When I started this blog I was excited about the prospect of sharing what I do with lunches and using the blog as a platform to share what I’ve learned about food and nutrition especially as it relates to children.  However, I had no idea what the response would be, if any, to a blog like this.  I hoped it would be well received and that readers wouldn’t think I was out of my mind.

Now I watch the statistics on my site and am continually amazed by the number of people from around the world that read the blog.  It’s so encouraging to me knowing there are parents out there who desire more for their kids when it comes to school lunches and that more and more people are beginning to understand just how much the quality of food we feed our children affects their mood, behavior and overall health.

I love that with site statistic programs I’m able to see when other bloggers link my site to theirs.  I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the enthusiastic response to my blog, but just as I suspected there are a few naysayers out there who don’t share the love.   People have commented with things like,”She’s teaching her kids to play with their food.” or “She’s overindulging her kids and their expectations when it comes to food are going to be way too high.” or one of my all-time personal favorites…”She must not have a job and has WAY too much time on her hands!”.   While a little hard to swallow I do my best not to let those comments deter me from doing what I do here on This Lunch Rox.  Here’s why:

As a working mother of two young boys I find I have very little time to do something I love.  Some moms find creative outlets in projects like scrapbooking, quilting, card-making, beading or other activities.  Making and preparing creative lunches for my boys happens to be my passion and it’s an activity that makes me truly happy.  In the book, “The Happiness Project”, author Gretchen Rubin writes “…happiness research predicts that making time for a passion and treating it as a real priority instead of an “extra” to be fit in at a free moment (which many people practically never have) will bring a tremendous happiness boost.” I couldn’t agree with her more.  Working on these lunches brings me so much joy and allows me (a person who rarely makes time for myself) a chance to do something I love!  There is something gratifying about taking making the time for myself to do something that I love and that is so important to me.  If you go back and read this post I go into much more detail about the alarming statistics regarding the health of the children today in the United States which is added incentive for me to continue doing what I do.

The reality is this…my lunch creations serve as my creative outlet all while fulfilling my desire to nourish my children with healthy foods.  In the beginning, it was a way for me to entice my kids to choose cold lunch over the greasy, syrupy, sugar-filled trays they were tempted with on a daily basis at school.  Over time this has grown into a hobby for me and I find a lot of joy in planning & creating fun lunches.

That being said, I want to take this moment to answer a few frequently asked questions and respond to some of the comments I’ve read on-line:

1) Do I make lunches like this every day? NO!  There are plenty of days when my kids have what I call “quick and easy” lunches.  I usually make a specialty lunch 2-3 times per week (sometimes less) depending on my schedule.  Here are a few quick and easy lunches I’ve thrown together on busy mornings…I’m going  to try to post more of these types of lunches throughout the school year so stay tuned.

2) Are you or anyone in your family gluten-free? Nobody in my family has an allergy or sensitivity to gluten, but I do limit the amount of gluten we consume on a daily basis.  Over the years our society is consuming an extraordinary amount of wheat.  The average American consumes appx 67% of their calories from just THREE foods…corn, soy and wheat.  To put this in perspective, the caloric intake from these ingredients by our ancestors ranged somewhere between 1-5%.  My kids do love sandwiches on wheat and lavash bread so, considering that most of the convenient, pre-packaged foods contain some derivative of corn, soy and wheat (high fructose corn syrup, corn oil, wheat flour, soy protein, etc…), I try to avoid those as much as possible to keep the percentage of calories consumed from corn, soy and wheat more in line with our ancestors than today’s average American.  If you are interested in this topic you can read more here.

3)  Do the lunches you make really stay together by the time lunch rolls around? Not always.  In the beginning we had a lot of failed attempts!  The lunches were still edible but there was very little resemblance to what we started with in the morning.  After a lot of trial and error I’ve found some strategies that work really well keeping the lunch in place until lunch time.  If you read this post you’ll see how I was using toothpicks to hold sandwiches together and placing a folded napkin over the entire lunch to keep things from shifting.  Since then I’ve found mini cookie sticks which I think will work really well holding pieces together (you may have to cut them down to fit in the lunch box, but with a strong pair of scissors or wire cutters that shouldn’t be a problem).

