My son began grade 1 on September 1st. Packing lunches for him became more complex as I have to pack more food than in kindergarten since he is at school the whole day. Here is how I survived the first 5 days of my son in grade 1.

Last year in kindergarten, my son ate one snack most days. Very rarely two snacks, although I always gave him two. Halfway through the kindergarten year I finally figured this out and started giving him only one food option, but a generous amount (such as a big banana or a generous serving of melt-in-your-mouth pumpkin custard).

On the first day of grade 1 I gave him 4 different foods because I knew that at home he eats a lot between 9 am and 4 pm and I wanted to make sure that he has enough food at school. He takes the bus to school at 8:30 am and then boards the bus at 3:43 pm to get back home. That is a long day for a 6-year old and I thought he needs a lot of food to keep him going.

I make sure he has a big and nourishing breakfast each day before he leaves for school and I wait for him with a snack when he gets home. The snack tides him over until supper. Or we have an early supper and then I give the kids a snack 1 hour or so before bedtime.

Here is what I packed for him for the first 5 days at school. All his lunches are gluten free and dairy free as he is sensitive to both gluten and dairy and nut free as per his school’s requirement.

Day 1

 School lunch day 1 morning

This is what he brought back home at the end of day 1:

School lunch day 1 afternoon

He ate everything!

When I saw this, I could not believe my eyes. What happened? Is this going to be my new reality? I really hoped so, as it made me feel good.

If you keep reading, you’ll find out how my enthusiasm got a bit smaller by the end of the week.

Day 2

  • Pasta salad (I made it with feta, but I took most of the feta pieces out for him)
  • Tofu pudding
  • Celery and carrots
  • Fried plantains
  • Water

School lunch day 2 morning

This is what he brought back home at the end of day 2:

School lunch day 2 afternoon

Some fried plantains and a bit of pasta salad.

One of my rules on food is that if there is some leftover food from school and it is still good to eat, he needs to eat it before he eats anything else or I give it to him as part of supper. I don’t throw away food unless it is off and even when I do this, I hate throwing it away.

I expect the school lunch food to be eaten, especially since I know that the foods I give him at school are nutritious and are also foods he likes. I do not experiment with new foods in his lunch bag. I do this when he is at home. I want him to eat and enjoy his food at school and not be hungry.

Day 3

School lunch day 3 morning

This is what he brought back home at the end of day 3:

School lunch day 3 afternoon

Some chilled vanilla chia pudding and two chicken wings left. He ate them gladly at home as part of supper.

As I noticed he had quite a bit left compared to the day before, I asked him why he did not finish.

Him: “I was distracted”.

Me: “By what?”

Him: “I was sitting next to my best friend.”

Me: “What’s his name?”

Him: I don’t remember, but I know how he looks like”.

Okay… so that wasn’t very enlightening…

I then asked him if he would like to have less food in his lunch bag and he insisted in having the same amount.

Day 4

School lunch day 4 morning

This is what he brought back home at the end of day 4:

School lunch day 4 aternoon

A bit of chia pudding and half an avocado (tragic looking – even if I covered it generously with lemon juice in the morning, it did not survive a whole day in open air). I removed the brown part and was able to salvage the rest of the avocado.

Day 5

  • Mashed potatoes, BBQ ribs, steamed broccoli (leftover from supper the night before)
  • Loaded delicious porridge
  • Polenta
  • Strawberries
  • Water

School lunch day 5 morning

This is what he brought back at the end of day 5:

School lunch day 5 afternoon

Some porridge and a bit of mashed potatoes and BBQ ribs (he forgot his red container at school, but he said he ate all the polenta). He was supposed to have the leftover foods before supper, but his sister got a hold of them and finished them.

My thoughts at the end of 5 days: kids tend to get distracted by talking to their friends while they eat and don’t always finish their food. They also want to go back to play and my son is no exception.

However, I am happy with the foods and the amounts my son ate during each day at school. Having said that, the first week might not fully reflect what’s to come. I’ll keep you updated.

Update: Here’s what happened during the next 5 days of grade 1.

How did you survive the first days of school? What foods did you pack? Is your child eating everything you pack?

P.S.  Do you need help planning your meals for the week? Do you want to save time and money and give your family nutritious and delicious foods? I can make a realistic custom meal plan for you and your family based on your food likes, dislikes, and dietary restrictions. The meal plan includes 5 breakfasts, 5 lunches, 5 suppers, and 10 snacks (2 for each day).