What’s in your little’s lunch box? Melissa of Reverie-Daydream Shares

We’re launching a new series called “What’s in your lunchbox” where we’re talking honestly about what we pack in our children’s lunch boxes. Melissa McArdle of Reverie-Daydream is kicking things off with a sneak peek into the goodies she prepares for her sweet daughter, Gaia. I’ll share Emerson’s lunch routine next week (it’s not nearly as pretty), but I’m working on it. Let’s make this a judgement-free zone! The idea is to share recipes and ideas and inspire each other to pack more whole foods and unprocessed snacks for our littles.  I’m already inspired to do better. We’d love to hear from readers. Email me at estelle@pinkmoondaily.com if you’d like to share your lunch box. ~ Estelle

By Melissa McArdle

I have fond memories of my school lunches. My mom made sure there was more than enough food in the daily brown paper bag. It was always filled to the top (often times overflowing) with fruit, veggie sticks, a sandwich, chips, a fruit roll-up and other sweet treats. She always made sure to write a little note either on the bag or across my paper napkin, and I still can recall the love-filled smile that appeared every time I would see her handwriting amongst the lunch time bounty.

Fast-forward quite a few years, and I am now the proud mama of a sweet girl who started school this fall. I’ve planned diligently for this change of eating zones, for I wanted to make sure that she would still be eating as healthy at school as she does at home.  A well-balanced lunchbox filled with fruits, vegetables, and protein. I try hard not to add any processed sugar treats into her lunch. I want her blood sugar to remain stabilized and to fill her growing body and active mind with foods that will provide energy versus deplete her attention and stamina. Thankfully, quinoa is a favorite, so it is easy to switch up with a sandwich or pasta for her ‘main course’.

I’ve most definitely followed in my mom’s footsteps in regards to placing little notes in her box, and although she is only 4 ½ years old, she appreciates the simple gestures of a cloth napkin and pint-sized utensils.  Lunches do not need to be boring or completely filled with pre-bought individually wrapped foods.

Our kids deserve the extra time needed to chop up fruits and vegetables and prepare edible items we would normally serve from the comfort of our home. Establishing good, healthy eating habits at a young age is vital for growing minds and bodies setting a trend through teenage years and beyond.

As with anything that is routine, we all could use fresh ideas to combat recipe/lunchbox boredom, and there are many websites which offer healthy lunch inspiration for kids:

Eating Well 
Laptop Lunches
Real Simple 
Whole Living

We would love to know what goes into your school lunches; tell us your favorite sandwich or snack item. We could all use a little bit of lunchbox inspiration.

Photo credit: Melissa McArdle

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  • http://torriesessions.blogspot.com/ Torrie @ a place to share…

    wow… this is a lunch i could (would like to!) eat any day of the week. i am incredibly inspired. i struggle a bit in this area, because as a young mother (with jacob), i packed the “typical” lunches i was used to receiving (even though it was of course years prior :))… juice box, cookies, chips/crackers, sandwich, fruit (sometimes)… well, this set the ‘tone’ early on, and as i’ve gotten older/wiser :)… and as we’ve totally changed our eating habits, it has been a little challenging to set a new tone when it comes to lunch. so, even though we’ve come a LONG way, we haven’t come as far as i would like- veggies, almonds, water in place of the reduced-sugar juice. stiiiil working on it though.

    one of our favorite things to do is substitute a thermos (they each have their own) of soup (or other ‘hot’ thermos-appropriate meal leftover from the previous night’s dinner) in place of a sandwich. they love it :).

    • melissa

      torrie, believe me, my mom used to put all kinds of processed goodies in my lunch, and i loved it! and i still offer gaia sweet treats, chips, pretzels, and things when i pick her up and on days when i don’t have my act together, she gets pretzels or sweet potato chips and hummus or a bag of bunny crackers. replacing the juice boxes with water is a huge deal as well as veggies and almonds. we must all start small, and your efforts will be appreciated {eventually!}. love the soup idea. i need to invest in a thermos for my crumb. thank you for sharing.

    • pinkmoondaily

      Hi Torrie, I can completely relate. When I was packing lunches for my stepkids it was chips, sandwhiches, cookies all the way. Sometimes fruit. I’m really trying to do better this time around. When you know better you do better, right? I’m posting Emerson’s lunch next week and you’ll see I can make some improvements. I love the idea of sending hot leftovers in a fun thermos.

      • http://torriesessions.blogspot.com/ Torrie @ a place to share…

        yes! so VERY true… when you know better, you do better :).

  • http://torriesessions.blogspot.com/ Torrie @ a place to share…

    p.s. are those sweet potato chips, or roasted & sliced?

    • melissa

      torrie, those are dried mango. she loves them! calls them ‘mango tango’.

      • http://torriesessions.blogspot.com/ Torrie @ a place to share…

        okay… totally makes sense now!! and- YUM!!

      • meganbrowne

        our kids adore dried mango too, lots of natural sugars but healthier than lollies!

  • meganbrowne

    We make wholewheat pita bread pizzas add lots of fresh fruit and sometimes a fruit roll, carrot sticks, cheese cubes, peanut butter sandwiches, etc. We try to keep it natural and unprocessed. We are lucky to have hot lunches every Wednesday that are nutritious hot cooked meals giving us a 1 day break from the lunch packing!

    • melissa

      megan ~ yum! pita pizzas are the bomb! at least for me, gaia only goes to school three days a week, so i’m going to need a lot of inspiration when five days of school lunches become a reality.

  • danielle (elleinadspir)

    I’d kill for Mel to make my lunches daily.
    B has the same exact lunch almost daily…cheese, strawberries and crackers. He’s happy…I’m bored!