4) Do you work?  I can’t imagine having the time to make these kinds of lunches?! Yes.  I have not one job, but THREE!  I own two small businesses that I operate with my husband and a VERY lean staff along with a business consulting job.  I do a fair amount of traveling with my job(s) which means I have to be diligent with grocery and meal planning.  Like I said earlier, this really isn’t about taking the time to do what I love…it’s making the time. Here’s me doing my thing outside of the kitchen:

5) Do your kids really eat what you put in the lunch boxes or do you end up throwing a lot of it away. My kids DO eat most of every lunch I send with them.  Occasionally they get distracted during lunch and they leave some behind, but my growing boys like to eat so that doesn’t happen often.  Because I want my kids filled with foods to sustain them for the rest of the school day I try never to include foods that I know they won’t eat in their lunch boxes.  I will say that when we first transitioned from our old eating habits getting my kids to try new foods was a bit of a challenge.  You can read this post where I explain some tactics I used to encourage them to try new foods.  I’ll be the first to admit that this transition wasn’t easy, but it was worth all the effort and then some!

6) Are you worried that you are teaching your kids that food is a toy and not food? Not at all.  I try not to take myself too seriously when it comes to these lunches…it’s just me having fun and giving my boys something to smile about during the day.  However, it is my hope is that by doing this my children will grow to be mindful eaters. You can read more on Mindful Eating in this article.  The basic idea is that there are benefits for those who eat with all 5 senses.  In this hurried world it does pay off to look, notice and taste food rather than just mindlessly consuming it.  Creating fun lunches for them and using a variety of colors with fruits and vegetables will hopefully encourage them to stop and notice the food they are about to eat.

Author Shauna Niequist writes in her book “Cold Tangerines”, “...feeding the people I love is a hands-on way of loving them.  When you nourish and sustain someone, essentially you are saying that you want them to thrive, to be happy and healthy and able to live well.”  Those words really hit home for me and helped me understand that what I’m doing goes beyond just putting a cute lunch in a box.  So, with that I’d like to say a big thank you to all of you who continue reading my blog.  I’m looking forward to another year of  fun lunches here on This Lunch Rox.

Oh, and don’t forget to enter the Sheer Addiction Jewelry Giveaway if you haven’t already!  You can also find a $10 coupon code to her on-line store in that post!



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30 Responses to happiness…

  1. Sami Beth says:

    I LOVE your blog and find myself searching for new lunch ideas under ‘recipes’. We use the Laptop Lunchbox and it is an easy way to incorporate good, yet healthy food into my daughter’s lunch. School started for her last week (a new school at that!) and each day children sitting at her table have commented on her ‘healthy lunch’. At first the comments were somewhat negative, such as “does your mom ALWAYS make you eat healthy?” Each day, however, the comments are more positive. Yesterday a child told her “your food looks yummy and colorful”! We watched Jaime Oliver’s ‘Food Revolution’ and when we plan lunches, we make sure it would pass the ‘Food Revolution test’:) As a teacher, I cannot tell you what horrible lunches are brought from home (ding dongs, sugary drinks, fried foods, etc.!) and don’t get me started on the school lunches! Not only am I feeding my daughter a lunch that will nourish her brain and body, I am helping her be an ambassador of sorts for healthy food! Children see her bright, colorful lunch and compare it to their dull, non-appetizing food and realize healthy foods are good! Wow! Wrote way more than I had planned. I enjoy this blog and am grateful for the ideas/recipes.

  2. Jen says:

    It’s amazing what people will naysay, and that it’s important enough for them to take the time to bring you down –> almost like the people that think some thought is important enough to spend the extra time in a public bathroom to write down with a permanent marker (ick! and who has a marker in their pocket?) Your blog is fantastic, purposeful and inspiring. Keep up the good work, you have more people (like me!) who love what you do than otherwise (and I bet they secretly like it too).

  3. zhanna says:

    I am so excited to have found your blog. I too strive to make healthier meals for my family and that includes school lunches. I love being creative with presentation! I look at it as my creative outlet as well as an extension of my love for my kiddos, something they will always remember. Yes, I do have to get up earlier to do it but what I get in return is so rewarding! Thank you for sharing your recipes and tips.

  4. Angela says:

    I stayed away from anything that contained wheat for 6 weeks and lost 20 pounds!

  5. Pamela Black says:

    Jamie, I would like to say that I absolutely LOVE reading your blog and searching your wonderful recipes for these amazing healthy lunches. I have two grown children and a three year old. I assure you that I would have given any amount of money to have the knowledge you freely share with everyone, when my first children were growing up.
    Thanks to you, my three year old has a whole wide world of food choices that are healthy that she loves to eat.
    Her brother and sister have commented on how “they” did not have such fun lunches when they were young. I just smile and tell them I have learned a lot in twenty years. Lol.

    Thanks for sharing your passion!

    Pamela Black

  6. Julia says:

    I love seeing the creative ways you make your kids lunches! I have a picky eater that is also gluten free which makes it even harder. I really appreciate that you take the time to post and link to gluten free recipes as well : ) Making eating healthy fun is not teaching your kids to play with their food. It’s making it aesthetically pleasing. All the candy companies do the same thing with junk food by making it bright colored and in fun shapes.

