WIAW: School Lunch Edition {WBAW?}

Welcome to my very first What I Ate Wednesday! Why is it the first one? Because as much as I love food, I don’t usually think to take pictures of it before shoving it in my face. I could show you what I’m having right now, but when you’ve seen one giant Starbucks latte cup, you’ve seen them all. Instead today I’m going to talk about an epic new adventure I’ve embarked on this week that is packing school lunches.

So really this is What Betty Ate Wednesday.

photo 2

This little miss – I’m talking about the one on the left…the one on the right with the bad summer humidity hair is me – is now on her third day at her new school and so far there we have had a few minor adjustment SNAFUs, but overall the experience has been fairly painless. Drop offs are the worst time with some tears involved, but when I call to check in on her they say she’s doing just fine. And she’s still potty trained which was one of my biggest fears.

My other biggest fear was packing her lunch. Betty was in an in-home daycare from the time she was 8 weeks old until just this past Monday and they provided her food. It may sound a little silly, but there are three major reasons why I have anxiety over packing a school lunch:

  • I am the anti-meal planner. I have had about as much success meal planning as I have keeping any kind of plant alive. (I killed a cactus once.) I read some of your blogs and get serious meal plan envy. {Hi Lisa!} In many ways I am very organized, but I couldn’t tell you what I feel like having for lunch today, much less dinner on Friday night. So in order to do school lunches, I was going to be forced to plan ahead. This gives me anxiety.
  • Other parents will totally understand this one. To add an extra scary plot twist into the meal planning, on any given day I’m never sure what my kid is going to eat. Like one day she will be all about something so I’ll think GREAT! And then I will make it again and she won’t eat any of it leaving me to feel like an epic momfail. Another Betty-specific issue is that she won’t eat bread. Sometimes I wonder how she carries my genes seeing how bread is delicious. Anyway the no-bread thing is pretty limiting because SANDWICHES. I’m kind of hoping that if I buy some cookie cutters and make sandwiches into a cute shape, she can be tricked into eating one.
  • And finally…I worry about judgement. Parenting wars exist, you guys. As much as people don’t like to admit it, judgement is everywhere over parenting choices whether it affects their own kids or not. I do not condone this in any way, I’m just saying that the struggle is real. And I worry that if I don’t send her to school with a healthy, culinary masterpiece of a lunch that the teachers will give me the side-eye or the other parents will find out and talk about me behind my back because I put fruit snacks in her bag. I think maybe all the Instagram photos of these perfect organic Bento box lunches that people put together for their children have given me a serious complex. Would I ever judge people for the lunches they send? No, that’s not my style at all. Is this a ridiculous fear? Absolutely and I KNOW that it is, but still this gives me probably the most anxiety of any of the other things I just mentioned.

So the key has been to think of things that are easy to prepare, healthy, and that I know she will at least eat a little bit of. Basically a very daunting task. I let her pick out her own new lunch bag and made a very big deal about it because I thought maybe if I could get her excited about eating lunch she might actually EAT HER LUNCH.

photo 3

A girl after my own heart, she chose Hello Kitty. I also think this strategy worked pretty well because she is SO EXCITED to carry her bag every day and always asks to smell her lunch. What? I have no idea. She likes to smell things I guess. Toddlers are strange.

Anyway, this was part of her lunch from Monday. On the menu we had a banana, carrots, strawberries, some pasta with a little sauce, raisins, and cheese. The great thing about her new school is that they give me a report at the end of every day listing all the things I sent along in her bag and how much she ate of everything. So I was happy to hear back that she ate most of her food.

Yesterday I was informed that it was pizza day, which I guess means everyone gets pizza. I don’t know. I didn’t ask any questions about it because my kid is a bread-hating anomaly who won’t eat pizza. Instead I packed her chicken that I baked the night before specifically for her lunch which was about the most domestic thing I’ve done in a year. Then she also had peas, strawberries, an apple (which she was lucky to get any of because of this), and yogurt. And again I was pleased to hear that she ate most of it.

