Being part of the “Sandwich Generation”

How to balance eating when you are part of the “Sandwich Generation”

This will be the last in a series about nutrition challenges at different stages of life. I am ending with the stage of life I am in.  My current nutrition challenge is that I am a member of the sandwich generation.  The sandwich generation can be defined as adults between the ages of 35-59 that are caring for both young children and aging parents.  How does this affect my nutrition?  Well, I have recently started to make more 3 hour trips to my parents, which means that I am not home as much to do the food prep and cooking. Also, I am on the road a lot and do not eat the best because I have not thought ahead to pack something because I was busy preparing for my time away. Some of this has left me disappointed in myself and feeling guilty if I do not always have the perfect homemade foods for my family.  I have been trying to implement a few practices in my life to balance my health and nutrition while I tackle this stage of my life and I would like to share them with you.

Give myself a break. If I have just come back from a 3 hour drive and the kids need help with their homework or shuttled to an activity I am not going to beat myself up over not having a home-cooked meal for them. I would rather focus on spending time with them.  If they can help make a meal, that is great, but if they have homework I would rather devote time to that.  Some of the convenience items I may use on nights like this include:

  • Frozen ravioli or tortellini with pasta sauce from a jar served with fruits and vegetables.
  • Utilizing quick prepare rice that you can find either in the freezer aisle or the grocery shelf as a base for a quick stir fry or topped with an Indian Sauce (Aldi makes a great Tikka Marsala sauce that I will simmer canned chickpeas in to serve over rice).
  • Scrambled eggs (with additions like chopped veggies and cheese), toast, and fruit.
  • Boxed macaroni and cheese with some vegetables added and served with fruit. Yes, I use boxed mac and cheese as a quick meal because my son can start dinner for me more easily if needed.
  • Choosing a restaurant to eat as a family. The reason for this is sometimes it is the best way to spend time with the family and the kids can get homework done while we wait for the food. Plus, after a long drive I am not always in the mood to cook.

Be active. I know the recommendation is at least 30 minutes a day, but if I can get 20 minutes in that is better than nothing. I like to get activity in the following ways: taking the stairs rather than the elevator, parking your car farther away from a store on purpose, finding an exercise videos on-line, taking a walk, or playing outside with the kids.  This can be a stressful time of life and exercise is a very healthy way to manage stress.

Drink plenty of water.  I always keep a glass of water or water bottle handy to sip throughout the day.  Would suggest that you stay away from fluids containing caffeine later in the day (coffee, tea, or soda) so it does not interfere with your sleep.

Plan ahead. This does not mean I plan out what we are eating weeks in advance. I have found that my best strategy is to make sure I have items to make about 3 meals per week for dinner and then the rest of the time the family can have left overs.  I also make sure that there are fruits and vegetables ready to eat.  This is great for the kids to grab and encourages me to grab something healthy too.  Also, when I am traveling to my parents I try to pack some healthy snacks I can eat on the run as well as plan what meals I will make for my parents when I am with them.  Depending upon the challenges your loved ones face, meal prep may be difficult and having some kind of plan for when you visit will help everyone stay healthy.  If I am staying at my parents for a few days I will check with my parents to find out what food they have at home that needs to be used up and start planning a grocery list of foods to prepare for them while I am there.  This allows me and my parents to eat well.

I hope some of you that may also be in this stage of life have found this helpful. I wish all of you the freedom to feel the balance in your life.




A letter to my future teenagers

In the recent weeks I have highlighted some different issues at different life stages. I started with infancy and moved to the toddler and preschool years.  Recently, I wrote about how to handle sugar related with the school age child since that is the age where they have greater food influences away from home.  Now is time to move on to the teenage years.  I have recently heard of adolescent and teenage years referred to as a re- birth because it the most rapid time of growth (both physically and emotionally) outside of infancy, therefore nutrition is very important.

I am in the pre-teen years at my house and as I ponder the arrival of the teenage years I decided the best way to express my nutrition concerns for those years is as an open letter to my children.

To my boys,

I am writing to let you know what my wishes are for you about how you see food and your body as you enter your teenage years .