    BTW: just figured out who you are by your pictures. I must be really slow. LOL! Your work is AMAZING and I have bought a few of your templates and love them. You are definately making the time!

  7. candi says:

    i for one LOVE your lunches! My boys are SUPER picky, so we have started small. My oldest (the only one is school right now) doesn’t like cheese or any sandwhiches, so I have a hard time finding something to fill his box with other than fruit. :( I would love to hear your advice on that! I keep showing him your cute sandwhiches and stuff and he LOVES them, but doesn’t like sandwhiches. :( We started sending healthy lunches this year and I have been so happy that he has ate them all week long. Only one day did he not eat EVERYTHING in the box! Thank you again for sharing so much!!!

  8. Camille says:

    I truly believe that human beings have an innate need to create — and I love the fact that your creation is lunch for your boys!

  9. Hilarious! I’ve been following your blog for quite a while, but never looked at your “about” info until I saw this post and was like, “Hey, wait. I know who she is!” Now I’m even more impressed because, not only do you create super cool lunches (and keep up with this blog!), but I’ve also seen you do your thing at WPPI! You’re pretty amazing and inspiring!

  10. Kristin says:

    I am disappointed but not surprised that you have some people who try their best to make you feel small. Don’t listen. They are probably just trying to make themselves feel better. I stumbled across your blog a couple of months ago, and after picking my jaw up off the floor, I’m just continually in awe of the way you make lunch so amazing and creative. I can’t imagine what the lunch supervisors in the cafeteria say… I can picture them standing over your boys, waiting for him to reveal the day’s spectacular creation :) I have 3 very PICKY eaters…and a hubby who isn’t 100% bought in to changing our lifestyle, so I’m building up the patience and courage to make baby steps. Your blog has taught me a ton! Keep it up, you’re sensational! :) Have a wonderful weekend!!!!

  11. Cherie says:

    Well I’m a new subscriber and I’m enjoying your content very much – my only question is not about the advisability of your lunches but I’m thinking that when I end so many things with my kids they just don’t have time to eat it! And my kids are EATERS

    They’re always starving when they get home, but if I give them more they always bring some home saying they just ran out of time . . . [since they can put away a fair amount at home I'm not worried - just curious if you run into this]

  12. heather starr says:

    you rock jamie! you know your heart, you know what you are doing and why you are doing it and that is all that matters! and even though you have 3 jobs–there is nothing wrong with a mom who doesn’t have a “job” and stays home and makes her kids healthy, creative lunches! we all have the same amount of time, some people are just able to utilize it alot better than others! keep up the great work!

  13. Laura says:

    As a full-time WOHM with a new kindergartener, I am loving seeing the creativity in the lunches you send with your boys to school. Even the “fast” school lunches are giving me good ideas to try with my son. We have a pretty similar philosophy about food and I am currently trying to the get my family to eat better for our health. Thank you for sharing your journey and ideas!!! Oh, and don’t listen to the naysayers. You rock!!! (BTW: I think I recognize your studio from a board I belong to! ;-) )

  14. Amy says:

    I just recently found your blog and I think it’s great! Some people have a natural gift for putting together creative ideas, whether it be towards art, parties, food, photography etc. You are one of them!

  15. eRin says:

    Kudos for this thoughtful and honest post, and your very inspiring passion and blog! I’m not packing school lunches yet, but my husband and I are working to make healthful and thoughtful changes to our diet so that we can eat more mindfully and raise our young daughter to do the same. I love seeing your creative posts in my reader, and love your perspective (working mom!) and foundation (earth and body-friendly nutrition!), and I know that your blog will be a go-to resource for me soon and for a long time.

    Keep up the great work and don’t let the bitter betties bring you down!

  16. Megan L says:

    What you do here is so awesome and helpful and motivating and cool and… I can go on! Keep it up!

  17. Jessica says:

    I just stumbled upon your blog today and am LOVING IT! I too have two boys and with the oldest off to all day kindergarten this year I’ve been on the hunt for ways to make lunch fun and healthy. Kudos to you for TAKING the time for you passion and caring so much about your boys! I’ve already found that these “themed” lunches don’t take much more time than a “regular” lunch – although I’m just copying YOUR work at this point! — and it brings a smile to DS’s face — a little bit of home at lunch time. Keep it up!

  18. Jennifer says:

    Don’t worry about other people. Just do what you love.

