Remember lunch boxes? Trading your mom’s tired turkey-and-cheese sando for exotic peanut-butter-and-banana? Well, the stakes have been raised, and busy parents have understandably outsourced the job to the many gourmet school lunch delivery services throughout the Bay Area. We’ve rounded up the companies that deliver everything from sushi to sprouted granola straight to the cafeteria.

chefables2

Photo courtesy of Chefables

Food for Thought Catering
The Scoop: Parents and kids pick from 12 daily meal choices (4 hot/8 cold), and procrastinators will like knowing they can order as late as midnight the night before through their easy-to-use web-based ordering system.

House Special: Fresh fruits and vegetables are sourced from local farms, milk is hormone-free and Rbst free, beef is hormone-free and grass and grain fed, and organic ingredients are used when possible.

Just a Taste: Menu items include London Broil Steak with Couscous, Tri-color Veggie Lasagna, Homemade Chicken Taquitos w/ rice.

Market Price: Prices vary by school.

Where to Eat: Food for Thought serves dozens of pre K–12 schools throughout the Bay Area. Check with your school to see if they already participate. If not, email michael@f4tc.com.

Online: f4tc.com

Choicelunch
The Scoop: Choicelunch was started in the 1990s in San Ramon by Mary and Larry Gagnon, caterers and parents to five kids. The company has grown steadily since, and today, thousands of parents in Northern and South Californian pre-order lunch for their hungry kids from up to 16 entree choices per day on Choicelunch’s website, iPhone app, or Android app (launching in a couple weeks). Parents can order from the full menu as late as 9am the day before, and from a limited menu up to 6am the morning of school.

House Special: All meat, poultry and dairy is hormone- and antibiotic-free. Meals have no trans fat, MSG, high fructose corn syrup or artificial colors, flavors or sweeteners. Fruits and veggies are largely sourced from local farmers.

Just a Taste: Menu items include Sukhi’s Tandoori Chicken, Pan-seared potstickers, gluten free pastas, burritos and California rolls.

Market Price: $5-6 per meal, which includes an entree, fruit and vegetable and drink.

Where to Eat: Choicelunch serves 175 schools Bay Area schools, including private and parochial schools, as well as public schools in Lafayette, Piedmont, Menlo Park, Mill Valley and several other cities around the Bay.

Online: choicelunch.com

revolution lunch

Photo courtesy of Revolution Foods

Revolution Foods
The Scoop:
Revolution Foods started in 2006 in Oakland, and it’s not an overstatement to say they have successfully revolutionized the school lunch. They started by providing meals for a single Oakland school in 2006, growing steadily each year, serving hundreds of schools across the country. In 2013, Revolution Foods took over the lunch program for the entire San Francisco Unified School District, pushing out the industrial giant Preferred Foods with the mission to serve healthful, fresh foods to school children.

House Special: No artificial colors, flavors or preservatives. No high fructose corn syrup, nitrates or fillers.

Just a Taste: Menu items include a Fiesta bowl with cheese and brown rice, steamed corn, sea salt pita chips and fruit; Buffalo chicken sandwich with baby carrots, honey roasted soy nuts and fruit; Sesame chicken salad with sesame vinaigrette, sesame sticks, whole wheat dinner roll and fruit.

Market Price: Meal kits are priced at $3.49–3.99. School meals vary by location but are always within federal reimbursement rates, typically just under $3.

Where to Eat: Revolution Foods is nationwide, serving public and charter schools, from Texas to Colorado to New York to DC, and of course, California, where all San Francisco and Oakland public elementary schools serve Revolution lunches daily. Parents can also pick up meal kits at Whole Foods and Safeway.

Online: revolutionfoods.com

School Foodies
The Scoop: All meals include an entrée, fresh seasonal vegetable or fruit selection, and a wholesome snack. Each day there are multiple hot entrée choices, gourmet salads, deli-style sandwiches, assorted smart packs and vegetarian options. Parents have access to their on-staff registered dietitian for dietary questions and feedback. If you pay with a credit card, you can submit orders by noon, two days in advance (48 hours).

House Special: Most fruits and vegetables are sourced from growers in Napa, Sonoma, Healdsburg, Salinas, Watsonville, and Gilroy. Poultry is free range, beef is grass fed, and both are free of hormones and antibiotics.

Just a Taste: An in-house bakery serves fresh whole grain snacks still warm from the oven. Other snack options include whole grain bars, whole grain crackers, organic cheeses, low-fat yogurts, nut-free snack bars, dried fruits, nut-free trail mix, organic applesauce, baked chips, low fat pretzels and popcorn.

Market Price: $4.99–5.99

Where to Eat: Serving more than 70 private and parochial schools, as well as daycares, through out the Bay Area. New this year are Marin Primary & Middle School, CAIS – Chinese American, FAIS – French American and Presidio Knolls.

Online: schoolfoodies.com

 Lunchmaster.Sushi with brown rice and edamamePhoto courtesy of Lunchmasters

The Lunchmaster
The Scoop: offer at least 14 menu choices a day—including vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free options. Lunches typically feature a freshly prepared entrée, fruit, vegetable, healthy snack, and healthy beverage.

House Special: Meals are low in fat and sugar and are made with whole grains, fresh produce, and antibiotic-free, hormone-free meat and dairy. 60-70% of all fruits and vegetables are organic.

Just a Taste: Philly Cheese Steak Sandwich, sushi with brown rice and edammame, beef fajita salad with tortilla chips.

Market Price: Prices vary by school.

Where to Eat: The Lunchmaster serves more than 100 Bay Area and Central Valley schools and has recently opened a Los Angeles location.

Online: thelunchmaster.com

Good Earth Organics
The Scoop: This place is the real deal when it comes to commitment to serving organics. They started more than 40 years ago as an organic grocer in Fairfax, and introduced their first organic salad bar to Lagunitas School in 2003. Today they offer full hot and cold lunches to 12 schools in Marin Country.

House Special: All meals are made using 95% organic ingredients, delivered in bulk to achieve minimal packaging, and served on ecological/compostable plates, bowls and utensils. Meals are produced locally every day, and served hot directly after being cooked.

Just a Taste: Like old-school lunch programs, there is only one meal available for each day, but every day of the week is different and based on a theme, such as Italian (spaghetti and turkey meatballs), Latin (Corn or flour tortillas with pinto beans, Spanish rice, salsa fresca and jack cheese) or Comfort Classics (chicken pot pie). Salad and a side of seasonal vegetables is served with each meal.

Market Price: $5.50–7.30, prices vary by school

Where to Eat: Saint Marks, Lycee Français, Neil Cummins, Cascade Canyon, Marin Horizon, St. Anselm, Hall Middle School, Sonoma Academy, Good Shepherd, Greenwood, Marin School, Ross School

Online: goodearthorganiclunches.com

chefables

Photo courtesy of Chefables

Chefables
The Scoop: Chefables was founded with a focus on the littlest eaters—those in daycare and preschool—but has since expanded to offer meals to kids up to 8th grade. But they still specialize in providing healthy, age-appropriate foods to children as young as 1, offering a 3-course hot meal program as well as a tea-time snack option to families 5-days a week at participating child care centers and schools.

House Special: Meals are high quality, made from scratch, nutritious with ingredients sourced from small farms, healthy food partners and organic-inspired independents.

Just a Taste: For preschoolers and day care aged kids, menu options include braised carrots, teriyaki salmon and homemade Fuji applesauce.

Market Price: Prices vary by school.

Where to Eat: Daycare centers and preschools throughout Marin and SF.

Online: chefables.com

What’s your solution to finding healthy lunches for the kids? Tell us in the comments below.  

—Erin Feher