My first wish for you is that you not skip meals.  I realize that as a teenager you are going to need more sleep and you may want to sleep rather than eat breakfast, but be certain that as long as you are under my roof someone (either your father or I) will offer you breakfast.  I promise to have smoothies, breakfast sandwiches or burritos, trail mix, muffins, and grab and go fruits at the ready.  However, do not think I will be making all your breakfasts for you.  It is my goal that by the time you graduate from high school you will know how to make all of these items and be able to teach all of your college roommates how to do it.  The reason I wish a daily breakfast upon you is that I want you to learn how to regulate your appetite (not skip meals and then eat a few large meals late in the day) and I want you to be able to concentrate at school so you can feel like you are doing your best.

My second wish for you is that you fully learn proper knife skills to be able to make your own fruit and veggie snack plate. The reason many families do not use up produce is because people do not take the time to cut it. Some even admit that they do not know how to cut and serve some fruits and vegetables.   I hope that by teaching you this I will not walk into your apartment someday and find the smell of rotten fruits and vegetables that have never been eaten.  I promise that I will do my part to keep fruits and vegetables at the ready and have the appropriate knives and cutting boards for you as well.

My third wish for you is that you do not classify foods as “good” or “bad”. Always have a healthy relationship with food and how it relates to your body. I hope I have taught you what your diet should consist of a majority of the time, but I also hope you know that if the local ice cream shop is having a monthly special on your favorite flavor that it is ok to have a scoop when you are hungry and not feel like you have to run 5 miles to “work it off.”  Food is not meant to be evil it is meant to nourish you.

My fourth wish for you is that you are never ashamed or upset about how your body looks. Every teenager develops and grows at a different rate. Some may be 6 feet tall at 14 and others may not reach full height until after high school.  You are unique and there is no one else like you.  I never want you to feel less than someone else because of your size, whatever, it may be.  If you accept your body for what it is I believe you will nourish it to be great.  At this time of life your body change is natural and everyone your age is going through it, but maybe at a different speed.

My final wish is that I never want to fight about food in your teenage years (or any other time).  Let’s make a deal.  I will purchase the food that I believe is the best for your growing body and you will decide what to eat and how much to eat.  I only ask that you utilize some of the cooking skills you have been taught to help.  I know we will likely have many disagreements in the teenage years, but let us not have food as one of those disagreements.

Please know that any suggestion I make about food comes from a place of love. I believe that food is part of being healthy in the body, mind, and spirit.  I desire for you to be healthy in all those areas of life.

Love, Mom


Healthy Breakfasts for teens:

A link to a video that talks about knife skills:

How this dietitian handles sweets for her kids.

Fall is here and with that comes a season of eating with holidays like Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s. As I continue my series on nutrition issues that affect us through the lifetime I am going to provide you with some tips for handling the holiday sweet extravaganza.  I do not know if I handle the season perfectly and some may disagree with my approach, but I will share some of my tips.

Eating dessert or a sweet treat is not dependent upon eating a vegetable or any other food. When we are at a potluck or family get together, I allow my kids to get the dessert along with the rest of their meal if it is served at the same time. If I happen to make a dessert at home I serve it with the meal and if they eat it first, that is their choice.  The reason for this is I constantly hear people telling kids that they need to eat their vegetables to get the cookie.  This causes them to learn that the vegetable is undesirable, but the cookie is.  This also may cause children to eat when they are full because they are not having the cookie because they are hungry.

Freeze cookies and candy and save for a later time.  Typically, I will allow the kids to eat Halloween candy or holiday cookies when it has been collected or baked, but after a few days I freeze the candy that is chocolate and may freeze holiday cookies as well.  This helps the family to not overeat for a the days the cookie and candy is available.  I save these items for other times like going to the movies or on Fridays when they are allowed to pack a special treat in their lunch.

Handout an alternative to candy for trick or treat or holiday parties. Yes, I am that mom on the street that gives out the trick rather than the treat. It is not that I do not enjoy Halloween candy (in fact I secretly look through my kids candy for the peanut butter chocolate covered pumpkins), but I realize that most parents do not enjoy the pillowcases of candy that come through their doors.  Also, giving out an alternative to candy is allowing for inclusion of kids with food allergies and children that may not eat by mouth and are tube fed.  Ideas for alternatives to candy are stickers, pencils, glow sticks, stamps, note pads, bubbles, temporary tattoos, and, etc.

