Happy Happy Lunch Box: Too Little Time

Welcome to the Silver Shoes & Rabbit Holes edition of the Happy Happy Lunch Box blog hop!  If you're new to my blog:  Hi, I'm Danzel.  I have two daughters, Big Sis (almost 8) and Little Sis (5 1/2).  They started school last week!  I'm rather book-obsessed, especially when it comes to kids' books.  We read together a LOT.  I love old stuff:  movies, toys, books, STUFF.  Welcome to our world!

Tuesday, we learned how Michelle at needle & nest tailors her lunches for her picky eater.  Yesterday, Melissa at Julia's Bookbag showed us some neat-o bento boxes and accessories.

I like to fix lunches for my kids to take to school.  (It feels weird to write "kids" - Little Sis hasn't even had her first full week of school lunches yet!)  I like to know exactly what they're eating.  I have bad memories of the hot lunches from when I was in grade school, and although our school system recently implemented a new program that gives the kids more choices, we have chosen to continue to bring our own lunches.  What drives me crazy is the amount of time the poor kids are given to eat.  Lunch is pretty early in the day at our school - they're finished by noon - and it only lasts about 15 minutes.  I can scarf down some food in about 15 minutes, but little ones have their own set of issues.  I ate lunch with Big Sis and her first grade class last year.  We shared a sandwich and pasta salad, and I was there to help unwrap things and get her started.  Talking is not allowed, due to the short amount of time.  There were several other kids near us who brought their lunches from home.  Immediately, hands went up, asking for help from the lunch aides.  Kids needed help opening containers and packages.  It took a while for the lunch aides to get to everyone.  I helped several children myself.  At the end of lunch, Big Sis and I had finished our meal, but other kids around us still had large portions leftover, and there were still four more hours of school to go.

I've documented my lunch frustrations and our solution in a previous post.  Big Sis had a nice little lunch box with reusable sandwich and snack containers in kindergarten, but she still wasn't able to finish much of her lunch.  After the problems resumed last year, we invested in a Planet Box lunch system.  (Both of ours are the Rover variety.)  I looked into cute bento boxes and other lunch systems, but I liked the layout of the Planet Box the best.  It's stainless steal, so it keeps food cold and safe.  The two small containers that come with the box are very simple to open.  The lids simply pop on and off.  If you have a picky eater, the separate little compartments keep food from touching.  It rests inside a nice thermal zip-up carrying case.  You can have a waste-free lunch, although I admit, we often have a little waste.

The magnets are such a cute touch!
It slips into the case, I add plasticware and cold packs, then we zip
it up and go!

Big Sis is a happy water drinker, and I have a few little water bottles I could put in her carrying case.  Alas, what I discovered is that they are often hard to open.  If I want to keep her hydrated, it's simpler to throw in a juice box or shelf-stable milk.  She does like her squeezable yogurts, so we use those sometimes, but I learned last week that Little Sis cannot open one by herself.  If I give her yogurt, it must go in one of the stainless containers.  I pack forks and spoons, but one of my favorite things to use are wooden coffee stir sticks as skewers.  They're so inexpensive, and the skewers are not only a fun novelty, but they make eating very simple.

I try to keep sandwiches small.  I love tortilla wraps.  I got some cute bento cutters/stamps, but I also use a dinosaur sandwich cutter or even cookie cutters to cut the sandwiches into smaller shapes.  (The girls are picky about crusts.)  I usually cut the sandwiches after I've assembled them, then Mr. B or I snack on the leftovers for breakfast.  (No waste!)  I take notes.  Little Sis doesn't like peanut butter very much.  Big Sis loves it, but it tends to slow her down.  (She has been known to choke on PB&Js if she tries to eat them too fast.)  I put together the ingredients for a yogurt parfait for Little Sis this week, only to find that the granola slowed down her eating too much.  (Too crunchy.)

I try to make lunch the night before.  If I put the whole lunch in the fridge overnight, it stays chilled until lunch time.  I've only been making school lunches this year for a week now, and I've only made 5 for both daughters so far, so I'm still learning.  Things change, and eventually, Mom will start to slack.  But here are some pictures of real lunches the girls have taken to school this year!

(Check out what I did for Big Sis's lunch on April Fool's Day this year.  All that Easter candy, all those wrappers...)

Obviously, there are other lunch solutions.  Some kids (especially older kids) may not have as many problems with opening sandwich containers, using multi-tiered bento boxes, etc.  But we really like our Planet Boxes, and the best part about them is you can't outgrow them.  They will be handy for years to come.

Be sure to visit Whitney over at Pen Pals & Picture Books tomorrow!  And thank you, Michelle, for organizing this whole thing!


  1. This is SO GREAT!!!! Oh thank you for all this. Food that is hard to or slow to consume.....NEVER thought of that! My J is the slowest eater naturally, and I just must take this into account, and she also does not have very much time (WHY??) so I have to get into the mindframe of what she can consume relatively quickly. I love the idea that the Planet Boxes are one unit with lids that close each compartment.....I might need to go for one of those finally....

    1. I have one girl who likes to take her time and enjoy her lunch, and I have one who is just PICKY. Such a short lunch time is just wrong, but I think everyone's in the same boat. I try to provide several choices, especially for the youngest, as I don't know what mood she will be in come lunch time. Better give her some variety. UGH.

