A passion for food + fashion

What to Pack…

In Baby Love on June 15, 2010 at 9:42 am

After an absurd amount of time hemming and hawing over a lunchbox for Tiny G (I settled on the above LL Bean model, the same one I carried more than 30 years ago), I’ve now focused my angst on what to fill it with. Who knew that the thought of packing my soon-to-be preschooler’s lunch could cause such anxiety? It didn’t help that my friend Shelby said, “If you think that teachers and other mothers won’t judge you based on what you pack for your child, um, think again.” I love the brutal honesty of the confession, especially since it validates my paranoia. And so I sent an email asking for lunch inspiration to a dozen friends with preschoolers and got the best responses! Over the next few months I’ll post some of these great ideas, starting with this simple one based on one of Shelby’s go-to’s. We did a test run last night for dinner and every last bite disappeared.

Tiny G’s Turkey Pinwheels

Tiny G is obsessed with hummus, which is lucky for us as it’s loaded with healthy fat and protein. My friend Shelby uses havarti instead of hummus and serves with apple slices and veggie chips. Snap peas would also be fun as a veggie option.

1 whole wheat tortilla

1 tablespoon red pepper hummus

1 slice organic roasted turkey breast (no nitrates, no antibiotics, no msg—Applegate Farms has a great product available at Whole Foods)

Spread hummus over tortilla. Place turkey slice on top. Roll up and slice into small pinwheels.


  1. It’s true that other parents will decide what kind of person you are by what you pack for your kids lunches. Out here in the ‘burbs, I am apparently the healthiest lunch packer in the kindergarten, because I actually pack things like vegetables, and I don’t send cookies and doughnuts for snacks. The teachers actually come up to me and say “I can’t believe the things your girls will eat!” Um, they are sugar snap peas, not raw asparagus! Come on, sweet, delicious? Anyway, I imagine that if we lived in the city, we would only be considered just moderately healthy. I do give them regular old non-organic goldfish, after all. I think it depends a lot on where you live.

  2. My daughter eats like an old jewish man… lox, whitefish, tuna salad, bagels and cream cheese and a garlic laced dill pickle are fav’s so not sure my suggestions would win any toddler fans. I say pack what he loves, avoid Hostess Snowballs and you’ll be fine!

  3. I’m having anxiety about the whole school lunch thing, especially since my daughter is allergic to dairy, which rules out a TON. Even lunches at home are tough sometimes, so I am always eager to hear suggestions. I like the hummus idea – I haven’t tried spreading it on a sandwich yet, but she loves hummus so I bet it would be a hit. The one thing my daughter loves is hard-boiled eggs. Would I look crazy if I packed that as a snack?

  4. We are from Europe originally and so we try to pack only warm lunches (so always something reheatable) plus fruits. This takes many forms but risotto is a favorite and freezes well so you can make it in large quantities (usually based on onion, carrot, zucchini and sometimes chicken)–the key is the veggies are shreeded or diced in a processor so small that they can’t see/pick em out. Bolognese meat with a carrot based sauce instead of tomato (we add 1 tbsp of tomato paste or fresh sauce at the end for flavor). Broiled or pan-sauteed fish filet (cut up before packing), with brown rice, steamed broccoli stalks etc. Other favorites are Paprikash (chicken and red pepper stew) over rice. Veggie-turkey or veggie-veal meatballs etc. We also offer raw carrot and cucumber sticks but my daughter won’t touch a sandwich no matter how hard we’ve tried 🙂 Grains alternate between brown rice, amaranth, quinoa, whole wheat pasta. If your child is too small to spoon these up, just roll them up into balls, but ours entered preschool at age 2.5 so it hasn’t been a problem. If you have other warm lunch ideas, please do share!

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