Do not use the treat as a reward. This further teaches children to eat when they are not hungry or encourages them to eat based on emotions and not hunger. When my kids ask for a food that is considered a treat and it is not close to meal time my first question for them is “Are you hungry?”  If it is right before a meal and I was not planning to have dessert be part of the meal I will say “We are getting ready to eat our meal, but when you have your snack tonight you may choose to have that as your snack.”  If they have accomplished something, like good grades, I try to reward them with things like a book, one-on-one time with a parent, or possibly mom vs. kids at their favorite game.

There is research to support my approach. There have been several articles published that link chronic restriction of palatable food (like cookies and candy) to children having increased consumption of that food and more likelihood of the to child experience emotional eating.  For those who are interested in the science behind my method I have included references to the articles at the bottom.


Fisher JO and Birch LL. Restricting access to palatable foods affect childrens behavioral response, food selection, and intake. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 1999; 69: 1264-1272.

Farrow CV, Haycraft E, Blesset JM. Teaching our children when to eat: how parental feeding practices inform the development of emotional eating-a longitudinal experimental design. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 2015; 101: 908-913.

Rollins R, Lohen E, Savage J, and Birch L. Effects of restriction on childrens intake differ by child temperament, food reinforcement, and parents chronic use of restriction. Appetite. 2014; 73: 31-39.

Just a spoonful of sugar

Just a spoonful of sugar

When asked what nutrition concerns parents have about their preschool and school aged children, many have expressed concern about sugar intake. This concern was heightened last year when the American Heart Association and other major medical organizations announced that children should limit their sugar intake to 25 grams or less per day or about 6 teaspoons (4 grams are in a teaspoon).  As a dietitian, my first thought was how can I educate families on these new recommendations and then as a parent I think about how am I going to achieve this.  When I pondered both of these situations I actually became a little soured about the timing of this recommendation.

I do agree that the sugar intake in our country needs to be lowered and I am glad that there are some specific guidelines, however, I feel like the resources and supports for parents to be successful with this are not in place yet.  In May of 2016, a plan for changing the food labels on packaged foods was announced to be rolled out in July of 2018. The new label was to include how much added sugars were in a product per serving, which may make it easier to follow new guidelines.  However, this roll-out of the new label has been delayed.  To learn more about the new food label follow this link:

Another area that needs to be addressed is increasing education and guidance in areas outside of healthcare that seem to use sweets and treats too frequently as rewards or giveaways.  Schools, businesses, churches, and other community organizations need to be educated on how sweet treats are not the only way a child’s accomplishments can be recognized.  This education needs to include alternatives to sweet treats as a motivator such as stickers, pencils or other items.

The third thing that concerns me about the timing of recommendations is that many food companies will simply replace the sugars in products with artificial sweeteners.  I would rather see more effort by food companies to provide products that use fruit pureesin their products as sweeteners or use less sugar without replacing it with artificial sweeteners.  It should be clarified that fruits are natural sugars that include other important nutrients like fiber, vitamins, and minerals.  Substances such as honey, maple syrup, agave nectar, etc. are still considered added sugars.

So now that I have expressed my concern with the timing of these recommendations, I am going to share some ways to try and decrease the sugar in your child’s diet:

  • Limit juices, fruit punch, soda, and sugar sweetened sports drinks. Only offer water or milk (or milk alternative) with meals.
  • Purchase plain yogurt and sweeten with a small amount of sugar (which is likely less than added to an already sweetened yogurt) and fresh or frozen fruit.
  • When making baked goods try decreasing the amount of sugar the recipe calls for by at least ¼ and research experimenting with using fruit puree, dates and unsweetened applesauce as a sweetener.
  • Offer fresh or frozen fruits as a snack more frequently. My kids have devoured down on frozen strawberries because they taste like a popsicle.
  • Try and reward your children for good behavior or good grades with things other than treats. Other ideas include a trip to the park, earning some extra screen time, stickers, or playing their favorite board game.