Holy crap I’m kind of GOOD at this. Screw my own fitness…maybe I should become a toddler food blogger.

Today she has leftover pasta from last night that I made a little more interesting with the rest of the baked chicken, banana, the rest of the strawberries, edamame (fingers crossed on that one…edamame is new to her), Annie’s crackers, and raisins, and I’m so excited to see her report at the end of the day.

They have a program through the school where you can order in lunch when you don’t have time to send one, or you forget, or you are like me and don’t have a meal planner brain. I suspected I would be using this program a lot, but now I’m not so sure. I’m starting to have a little too much fun packing her lunch. So what’s next? Foie gras? A filet with homemade creme friache? Chicken nuggets? The possibilities are endless.


What is your favorite thing to eat for lunch? Did you have any favorite lunches as a kid? Do you love bread? Do you think I should become a toddler food blogger?

I hope everyone has a tasty Wednesday!




56 thoughts on “WIAW: School Lunch Edition {WBAW?}

  1. prettylittlerunner says:

    My favorite thing to eat for lunch is soup… I. LOVE.SOUP… and I think it’s wearing off on Ella…lol. As a kid I was pretty much a pb and Jelly kind of girl on white bread no crust…lol. Then of course my grandma would pack the rest of full of snacks (not healthy, but I didn’t care they were delish)…

    • runsaltrun says:

      I LOVE soup and Betty does too. I make a really good spinach tortellini chicken soup that I was already planning to put in her lunch for Friday. 🙂 I loved PB as a kid too and the crusts HAD to come off. No one makes PB sandwiches like my mom though. I don’t eat it anymore (somewhere along the line I decided I don’t like peanut butter), but every time I tried to make myself a sandwich it was just gross by comparison.

      • prettylittlerunner says:

        mom’s always make the best sandwiches.. my grandma put butter under the pb… talk about not good for you… but it was the BEST….Brady refuses to eat the crust… by the time I get done cutting it off half of the sandwich is gone…lol

  2. hellyontherun says:

    OMG that last pic of Betty!! I die!!!
    Totally feel ya on the parenting judgment thing :/ –I’d so be that parent people would side-eye. My girl loves all things bad, just like mommy.

  3. SuzLyfe says:

    Yet again, I want to be Betty. Can you please pack me lunch and carry me around? I want a Scooby Doo lunch box, though.
    And let me put it this way, I ate TERRIBLY as a child (when I chose) but my mom did a great job of getting me my fruits and veg, and the Crohn’s has nothing to do with that. And now? I’m doing pretty well, bloodwork wise etc. Kids are kids, try to keep them at as healthy a weight as possible, healthy cholesterol etc, and teach them how to make good choices over the course of the day, and they will get there.

    • runsaltrun says:

      They have Scooby Doo lunch boxes at my local Target right now. You just say the word and I’m over there to get you one.

      I totally agree with you! I try to vary it up with her the best I can, but a lot of times it’s just sticking with things that I know for sure she will eat just because she has to eat SOMETHING. So we do a lot of pasta and chicken because she loves those. And she’s obsessed with peas but only when I make them. And I can get her to eat broccoli if we pretend like we’re dinosaurs eating little trees.

      I ate TERRIBLY as a child and eventually I turned out okay, so I figure she will too, but I do hope that she will have a slightly more varied palate/make better choices than I did. (Such as…eating. Because for a long time I didn’t do that.)

  4. sarahdudek80 says:

    What a doll. I love when you post her pics. When we teach our summer camp I see some awesome and interesting lunches. The only ones I come close to judging are the nonstop lunches with peanuts despite constant reminders. Allergies are scary. My fave was the kid who came everyday with two fried chicken drums sticks, a bag of chips and a candy bar. It was very odd amongst the rest of the NYC lunches!

