Lunch Box Snack Cake and Traditions

It is back to school time at our house. We are one week behind in starting school as the children and I joined Himself on a business trip to Denver. We found that the first week in September is a great time to travel as most of the country is getting back to school leaving the tours wide open for us. We cruised into everything without a hitch or reservation. But I am back to having to get into the school routine. Packing lunches is one of them. I start out with a bang that lasts about two days then it is back to PBJ. I do have a menu for the kids that I try to stick with so that they get some variety and they don’t come home with a lunch box full of wilted old food.

Today it was Ham and Cheese Kabobs with Ranch Dressing, Natural Cheese Puffs, Apples with Strawberry Yogurt, and Snack Cake .


A tradition since the kids started going to school is measuring them on the very first day. So as soon as they are dressed they hit the door jam of our pantry, stand up straight and tall and hope they grew some from last year. And they do, sadly, they do. The boys are 1/4 inch apart with the oldest still in the lead, but for how long we don’t know. Little She grows in leaps each year and may be bigger than the boys when they are all grown up, we’ll see. And yes I did brush her hair 30 seconds before this shot. You would never know that now would you?


We also take their picture on that morning of mornings. They were all in a rough mood this morning as they are still on Mountain Time. Little She is already out of uniform with the pink shoes and pink watch. Off to buy brown or blues shoes today. They grow up so fast! Notice the fake smile on my oldest and my Middle Little has a serious look while sporting his new cowboy belt.

Well anyway here is the Snack Cake Mix recipe I use so that my kids and Himself can have cake in their lunches on most days. I can add anything I want to the batter from bananas to carrots, chocolate or cinnamon. It is a good little mix to have on hand. It makes 9×9 sized cakes which won’t overwhelm even the diet conscious.


Snack Cake Mix
6 cups all-purpose flour, unbleached
2 3/4 cups white whole wheat flour- or all-purpose if you do not like w. wheat
2 T. baking soda
1 T. salt
5 1/4 cups sugar

Mix all ingredients very well. I use a large lidded container.

To Bake Cake, Mix:
2 1/3 cups mix
3/4 cups milk
2 eggs
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 t. vanilla extract

Add-ins can include: Nuts, bananas or other fruits, spices, chocolate chips, coconut, shredded carrots, espresso powder, and cocoa. Even leftover oatmeal! You decide!

Mix all ingredients together and bake in a greased 9×9 pan for 35-45 minutes in a 350 degree oven or until a tooth pick comes out clean. Let cool and frost if you desire. Cut into 16 pieces, wrap individually and store in refrigerator for 5 days or freezer for 6 months.

Note- The use of the white whole wheat flour does give this cake an “earthiness” that most people are not used to. If you think that is you then use all-purpose flour only.


Love notes are a must. Maybe the boys will smile now.

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19 Comments

  1. Tanya
    Posted September 8, 2008 at 1:38 PM | Permalink

    Aww, they are adorable! I can tell you’re an awesome mom. I love the pink shoes and watch your little girl is sporting.

    That is a nice lunch you made for them! Man, my mom would just make a sandwich, wrap it in foil, and throw in some crackers and a Hostess cake. She also did the cute notes every once in a while. Awww…I miss that.

  2. sporkboy
    Posted September 8, 2008 at 2:05 PM | Permalink

    And here I thought I was the only one that had a stash of those little sauce cups with lids. Man I love the restaurant supply store.

  3. Alyse
    Posted September 8, 2008 at 4:09 PM | Permalink

    Dear god that is too cute! I love the little notes

  4. Nicole
    Posted September 8, 2008 at 7:02 PM | Permalink

    What a cute mom you are with the notes and all! I am lucky if my kids have shoes on when we are out the door. Today was my daughter’s first day back to preschool too. We barely had time to take a pic with all the fussing over shoes. They had to be “beautiful” but it turns out most of the “beautiful” “fancy” ones don’t fit well anymore!

