Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Easy School Lunch Ideas


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UPDATE:  You can see Easy School Lunch Ideas 2- with even more ideas by clicking here.

The reason I joined Pinterest (follow me here if you are pinterest)) many months ago was for lunches; specifically school lunches. I hate lunch! Why? I never know what to make for it, and now I have to make a lunch for my son to take to school everyday? Trust me, I tried to get him to buy school lunches, but when we went through the menu there was about one thing a week that he agreed to eat.

I started searching for lunch ideas- but I realized a problem, there was no way my son would eat half of the things I was pinning. At home, he might eat them with bribes prompting but at school on his own, I knew right where all those lunches would end up.

So I used the ideas I found and scaled it down a notch- or ten- as yes, I am crafty and creative but I am not going to spend 20 minutes creating a house from a sandwich.

The Lunch Box:
I looked into all of those sites with great lunch boxes with the containers with dividers and was all set to buy one, but then at Target I happened to stumble upon this lunch box and went to the Tupperware section and found Ziploc divided containers.Some of the lunch box sites talk about how the Ziploc ones are inferior and wear out, I bought two sets of four and have used them for 5 months now and they are still in perfect shape and a fraction of the price.

Easy Lunch Ideas:
*feel free to modify these with what your kid likes.

What is your favorite school lunch idea?

And it's Tuesday so linking up with IA and Shawn



And linking up with these amazing craft/project parties
I am linking this post up at the following crafting blogs
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90 comments:

  1. These are great ideas! Gracie is not in school yet, but I take my lunch to work (or try to) and these would be great for that too =)

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  2. Wow, I am impressed! My kids get the same thing every single day. Well, this week I bought Bugles instead of Pringles, so there is that.

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  3. Wow---You've been busy! Looks yummy! A vast improvement on containers available when my kids were young.

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  4. While mine are not school aged yet, I also take my lunch almost every day. My lunchbox is looking a little worse0for0wear, so I may need to buck up and replace it.

    I'm glad to see you don't cut the crust off the bread. :-)

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  5. I will have to remember these when Allison starts school. When Ryan was in a traditional school, I had such a hard time with his lunches. He would only get school lunch once a week. Finding things for my picky eater was on the difficult side.

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  6. I can barely decide what I want to eat for myself, much less figure out what my kids will be in the mood for later in the day. Great tips... and I think those lunch box sites have no other way to get you to buy their stuff than to bash another product.... and honestly, if ziploc crapped out on me, I wouldn't care if I had to throw it away and replace it.
    :) Great post!

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  7. We do much the same! It's the only way I can get her to eat :) thanks for some new ideas!

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  8. I am trying my HARDEST not to go to Pinterest but that is proving harder and harder as I see people post more and more awesome things. Must. be. strong. LOL ANYWAY...it's like you were reading my mind because I'm tired to doing the same old thing for my son's lunches (as I'm sure he is, too). I have copied this page link AND I have sent it to my hubs. Thank you SO much for putting this together.

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  9. That was always a hard one for me too. One of my boys didn't like bread so making sandwiches was out. Those are great creative ideas, I wish I had them when my boys were younger.

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  10. Yeah, I can't believe I'll have to be worrying about this in the fall!! I'm not sure what Ethan will want . . . these are great ideas! I wish I had oreos for lunch today! :)

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  11. That's so great! PJ is so picky, but also not in school yet. Hopefully in a couple years I'll find this post again. :)

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  12. I make my kids pack their own lunches. I got tired of them not eating what I packed, so now it's their job. What a relief. Even my four year old tries to pack her own. ONE time I let her without checking it and the teacher laughed at me when I picked her up. Now I always check it.

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  13. Oh wow, that is totally creative. And who wouldn't want to eat all that delicious lunch up? My kids, no doubt, digs the Oreo snacks. Great job.

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  14. I have used those ziploc containers for about 16 months now and they are great! Lunch is also something I struggle with - thanks for the ideas!

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  15. I want you to pack me a lunch every day!!!

