Our kids are mostly OK with the non-packaged, reusable container type lunches we pack them for school. Mostly. But every once and awhile we get complaints/requests around Lunchables. We dismissed them out of hand the first few times, explaining to the kids about how expensive and unhealthy they are, and getting mostly understanding looks.
When we kept getting the requests, Robin got to the bottom of it by asking, "What is it that you like about them?" Their answer: "They come with that little treat".
Armed with this knowledge, we were better able to fight the Lunchable foe. Simply by adding the occasional little container with Oreos or gummy worms, we killed the Lunchable.
Now, we are turning their format to our advantage!
Over the Summer, the kids got bored with our usual lunches once and awhile. So I pulled out a plastic container or two, chopped up some things and placed them in sections. I always included the dessert up front - just like they would get control of in school. I also tossed in some things that I had forgotten about (walnuts, for example were all the rage this spring) and see if they go again.
We are always surprised at how well they will eat these things up. They usually won't eat all of everything, but they will try it. Today walnuts were a hit after no requests for them for weeks. And strangely enough, even when given the choice of eating dessert first, they usually leave it till the end.
Some Ideas for the food groups in you Lunchable:
Apple slices (with or w/o Cinnamon)
Dried fruits like apricots, dates or "Craisins"
Small glass of juice
Meats & Alternatives:
Nuts - Peanuts, Walnuts and Cashews have all passed muster here
Ham or Turkey sandwich meats rolled up
Kielbasa (we like turkey) or similar cut into chunks
Toasted or plain bread, cut into strips
bun or roll
Cheese cut into interesting shapes (triangles, sticks or the usual rectangle slices)
Small glass of milk (chocolate is a nice once-in-awhile treat)
Gummy bear/worms/whatever (we buy bulk packs and dole them out a few at a time)
Leftover candy from Halloween, Easter or whatever junk food holiday just elapsed
Whatever you put in your Lunchable, make sure you only put in small amounts from each group to make a complete meal. This is our way of making them eat something other than just their favourites; if they are still hungry they will try some of the other things in front of them.
As for time - other than having this stuff on hand when you go grocery shopping, I timed the actual production and it is less than making KD.
(Can't get enough about reading about Lunchables? Kerry from Squawkfox does a great breakdown here.)
So stick it to Lunchables and make your own!
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