To-Go Mommy & Me Lunches: How to Pack Easy, Healthy Meals for the Big & Little Eaters

Disclaimer: Thank you to PackIt for sponsoring this post! My promise to you, my readers, is to only promote content and products that I truly believe in and buy myself. All opinions stated in this post are my own.

I don't know about you, but my kid's lunch box is kind of an attention hog.

For the longest time, I poured all of my lunch-box-packing attention and efforts into making sure my daughter's midday meal was beautiful, healthy and enticing. And then I would turn to my lunch box and things got a bit lackluster. Boring. Dull. Tedious even. I kind of stopped looking forward to my lunch.

 For me: A greens/ham/celery/cashew salad with dressing on the side and a big bowl of mango and strawberries.  For the little one: Salad ingredients deconstructed for her to enjoy separately (minus the celery, since she has a deep-seated dislike for it), same mango & strawberries as mama. 

For me: A greens/ham/celery/cashew salad with dressing on the side and a big bowl of mango and strawberries.

For the little one: Salad ingredients deconstructed for her to enjoy separately (minus the celery, since she has a deep-seated dislike for it), same mango & strawberries as mama. 

And then it hit me! This would totally not stand, man (any Big Lebowski fans in the crowd.....?) Lunch is my lifeblood of the day! It gets me through the last half of work, afternoon errands, traffic jams and maybe even the occasional workout! So my lunch deserves a little extra attention and love.

It was time for a change! 

 For me: Seasoned chicken breast, grain-free biscuit, carrot sticks & sugar snap peas with hummus for dipping, and cantaloupe with blackberries.  For little one: Same as mama, only with natural peanut butter for dipping veggies in. Hummus isn't my daughter's favorite thing, so I am happy to give her another protein-packed dip

For me: Seasoned chicken breast, grain-free biscuit, carrot sticks & sugar snap peas with hummus for dipping, and cantaloupe with blackberries.

For little one: Same as mama, only with natural peanut butter for dipping veggies in. Hummus isn't my daughter's favorite thing, so I am happy to give her another protein-packed dip

The first thing I did in stepping up my lunch box packing game was getting myself a killer lunch bag that could handle the awesomeness that I was going to pack in it. No brown paper bags would do. I needed something sturdy, convenient, large enough to hold my reusable containers and cute (because there really is not need for an ugly lunch bag). I opted for a PackIt Traveler Bag.

It was totally the perfect lunch bag, since PackIt bags are freezable (!) and keep my lunch chill for hours (excellent for those day I totally forget to stick it in the staff room fridge).  The whole bag basically becomes like a giant ice pack since there is built-in freezable gel in the lining of the bag, so packing an ice pack is one less thing I need to remember (and make room for) when packing lunches! I just stick the whole bag in my freezer overnight (about 12 hours) to activate the built-in freezable gel and then load the bag up in the morning! 

I loved my bag so much that my daughter is also now rocking a PackIt lunch bag herself. 

Now to find the time to pack these two awesome lunch bags!

Oh poop. Time. Now that isn't something I have a ton of. Being a busy working mom who was also crazy enough to start a blog in her "spare time", time is definitely not something I have much to give. So how do I find the time to pack my daughter an amazing lunch AND myself? Let me think.....

Oh man, I've got it! I'll pack us the same thing! 

 For me: Bed of greens topped with tuna & avocado oil mayo salad, avocado slices and tomatoes.  For little one: same tuna salad, same greens, raspberries instead of tomatoes (my girl passionately dislikes tomatoes and the berries were an easy swap), avocado, grain-free crackers.

For me: Bed of greens topped with tuna & avocado oil mayo salad, avocado slices and tomatoes.

For little one: same tuna salad, same greens, raspberries instead of tomatoes (my girl passionately dislikes tomatoes and the berries were an easy swap), avocado, grain-free crackers.

You see, I wear a lot of hats as a mom. Taxi driver. booboo kisser. Professional on-demand snuggler. But short order cook is not one of them. I have always believed strongly that there is no such thing as "kid food", just real wholesome food. Whatever food you want to be feeding yourself is the same food you should be feeding your children! Kids take cues from us...especially with food! I try not to sell my child short and assume "she probably won't like the quinoa, so I'm not going to give it to her" if she has never had quinoa before! Instead, I aim to be creative in HOW I are serving it! I might not load it up with beans and salsa the way I like it, but serve it to her separate (or with a topping I know she already loves) so that she can experience the quinoa and decide for herself how she feel about it! 

 For me: Quinoa salad with peas, cucumberand shredded carrot, hard boiled eggs,  oatmeal green smoothie muffin,  and an apple.  For little one: Same muffin, same hard boiled egg, quinoa on its own with a little nutritional yeast (something she is familiar with and enjoys) and cucumbers (that she can easily remove if she wants) with peas and carrots separate from from quinoa (can you tell we are still getting her to warm up to quiona?!)

For me: Quinoa salad with peas, cucumberand shredded carrot, hard boiled eggs, oatmeal green smoothie muffin, and an apple.

For little one: Same muffin, same hard boiled egg, quinoa on its own with a little nutritional yeast (something she is familiar with and enjoys) and cucumbers (that she can easily remove if she wants) with peas and carrots separate from from quinoa (can you tell we are still getting her to warm up to quiona?!)

 For me: grain-free crackers, natural pepperoni, organic cheddar cheese, with "ladybugs on a log" (celery with peanut butter and dried cranberries).  For little one: Same! No need to modify! Some meals will appeal to the both of you the way they are! If your child has never had "ladybugs on a log", perhaps even serve those deconstructed!

For me: grain-free crackers, natural pepperoni, organic cheddar cheese, with "ladybugs on a log" (celery with peanut butter and dried cranberries).

For little one: Same! No need to modify! Some meals will appeal to the both of you the way they are! If your child has never had "ladybugs on a log", perhaps even serve those deconstructed!

Serving my daughter the same amazing meal that my husband and I are eating doesn't mean that I don't leave room for personal tastes! My daughter has a strong dislike for tomatoes and I respect that it is simply a food she has tried and does not like. So, I leave the tomatoes out of a meal for her or replace it with another fruit or veggie! Easy swap so that she isn't put off by the whole meal, but I'm not spending extra time trying to figure out something totally different for her. 

Serving my child the same food as me and my husband has ALWAYS been my die-hard rule at meal time when at home. But silly goose me forgot to implement the same rule of thumb when packing my girl's lunches!

This was a total game changing epiphany. The same healthy food. Served to meet our unique preferences. Time saved and everyone fed in a way that appeals to them. Mic drop. 

To-Go Mommy & Me Lunches: How to Pack Easy, Healthy Meals for the Big & Little Eaters