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The summer break is almost over and my daughter is due to go back to school soon.

Beyond clothing and books, an important part of getting ready is ensuring that she has the right tools to take the right foods to school.

As you know, we try to eat healthy and this is also true of most of the foods that she eats at school. However, it can be a daunting task to pack up healthy foods for school. Especially with a child like mine that actually likes to eat cucumbers, tomatoes and other perishable veggies and fruits. 

To give a good picture of our challenges, you will need to know that her lunch bag is packed just before 0600hrs and the food has to stay fresh for at least 6 hours from that time. She eats at about 0900hrs and again around 1100hrs. Sometimes, she leaves some things until after school and eats them in the car on the way back. So, there needs to be a solution for keeping some food cold and keeping some warm.

Water

She has run through all of her water bottles now. It is either they break or she misplaces them. They look like this:

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My criteria for choosing water bottles is that it must be easy to wash thoroughly. No parts should be a hard to reach or built in such a way that they are not easily dismountable. I do not allow straws because they are hard to clean and an easy vehicle for bacteria.

These bottles are built for water as I do not typically give my daughter juice for school. Juice will need a Thermos and that is something I do not have right now.

I usually buy these simple water bottles at Iponri Market. However, it is so difficult to find BPA free ones that have no straws, without walking around the market for at least 15 minutes, that I am going to buy them on Amazon this time. #Aintnobodygottimeforthat

Hot Foods

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We have had this (the pink one on your right) for 2 terms now. I bought it at Iponri Market and while they are quite good at keeping food warm, my challenge has been that it is a bit too wide for her lunch bag and school bag.

I am now going to purchase this model as it is longer and not as wide as the aladdin food flask. 

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It is a Thermos so I can still expect it to keep food warm. The downside is that it has no compartments, so that means that we will only do soups and one plate meals in them. Shouldn’t be a problem at all!

Dry snacks and Fruits/General Hold all

I have just purchased this.  It is not even here yet, so I can’t take a picture of mine, hence the stock photo. There are 3 sections, one large one to the left and 2 smaller ones to the right. The bowl is leak proof from section to section so I can pack things like crackers, tomatoes, carrots and even a little yoghurt in there…all in different compartments at the same time.

It is quite easy to clean and also quite cheap at approximately $6.

 Ice Packs

This is essential for keeping fruits and other perishables cold until my daughter can eat her snacks. I had to stop giving her bananas because they would just go soft and inedible in the humid darkness of her bag before lunch time. I have several ice-packs and move them from freezer to bag. These (pictured above) are the type I have. They are bendable which enables me to wrap them around the Ziploc bowls as I wish.

You can buy ice packs in most pharmacies. They typically have the ones in rigid plastic though…not flexible like the ones I use.

Insulated Lunch bag

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To put all these things in, we have this bag which I bought online at Land’s End.  This will then be placed in her bag…yes the current one is big enough to hold it all. 

That is it for now. Cutlery is plastic cutlery that I bought from Ikea years ago. We are going through it one spoon and fork at a time. When it runs out *a.k.a all misplaced* I will buy another one.

When school opens, I will share with you what actually makes up school lunch. 

30 Comments

msphareedah

Wow thanks a lot, my baby will be 18mths in September and he’s starting school for the first time in September, playgroup though!

I am reaalllly excited, thanks for the tips, I have been checking out similar things online (the insulated bag) but maybe i’ll check Iponri too

Do you know if I can find the insulated bag @ iponri 2?

Reply
Natural Nigerian

Hey, I am glad you were able to get some tips here. I have seen insulated lunch bags for kids at Iponri. Definitely check it out! Please share pictures of the actual meals with us too..

Reply
Efe

Awesome, my kids use the same thermos, it works very well. I like snack packs that are separate, so the ziploc teeny tiny bowls are filled with snacks like apples, crackers, oranges, cucumbers, boiled eggs, tiny mini sandwiches (made with just bread and peanut butter). I need to get ice packs for this year. That’s a cool lunch bag, I need to check out Iponri too thanks for sharing!

