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Thursday, April 14, 2011

Yeah, we really do have printed lunch menus

Remember a few posts ago I showed a picture of our kitchen and said Ree was looking at the lunch menu? Well we really do have a lunch menu around here, and here’s why:

No matter how much time we have to get ready for afternoon kindergarten, I always wait until the last minute and then panic about what to give the girls for lunch. (Yes I’m a procrastinator. Always have been and seeing how I’m 40+ years old most likely always will be.) When I’m running around grabbing bookbags and searching for lost shoes, my mind just goes blank and I end up giving Ree and Ro the same thing over and over again. Ugh – booooooooring (for them and for me). So I created quick printouts showing the girls some lunch options. They adore getting to make their own choices for lunch, and I adore not being in such a rut.

The printouts are just 3-column layouts in Microsoft Word (I change them as often as my tired brain can think of new lunch foods to add), and they’re encased in plastic sheet protectors (so they’re almost twinproof).

The girls choose one thing off the Main page. (I’m mean, plus am always under the gun given the aforementioned procrastination, so they have to agree on their choice):Microsoft Word - Menu.docThe second one down in the third column is a cheese plate, in case anyone was wondering.

And then they choose two things off the Sides page (they usually get these out and put them on plates while I’m making the Main stuff):Microsoft Word - Menu.doc

These menus are easy to make with pictures you take yourself or images you find in Google (or you can click these and print them out, but they’re heavily slanted toward the things Ro and Ree like). Make one for your kiddo and you’ll both grin when lunch rolls around!

Does anyone have any good (quick) lunch ideas that I could add to our menu?


SpringFling_thumb2_thumb1Post #14 of my Spring Fling 30 posts in 30 days. These fun bloggers are also participating in the Spring Fling: And babies make four…, Another Journey, Birdie and the Queen Bee, Catherine’s Chatter, Diary of a Nouveau Soccer Mom, Dragonflies, Journey to Motherhood, Koprowski Kids, Life with L and M (julialaine.net), Love and a Little Craziness, Mindful of Mine, Moments with Maisie, No Ordinary Family, One Plus One Equals Four, Our Boy and His Cricket, Searching for Sophie, Spectacular S, Three Kids = Chaos, To Vietnam and China, We’re Here. If you want to give it a whirl, I’ll link to you too. Start today and post something (anything) for the next 30 days. Feel free to use this button if you want.


  1. You're a nice Mom giving choices, Maisie gets what she gets and doesn't pitch a fit. We do a lot of lunches from the previous nights dinner so I pack her bento when I'm cleaning up from dinner and then I don't have to stress it in the morning. Oh and I thought about you and the girls recently as I made a huge batch of yaki onigiri and wrapped and froze each one and both Eammon and Maisie love when I pull them out to serve them.

  2. oooooooooooooooh i like that.. i do the same old same old- and kids almost always like something that THEY get to pick out. thanks!

  3. Anonymous4/14/2011

    Do the girls vary what they want each day or do you often find yourself feeding them the same thing?

  4. They have faves (Ree liked PBJs and Ro likes cheese/salami/crackers) but it's funny that they police each other -- I hear "no, we had that 2 days ago" and then they'll pick something else.

  5. Anonymous4/14/2011

    You're a clever one, M3.


    Apple slices with almond butter - spread or dipped.

    Place apple slices/bits on toast. Top with a slice of cheese and cinnamon. Broil 'til browned.

  6. Those are great! Right now, for us it is just Gerber and cheese (my girl can eat her some cheese!!) but I hope that one day she will eat real food :)

  7. That's fantastic, I'm always at a loss at what to pack. Quick question though, are your entrees hot or cold at lunchtime? My kids don't have any way to heat things up.

  8. geesh you are supermom aren't you? We had one of those mornings and I had to give the twins a creamcheese bagel from the starbucks drive thru in their lunch boxes.

    One question--does this mean you always have all that stuff stocked up?

  9. Copperdog: They're in afternoon kindergarten right now, so they eat at home before heading to school (which is AWESOME, by the way, if anyone has the choice of afternoon kindergarten vs morning, we love every single thing about it). I'll have to figure out the whole hot/cold thing next year when the lunches are packed up early and then sit for 3 hours. I know my friends have good luck sending hot stuff in these short squatty thermoses.

    Four under four: Nothing super going on over here -- seriously!! The menus just keep me from slapping a PBJ in front of them every other day. And yes, this is the stuff we always have stocked -- it's all stuff that I know the girls will eat and it's all kind of basic stuff that we just toss on the grocery list as we get low.

  10. Copperdog: (I owe you an email, by the way) I looked the thermoses up and if you go to amazon.com and search for "food jar" you'll see the little short, wide-mouthed thermoses I'm talking for hot food like soups, mac-n-cheese, spaghetti, etc.

  11. my husband needs this to prepare for our daughter lol

  12. I'm most impressed (of course by your creativity!) but that your girls will eat all those choices...especially for the sides.

    Great idea!

  13. Love, love, love it! My boys no longer take their lunch but Olivia will be starting kindergarten next year so I'm going to copy your idea.