I hope this gives you some realistic ideas on how to start decreasing the sugar in your child’s diet, but also plants some seeds on how raising healthy kids is not just the job of the parent, but society.

Pre-school = Snack Sign-Up

Pre-school = Snack Sign-Up

The preschool age can be really exciting for kids and parents because children are becoming more independent. Some preschool age children are going to school for the first time and others are continuing with daycare. Parents may also be responsible for bringing a snack for the entire class as part of a snack schedule and based on allergy guidelines for some preschools parents may be left wondering what to bring.

I would like to provide you with a few ideas on preschool snacks and I want you to remember that this can be a good time to introduce some different foods to your child and their friends.  The reason is because many preschools, especially if they are ½ day programs, have meals and snacks offered to kids pretty close together.  When my son was in preschool his schedule was like this:

7-7:30 am- Breakfast at home

8:00-8:15 am- Drop off at preschool. If the free breakfast was still being served he may have a second breakfast if it was something he liked.

8:30 am- Started class and a snack would be offered sometime between 9 am- and 11 am.

11:30 am- I would either pick him up and he would have lunch at home or he would stay for an aftercare program and eat the lunch I packed or a lunch provided by the school.

When I looked at this schedule I realized that he and his classmates went to class with full bellies and typically left class and ate lunch right away.   Therefore, when it was my turn to bring snack I tried to shake things up a little bit because I figured they were not going to starve if they did not like the snack.

Things to keep in mind when preparing the class snack:

  • Many preschools require that the snack have 2 different food groups to meet requirements for accreditation. Even if it is not required I think this is a good rule. I would also recommend always including a fruit or vegetable as part of the snack. Do not have fruit juice count as a fruit because the amount of sugar in the juice negates the fruit that is in it.
  • Include at least one item that kids will see as more familiar. For example, one time I brought a small salad with dressing, but on the side included fruit or whole grain crackers as a familiar item.
  • If it is approved by the teacher try to provide the snack in a way that the children can serve themselves. Rather than place foods in individual baggies make a platter of fruit and cheese or vegetables and crackers and include small tongs that the children can use to serve themselves. This helps to foster their independence and allows them to take the amount they want.

Suggestions for preschool snacks:

  • Chips and salsa
  • Salad mix with dressing served with fruit
  • Yogurt and fruit
  • Bagels and cream cheese with fruit
  • Carrot and celery sticks with cheese cube
  • Pita with hummus and red peppers
  • Hard – boiled eggs and carrots

*All of these snacks are nut free because many preschools are nut free. Please check with your preschool about allergy preferences and what their snack policy is.

Here is a throw back to when I had preschoolers.

Cole's PreschoolGrant's First Dayedited

5 tips for feeding toddlers

5 tips for feeding toddlers

I will admit it has been a few years since I have fed my own toddler, but as a pediatric dietitian I am still directly involved with educating families about feeding toddlers.  As a mother and as a professional I advocate for the philosophy of using the Division of Responsibility by feeding expert Ellyn Satter.  It simply states that parents are responsible for the what, when, and where of feeding and the child is responsible for how much they are going to eat and whether they are going to eat.  Since I have many friends that have asked questions about feeding their toddlers I am going to share my top 5 tips for helping to put the Division of Responsibility into practice for your family.

#1- Eat meals family style. Toddlers are not too young to help serve the food, pass the dishes, and sit with the family at the table.  Once I changed to serving family style meals and encouraged everyone to have a role in serving themselves I realized that many times they typically would eat what they took and were able to follow hunger cues better. Younger children will need to be assisted, but include them with statements like “How many apple slices would you like?”, “If you would like potatoes can you take your spoon and serve how many you want.”, or “We are going to build a taco together.  Can you tell me what you would like on it?”.

#2- Do not hide vegetables.  For some kids it is easy to “hide” vegetables in foods and the kids will eat it and a parent feels accomplished by that, but the child does not know that they are eating the vegetable because it is hidden.  It is fine to have spinach in a smoothie, but include the child in making the smoothie.  Have them touch the spinach leaves prior to blending, let them see you put the spinach in and hit the button to blend, or make statements like “Mommy is eating her spinach in a salad, but you like your spinach in your drink.  We all can eat foods in different ways.”

