My mother was a health nut when I was growing up. I’m sure this taught me very valuable things about food (“candy makes your teeth fall out”, for instance), but it also taught me how to covet thy neighbor’s lunch.
I had plastic baggies of carrots and granola bars while all the other kids ate bags of Doritos and packages of Chips Ahoy. I remember begging my mom to buy the shiny colorful snack-sized variety packs of various “bad-for-you” chips and cookies at the grocery store. The closest she ever came to caving was buying me the health store variety cheese puffs. The ones that are more yellow instead of orange and come in a bag with an illustration of a farm on the outside instead of a cartoon cheetah with sunglasses.
I suffered through my healthy boring snacks until I discovered a kid named Tony, who was willing to trade my cucumber spears for his Twinkies. I’m not sure if he was vegetable deprived or had a crush on me. Either way, my mom’s health food plan totally backfired because I made this trade every single day of the second grade.
I can also tell you the snacks every single one of my friends had in their homes because that was how I determined whose house I wanted to go over that day. Erica had Devil Dogs, Tracy had Milano cookies and Carole had Cookie Crisp cereal we would eat straight out of the box. And only my closest friends got invited back to my house for rice cakes and vegetable crudite.
Now that I’m a mom myself, I understand why my mom only had healthy options in our house. She felt better providing food with ingredients she trusted wouldn’t hurt us in the long run. We also never had a microwave because my mom thought we’d learn in twenty years that it was giving everybody cancer. To this day, I won’t stand in front of one when it’s heating something up.
Luckily, the world has progressed quite a bit since the ’80s and now we’ve got much better all-natural choices that appeal to both kids and the parents who are tasked with packing their lunches. You don’t even have to make a special trip to the health food store to find them— they are right there in major super markets. Snack foods like Annie’s bunny grahams and white cheddar bunny crackers are not only tasty, they are in kid friendly shapes and packages, that look just as fun in a lunchbox as a cheetah with sunglasses. (I’m pretty sure my kids have never even seen that cheetah.)
Honest Kids juice pouches are a mixture of organic juice and water in a proportion that many moms serve at home. These are my favorite because I always hate giving my kids a standard box of 100% apple juice on-the-go when I always water it down at home.
Applegate Naturals makes cold cuts from humanely raised animals with no antibiotics, nitrates, gluten or casein. Rudi’s Organic Bakery makes 100% whole wheat bread with 24 grams of whole grains per slice.
All these brands are working together to create a movement called “Rock the Lunchbox”. It’s about making simple swaps to help parents make school lunches both nutritious and more exciting to their kids.
So they won’t trade their snacks for Twinkies, even if they find some poor kid who is willing. Or feel deprived and binge in their teen years like someone *ahem* I know pretty well.
The swap could be a simple ingredient choice like switching your regular cold cuts for Applegate. Or swapping out your boring sandwich for some tortilla sushi, sandwich kebabs or my kids’ favorite— turkey elephants. I happen to have a whole array of cookie cutters I use primarily from sandwiches— penguins, hearts, flowers, teacups, etc.
I also like to use all the sandwich scraps for the next day to roll up in tortilla sushi. No waste!
You can check out over 300 ideas for lunchbox inspiration at RocktheLunchbox.com, including video tips and coupons for Annie’s, Rudi’s, Honest and Applegate.
And in case anyone is wondering, all these brands are Mazzy, Harlow and most importantly— approved by my mother.
This post was sponsored by Rock the Lunchbox, but all thoughts and opinions are my own. We have happily used all the products featured for quite some time.