Experiment: One

Our crazy house is in full fledge toddler mode. To make it even more hectic, Alli Mae’s little sister is now right on her heels as well. Little Ella is almost a year and a half and Alli Mae will be 3 in November. This is a rambunctious house to say the least. We have recently started the “Potty Chronicles” and that alone is a beast to be reckoned with. Adding to it, the pickiness of what they want to eat to the equation can make anyone go crosseyed.
For this reason alone, I have decided to have a few experiments to find what my oldest will eat in her lunchbox. Since school is back in session, I figured this was the perfect time to have them.

It’s all fun and games until she gets something at lunch or dinner time that she doesn’t like. And it is crazy! Sometimes, she likes something she ate 2 weeks ago, and now she turns her nose up at it. Yes, it’s frustrating. Yes, it’s annoying. But, I just have keep my wheels turning to try to make it fresh and fun.
​To hopefully help, I do have a couple of tips that may make this easier to achieve.

Rotate the selections:
I found that she would get tired of eating the same old food everyday. And who could blame her? I know I would too! My solution was to rotate the items bi-weekly in her lunchbox *usually* keeps her eager to eat the contents.
When I first started out packing the lunches, I found that hotdogs were a winner! So, why change it, right? That is what she had- week in and week out. Then I started reading about how bad hotdogs were. They are freaking gross! So, I wanted to send her to school with a tasty lunch while keeping a clear conscience.

Replicate dishes into a healthier option:
We absolutely love Costco, especially when it comes to buying healthier food. Their personal brand lable ‘Kirkland Signature’ provides exceptional quality ingredients while remaining affordable. Their products make it much easier for me to pack lunches when I have good and healthy options to choose from.

​Now… lets get started!

Experiment One:

For this experiment you will need:
1 spaghetti squash cut in half and sprinkled with olive oil
1/2 cup of red gravy
1/4 cup of mozzarella

After being scared away from the unhealthiness of some of the things I was packing in her lunchbox, I decided to flip the script! Why don’t I make it healthy? Alli Mae loves spaghetti. So instead of packing Chef Boyardee products, I thought I would recreate it by adding a spin of healthy ingredients to the dish.
So, I came up with “Spaghetti Squared”.

I baked a spaghetti squash inside facing down on a cookie sheet at 375 degrees for about 30 minuets or until soft. I then scooped out the inside. Then, I topped it with a homemade red tomato gravy and sprinkled it with some parmesan cheese. I thought it was really good! I felt like she’d really enjoy this new option. I was so excited to send her to school with it!
I was eagerly anticipating the results when she got home from school. As I peaked inside her lunchbox, I quickly saw the verdict was in…

Dang! She barely even touched it! Ugh. ‍♂️ Well, Next time, I will forgo the squash and add regular spaghetti noodles. Surely that will do the trick.

Experiment Two:

Okay, after the first failure, I needed to win her over on the next attempt. She loves pizza. So, why don’t I try to recreate a healthier option. Using the same red tomato gravy I had already made, I was able to use it again for my next experiment.
I toasted the top and bottoms of an English muffin with a small amount of butter. Then, spred a small amount of warm tomato gravy ontop and then sprinkled with mozzarella cheese and broiled it for about a minute and a half- or until the cheese gets bubbly.

For this experiment you will need:
1 English muffin split in half with small amount of butter
1 tablespoon of tomato gravy
2 tablespoons of mozzarella

Originally, when I came up with the idea, it was just 2 small pizzas, but she put the 2 together and made a sandwich. Her eyes brightened up and she got the biggest smile! She loved it!
When preparing them, I have found that the best way to keep the sandwich crispy is by making them the morning of school, then packing them in a plastic container after they’ve cooled. If you have time restraints and are unable to make them the morning of, you can premake them the night before and keep them in the refrigerator. Just have their teacher microwave them until they are warm- they just may not be as crispy.
* I have found that freezing them is NOT a good solution when packing for school. They tend to get soggy when microwaved and are not at all what they tasted like before. However, if the kids are home, you can prepare them in an oven when they’re frozen and the sandwiches are perfect!

Experiment Three:

For this meal, you will need:
a cup of white long grained rice
Carrots, and English peas
1 can of high quality chicken breast
(preferably Kirkland’s Signature)

Once the rice is made, season with a small amount of butter, salt and pepper. Add carrots, peas and chicken. Stir all ingredients until they are all incorporated well. Let cool.
In a plastic container fill it with 1/3 cup of chicken and rice. There are not many foods both my girls will eat and they absolutely love this!
You can also change it up by using organic Mac and cheese in lieu of rice! They will love it!

​There are so many options you can choose to put in your kid’s lunchbox. Some they will love, and some they will hate- even when you want them to love what you made so badly. And when they spit it out, just dust your shoulders off and come up with a better idea. You got it! And maybe these can help.
If they do, or if they don’t- let me know about it! I would love to hear your feedback.
​What do you pack in your kid’s lunches? What are their favorites?

Be on the lookout for the next edition of my
​Lunchbox Experiments.