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  16. These are all great ideas! I always hate the lunch packing thing too (and my kids aren't really picking).

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  17. I am looking at these and thinking...YUM! Wondering...maybe...just maybe. I have the opposite problem. Mine want to buy buy buy. Maybe I should try some of these...along with the presentation!!!

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  18. I have the same lunch box for Henry. I've let go of wondering what to do for lunch, there are three go-to's for Henry that I do.

    I figure he'll eat them... and he gets a good dinner and a good breakfast, he's going to survive :)

    These look adorable though!

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  19. Very very cute idea. I love those trays. Do they have a lid or you just put it in his lunch box and hope he doesn't spill it? I wish you were my mom 25 years ago! I never got cool lunches like that.

    I wasn't following you on pinterest! Can you believe that? I fixed it.

    Thanks for linking up with us my friend. xoxo

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  20. These are great! I need you to make my lunch!

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  21. Thank you! This is a continual struggle for me. I like the divided container idea … that will appeal to my son. As well as the "fun" presentation.

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  22. You really did an awesome job...after reading this I want you to make my lunches :)

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  23. Don't feel bad that your son won't eat school lunches - lunch from home is usually less expensive, and healthier!

    Love your cute lunch ideas. I wonder if 13 year old Bookworm would be embarrassed if I packed him a lunch in one of those cute little divider containers? :)

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  24. All great lunches. I'm hungry now, btw. Yeah, I'm horrible at lunch for myself. I hated packing lunch when I worked and started eating those frozen dinners. Somedays I still eat those. You got very creative. I love it. Have you seen the PB&J "sushi" rolls? Those look cute.

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  25. I'll have to start this next year, I am definitely going to keep those tray things in mind, what a great idea!

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  26. Lunches are hard. These ideas a creative and nutritious.

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  27. Very cool!

    Buddy is so picky and allergic to a lot, so his lunches are often the same, day after day. He'll get hot lunch about 3 or 4 days a week, so that works for me. When he doesn't take hot lunch, it's usually a bologna lunchable, or a salami and cheese sandwich. I alternate sending yogurt and pudding, and then usually send a carb snack, like pretzels, chips, or popcorn.

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  28. These are awesome lunch ideas, Emmy!!! Lexie takes her lunch, too, so we are alwasy trying to think up something different for her to take that's still healthy enough for me to feel good about her eating it! I love the tortilla roll-ups!

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  29. Those are all great ideas. A few I may "borrow". : ) Right now the kids are into the tortilla wrap with sauce, baby spinach, and mozz cheese rolled up. I microwave it for 30 sec and stick it in their boxes. They love it!

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  30. Such great ideas! Thanks LOTS for inspiring me!!! And, thanks, too for sharing at Overflowing with Creativity! Here's a link in case you haven't had a chance to register for my giveaway yet!

    Ramsign Giveaway: Porcelain Enamel Sign {up to $99 value}

    XO, Aimee

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  31. Great ideas. I HATE lunches too. It is a struggle for me. My son prefers a hot meal so he mainly doe shot lunch (but I ask why are hot lunched so ridiculously unhealthy). Maybe I need mini oreos to lure hi to taking his lunch more often!

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  32. These look like wonderful lunches! I love the containers!

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  33. Thankyou!!! I have these containers and though we homeschool, making up lunchbox e's for my five kids makes our midday SO much smoother... Only I always have a hard time thinking of what to make. Thanks for sharing your ideas in pictures!

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    1. You're welcome! And yes I always say lunch is my least favorite meal so the more ideas I have the easier my life is.

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  34. I really like the ideas here, especially with my 4 year old starting Pre-K next month and daily sack lunches. However, she is (sadly) allergic to carrots...so I'll need to consider a replacement veggie to fill it ;)

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    1. Oh yes feel free to do any substitutes you want, these are just good jumping off ideas that you can adapt as much as you want.

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    2. Cooked lima beans/butterbeans or green beans; snowpeas, celery, orange bell peppers (sweetest of the peppers) with dip.

