I am constantly meal-prepping for my kids. With food allergies like theirs, some life-threatening, we are frequently fixing safe meals to take on-the-go, including school and daycare lunches. Ever since both of my kids were infants, I’ve had to provide all food and drinks to whichever provider they were attending. There’s a food program in Michigan, and likely in every other state, that allots a certain amount per child for food costs for care providers, which allows them to purchase food for meals, get reimbursed, etc….but when it comes to food allergies, they’re not taken into account for the food program and sometimes requires a doctor’s note for me to even provide safe alternatives for them. It’s a sore subject for me because not only do I have to pay full price for care, I also have to provide all food/drink for both kids, while other families do not. But that’s not the point of this post, so I’ll stop there…
I wanted to take a minute to talk about what types of meals I pack for my kids for school meals and snacks. Even with family functions, events and parties, we are often packing meals to be sure our kids have something to eat that is safe for them because you can never be 100% sure. We even take them sometimes if we are visiting a new restaurant where we can’t confidently order a meal for them. But I have it all down to pretty good system at this point, and I thought it might be interesting for others to see what my kids eat on a day-to-day basis. It’s always been a source of anxiety for me, because I’m always afraid my kids will feel left out. I try my best to provide similar snacks for treat days and such, but I always worry they will feel envious of items other kids can eat. But to my surprise, kids at Lark’s preschool have always been excited about whatever she is eating and I think that helps her feel like part of the group.
One vital piece to this puzzle is the tools we use for packing. We often have to carry insulated bags, ice chests for longer trips and containers to keep things in. When B.Box Baby reached out to me about reviewing their snack pack containers, I was ecstatic! We use compartmentalized containers all the time for meals and these ones are awesome! There are deep enough that food and liquid don’t splash out, the bottoms of the containers are rubberized so they don’t slip, they come with a spoon that fits into a protective cover, keeping it handy but also protected from outside germs or potential allergens, they’re super fun colors and they’re the perfect size for my kids to handle on their own! The two compartments are great for their lunch portions, or even for snacks like chips and dip or yogurt and fruit, since the lid keeps both compartments separated from each other. They’re also BPA, Phthalates and PVC free. We love these and they fit perfectly into lunch bags or diaper bags. They’re a useful tool for a family like us who needs products like this to keep our kids safely fed in a world that is not always allergy-friendly.
So, what exactly do I put into their lunches and snacks? I’m going to tell you…
I provide breakfast for both kids and it’s typically dry cereal and fruit with their individual milk alternatives. SO Delicious Coconut Milk Yogurt Alternative is a common theme at breakfast. They love berries, bananas, grapes…any kind of fruit, really. Occasionally I will do toast and fruit, made up just before we leave so it stays warm and doesn’t get terribly soggy. Some weeks they will get leftover pancakes after having them over the weekend and I make extra. Breakfast is difficult when one has a life-threatening egg allergy. Lark also really loves oatmeal and I can make that ahead sometimes too.
To be honest, my kids eat a lot of dinner leftovers. I tend to cook meals that will transfer over to lunches for them as well. Grilled meats like chicken, steak or pork. Tacos are common in our house and they like meat and beans with tortillas or chips and snack-sized guacamole for lunches. Both are obsessed with turkey sandwiches on sourdough bread with egg-free mayo. They love peas, green beans, sliced cucumbers, grape tomatoes and fruit for sides. They eat a lot of noodles too, which I know aren’t the healthiest to eat often, but they love them and it’s something that is safe for both, so we tend to always have noodles on hand. Plus I can switch them with veggies, marinara sauce, what have you, to give them a healthier kick. There’s a dairy-free man and cheese from Daiya Foods that works great for lunches too. Lark is also a big fan of salads, either traditional or cucumber salads with an egg-free mayo and vinegar dressing.
I’ve written about the snack foods I buy for them in the past, you can read about specific brands and items here and here. Or you can visit my Amazon store for some of our faves by clicking here (this link goes to my Amazon storefront and they are affiliate links, but are all things we use often and love). Our most common snack items are applesauce and fruit pouches, allergy-friendly granola/snack bars, natural/organic fruit snacks, dairy-free yogurt (SO Delicious brand is our fave) and pretzels. Plus most of these are easy to pack, either on their own or in snack containers like the ones we show here.
I sometimes get a bit of mom guilt with how routine their meals have become, fearing they will get bored, but it’s stuff they love and they don’t typically complain. I do try and ask their input as well, so they feel like they’re part of the process. Living with food allergies in our household is not easy, but with patience and research, you can figure out your own path to keeping meal-prepping for frequent meals easy and stress-free. What are your kid’s favorite packed lunches or snacks? Let me know in the comments!
Australia based b.box was founded in 2007 by Dannielle Michaels and Monique Filer. b.box products are fun and functional to make parent’s lives that little bit easier with a touch of cool thrown in. The award-winning b.box collection of innovative designed everyday baby essentials includes the Travel Drying Rack, Sippy Cups, Diaper Wallet, Baby Bottle + Dispenser, Diaper Caddy, bibs, Snack Pack, Mesh Feeder, Baby Spoon, Bowl + Straw, Toddler Cutlery Set and Divided Plates. For more information visit www.bboxbaby.com.
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