I don’t often take to my blog to ask for help but this is a matter of extreme annoyance and one of the reasons I homeschooled for as long as I did: school lunches!
When we decided to keep the children at home, my first shock was to realize how much they ate and how often. No wonder they stepped off the school bus in a state of complete discombobulation: they never had enough to eat. Not that I sent them off with insufficient provisions: some of their snacks came home untouched. But the convergence of not enough time to eat and the state of some snacks after a few hours at the bottom of the school bag meant that the children ate what could be eaten and left the rest.
I find that packaged snacks are high in cheap carbohydrates — which my children burn through in a matter of minutes — and that fresh snacks don’t keep well. Fruits are nice and everything but they get smooched or go brown. If your children eat bruised and battered fruits, congratulations, your medal is in the mail. Mine don’t. Nuts are verboten, fish puts you on the no-fly list, egg smells, warm dairy is a germ broth…. It’s getting complicated.
On the eve of the children’s return to school, I decided to bite the golden bullet and take the advice of a few friends who recommended the Planetbox lunch kits. If my husband asks, the whole thing was $75. On day two, I’m happy to report that the boxes make packing lunches a breeze and that they return home completely empty. The Rover box is too small to pack an entire day’s worth of food for my children so I send their main meal in a Thermos. This is still early in the game but I think that the boxes help the children see what they can eat (as opposed to that smashed granola at the bottom of the lunch bag) and the stainless steel keeps it in one piece. If anything, the boxes calm my anxieties about my children going hungry at school and that’s worth money to me. That said, I’m still looking for suggestions on what to pack in said boxes.
So what do you do oh wizened parents? What are your greatest hits?
10 thoughts on “Lunchtime! (Run!)”
My daughter is in kindergarten and the morning snack is supplied by the school, so luckily I only have to provide a lunch. I have about 7 post-its with set lunches that work for my daughter and I put together the weekly lunch plan on Sunday. She likes variety, so every day is different, but most of them repeat every week with some variation depending on what I have in the fridge. E.g. Muffin (homemade with hidden veggies and good fats), goat cheese balls, apple slices; hummus, crackers, veggies, apple, yoghurt; sausage slices, roast sweet potato slices, apple, yoghurt; half bagel with butter and jam, ham, cheese, apple. Those are our regulars, then I also have quesadilla, guacamole, apple, yoghurt; pasta with tomato sauce, cheese, apple, dried fruit; ham/salami sandwich, cheese, apple, dried fruit. She likes apples! We use lunchbots, similar to your planet box. The “bento box” style definitely works for my daughter!
The bento-style is a revelation! My children much prefer variety to quantity and I think it ends up being more balanced because in 15 minutes (or whatever time they are given) they can eat half a banana and some crackers or some protein as opposed to just one granola bar. I like the idea of having a lunch menu that is both varied and predictable: I think my children would respond well to that.
My kids are monstrous eaters, so I hear you! We do something similar to bento boxes as well, but we’re not immune to leftovers as well. I have a few things that I keep in my freezer for last minute lunch foods. I make these mini lasagnas in a muffin pan using wonton wrappers, layered with homemade spaghetti sauce (loaded with veggies) and cheese. I also make turkey meatloaf in a muffin pan with sneaky veggies in it as well. Keep them in the freezer and throw them in a container and they’re thawed by lunchtime!
Love the ideas of the mini meatloaf! Great idea.
I don’t pretend to have school lunches figured out, by there’s a few things I have learned.
If your child REALLY likes something, resist the urge to use it as a go-to. Instead, use it sparingly. Variety is key.
Small portions seem to be more inviting, too.
We allow but limit processed foods – I might think perfectly steamed bright green broccoli with artichoke dip is a big treat, but next to the Jo Louis or flaky pastry of a classmate, is pretty lacklustre.
Novelty foods do well (packets of seaweed snacks have gone over surprisingly well).
Cut (bite-sized) fruits tend to get eaten more than whole fruits.
And lastly, embrace the suck. As soon as you have it figured out, something will throw your system into chaos. Someone decides they won’t eat something, or has a classmate with a weird allergy, or some fav product is discontinued, etc. But take heart – once in high school, the dietary restrictions are lifted and you can send your kid with a tub of peanut butter and a spoon. I won’t lie; it is really, really wonderful.
I laughed at the “peanut butter and a spoon”! So true! My high school kids are totally on their own, lunchwise. I’m sure that just before the Holidays they went to school with 6 rumballs and a tray of peanut butter bars haha. Thanks for the tips and suggestions!
I can’t get past the cost of those lunch boxes… I would be so afraid that my kids would somehow lose them! I do want one for myself, though. 😉
We bought “Easy Lunchboxes” from Amazon and I love packing food in them. Same principle as the Planetbox.
There are some great lunch-packing groups on Facebook! Also, my friend blogs her family’s lunches at This Little Lunch.
I’ll check it out, thank you for the link! I told the children that the boxes were strictly for school (no gym, no trips etc.) so if they get lost, I know it’s somewhere between school and home. Wish me luck….
A time of adjustment for sure. How about mini quiches made in muffin tins? Ham slices rolled with pickles or cheese. Apple sauce. Yogurt and nut free granola. Veggies and hummus. I had to skip sugar at all with my kids when they were younger, or they couldn’t sit still. Happy adventures!
I’ve been meaning to respond here. Here it goes. My kids respond well to the lunches that are bought through lunch programs at the school. The cost is too high for us with so many children, so I try to make it at home the night before and warm it up before school. Those include: cheese burgers with a small pack of chips, pancakes and bacon, sandwiches with bacon are a big hit, pitas with fresh ham from the deli and leftover spaghetti that is packed in thermos. Also, when I make cream type of soup I try to make a huge pot with lots of veggies and I send it with crackers. Hope this helps!