It’s that time of year. Camp.

(See my previous post: 7 ways to keep your kids healthy at camp. Next post: 5 MORE ideas for healthy camp lunches)

Brown Bag

The drudgery of waking up every morning and getting your kids out the door to school is usually replaced with the drudgery of getting your kids up every morning (albeit a bit later) and getting them out the door to camp. In fact, I can’t figure out why I can wake up my kids 30-45 minutes later than usual for our 30-45 minute later arrival, but I can’t manage to do everything I need to, even with that additional time.

Perhaps it’s because prep for each day is a bit different. Tuesdays and Thursdays they have a field trip needing a camp t-shirt and all disposable lunch. The other days the kids need bathing suits, towels, sunscreen and perhaps water shoes and goggles for water play or pool time.

What are the usual ways to make mornings go smoothly? Prep ahead of course. Pick out clothes and pack lunches. Easier said than done! At night I’m so busy unpacking lunches and pool clothes, perhaps packing up dinner and new bathing suits and towels for a late afternoon/early evening trip to the pool, that by the time we’re home, fed, and bathed, I can’t even remember that I intended to prep for the next day. It’s all I can do to make sure there are clean clothes and towels available.

At the Beach

I don’t like to pack lunches the night before because some things don’t taste as good prepared too far ahead of time. Sandwiches get soggy, cucumber spears become bitter. Some food is supposed to be warm, some room temp and others cold. How to combine them all in one bag in the fridge? Forget it. I spend less time just making lunch in the morning. However, I’ve found that while I’m waiting to wake the kids up later, I’m not making their breakfasts or packing their lunches because I don’t know what they want (This is a restaurant, right? ;)- ).

So my biggest prep efforts have become taking breakfast and lunch orders for the next day. It doesn’t always happen, but any little bit I can do (or info the kids will give me) helps. I know I should also pick out my own clothes, make sure they pick out theirs, and that the swim bags are ready to go. I think I need to buy stock in beach towels…

Here are some fun ways I try to mix up the daily grind of packing camp lunch:

    1. Color theme day: e.g. Today’s Lunch is brought to you by the color orange.
      Check out this list for inspiration:

      1. Carrots
      2. Peaches
      3. Sweet Potato
      4. Mandarin orange cups
      5. Orange pepper
    2. Letter theme day: e.g. Today’s Lunch is brought to you by the letter P.
      Check out this list for inspiration:

      1. Peaches
      2. Popcorn
      3. Pistachios
      4. Pizza
      5. Peas
    3. Let the kids create their own menu.
      1. Use the above links or a trip to the grocery store or farmer’s market to generate ideas. Depending on their ages, you can even give them each their own clipboard and lined paper to write down several items in each category (main dish, fruit, vegetables, snacks).
      2. Review what items on their lists you can purchase that week.
      3. Once the food is home, let the kids have fun creating their own menus each day.
      4. Let them then take those menus and pack their own lunches! Depending on age of course, they can pull out the items from the fridge and put them in containers.
    4. Fun containers!
        1. Kids love to dip. Give them a fun container for dip, such as white bean, black bean or hummus. (Our favorite around here is 1 can black beans, 1 can salsa. Blend. Done. Dip. You can pack tortilla chips and veggies for the dip.
          This is too fun!


  1. Fun shapes! (see products below)
    1. Cut carrots into “fries” using a fry cutter.
    2. Cut sandwiches into hearts using a cookie cutter.
    3. Create flowers by cutting off the bottoms of bell peppers.
    4. Use fruit and veggie cutters for more fun shapes.

      Animal shape cutters

      Fry knife

      Flower shape cutters

      Also, here is a pack of kid safe knives