#3- Continue to expose your toddler to different foods even if they refused the first time. This does not mean that you force feed them. Always offer foods from all foods group, but do not force them to eat it or taste it if they seem apprehensive.  Rather ask if they would like to touch the food, place it on their plate, or touch their lips to it without the expectation of eating it.

#4- Relax at meals. Toddlers will sense if parents are nervous about something, especially eating. It is typical for toddlers to have variable eating patterns where they will eat really well one day and not so well the next day.  They may want 3 servings of fruit and milk for one meal and then the next day eat food from all food groups, but in the end it will be balanced if you look at it over a period of time rather than 1 meal.

#5- Try and figure out how to deconstruct the food you are having for your toddler.  Some examples of this would be rather than serving stir fry all mixed together see if your toddler would be more likely to eat it if the rice, vegetables, and meat were served separately.  I recall when my kids were toddlers and we had chili I strained the liquid off and served beans, fruit, and cornbread and they did well with it.  Refer to my post entitled “How to build a dinner”

Since my goal is not only to provide you with my tips for feeding toddlers, but also provide other trusted resources, I am including links to Ellyn Satter about the Division of Responsibility and to the Lean Green Bean toddler meal ideas.

Division of Responsibility

Toddler Meal Ideas

PicMonkey Collage (5)

That baby is bigger than mine, Oh my!

That baby is bigger than mine, oh my!

Last week I wrote about the many issues parents have to consider with infant feeding.  This week I will be moving onto toddler feeding, but first I want to address an issue that affects both infants and toddlers and that is comparison of size in infants and toddlers.  I remember as a first time parent going to the pediatrician’s office for check-ups was like getting a performance evaluation.  I always enjoyed talking about the developmental milestones that they were meeting and seeing how they were tracking on the growth chart.  Growth charts were always of interest to me because as pediatric dietitian it is one of the tools we evaluate to assess nutrition status.  It is one of the ways to determine if your child is getting enough to eat.

Since my kids were born I have noticed many parents and grandparents proudly announcing where their child falls on the growth chart and then several others will chime in to share where there little ones fall on the growth chart.  This is a concerning trend for few reasons:

This is your child’s personal health information. In the age of social media and oversharing I think it is good if parents get in the habit of not over sharing their child’s personal health information.

It makes it ok to discuss size as a primary means of health. It is true, weight is one of the factors considered when looking at one’s overall health, however, there is a lot that goes into health status. When looking at only weight it does not take into account muscle mass as someone gets older.  As children age and especially as they get more involved in sports their weight may be higher than one thinks is healthy because of muscle mass, but they are actually very healthy.  Therefore, as we are helping to shape the next generation let’s stop talking about size from the start as a way to stop body shaming in the future.

Some parents may question their baby’s health based on information from another parent. As one parent states that their 9 month old is at the 75th percentile for weight another parent may wonder why their child is only at the 10th% tile.  First, of all there is nothing wrong with being at the 10th% tile, unless it is due to a drastic unintentional weight loss and second the 10th% tile could be where that child has tracked since they were born.  Some parents may not realize that the higher number may not always be better.

The growth chart can be a great tool used to determine your child’s nutrition status. This discussion is appropriate between you and your child’s healthcare provider and not the play group.  I recommend that you make sure your primary care provider is using the World Health Organization (WHO) growth chart for children less than 2 years of age.  The reason for this is that this chart is based on breastfed infants from developed countries.  Also, ask questions about what trends are normal for children and what is abnormal.  It is not advised to use one growth point to determine nutrition status so if you change care providers or are seeing a specialist discuss having previous growth records sent to allow a healthcare team to provide the best assessment possible.

