Packing Snacks and Lunches

Written by Beth McCarthy
“Are you saying that I actually have to pack her lunch, two snacks and drinks every day?” I said to a friend of mine as we were talking about sending our kids to camp.  I realized that I was now going to be in charge of deciding, buying, cooking and putting together my daughter’s snacks and lunches for the first time in my life.  I had been spoiled as my daughter’s daycare had provided all of that for the 5+ years that she was there.  I did not realize how good I had it and was in a panic about how I was going to fit this into what already felt like a busy schedule.  But like everything we do as parents, we need to educate ourselves a bit and adjust to the new situation.  So where did I go when I needed some advice?  To my faithful and knowledgeable support group – Parent Talk online.  I received some great responses and compiled the list below. 

I am happy to report that I have made it through two weeks of camp, and, after some adjustments after the first week, we are doing well with our new routine.  I now sit down with my daughter on Sunday nights and make all the food decisions for the week as well as package up the snacks, fruits, and veggies she is going to need.  I think she likes being a part of the decision and packaging process and it is nice time for us to spend together.  I did let her know that once we decide on Sunday, she can’t change her mind (ok, maybe she can, but I was trying to preempt this), because Mommy would need to buy and/or cook these items so we needed to stick to our decisions.  So far, so good.  And this is good practice for us as we will need to continue this when she begins kindergarten in the fall.  Always learning!
More kid friendly ideas over at
Thanks to those who sent me information to help put this list together.  Please add to this list and share with your friends.


·         Cheese sticks

·         Squeez applesauce

·         Baby carrots

·         Banana

·         Granola bars / cereal bars

·         Yogurt

·         Trail mix or make your own mix (and have the kids help make it)

·         Dried fruit

·         Pop-Tarts

·         Cheez-Its

·         Fishies

·         Pretzels or chips

·         Mini muffins

·         Fruit – apples, bananas, strawberries, cherries, watermelon, cantaloupe, peaches (they have peach halves in the jar at Trader Joe’s)

·        Yogurt tubes

·         Frozen grapes

·         Hummus and carrots

·         Cucumber and dip


·         Deli meat – rollups on own, in a tortilla, on pita or bread (i.e. turkey and cheese or baloney)

·         Tuna Fish on crackers

·         Smuckers PBJ Uncrustables

·         Hardboiled egg

·         Cheese and crackers (add deli meat and make your own Lunchables)

·         Pita (or use this great naan bread that I get now in the Trader Joe’s bread section – thicker and softer than some of the other pitas), hummus and carrots and/or grape leaves (also from Trader Joe’s)

·         Bagel and cream cheese (with lox if your child will eat it)

If you are able to send food in a thermos (see tips/tricks below), add these options to your list:

·         Chicken nuggets

·         Fishsticks

·         Pasta – orzo, raviolis (I get the small round frozen spinach and cheese kind so I don’t have to worry about adding a veggie to this meal), or perogies (cheese and potato)

·         Rice and black beans

·         Mac n cheese or mac n cheese bites (Trader Joe’s)

It all depends on whether you have a fridge available to you or not.  If you don’t, getting the right insulated bag, using the right type of ice packs or freezing some of your food/drinks to act as ice packs is the key.


·         GoGurt yogurt tubes (freeze these and use as ice pack / helps them last a few hours)

·         Get the snack size Ziploc bags and package all of your fruits/veggies and snacks up on a Sunday night so they are ready to go and easy to grab during the week (make this your Sunday night activity with your child(ren))

·         Freeze water bottle and/or juice box and use as ice pack

·         Thermos  – I bought a Hello Kitty Funtainer from Target.  Just about $14 and is a half size thermos (10 oz) that keeps chicken nuggets, fishsticks, etc warm for 5 – 7 hours.  For a kid who does not always like cold food, this is awesome!

Good Items to Buy or Places for Good Information

·         Insulated bag or box (Target, Pottery Barn for Kids,, etc)

·         Buy some ice packs (circular kinds with characters on them go over big)

·         Check out (the carrot-pineapple mini muffins are delicious.  If you decide to try them, the suggestion is to add an extra Tbsp of melted butter to help hold them together) 

About the Author

Beth McCarthy lives in Needham with her daughter Hannah (turning 6 in September).  She   has been working with the same tech company for almost 14 years as a project manager.  When Beth isn’t working or spending time with her daughter, she enjoys volunteering/planning events (such as the PT Sale), crafts, exercising, Israeli dancing, travel and theatre.

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