    • runsaltrun says:

      Thank you! ❤ Oh man I bet you do see some interesting stuff! Her school is peanut-free due to allergy so I totally understand that aspect to. (Also her cousin is SEVERELY allergic to nuts so I understand the importance of adhering to it!)

  5. txa1265 says:

    I was laughing at the first picture when you commented on the ‘little miss’ and differentiated that you were talking about her – she is growing like a weed and pretty soon YOU will be the little one! 🙂

    Everything you say is so true – the anxiety, judgment and food-shaming. We are lucky that our kids have always eaten pretty healthy: Danny is like me and can and will eat pretty much anything, Chris is more picky but will eat the same thing approximately infinity days in a row … so once we had his peanut butter sandwich and veggies set … it was set for life! 🙂

    As for all of those perfection lunches … I know there are SOME parents who are super-competitive (not surprisingly they are most likely to be super-judgy and of course their kids are THE BEST at everything) … but quite often they are low-self esteem compensating bull-shots. 🙂

    At this point we just put money on the boys lunch accounts, know they make reasonable choices and that we control two meals every day for them 🙂

    • runsaltrun says:

      She really is growing so fast! I have to lean when I hold her or her feet will kick my knees and I’m not particularly short myself!

      As I was writing that part I actually thought of some of the posts that you and Laura have shared in the past. It’s really a shame that anyone should have to worry about getting judged by the food on their plate, or their child’s plate, but it happens. From pretty early on Betty drank formula and you should have heard the awful comments I got from perfect strangers about that! I wish I could show how bright and healthy she is to those people now.

      Chris sounds a lot like me haha. Once I find one thing I like I will eat it over and over and over again. We do tend to do that with Betty a lot too just because I want to be sure that she will eat at least SOMETHING. Hopefully as she grows up she will be more like you and Danny!

      • txa1265 says:

        Because of course formula is WRONG?!?! Why not just put vodka in her bottle and give her a cigar?!?! haha My wife breastfed both boys, but I remember we were supplementing Chris with formula because he wasn’t taking it … and on the very last day, just as we decided to quit, BAM he took to it … and for a while we thought Lisa would be going to college with him! haha

        As for judgy parents – guess what? They would STILL find something to give you side-eye about! That is their ‘thing’ … maybe they would look at you or your husband and make judgments, maybe like Running Bear said something with her clothes, or whatever. The expression ‘haters gonna hate’ is SO true 🙂

      • runsaltrun says:

        HAHAHA PRECISELY! Actually I may have heard that vodka comment before! Personally I am just a huge advocate of feeding your kids. No matter how it happens. Just feed them and keep them alive and healthy however you can. 🙂

        I’m so glad I posted about this today if only to get this whole aspect of it off my chest. It’s been bothering me for a long time!

  6. DarlinRae says:

    When I was a kid, I ate bologna every.single.day. And then I went through a cheese sandwich phase. Yep, just cheddar cheese and bread. Nowadays, I just take whatever leftovers we have in the fridge, plus some fruit and nuts or yogurt for snackies.

  7. Piper's Run says:

    She is SO cute!!!! I hate planning meals/making decisions on what we are going to it. I love sandwiches and soup – keeping it simple or left overs from the night before are always good (and easy).

    • runsaltrun says:

      Thanks! I’m totally with you…I usually end up with a headache when I meal plan. I’m finding it a lot easier to do for her than for myself though! (I guess because I feel better repeating the same things over again.) I’ve been trying to think of things to make for dinner that will have leftovers. Haha basically I’m meal planning for all of us completely around her lunches at this point.

  8. txa1265 says:

    Oh – and I forgot in my long-winded comment to mention bread. I wonder is she has a gluten / wheat allergy or tolerance issue? I have read that sometimes things kids avoid like that are because even the smell is enough that it bugs them and their body says ‘NO WAY’.

