I Got This. Making a Killer Lunch My Kids Actually Eat

by Annie Reneau
Originally Published: 

Presented by Mini Babybel ®

“Lunch time!” I call. My kids come running (after they’ve washed their hands without being reminded, of course), anxious to try my latest love-infused meal. They politely sit down in their chairs (never fighting over who sits where, of course), and smile at me as I dish up their lunch. After the first bite, they exclaim, “This is delicious, Mom! Thanks so much for making it!” They finish everything on their plates (neatly, of course), then ask to be excused. Once they get the green light, they clear their places and put their dishes in the dishwasher (without being hounded, naturally), then go right back to their thoughtful, creative pursuits.

Of course, that’s not what lunch time really looks like around here. Kids are kids. They forget to wash their hands, despite years (years!) of daily reminders. They argue over chairs and whose turn it is to sit by the window. They often get more food on the table than they do into their mouths. They go through picky-eating phases, where they refuse to eat anything green or will only eat things that start with the letter “C.”

It is what it is. And I’m not exactly a model meal-maker myself these days, anyway. As a busy mom, cooking gourmet every day just isn’t going to happen. I do my best, but feeding my people doesn’t always pan out as I plan. Here are some examples of what a real lunch looks like at my house:

– I decide to get creative and cook something from a different country each day.

Day 1: Tacos (Success!) Day 2: Pad Thai (“Umm, sorry Mom, but that sauce looks weird.”) Day 3: Sushi and seaweed salad (FULL ON MUTINY) Day 4: Back to sandwiches again

– I make peanut butter and jelly for my two younger kids, but I forget that my daughter likes her sandwich cut into squares, while my son likes them cut into triangles. They could just switch, except that one of them likes strawberry jam and the other likes apricot. I’ve tried to explain that sandwiches taste the same no matter how you slice them, but there’s no convincing them.

– We have a super full day, so I serve simple snack foods for lunch, which might sound lazy but is actually genius. It cuts down on dishes (no utensils!) and the kids love it. My go-to is delicious Mini Babybel cheese. I pair it with apples, cucumber and carrot sticks, nuts, and some kind of cracker or pita, and all the food groups are covered. Move over, Julia Child!

– I try to create a Pinterest-worthy, special meal to celebrate my kids’ great school year and end up with fruit pinwheels that fall off the skewers, confetti pasta that sticks to itself because I overcooked it, and cupcakes with icing dripping down the sides because I frosted them before they cooled completely. (Sorry, I was so full of myself before, Julia. It won’t happen again.)

– I pack my kid a sack lunch and include a sweet note from Mom, not realizing that the ice pack will melt and create condensation all over the inside of the bag. My love note gets smeared into unreadable swirls of ink, leaving my darling to wonder why her mother put a piece of garbage in her lunch.

We’re all just trying to do our best for our kids. Sometimes our best is awesome, and sometimes it’s just good enough. Sometimes our kids truly appreciate our efforts, and sometimes they should be shipped to an island to complain where we can’t hear them. Sometimes lunch is a nice, sit-down affair, and sometimes it’s grab and go.

It’s all good. As long as everyone’s fed and happy, that’s what matters. The rest is just icing on the cake (cooled completely before frosting, of course—lesson learned).

Brought to you by Mini Babybel®, a tasty, 100% natural cheese the entire family will love and may even dream about. Visit

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