Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Packing Healthy Lunches With (the) Class!

Healthy fun school lunches for the entire Kindergarten classroom!
Z's Kindergarten class was doing their Nutrition unit, so I volunteered to come in at the end and bring my sandwich cutters and run a fun "Pack a Healthy Lunch" activity with all the kids. But with the help of EasyLunchboxes, AllThingsForSale, and SunButter, it evolved into something even more fun!

[This post contains affiliate links.]

Z's classroom has 25 kids and 6 tables, so we set up enough "supplies" for 4 kids per table, and I had Z's gluten-free bread waiting to go to whichever table she chose. Since the new MyPlate food groups are Grains, Protein, Fruits, and Vegetables, I made sure to include something from each of those for the kids to work with. The teacher also taught them about "Sometimes Foods," so we had a special treat of juice (Capri Suns) instead of water or milk.

Protein: Since a few of her friends have peanut and tree nut allergies, it's a nut-free classroom. I opted to contact SunButter as they're my personal favorite nut-free spread. They ended up sending more than just some Sunbutter packets for the kids - I got a whole load of goodies to pass out at the end!
Want to spread the sunshine to your kid's school? Email them at info@sunbutter.com! 

Grains: One of the kids has/had a dairy and egg allergy too, plus the kids with peanut allergies, and rather than call them out and have special bread just for them, I opted to have all the kids (but mine) get the same bread. I chose Rudi's Organic bread since it's egg and dairy free, and made in an egg-dairy-peanut-free facility, and also free from all but one tree nut. And they are very conscientious about avoiding cross-contamination. Z got Udi's gluten-free bread. It has eggs, so wasn't safe for the whole class. Plus gluten-free bread is just too small for most of the sandwich cutters. *cry*

Fruits: I wanted the kids to have some amount of choice (other than which sandwich cutter they were going to use!) so I brought both grapes and sliced apples. I went the lazy route and bought pre-sliced apples.

Veggies: I went with baby carrots for the kids, and decided to introduce one of our favorites that they might not have tried yet, sugar snap peas. Other than Z, I don't think any of the other kids had had them before. When telling the kids about them, I mentioned that they were regular peas that they were familiar with, but still inside the pod. Which was edible. Like getting to eat the wrapper! Fun!
Funwiches - I brought every sandwich cutter I own, which is quite a lot. Easily one per child, plus extras! I had the CuteZCute Animal Friends set, all 5 of the Lunch Punch sets, the Evrilholder ones, Munchkin ones, the Tovolo Sandwich Shapers, and even a few discontinued Star Wars cutters from Williams-Sonoma (Z was all excited about the Totoro, which was really a Millenium Falcon. I should have kept my big yap shut!)

I was so busy helping open Sunbutter packets and pressing and twisting cutters to help punch through the sandwiches that I didn't get very many pictures at all though. Waaaah!

Since the thought of all that food waste makes me cringe, we collected all the sandwich scraps in a bowl the teacher brought around. Since I knew there was no way I could get all the kids to cut the bread before adding spreads, instead of French Toast Casserole, I made a "PBJ Bread Pudding" with them, and brought it to school the next day as an afternoon snack! (I made Z a gluten-free version with the plain crust scraps and heels I save in the fridge from cutting our gluten-free sandwiches into cute shapes.) I didn't get to try the gluten one, but the teacher raved about it, and only a few kids had any of their serving left to take home. Yay! (The gluten-free one was pretty good; I'd definitely make it again! Recipe soon!)

Bento Fun! BentoUSA (AllThingsForSale) sent me one cute silicone cup and two fun food picks for each child, which really put these lunches over the top. The kids all enjoyed making fun sandwich shapes, but they were truly enchanted by these simple accessories. Even the other volunteer parent and teacher thought they were adorable. (I was also sent a CuteZCute Animal Friends cutter set, since I couldn't find all the parts of the one I already had. The kids who were sitting quietly got first pick of tables to start making their lunches, and they all picked the table with the CuteZCute set!)

After loading all my tools and leftovers back into the car, I got to go to the lunchroom and take pictures of the kids enjoying what was left of their lunches. My inner perfectionist was going bonkers with all the mangled sandwiches [for best results cut the bread separately first, or at least cut the top slice before moving it onto the rest of the sandwich and punching through the bottom] but the kids were all so pleased with their fun sandwiches!

I was worried that there would be some resistance to the different flavor of the Sunbutter, but other than the two kids who didn't like peanut butter anyway and opted to just make jelly sandwiches, all the kids gobbled down their sandwiches. Even mine, who has always groused when I use the "funny peanut butter" when packing things for her previous nut-free schools. Omnomnom!

With a few exceptions, all the kids tried at least one sugar snap pea in their lunch, and several of them really liked them and wanted more! And from the few times I've observed these kids at lunch, I've never seen the food disappear so fast (or seen so few leftovers!) Big Mama win!

Even my own little monkey ate more of her lunch than usual. Including her veggies!

[Disclaimer: My "sponsors" Sunbutter and BentoUSA sent supplies for the kids, and I got the EasyLunchboxes at a reduced price. I paid for the rest of the food myself. Other than getting to blog about it, and the warm glow of seeing kids try and enjoy new things, I did not get compensated in any way for doing this event. Well, I guess I got a new CuteZCute cutter! Woop!]

Tools of the Trade
 Bento High Quality Silicone Colorful Food Cups also great as Jello Mold     


  1. I am ridiculously in love with this post! What a fun, fun, event in the classroom. Thank you Kendra, for sharing your lovely lunch tools and tips, healthy foods, and all the joy you brought to these kids. [BIG SMILE] Just wonderful :)

  2. Great idea for a classroom event!
    Judi Willard
    Founder of Lunchbox Love for Kids by www.sayplease.com

  3. That's awesome! Look at their faces! Suuuuper fun!!!

  4. Now this is learning! We're so proud you let us help you, and we love the photos! Way to go on sharing your patience, enthusiasm, energy and of course teaching skills. Bet these lucky kiddos don't even know all they learned from you. Way to go!


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