For more information:


A Decade of Change in Infant Feeding

A decade of change in infant feeding

            A decade ago I started to introduce solids to my oldest child. I was lucky enough to have been able to breastfeed, but was nervous about disrupting that and starting solids.  At the time I followed all the recommendations and I cannot believe how some things have changed ten years later.  The following are some changes that have been seen in infant feeding recommendations in the last decade:

There is a recommendation to introduce meats initially to infants that are exclusively breastfed at around 6 months of age. The reason for this is to provide a better source of iron at 6 months of age when the infant’s iron stores are decreased. Iron is very important for infants.  If an infant does not achieve adequate iron it may affect their immune system, development, and if the deficiency is severe enough it is believed it may have an impact on school achievement. Some of the commercial pureed baby meats are not palatable, therefore, would recommend introducing a few other pureed foods prior to meat and then the meat can soon be mixed in or families can see if there is improved acceptance of homemade baby foods containing meat. One question would be what to introduce to a breastfed infant if the parent desires them to be vegetarian?  Some suggestions for plant-based iron sources for breastfed infants would be pureed beans, lentils, iron fortified cereal/grains or tofu.   Plant based sources of iron are absorbed better when paired with a food rich in vitamin C (oranges, tomatoes, and berries are some examples).  For more information on starting solids refer to this information from (a website from the American Academy of Pediatrics):

The method of Baby Led Weaning is gaining popularity. Baby led weaning (BLW) is a feeding method that encourages families to skip pureed food and delay starting solids until 6 months.  At this time soft pieces of food an infant can try and pick up and hold are introduced. The food should not be something that would cause a hard piece to break off in the infant’s mouth.  The reason for using this method is to help the infant learn to control their hunger, increase the variety of flavors they will eat, and some think it may decrease obesity later in life.  When using this method parents need to monitor closely for choking and safety of feeding as you would when feeding any infant.  If parents are considering this method it is encouraged that they be educated on all aspects of it.  A great resource to learn about BLW is the book Born to Eat by Dietitians Leah Schilling and Wendy Jo Petersen

High allergy foods can be introduced before 1 year of age (including peanuts). The American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology have updated their recommendations to state that foods children are commonly allergic to can be introduced prior to 1 year of age. See this document from the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology for more information:

There are many varieties and mixes of baby foods and they come in pouches. 10 years ago the stores were starting to carry some more baby food flavors, but the pouches were not really popular (or at least they had not come to my area yet). Many parents offer pouches hoping it improves their child’s acceptance of a greater variety of foods.  When choosing a pouch make sure the ingredient you’re interested in is one of the first listed.  Something may have kale in it but if it is mostly peaches your baby may not even realize the kale is there or that he is eating it.  Also, encourage your infant to eat these pouches off of a spoon rather than sucking it up so they learn spoon-feeding skills.  Some feeding therapists have expressed concern about frequent use of pouches.  Refer to this blog post from ASHA (American Speech-Language Hearing Association) Leader that outlines the pros and cons of pouches:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAA younger version of me feeding my son solids for the first time.

The changes listed are not inclusive of all the changes in infant feeding trends, but some of the more notable ones. I encourage parents to research infant feeding practices and discuss any concerns with your pediatrician or a registered dietitian.  Here are some additional resources that you may find helpful.

The Smart Mom’s Guide to Starting Solids

Fearless Feeding,descCd-buy.html

Ellyn Satter Institute


Disclosure- I did receive a free copy of The Smart Mom’s Guide to Starting Solids in exchange for review of the book prior to the release.  


Nourishing the Family

Nourishing the family is a journey that every family takes to help them thrive.  No parent can think that their job with feeding is finished at age 1 or when their child goes to school.  Each age and stage of life offers a new feeding and nutrition challenge.

Some common feeding challenges for each stage include the following:

Infants- Parents are learning how to follow their infant’s feeding cues and trying  to figure out how when and how to introduce solids.

Toddlers- Dealing with food jags and the child liking one food one day and refusing the same food the following day as well as worrying if they really do get enough to eat.

Preschool- This is the age when some children will start to experience peer modeling with food and they may want to have more independence with their food choices.

School Age- A big concern at this age is what to pack in a lunch box that they will eat in the short amount of time they have for lunch while at school.

Teenagers- This is the time that kids may think it is ok to skip meals, consume high calorie low nutrient foods, and may start exploring different diets.  Parents need to start making sure teenagers have some basic cooking skills as they will be on their own in a few years.

Adult- From the college student to the young professional to the mature adult all feel that time seems to go too fast and the challenge is finding the time to eat and prepare food healthfully.

