruits and cold veggies, not having a "main" course.

I'm not big on sandwiches. But will eat lunch meats. (again with the cooler-lunch bag.)

Crackers or chips for carbs, with the veggies.

Course, I can make a meal out of a cantaloupe in the summer. But I don't know how much a kid would need to eat to sustain themselves. Or how many hours we are talking about...

others were posting will I was typing...
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Thu 12 Jul, 2007 02:17 pm
When I worked at a company that did not provide refrigerators for brown baggers to store their lunches, I used to use one of those thermal bags and bought those individual juice in boxes that I'd freeze and put into the bag to keep things cool. Then I'd have more flexibility to pack yogurts, lunch meat sandwiches, hard boiled eggs, etc. By the time lunch came around, the juice was just beginning to thaw and I had a cold drink too.

You could also get a hot thermos for keeping things hot such as soups.

Something like that might work well with the Sozlet.

Check to see if there is a microwave that the kids can use for heating up lunches. If so, you could send frozen things such as veggies, burritos, etc., and they'd be ready for heating by lunch time.
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Thu 12 Jul, 2007 02:29 pm
I think mayo is pretty safe these days even after sitting out for a while.

I freeze my bread then make a sandwich on it. By the time lunch rolls around the bread is defrosted but the sandwich stays cool.

Tortillias make a good substitute for bread and don't tend to get as gummy.

If you do carry out, save the mustard/mayo/ketchup/cream cheese/salad dressing packets. They're great for lunchboxes.

I also keep "polar packs" in the freezer. Drop one in a lunch sack and everything stays cold and dry.

And they make cute little insulated lunch bags that you can store in the fridge that keep things cold for quite a while.

Bento style lunch boxes are cool because they have all those little compartments. You can find insulated versions of those too.

Granola or other cereals -- they're not just for breakfast anymore!


Asian dumplings like potstickers

Pasta salad

Cold chicken legs



Steamed veggies with dipping sauce
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Thu 12 Jul, 2007 02:32 pm
I'm a huge fan of the frozen tetrapak in the lunch bag approach.

Is sozlet good with cheese and fruit combos? Crackers/biscuits with different cheese cubes/chunks and fruit or fruit slices can be awfully nice.

ie. ginger cookies with sections of cheddar or a small chunk of brie with a nice ripe pear or peach - celery/carrot sticks - some dried fruit/granola/choccy bits - a nice cool drink

veggie crackers with baby tomatoes, some mozzerella wedges or mini bocconcini balls (+ rest of lunch)

a small rubbermaid bowl (with lid) with baby salad fixings, bread sticks (+ rest of lunch)
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Thu 12 Jul, 2007 02:35 pm
oh - get sozlet a small thermos. in the fall/winter she can have a nice soup/stew with her meal.
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Walter Hinteler
Thu 12 Jul, 2007 02:38 pm
All my 12, 13 years in school and especially on day tours I just got sandwiches, usually only wrapped in "sandwich paper".

But must seem quite odd, for younger persons and especially for non-Germans (we have bread, butter and ham, cheese, sausage for supper, too).
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Thu 12 Jul, 2007 03:05 pm
For my daughter now going to camp - I freeze a water bottle (take out some of the water first) and/or the juice pouches and/or a small freezer type thing - I found some that were shaped as basketballs and soccer balls perfect for camp. I put anything that should be kept cool next to these freezer packs in an insulated lunch bag.

For lunches - any sort of fruit if apples do not work - strawberries, grapes, blueberries (if any are large I cut them up) and also my daughter likes those grape tomatoes. Pretty much any lunch meats and cheese - I usually don't use mayo as my daughter now prefers her lunches without mayo. Another thing my daughter likes is bagels - so I will give her bagel and cream cheese - if you are concerned about it going bad you can always get the individual packs.

As a reward - once a week I pack a lunchable - I hate the idea of them, but of course the kids love them so I figure add some fruits with it and once a week won't kill her.

Another great thing is to freeze is gogurt and put in the lunch.
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Thu 12 Jul, 2007 03:15 pm
Welcome to the "what-do-I-prepare-for-school-lunch" mothers, soz.

My daughter isn't into peanut butter/jelly sandwiches either, but she loves
olives, tapenade (olive paste) and pesto sauce.

I don't use butter on her sandwiches (as it would melt anyways) I use
Philadelphia cheese or the tapenade, or pesto sauce, then layer it with cold cuts, and either tomatoes, red/white cabbage leaves, pickles, etc.
I also use different breads - baguette is her favorite.

Alternative, cup-a-noodle is great, I just fill hot water into a thermos and
she pours it over the cup at lunch. Or I mix tuna with dried tomatoes in olive oil (jar at Trader's) cut a few celery stems and real tomatoes in too,
and a plain baguette with it.

Cold noodles are always perfect! Either with tapenade, pesto, or vegetables. My daughter also loves potatoes, so I roast them in the frying
pan for her, and add a (cold) hotdog along with it in one of these plastic
containers she can easily open herself. Tupperware can be difficult to
open for children.
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Thu 12 Jul, 2007 03:28 pm
OK, this is great stuff, thank you! (I can still be surprised by how much good info I can get in such a short time on A2K.)

Good points about how the lunch won't necessarily have to withstand too much time or temperature change. I'll have to check on when lunch happens, I don't know right now. (10:30 seems crazy-early! Do they have another snack later on?)

I'm going to see what sort of technology they have in lunch boxes now, for school. The camp is explicit about just a brown bag, nothing fancy. They have very limited space, or something.
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Thu 12 Jul, 2007 03:33 pm
Ah yes, summer camps have brown bag request. Make sure to put everything in a plastic bag beforehand so the paper bag won't get wet or
rip, and don't forget those cute name stickers to put on sozlet's bag in order to avoid mix-ups.
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Thu 12 Jul, 2007 03:39 pm
ehBeth, can you tell me more about tetrapak? I Googled them and found their site but I can't really tell what you would GET. Do you buy products that are already packaged using their materials (if so, where?) or do you buy the materials (if so, where?) and put your own food in them?

This seems to indicate that you buy foods already packed in the Tetra Pak.

Good tip, CalamityJane. That's a standard camp thing then?
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Thu 12 Jul, 2007 03:50 pm
Not only in camp, soz, there are lots of mix-ups in school too. I used to buy those small paperbags for kids and they had already cute stickers in the box.

I don't know how long of a lunch break sozlet will have, but my daughter has only 30 minutes - that is 15 min of eating and 15 min of playing. So every minute counts, and the kids don't want to bother with lunchboxes that need to be carried back to the classroom; they much rather toss everything after
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Walter Hinteler
Thu 12 Jul, 2007 03:56 pm
Juices (and milk) are sold in TetraPak here - [Canadian] Tetra Pak Back-to-School webside
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