    Here's some lunch suggestions that Olivia likes:
    Whole wheat mini bagels w/ creme cheese.
    Whole wheat tortilla with turkey and spinach leaves rolled and cut into pieces.
    Apples and peanut butter.
    Tortellini w/ pesto. (good hot or cold)


  14. Anonymous4/14/2011

    Weelicious.com has great ideas. She posts pictures of the lunches. I also really like recipes in Chop Chop magazine.


  15. I'd have to have enough choices to make a picture! This is such a great idea...it really lets you take the time to explore what they will eat, instead of just packing the fave every day. Our faves are similar, but Sara also loves an Amy's brand pizza bite (she likes spinach and cheese, cheese pizza, etc). They have zero preservatives and chemicals. Just real food (I get them at Whole Foods). They take 15-ish minutes in the oven in the morning, and they stay hot in the squatty thermos until her lunchtime. Those things are a must, let me tell you. The short and fat Thermos brand ones have kept all of my girls' lunches hot for 4 hours, easily.

  16. Brilliant. Love this!

  17. Anonymous4/15/2011

    Cheese and sultanas (is that what you call raisons) are such a yummy mix.

    PB and J rolled to look like sushi Anything rolled to look like sushi my kids love.

    Also I make all our muffins, cakes etc every couple of weeks and slice and wrap them all in individual servings. They freeze sooo well and the kids love them for a treat.


  18. What a brilliant idea....and what a flexible Mom you are! I usually give the girls choices between one or two things, otherwise they get overwhelmed. I find that when they choose different things, one of them always changes their mind once they see what sister is having ...grrH! Maybe it's their age. Do they get more accommodating at 5 LOL?

  19. Add me to your procrastination bandwagon. I'm the worse! (Heehee...remember my blog post packing the morning I left for China?)

    Love this idea and it's so much more creative than I am. I only need to make lunch for Hannah on Saturday's so truly there should be no problem but I'm not very creative. Think I'm going to try something similar for suppers even if it's only me making the decisions. Will keep you posted. :o)

  20. Brenda4/15/2011

    M3 - I would add mozzarella stick/sliced ham roll-ups to the main menu choice. They are sooo easy and delicious. Just get the big packages of ham slices at Walmart and the mozarella sticks at Costco and you can roll them up in 15 seconds and stick a toothpick in. 2 of those for each twinado should be a main course. If they like pickle slices, I'd stick a pickle slice on them and stick a toothpick through.

  21. Anonymous4/15/2011

    I usually pack whatever we ate for dinner the night before. I set some aside before we even start dinner. A tip about the squatty thermos: prime the thermos with hot(!) water, let it sit there while you heat up the food. Then pour it all out (wipe if you want, I just shake it off) and then put the food in. It keeps it warm longer because the heat of the food is not being sucked by a cold thermos.

    Sometimes I pack a pbj (my fall back on lunch), ham sandwich, or cold pizza, but usually it's "dinner for lunch".

  22. You're a better mom than I, my friend. I asked Caroline what she wanted with her sandwich, applesauce or yogurt. She said, "I don't know."

    She got applesauce.

  23. By the way, if you give them Gogurts (yogurt in a tube like Otter Pops), you can freeze them and keep the other food cool and the yogurt will be soft and cool when they get lunch.

  24. So my latest lunch obsession for the kids is anything that I can put in my trusty sandwich maker. I LOVE my sandwich maker!
    I like using tortillas instead of bread (but use bread on occassion). Today I stuffed them with sliced turkey and cheese, and a wee bit of fresh baby spinach. I've also made pizza pockets that way, used leftover taco meat/cheese/etc for taco pockets. The possibilities are endless! (Did I mention I LOVE my sandwich maker?)
    I have a four-sandwich one, but here's a smaller one:
    The sandwiches are hot and ready in about 5 minutes, and are in nice, sealed little pockets. I don't bother buttering/oiling the tortillas, but do if I use regular bread. Enjoy!

  25. Oooh boy. Too wild and spontaneous for me. I like to know well in advance what they'll be having. On Sunday night I write the lunch menu for the next week (as well as breakfast and dinner)- beverage, main meal, fruit/veg, the snack and sometimes even which containers they're going in. I'd pack lunches a week in advance if they'd keep!

  26. Thanks for the thermos tip. We actually had one at one point but then my "responsible boy" lost his lunch box (twice) and I think that the thermos was part of the deal. :(

    We ONLY have morning kindergarten here and they stagger drop off and pick up times with the bigs kids, (which will be a royal pain next year). So Drop off for K is 8:20, but the older kids (my 5th grader next yr) is 8am; pick up is 12:30 for K and 2:45 for olders. Its a good thing my Middle schooler is comfortable riding his bike because otherwise I'd need to fit in an 8:15 drop off and 3pm pick up for him.

  27. Woman! Once again I give you the mother of the year award. I am lucky if my kids even get lunch.........sigh.

  28. My girls like english muffin pizzas for lunch. Microwave popcorn is an easy snack/side dish. One bag of microwave popcorn will fill 4 sandwich size ziplock bags so you would have something for 2 day of snack at school as well.

  29. now we have them thanks to you

  30. That's GENIUS! I LOVE it! And I'm going to work on it STAT because my "international twinados" (they are 3 months apart) are killin' me with the "whine" with their cheese! lol! We seriously need to break out of our rut as well. And they will LOVE playing restaurant every day at lunch! Thank you so much for the awesome idea! :)