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  35. Thank you!! I thought I was the only one who di not want to make a puppy out of a sandwich!! These are realistic and the look delicious:)

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  36. Thanks so much for your post! I feel the same way about school lunches- who has the time to create all these characters and shapes. This is going to help me so much and my 3 girls also thank you!

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  37. I love these ideas and all my boys would eat, what did you use for the crust on the pizza lunchable? Thanks for sharing...trying to gear up for school!

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    1. This was my lazy day- it is actually just straight from a lunchable! But they do have those sandwich thins that may work for this.

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  38. I love the ziplock containters. We have been using the same 4 (almost daily) going on three years. They go in the dish washer and still look like new. I feel bad for the woman who is selling the "better" ones; that ziplock came out with basically the same thing at the same time, but I see no reason to spend the extra $.

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  39. These are fantastic and EXACTLY how I do lunch. When my daughter was going to start Kindergarten I was so set on being that cool bento mom that cut faces into the baby bell cheese. I use the Sassy box. I think it's for babies but whatever. It has 2 sides with 3 little containers that fit inside. Since her box came with a sammich container it works for us. Next year we need a new lunchbox so I might 'upgrade' to the ziplock containers.

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  40. Great ideas. My little ones really like cheese tortellini - cheap and easy finger food. I use the same containers.

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    1. My kids would eat cheese tortellini any time, though they have never had it cold, wonder if they would like it that way. We often have it for dinner

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  41. Replies
    1. If you check out the first picture (or second)- it shows the lunch box all packed. The drink is on top of the ziplock container along with the icepack and some extra things and it all fits great in the lunch box.

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  42. This is basically what our lunches always look like too! I love the surprise sandwich idea! I may try that out this week for my boys would started school yesterday:)

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    1. Yes, my son love when I started doing the surprise sandwich.

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  43. I love those ziploc containers. I used them all last year for lunches and they are still useable for this coming year. great lunch ideas too!

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    1. Thanks! And yes ours are still going strong too, they really are great

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  44. Great suggestions! Thanks for the realistic ideas :)

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    1. You're welcome, thank you for commenting.

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  45. I found you on pinterest (I know, big surprise... ;). And can I just say thanks for keepin' it real? Because seriously, it irritates the snot out of me when these moms are making art masterpieces with lunch. For real?? Who the heck wants to waste that much time on a stinkin' lunch? And I had a friend that said, "If you want to do something great for your kid, why don't you make them a regular ol' sandwich and take the time that you saved from hand-cutting carrots and read them a book."

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    1. Yes exactly!! I wanted to try and figure out different ideas and different things to shake it up a bit- but I am not going to spend 30 minutes putting a lunch together.

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  46. some of the things my mom used to do for my lunch were...
    - crackers, cheese, and salami (or any meat) so I could build my own little sandwiches
    - definitely had the cucumbers/ carrots with ranch
    - occasionally my "sweet" thing would be a trail mix with a much higher ratio of the m&ms or there is one with craisens and chocolate chips.. so delicious. If you have a picky eater just make your own gorp and only include the things that they like.
    - apples and peanut butter
    -cut up fruit with fruit dip
    -string cheese or baby bells
    -nutella sandwiches
    - my mom would also sometimes freeze the gogurts and use that as my icepack.. they are perfectly thaw by lunchtime..I was also one of those picky eaters who would not eat a yogurt if it was remotely warm and would just throw it away.. this helped solve that problem
    -when I was 4th/5th grade, my mom would send me with Top Ramen.. Grab a square Tupperware that is approximately the same size as the top ramen.. usually kids have access to hot water or a microwave.. if they have hot water, they can just put the top of the tupperware back on and let the noodles "steam" for a couple of minutes and then add their seasoning. If they have a microwave, they can add whatever temp water and microwave for a few minutes.
    -if a microwave is available, you can also make quesadillas in a similar fashion to the pizza idea above.. or even nachos with salsa..

    Another key to making good lunches is asking your kids what they want in their lunches.. a lot of time they will have a friend and they will think their lunches are "so much better" which means they have Cheezits insetead of Cheetohs or something as simple as that...

