Clémentine lives in Panama with her family. She packs lunches and snacks every day for her 2 boys – 3yo and 5yo, and occasionally for her husband. Learn how this French mom became a lunchbox enthusiast.
Packing for better food choices
I started with lunch packing when moving to Panama, less than 2 year ago, as our pre-school was not catering meals. Today, hot lunch is included in the school fees but I made the choice to keep on packing lunch in order to better control the food intakes of my kids, and offer more variety, more vegetables and fibers…just like we used to eat in France actually.
Preparing lunch myself allows me also to control where the food comes from, and select items free from hormones, GMO, antibiotics. It is a bit of a struggle to find everything natural, it takes me a lot of time and requests to be creative but I am very happy to bring to my family healthy food options.
The benefit of resilience
In the beginning my oldest boy was upset to find in his lunchbox a lot of tomatoes, quinoa, cucumbers, while almost all his friends had rice with chicken or pasta almost everyday. He even tried to “trade” food with them! Luckily the teachers and assistants encouraged me to keep packing that way. Lately the mom of my son’s best friend told me his boy wanted now to try baby carrots “to do like his friend”!
Clémentine’s lunchbox hacks
Today, my lunch packing routine is quite straightforward since I know perfectly the kids tastes and portions. Here are my tips to make it easier.
Early mornings – We are lucky enough to have spare time in the morning since the boys wake up very early! I like to prepare the lunches just after my breakfast so that my ideas are clear and it gives me a bit of time to think about what I can do.
Leftovers are my friends, as well as the the frozen food section of the supermarket. (breakfast sausages and frozen veggies are a life saver when in a rush!)
Accessories make it more fun. I’ve invested in many types of containers with compartments that help with organization when it’s time to pack! I can’t find a lot of choice in my city so I have to be creative but I like to spend my time in the cooking and pastry aisles to dig new accessories.
Tracking what I do with Teuko saves a lot of time. Uploading and sharing is very easy, you don’t get lost in a ton of hashtags thanks to the pre-typed ingredients. Also I really like the fact that you can easily check if you have all the 6 food groups represented when uploading your lunchbox idea (greens, protein, carbs, dairy, fruit and water).
Favorite Lunchbox Items
Basics. Our favorite Lunch Bag is the Skip Hop Zoo collection. In terms of lunch container, we use either Bentgo kids for complete meals or Sistema Quaddie for sandwich days. Twistshake kid cup is so far the easiest water bottle to clean and it’s useful to prevent mold in a hot and humid country!
I love reusable pouches ! In France, I was using Squiz pouches. This brand was one of the first to sell pouches with swiss quality and fun designs for the kids. I now use WeeSprout pouches which are easy to find anywhere. I’ve been using it for one year and a half now without any problems.
I finally use small containers for snacks, in all sizes and shapes! I like the one with split containers so I can put fruit on one side and biscuits on the other side for a balanced snack. (ie. Sistema Small Split). Sistema mini bites containers are a perfect size for cereals or round cookies/sandwich biscuits, or even yogurt!
When my lunchbox is not leakproof, and especially for sauces, gravy, I use Glad press’n seal on the tray to prevent leaks.
Favorite lunchbox idea
Lunches are flexibles and depend on the dinner leftovers. In case I don’t have much food left, I may prepare a sandwich though it must stay occasional.
My kids favorite foods are pasta with green pesto, chicken nuggets or even steamed salmon. They also like chili con carne and rice. Edamame are always a hit and I like that they allow to include proteins and veggies at the same time!