Reply
Eloho

Pls i’m interested in the thermos food flask and ziplock. pls where can i get them. i’m in Abuja. better still, if you can help me get them, i wouldn’t mind and would pay you the money accordingly.thank you very much. expecting your reply

Reply
Natural Nigerian

Hi Eloho, I really do not where to get them from in Abuja as I do not know that place well. Unfortunately, I can’t buy on your behalf as I have to ask friends coming in from America to haul them over. I am sure you will be able to find someone who can do that for you.

Reply
Maureen

Just like Eloho where can we get the bag and the food flask in Abuja, please.

Thanks

Maureen

Reply
Odunayo Olowe

Very good post! Can someone please help suggest 1) healthy snack 2) health meals/diet for my 21months old daughter. She is starting school this September. Her school period is 8am – 1pm and I will also want anything I pack for her to stay fresh.

Honestly I get confused at times about the meals to prepare for her. Please I will appreciate any advice.
Finally, is there somewhere I can go with me wife to learn about cooking these very healthy meals at home.

Reply
Natural Nigerian

Hello Odunayo, I have to really commend you on this comment. I am so impressed that you are looking out for your family this way. Yes, there is somewhere you can go to learn. I will email you soon. She is a nutritionist and should even be able to give you a meal plan for your daughter.

All the best!

Reply
kike

Hello, Please can you send me same mail as well. I have a toddler that’s about to start preschool and would need help with meal ideas. Thanks

Reply
Sabine

Like Odunayo, I would appreciate a meal plan. My son is almost 3 and is starting school for the first time this september. He is not too keen on the school lunch but usually has a healthy appetite. I would appreciate some more ideas. I have already copied your healthy salad wrap and will try it out with my older children as well. Love your website, keep it up.

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chinonso

Wow lovely post, I’m really impress but can u post more on the lunch u prepare for ur daughter cus I won’t Iie have not bn giving my daughter a healthy lunch pack for school and I will really appreciate if u can email me a Monday to Friday food time table for school.will be waiting for ur mail.chinonsoenimola@gmail.com.God bless

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Loveth Moffat

pls i’d love to get a copy of the meal plan for toddlers and kids pls. You are such a life saver. Thank you

Reply
Modupe

Hi. Nice post. I really wish to give my toddler healthy meals for school. I always include juice in her lunch box. And sometimes I dice apples for her instead of juice. Quite confused on what she can have for lunch. I pack rice, yam, potato, pasta etc..any more suggestions? She’s only 2! Thank you

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victoria

ThIs is lovely.God bless u. Please can you link me with someone that can help for healthly daily meal plan. My son is 13month old and starting creche on the 11th jan 2016. Thanks

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sharon

pls my daughter is 18 month she started school dis january but am confused don t know what to put her lunch pack,i need a healthy daily plan for her .for week

Reply
Natural Nigerian

Hi Sharon. I would really like to help but I can’t do so in a detailed way right now. Let’s start with this – pack cooked meals. No snacks. No juice. Just water. Let her get used to that. You may also pack a iced fruit tea that has been sweetened. Not Lipton black. Something like Mango tea. 18 months is rather young so I assume she will be assisted by an adult. Make sure you pack her meals to last the hours you will be away. If it is to stay hot, use a thermos. If it is to stay cold (e.g salad), use and insulated bag and some ice packs. If the school has a refrigerator and you feel comfortable with them storing the food there, let the food remain there until she is ready to be fed. Food poisoning is real so while we are doing the healthy thing, we should be doing it hygienically.

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xpressions

pls anyone with an idea of where to get the ice packs in abuja?would begin with fruits that do not need the ice pack for now but getting the ice pack especially the bendable ones would be a huge relief

Reply
Oyewunmi

Hi

An educative write up u have up. Thanks learnt quite a lot. Please can you help with a meal plan for a 2yr & 6mths old. He loves biscuit and juice but I want to take them off him. He can also be pricky with his eating habit. Eats well this week and changes his mind for the next two weeks. He’s usually in school from 8am – 2pm. And I love that insulated bag. Where can I get one?

Reply
Rita

Hello,

Thanks for the right up its really been enlightening. I would also appreciate if I can get the nutritionist contact too.
Many thanks and God bless you.

Reply

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