      I wish they weren't so expensive, but I will say, it really worked for Big Sis last year. I read some complaints from reviewers about the fact you can't fit a whole sandwich in the Launch without cutting off crusts, but I haven't had a problem. In a more rushed moment, I've put in a whole sandwich, cut into quarters. Then again, I prefer thin sandwich bread. I like how easy it is to be creative, though. The biggest drawback to me is that you can only use cold foods. If I want to send hot soup to school with the girls, I use their old thermal cases with little Thermoses. (Well, I haven't sent soup with Little Sis yet, but that's how I did it for her sister last year!)

  2. My little one is the slowest eater ever. It doesn't help that he talks too! I don't understand why the school gives them so little time to eat! I would love to get my hand on those Planet Lunch Box. Are they only sold on that website?

    1. They are on Amazon, but if you look carefully, you're still buying them from the Planet Box website. I notice that Pottery Barn has some sort of deal with Planet Box: they sell the Launch systems with exclusive carrying cases that you can personalize.

      There are larger and smaller systems available through Planet Box, too. The Launch was the best fit for us. If you search Amazon for PlanetBox, you will get a few similar options by different companies, too. Some of those may be more affordable. Here is the link to my search results: http://tinyurl.com/lphgjkz

      It is super-frustrating. And I want them to fill up, because there are days we can't go straight home after school, due to dance classes, etc. I can bring them a little snack for the car, but if we don't eat dinner until 6, that's 6 hours between meals. Little Sis did NOT eat her lunch well yesterday, and had a meltdown in the car after school. I know her meltdowns, and this one was definitely due to low blood sugar. :(

    2. Here are the pretty Pottery Barn options:


    3. Thank you for the links Danzel! I know about the frustration that comes with them not eating. My kid sometimes ate like 2 chicken nuggets for lunch D: I have to make sure he eats as soon as he comes and I decided to not enroll him in after school activities because he is just not eating enough to last until 6pm! I hope next year will be different because he is super scrawny! I hope Little Sis will be eating better :)

    4. You're welcome! And I noticed I kept typing that we have the Launch system. NO. We have the Rover system. I confuse myself.

      Best of luck - and lunch - with school this year!

  3. I'm so glad you pointed out how difficult it is for kids to open some containers and packaging. Those Planet Boxes look great--I'll have to consider them next time we need new lunch bags! The past couple years we've had good luck with a couple sets of Ikea food storage containers (PRUTA) and Thermos Funtainer straw bottles for water. We also have the Funtainer food jars for hot foods. As long as I don't tighten the food jar lid too much, they can open everything, and nothing spills. My youngest will be in kindergarten this year, and I know from experience that it will take a few weeks--even the first few months--of school before he will manage to eat most of his lunch. Between the short lunch period and all the distractions, it's just hard. I'll have to remember to bring a snack for the walk home! Fortunately, my bigger kids (3rd and 5th graders) are lunchtime pros and almost always finish their lunches.

    1. I do wish we had an IKEA nearby! The closest one is 7 hours away, although one is supposed to be opening near Kansas City - that's closer to 3 hours away.

      We have one Thermos blue snack jar (with a collapsible spoon), which is what I used last year, and one Funtainer jar that we got with a bag of handmedowns from friends. I haven't even used that one yet. But that means I should have one for each kid!

      My oldest has the system down, but yeah, the kindergartner is still adjusting. Today is only her 5th day of school! And her teacher has requested snacks, so I'll be delivering a few boxes of crackers or fruit snacks to help them get by in the afternoon.

  4. Only 15 minutes?!?! Holy moley, that's short! I'm not sure how long Miss C. gets to eat, but I think they have a minimum time that they have to sit before playtime, then they can sit and eat if then need more time.

    I love those Planet Boxes – and you've make all of their lunchy items look so creative and yummy. Well done! You've got such a great system going here!

    Thanks for hopping along with us! xoxo

    1. At dismissal time, they are dismissed. Perhaps it's because the cafeteria is also the gym and auditorium? It's one big multi-purpose room. I didn't time it, but 15-20 minutes felt about right. It went by very fast.

      Thank you! I wish I could say it's all rosy - my youngest didn't eat very well today, either. But I'm learning!

      And you're welcome! Thank you for asking me to participate! xoxo

  5. Hi Danzel!! Sorry I'm slow yesterday was craziness!! I am super worried about rainy eating too little and too slowly...sigh.
    I will have take notes like you do! Ingenius for remembering who can and can't get through what- especially with 2 lunch eaters!!

    So the planet box itself seals up well enough to keep yogurt and stuff from spilling, but is still easy to open? That sounds fanstastic!! You should be getting paid by them! This is excellent advertising!!

    1. If it's pretty wet, I use one of the dipper containers, but yep! The lids just pull off and on - no need to twist. I love that! Little Sis is still getting the hang of it. She comes home from school SOOOOOO grouchy, so I know before I even open her lunch box that she hasn't eaten very much. (Low blood sugar = MELTDOWNS.) I tried s little turkey and avocado tortilla wrap sandwich today, with a few blackberries and cheese cubes on the side. I hope she eats it!!!

      Omigosh, I LOVE YOUR LUNCH NOTES!!!!

  6. I read this the day you posted but my little guy makes it SO HARD to spend time sitting at the computer!!! and commenting from my phone, good grief. Anyways!!! I love the way you do lunch- and I have wanted to get a planet earth box for Dax since you wrote about them last year. BUT, he weird and says he doesn't want one (after seeing them online)... I don't know. And lunch making... oh lunch making. I stink at it. I like all your great ideas here though, I need to implement skewers I think! very cool.


Comments are welcome! I'm a shy blog commenter, too, but I do love to read what people have to say. All I ask is, please be kind, to me and to each other.

Popular Posts