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    1. Thank you for more ideas. I do plan on doing Ramen sometime this year and expanding to even more ideas. And the ideas I showed were not the only things I did, they were just the ones I took pictures of. Also, my son buys lunch usually once, sometimes twice a week, so a lot of the things that are better for hot meals he buys from school.

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  47. Love this!! So many great ideas, and the containers are genius! Thanks for the inspiration.

    I featured your lunch ideas on my blog today, come check it out :)
    http://www.artsyfartsymama.com/2012/08/pinteresting-features-n-shtuff-45.html

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  48. I'm curious if the ice pack keeps everything cold enough? I'm paranoid about meats and cheeses and dips getting warm and making my kiddos sick, so that limits my options a lot. Do you freeze the drink, too for extra coldness?
    Thanks :)

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    1. I usually stick two icepacks in and yes they are still totally frozen at the end of the day so it keeps the food cold. His lunch box is also the kind that has a little bit of that insulated layer, so I am sure that helps. I haven't ever froze the drink but you totally could.

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  49. Thank you so much for all these creative ideas!! My son usually takes hot lunch, but wants to take cold sometimes too. I really never knew what to pack in a lunch for a variety... I will for sure use these ideas!! I love how you packed them into the sectioned containers!! I also think this idea will work for my 4 year old daughter, just pack up the lunch the night before, and it will save me time the next day on prep!!

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  50. Great ideas! I love the container rather than using a bunch of zip lock baggies.

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  51. Great ideas! I love the container rather than using a bunch of zip lock baggies.

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  52. I did a 30+ lunches for 30+ days post you can see here: http://adventuresintheballpark.blogspot.com/p/whats-for-lunch.html
    I fix lunches for my husband and teacher daughter, so they have some grown-up items, but things can be altered for kids. I wanted to see how many ideas I could come up with. Packing lunches does get old quick!

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  53. Thank you! I've been formulating this in my own mind but haven't had a chance to organize it as well as you have. These will make great substitute teacher lunches!

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  54. I also do a lot of these ideas - one thing I have in the weekly rotation is breakfast for lunch. I do a whole wheat waffle (I drizzle a tiny amount of syrup on top - enough for flavor, but not enough to get soggy), bacon (I use the precooked turkey bacon since it's so easy/fast), orange slices, and yogurt. It's big hit here since my kiddo typically gets a muffin or cereal for breakfast.

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    1. That's a great idea! Thank you for sharing.

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  55. Just found this via Pinterest, and love it! Thank you! My kids are switching to taking their lunches this year so they will eat more, but I was pondering what to send that wouldn't be messy or hard for them to eat. This is perfect!

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  56. Yea!! So happy to help. I actually took pictures again this last school year and will be creating an Easy School Lunch Ideas 2 Post right before school starts.

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  57. Where did you find those containers? Are they the glad/ziploc kind or are they the Easy Lunchboxes?

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  58. They are the ziploc kind, they came in a 4 pack at Target-- but I did buy them a couple of years ago, yes they have lasted that long but I am guessing you can still get them.

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  59. I have a very picky child that flips out if 2 things are in the same container...even if they are in seperate compartments. This has made packing lunch loads of fun. I have found that the plastic containers that sandwich meat comes in is just the perfect size for a full sandwich! If you have the smaller, but taller container, just cut it in half and stack. I did have to invest in some very small ( 1/2 to 1 cup size) containers for grapes, pretzels, etc. Even those you can find at any $1 store!!

    And THANK YOU for making 'normal, real mom' lunches! I hate all those lunch boxes (Bento) made where the cold rice is shaped into a panda face or the goldfish crackers are actually sitting in the blue jello pond. I don't think alot of people take into consideration what these lunches will look like after being slung around in a lunch box, on the school bus, into the desk or cubby, then chugged down the hall and slammed onto to cafeteria table. Your fish has died people!!!