    That said, my younger son didn’t like pizza for a while, then did, then got the stomach bug the day after eating it and stopped liking it, and now pretty much loves everything in the carb family … 🙂

    • runsaltrun says:

      Oh woah I’ve never heard that before! I’m wracking my brain trying to think of other things she eats that contain gluten and I’m not sure what they are. It’s worth paying attention to for sure! And it’s funny how getting a random stomach virus after eating a certain food can really ruin it for you for awhile. 🙂

  9. michelle says:

    Haha! Chase loves bread and leaves the meat. So it would take Betty and Chase to finish a whole sandwich. Ahh parenting judgment! I’ve relaxed a little on this lately, not sure why.

    • runsaltrun says:

      I think I have relaxed a lot more on EVERYTHING as time has gone on. 🙂 This is all still so new to me though! I’m pretty sure that’s why Betty is so jazzed about smelling her lunch every day. She’s never taken her food to school with her before!

      When we have a play date, you bring the bread, I’ll bring meat and we can have actual sandwiches while our kids pick theirs apart. 🙂

  10. Michele says:

    First of all Betty rocks!! Not only is she amazingly adorable, she loves Hello Kitty! Way to go on the food prep, I am an epic fail at this and wish I were better. Maybe if I had a little Betty running around, I would be good at it, hmmm. Food blog away, you’re doing great!

  11. Lisa @ Running Out Of Wine says:

    Ha thanks for the shout-out! This sounds like a very challenging task! I mean I thought it was hard to plan meals to keep my husband happy (in many ways he is very much like a toddler when it comes to eating:)) It sounds like you are doing awesome! She seems like such a healthy eater already- a lunch filled with all those fruits and doesn’t want to eat pizza??
    Lunch is the hardest meal for me to plan. I try not to pack things that require a microwave because I am usually too busy to wait in line to use it. Lately I’ve been liking salads with steak in them. For way too many years I ate a turkey sandwich every day and now I don’t want to look at one ewer again. As a kid it was all about the carbs- pizza, bagels, pb and j sandwiches.

    • runsaltrun says:

      She does like pretty much all fruits she has tried and most green veggies so I definitely lucked out in that department! (That’s why I’m hoping the edamame goes okay today. She saw me packing it this morning and said “oh yummy in my tummy!” so hopefully she really thinks so.)

      I still love turkey sandwiches, but I have definitely eaten WAY too many of them in my life.

  12. Lizzy says:

    I have an odd love of making Ce’s lunch for “school”, aka daycare. Maybe it is my OCD, but I enjoy planning out and making sure that she has all food groups covered and that I keep things interesting. Luckily, she does eat mostly everything that I send in with her, and do sometimes cut her bread into cute shapes. But the best part I found, was that it also makes me more conscious when packing my own lunch for work. If I am packing her healthy foods and making sure she is eating enough fruit and veggies during the day, then I should be doing the same for myself. It has become a nightly ritual where I really think about what we are eating and the purpose of why we eat certain foods, making sure we are all eating a variety of healthy things.

    I also lover bread, carbs carbs carbs! I am a carboholic and have to keep that in check. Some people eat ice cream when stressed, I eat bread. 🙂

    • runsaltrun says:

      I can totally see that happening for me as well. And also I think it’s going to affect how I meal plan for dinner time. I’m totally the same way with bread! That’s so funny! 🙂

  13. Lindsay says:

    Oh my goodness, I LOVE Betty! She’s a picky eater like me (I’d like to tell you that she’ll grow out of it, but I still have many of my toddler pickyness at age 26 😉 haha!) I’m glad she’s so excited about her lunches, and I’m dying that she wanted to smell it. So funny!

    • runsaltrun says:

      Oh I hear you…36 here and totally still have some of that toddler pickiness! (My mom told me I went through a phase where I ate cinnamon toast. And that was like…it.) I have no idea what’s up with the smelling thing, but if it means she’s excited to go to school then more power to her!

  14. themilereport says:

    haha I really enjoyed reading this post!! I think you’ve found your new calling in life as a toddler lunch planner&packer.