  5. Robin Sue
    Posted September 8, 2008 at 8:16 PM | Permalink

    Tanya- I learned my lunch packing skills from Ma. She made us some amazing lunches. The funniest thing Ma did was place plastic wrap between the tuna salad and the bread to prevent sogginess, but she forgot to tell me and I got a mouth full of plastic! After a few days I do go to PBJ and boring lunches. Maybe blogging will help, my kids hope!

    sporkboy- Ya know how some girls like shoes, nope not me. It’s the restaurant supply for me, love all those little containers!

    Alyse- Thanks! I read your profile and Organic Chem gave me nightmares!

    Nicole- Oh yes the shoe dilema. Had to get new ones today, very plain boring ones. But while in Denver we bought the bling bling light up pink cowgirl boots! So cool!

  6. That Girl
    Posted September 8, 2008 at 10:53 PM | Permalink

    I love playing around with lunches – you can be so creative!

  7. Grace
    Posted September 9, 2008 at 6:14 AM | Permalink

    first and foremost, what cutie-patooties! secondly, i adore your love notes and your cake. you’re super mom, to be sure. 🙂

  8. Ingrid
    Posted September 9, 2008 at 10:09 AM | Permalink

    Thanks for the recipe. Looks and sounds like a winner.
    ~ingrid

  9. Awo
    Posted September 9, 2008 at 10:30 AM | Permalink

    Great idea for the snack cake mix! Question: How much of the add ins do you add?
    Thanks for sharing!
    Awo.

  10. Lisa
    Posted September 9, 2008 at 1:55 PM | Permalink

    Those are great notes and your photos inspire some nice back-to-school memories with my kids! I wonder if my almost 15 year old would appreciate a note these days? Maybe!
    I also love your lunch container. I have one of those too. I was reeled in with the little compartments. It’s almost like a bento box.

  11. nicisme
    Posted September 9, 2008 at 3:48 PM | Permalink

    Lovely looking kids, and what a great mom to leave notes for them.

  12. Anonymous
    Posted September 9, 2008 at 11:40 PM | Permalink

    Man, my nephews and niece are cute! Pinch their cheeks from me. Those skewers for the ham and cheese look pretty substanstial. Are they disposable? Auntie E.

  13. Laura
    Posted September 10, 2008 at 12:58 AM | Permalink

    Oooh that is is very cool–I wonder if I could use it in place of “yellow cake mix” when that is called for in otherwise nifty looking recipes?

    My kids are toddlers still and I see I am way behind the times on this whole lunchbox phenomenon…. I think I thought they would use brown paper bags!

  14. dobetter
    Posted September 10, 2008 at 11:31 PM | Permalink

    So sweet! I put notes in my kids lunch boxes the first day too. Your snack cake looks great. What a fun lunch you pack!

  15. Robin Sue
    Posted September 11, 2008 at 1:08 PM | Permalink

    Thanks for all the nice comments everyone! I hope to share some more of my more creative non boring lunches in the future.

    Awo- Most things like apple sauce, oatmeal and other soft fruits can be 3/4 cup. Spices such as cinnamon can be 1 tsp. Nuts or chocolate chips 1/2-3/4 cup. Espresso powder and cocoa can be up to 2 T. You can experiment just know that it could change the baking times.

    Ellen- the skewers are disposible. Thanks for dropping in Sis!

  16. Meg
    Posted September 13, 2008 at 5:35 PM | Permalink

    The love notes are so sweet. That snack cake looks delicious. Your kids are adorable!

  17. Polly
    Posted October 9, 2010 at 5:11 PM | Permalink

    fabulous ideas, thank you!

  18. Anonymous
    Posted March 28, 2011 at 9:25 AM | Permalink

    Robin,
    What exactly do you put on the apple slices to keep them from getting brown? Thanks!

    Heather from Pville

  19. Robin Sue
    Posted March 28, 2011 at 3:25 PM | Permalink

    Heather- You can use lemon juice mixed with some water so that it is not too sour. Dip apples in that. Or 7up or any other lemon lime soda.

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