    I work in a school lunch room and you could not imagine how many kids bring a cute little lunch from home and still eat school food because the cute stuff got all jumbled up and the food isn't edible. No one wants to eat soggy pretzels...even if they were swamp logs at 7 this morning!

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  60. Yes!! Thank you!! I mean I guess more power to people who want to take all that extra time for cute little lunches that kids eat at home (which yea won't ever be me) but they are never going to survive the to school trip.

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  61. Heather Hathorn CummingsAugust 12, 2013 at 7:29 AM

    Thank you! Somewhere in the middle of the fall semester I get in a rut. My oldest son is very particular about having his cold foods cold and his warm foods warm. So most days he just wants a lunchable. Packing 3 lunches everyday proves to be a challenge because my twins want more variety than their big brother. I love how simple your choices are. I'm thinking I need to make a list of potential sides and main dishes and tape it inside a cabinet to reference while I'm making lunches. Do the ziploc containers keep liquid messes, like the ranch, from spilling into the other compartments? I bought the easylunchboxes from Amazon last year and they didn't keep things in their own compartment so I had to buy little cups with lids to put in them. Needless to say we had a lot of messes last year. :(

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  62. Yes, it is easy to get in a rut! I am actually going to be posting an Easy School Lunch Ideas 2 post tomorrow with more ideas that we came up with last year.
    The ziploc containers to actually do a good job keeping the ranch from spilling, we have used them for two years and haven't had a problem. I have emptied the fruit cups into one of the sides before and if the liquid is really high it has spilled over a tiny, but never had any problem with ranch and if the fruit liquid is low enough than that is perfectly fine to

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  63. Also on amazon under ziploc divided rectangle. I just bought some for about $5.38 or so. They are an add on item so you have to spend $25.

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  64. I love this! How old is your son, might I ask?

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  65. He is a 3rd grader or 8 now, but these were his lunch ideas from 1st and 2nd grade. I will be posting about 30 new ideas tomorrow with Easy School Lunch Ideas 2!

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  66. Awesome! Thanks! Yes, I just saw on Walmart.com they have them for about that same price.

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  67. Peggy Townson McLarenAugust 17, 2013 at 5:17 PM

    Awesome!! Love these ideas!! The biggest dilemma I have is that my sons school is a peanut free zone...and of course his favorite sandwich is, you guessed it, peanut butter!! Great ideas, thanks!!

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  68. We use sunbutter instead -- it tastes similar, especially with jelly, but I don't have to worry about nut allergies.

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  69. Peggy Townson McLarenAugust 29, 2013 at 7:01 AM

    hmmm ok, I will have to look for that. I have picky boys so never thought they would like any other type of "peanut butter" Thanks! My kids aren't allergic to peanuts, but lots of kids in the schools are, so schools are peanut free zones.

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  70. My daughter is allergic to Peanuts. We are told to stay away from ALL nuts. I heard somewhere about Nutella and since I know my daughter is not allergic to ALL nuts her doctor let her test it. And its been safe!. Its still a nut but I've heard other kids with the peanut allergy being able to tolerate the Nutella brand as well. The peanut substitutes are awful and many do infact still have the peanuts in them because they make them on the same line. (NOT SAFE for PA children. My daughter had an bad reaction to one bite of the school safe alternative PB and she didn't even swallow it.) Sunflowers are safe also at least the brand I get. I think they have a spread as well.

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  71. My kid is Autistic (high functioning) and making lunch for her has ALWAYS been a challenge. I love that I finally found some lunches that aren't in the shape of something else to make them more appealing. Tricks don't work for my kid, besides she's in 3rd grade now and I think she'd be made fun of if she took a lunch to school in charater shapes or whatever. lol She takes the same thing everyday, and if I even switch the brand, She knows and won't eat it. Picky doesn't describe most kids with these conditions. We don't have a peanut free school, thankfully, or my kid wouldn't eat. My son starts kindergarten next year and will be eating at school and I'm hoping to get him eating school lunches... my daughter has NEVER EVER had school lunch. making lunch everyday for 4 years really wears on you. lol

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