    I remember that I went through a (VERY short-lived) anti-bread phase in early elementary school. It may have been around the same time that I was boycotting jeans and only wore stretchy patterned pants..
    Anyway, my mom packed me crackers & pb instead. Or graham crackers & pb, a cheese wrap, or turkey and crackers. In 2nd grade, my friend Mara brought pasta with parmesan cheese to lunch every day, and I always tried to trade her something for a noodle.

    • runsaltrun says:

      Why thank you! I’m going to get some business cards made. 🙂
      I went through a pants boycott in 5th and 6th grade and would only wear dresses. I’m not sure what that was all about. I wasn’t even particularly girly. Cheese wrap with turkey could definitely work! Because of the whole peanut allergy thing (not with her, with lots of other kids at school) I can’t send her anything nutty. Which kind of sucks because she loves PB, but I totally understand. I wonder if anyone will ever try to trade her something for one of the noodles I send with her.

  15. Annie at TheLittleGSP.com says:

    I loved this post!!! Betty is so adorable and I think that you would be a great toddler food blogger. (As long as the toddler food blog also has some updates about your running adventures!) Also, I’ve never thought about parenting wars (probably because I don’t have kids!) but I found the issue of lunch judgement interesting to read about… I wouldn’t worry too much though because your lunch creations sound pretty awesome!

    • runsaltrun says:

      Why thank you! Haha I definitely think there may need to be more toddler food posts in the future. 🙂 It’s really EVERYTHING judgement. Just like with everything else in life, people like to make other people’s kids their business when they shouldn’t. It’s really obnoxious.

  16. caffeinatedginger says:

    Good job on the lunch thing, Mom! I have to admit that I’m kind of jealous about the Hello Kitty lunch bag. I have two daughters and neither one were Hello Kitty fans. Bah humbug. Maybe I’ll just buy one for myself.

  17. Running Bear says:

    Michael described the judgy parents perfectly up above. When my daughter was in day care, at age 2 or 3, I let her dress herself. End result were some interestingly non-coordinated, non-matching, vaguely fitting, funny looking outfits. I’d get the sneer from some mother at drop off “ohhh, they’re so cute when daddy dresses them” said with eyes rolling.

    Fast forward to age 9 and she’s a confident, independent, critical thinker and that judgmental lady’s kid is a sheep following whatever the “leader” of the cool snotty kids tells her she should think is cool.

    Long story short – it is important to acknowledge that judgement from other parents is a real thing that can hurt or influence us (whether it is about clothes, food, just about anything else they can try to judge you by), but you’ll be much happier (and so will the kid) if you can come to terms with it and let go of the impact it has on you.

    • runsaltrun says:

      I love this comment. Thank you so much for sharing that bit of information with me. She’s just now becoming interested in choosing her own outfits and I’ve been trying to nurture that the best way I can! One wish that I have for my daughter is that she will grow to be confident, well rounded, and independent just like your daughter.

  18. shannon says:

    This one thing I love about Hunter going to daycare is that they provide breakfast, lunch and a snack everyday and he just eats what we do for dinner so not much extra planning. One the weekends I’m like crap, what do I feed him? Definitely helps me justify the ridiculous cost of it.

    • runsaltrun says:

      In that respect it was definitely nice! I think after awhile I might miss not having to think about it every day. (And then maybe I will use the meal service they have there a little more.) Her old daycare provided the food, but I also think she ate a lot of sweets during the day (cookies, cupcakes, etc) that I wouldn’t have necessarily wanted her to have. She always seemed to have chocolate all over her when I picked her up. Even in the last two days of me sending food with her, her willingness to eat dinner has increased 10 fold and I don’t think it’s just a coincidence.