Senior Adult- One of the challenges at this stage in life may be that after a lifetime of preparing food for many it may not be that exciting to cook for 1 or 2.

These are some common nutrition challenges of each age group.  Some families may be dealing with multiple challenges from many age groups.  A family may have small children, but an aging grandparent that is having problems with meal prep and they have to problem solve what to do.  In the coming weeks I will be writing about various aspects of feeding and nutrition at each stage and hopefully provide you with some resources.  Stay tuned.


It’s time to pack the lunch box

It’s time to pack the lunch box

            All the excitement of the new school year is upon us, however, I cannot help but have flashbacks to the old commercials for Dunkin Donuts where the man goes in early in the morning and says, “time to make the donuts” with a sigh. Except I am say, “time to pack the lunch box (insert sigh).”  Over the years of my kids being in school I have developed a love hate relationship with packing lunches.  At the beginning I enjoy it, but then at the end of the year I come hate it as it just seems like one more thing to do.  The one thing I do love about it is acquiring containers to pack lunches in.  I guess you can say I have a secret affinity for bento boxes and other containers and you can often find me spending time in that aisle of the store much like a shoe lover browses through the clearance section.  I search and search for that one perfect container that is stylish and practical.  So I am going to share many of my finds with you so it may save you some time.

Yum Boxedited

Yumbox- What I love about the yumbox is the one with smaller compartments is labeled with food group names.  I liked using this when my kids were preschool or early elementary because I think it helped to teach them what went into a lunch.  The box with smaller compartments does not allow you to give large portions so therefore is not as good for a pre-teen to teen, but the blue one pictured has larger compartments, however, they are not labeled with food groups.  They can be purchased at


Plastic bento box- There are several varieties of these bento boxes.  The on pictured is from youngever.  They are leakproof as long as the lid is on tight.  I like that they are priced well.  I paid 13$ for 7 bento boxes and it came with a bonus ice pack.  I recommend having a lower priced lunch box option so if it is lost you are not out a lot of money.  These are also easy to clean.  I bought these off of Amazon and they are currently unavailable, but if you search for Bento boxes there will be several reasonably priced options available.

Fit and Freshedited

Fit n’ Fresh Bento Box- This is one of the newest products in my collection.  My younger son has given this one a thumbs up because he likes his peanut butter and jelly sandwich to be room temperature , but he likes his fruit and vegetables to be cold.  This box makes his lunch just perfect because the sandwich can be packed on the larger side and kept a room temperature since the ice packs can pop out the lid and the ice pack in the smaller side with the fruits and vegetables can keep them cold.  The first time I used this for him he ate every bit of his lunch.  I found this at Target, but it can be purchased from the website at


Bentgo-  This is a box my older son found randomly and asked me to buy for him.  It does come with silverware that fits between the 2 boxes.  I usually do not choose to pack his lunch in this because all the parts have to fit together perfectly for it to work, however, he will willingly choose it and pack his lunch in it when he is in the mood.  Since this box encourages my son to pack his own lunch, I approve.  This and other products can be bought at


Insulated Containers and small divided containers- When packing something that needs to be kept hot until lunch time I like to use a small divided container along with it to include sides like fruits and vegetables.  The larger container shown here keeps things hot for upto 7 hours, which is helpful if your child has a late lunch session.  The smaller one is slightly easier to open for younger children, but only keeps food hot for 5 hours.  The small plastic divided container is from Sistema Plastics and is also great for packing snacks on the go.  To investigate insulated containers check out  For the small divided plastic container look at to review this and other products.

PicMonkey Collage (4)

Collapsing Container- The above container is collapsible to save space.  It is by Crofton, which can be purchased at Aldi.  This is one of the newest additions to my collection.  I am hopeful that this can be helpful to provide the amount of food my 10-year-old will need to get through the day without taking up too much space and keeps all of the containers together.  This lunch container also has an insert which is also an ice pack.  It can be kept in the freezer between uses.

I hope you have enjoyed me sharing some of my lunch container collection with you.  All of the containers shown are advertised to be BPA free.  For me changing up the containers has helped to breath new energy and creativity into what can be a mundane task.  What tools do you like to use when packing lunches?

This post was not sponsored or compensated.  The views in this post are that of the author.