  19. holly-lynn says:

    i’m a new mom (like fourmonths new.. he’s still on breastmilk only), but i love the ideas your blog gives (even for my own lunches!). can’t wait to put together lunches for my little man. & you can’t make everyone happy. i work in a low income school district & the amount of obese/overweight children with asthma and allergies is startling. keeping your own kids healthy is such a priority everyone should embrace. & if you’re keeping yourself happy & your family happy, what else matters? thank you for this blog, i love it!

  20. Coco says:

    Well, I just think you are awesome. A mother who cares so much about what their children eat and takes the time to share it with the world obviously has a lot of love and passion. I admire that and reading your blog gives me joy. So keep doing what you do – you rock!

  21. What a great post and I absolutely love the photography! I pack both of my kids lunches in bentos because I like seeing the food separated out so I can determine which food groups I’ve missed. I also really like your idea with the muffin cups- it makes snacks look even more appealing. Thanks!

  22. Shannon says:

    You are truly an inspiration! I love this blog, your templates and that you are passionate about making meals healthy and fun for your family. I too get strange comments from time to time from people about me watching certain ingredients in my kids’ diet, but I know it is the best thing for my family. At times, I am making snacks or lunches at 1am, but it is so worth it. Keep up all the great work and thank you for the inspiration you give to my family! :)

  23. D'Nese says:

    I LOVE your blog and am so thrilled I found it. I’ve been trying to come up with ideas for lunches for weeks now and your ideas are perfect. I went through lots of your ideas with my 2nd grader and showed him the pictures and he picked a great deal of lunches for me to make. I was wondering though, does your lunches come back home fully eaten or do you find that only half is eaten? I worry that my little man will want to play recess more than enjoy these awesome lunches that for sure takes a little time to put together (but SO worth it to me) He says he will enjoy every last bite but I was just curious how long it takes you typically to put these together and if your little ones do enjoy the full lunch.

    Thanks and keep on blogging the awesome goodness.

  24. Emily says:

    I just found your site this summer, and I have to say, “You rock!” :) With all the emphasis on presentation at restaurants, you can’t dismiss the idea that attractive, appealing lunches are better received – I can’t believe the comment about kids playing with their food. Ugh. Anyway, I love your ideas and plan to use some of them myself, on my 2 boys in school and even maybe myself! :) As a working mom with a working hubby, we all pack lunches, and I know first-hand that something good to look at is easier to eat. By the way – the picks & spears in your sandwiches would be so attractive to my boys, but I will have to ask their school – those might be seen as weapons in their hands. :) Either way, keep it up! I’m loving it!!!

  25. Amanda says:

    I just had to say how much I love your blog (I was already a big fan of your photography and design work before I stumbled across this lunch rox!) and how much I am enjoying implementing your suggestions for my 8-year-old’s lunches. I am steadily moving us toward healthier eating and this blog has been a huge inspiration for me. My son enjoys his lunches so much that whatever he doesn’t have time to eat at lunch, he eats as his afternoon snack as soon as he gets home instead of begging for sweets! Now if I can just convince him to like raw vegetables, we’ll be in great shape!
    (And I have to say, I am wondering about the toothpicks too. I have been using them to spear bite size pieces of sandwiches and cheese, and he absolutely loves it – who knew? – but I keep waiting to hear from the school that he can’t have them. I have told him to be sure to put them back in his lunch box when they are empty and not to play with them or let other kids play with them, and so far so good.)

  26. Kristin says:

    2 questions
    With the bento box where does the drink go?
    How do you keep your sliced fruit like fooled and pears from turning brown?

  27. Sarah Johnson says:

    Nicely done Jamie! I love the ideas I am getting for packing lunches for C when she starts kindergarten this fall. I LOVE the idea of healthy lunches, but can’t stomach the cost as a stay at home mom living on one income. I will have to adapt things to fit our budget. I just have one suggestion for you. Could you possibly come up with some “girly” things for your theme lunches? I know you don’t have a girl, but I do and would LOVE some ideas. Thanks for this blog.


  28. Stephanie says:

    Great post, Jamie! I’ve been enjoying your blog all summer and it’s nice to get to know you a little better. I’m sorry about the naysayers and hope that you keep doing what you’re doing, cause it’s fun to read! :)

    Stephanie (fellow blogger)

  29. Alison says:

    Love your lunch ideas… they are so cute! My only question… what happens to the “scraps”, all the things you cut off to make the cute shapes and things? I’d love to do things like this for my girls, but I know I can’t afford to waste food.

    • Jamie says:

      Be sure to stay tuned tomorrow! I’m doing an entire post about this. I VERY, VERY rarely throw any scraps in the garbage. The only thing I trash are fruit/veggie stems typically. This is a FAR cry from the amount of school food I see trashed when I have lunch with my boys at school. The amount of food that gets wasted on a daily basis really boggles my mind.

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