  19. Hailey says:

    Sounds like you got this lunch thing down! I laughed that she asks to smell her lunch…I totally remember doing that same thing when I was little. Lunches in a lunch box just have this particular smell I remember haha. And as for the parenting wars, my mom told me the other parents used to judge her for what she packed in my lunch because I couldn’t have meat when I was younger so they were always questioning her about that, but she always found a way to get me everything I needed nutritionally and hey I’m still alive and healthy so I say try not to let the judgment get to you as hard as it may be:)p.s I know tortillas are still “bread” but they’re less bready so I don’t know if you thought of that as an alternative or if she even likes them- just thought I would suggest just in case!:)

  20. Mar on the Run! says:

    I’m not sure if I love you or Betty more!! I love this post even thoug there is nothing I can contribute to this conversation – not having a toddler an all. And this: “I could show you what I’m having right now, but when you’ve seen one giant Starbucks latte cup, you’ve seen them all” cracks me up.

  21. ambertherunner says:

    OMG bread. I seriously laughed that she doesn’t like it. But I’m glad you’ve figured out what to pack that she likes 🙂
    I LIVED by pb&j sandwiches as a child. I even started waking up early to make my sandwiches myself because my mom only put pb on one piece of bread, and I preferred both pieces to be slathered.

  22. Laura @ the gluten-free treadmill says:

    I adore your pictures! My favorite lunch is always my Amy’s Brown Rice & Veg bowl, but as a kid I loved toasted peanut butter and honey. And yes, you should be one a kick-ass, running, toddler-mommy food blogger. Actually, I think you already are. 🙂

  23. candies & crunches says:

    OMG! I want to have a baby girl just so that I can buy a cute lunch bag like that!!! I SWEARRRR!!!! And I don’t even have kids yet. I really enjoyed this post. I like how honest you are about your feelings. I think I’ll be excatly the same way. I see how parents can be judgemental. That being said, I think you’re doing a terrific job at getting your daughter so excited about her lunch. Also it is so awesome that you can have a follow up on what she eats and what not. It is genius. I think you would be a kick as a toddler food blogger! ❤ xoxo

  24. irenejean says:

    Betty is so cute!! I love her lunchbox! I love bread, I’m sure Betty will come to appreciate it one day. Awesome job with her lunches, I hope she liked the edamame!

  25. Anita says:

    HELLO KITTY!!! I have a dozen Hello Kitty running socks that the Mister makes fun of but I’m confident in my ability to totally pull them off.

    Meal planner failure here to. I tired, really I did, but it’s just not in my DNA.

    Don’t worry about other parents judging you or Betty’s lunch. If they make some kind of passive-aggressive Sancti-mommy comment they are not worth your time or energy … gah I hated that about our last school but got really good at snarky comebacks. 🙂 Betty’s lunches sound awesome and you may notice she will start eating new things because her peers are.

    Psst: I’m back blogging again this time for good and you can’t get rid of me 😀

  26. northernambitions says:

    You’re such a smart Mommy! I don’t have kids but I am always amazed with parent’s creativity and patience when it comes to kids and eating. Aaand, I also killed a cactus so I’m glad I’m not the only one. I actually googled it afterwards, because I was pretty sure I didn’t need to water it ever, hence it being a cactus. I was wrong.

  27. Sue @ This Mama Runs For Cupcakes says:

    I’m with you on this one! My boys are the same way, like one thing one day, the next they hate it. I don’t have a lot of time to plan lunches, so you know what they get every day? A PB&J sandwich because I know they will eat it and an organic fruit and veggie squeeze pouch. Forget all of the other parents…screw them if they are going to judge, we are all just doing the best we can! You rock!

  28. fitnessmeetsfrosting says:

    Cracking me up as usual!! I would have been your worst nightmare as a kid! My parents say that I ate everything up until I was 2 and then I became the pickiest person ever. Chicken- had/has to be breast (white meat only), no skin, no fat, no weird pieces. Peas- had to be frozen. Just to name a couple 😉 Screw the judgey judgersons. You’re giving Ms. Betty nutritious lunches and it’s none of their business even if you weren’t. Besides sometimes at that age, you just have to give them anything that they will eat 😉

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