School lunches

And you thought I was going to finally finish my “using Flickr” tutorial series? (here and here: also … I will, I will!!) Or finally get up to speed on my photos and the cooking-how-to’s I have waiting in my “to post” file.

I’m getting there.

However first I have to address this:

Last year we mostly did hot lunches for our daughter at Kindergarten and it worked well with the hectic pace of life but she suffered from it. Literally. Food does weird things to my kids; so this year we’re committed to staying on top of “Cold Lunches” and her allergy needs. I have notes EVERY WHERE on her forms that she may not drink School’s milk. NO MILK! NO! NO! NO! And tell her every morning not to get the milk. They have alternatives (an orange drink) and on the days we let her have hot lunch she now knows the drill of who to ask and where to get it. But NO MILK.

She got hot lunch for the first time today (and I was there helping with the lunch line so I made sure the process of NO MILK went off without a hitch) … and she loved it, of course. Hot lunch is a social norm – it makes her feel part of a bigger group. She loves the social respect as a first grader who get’s hot lunch. It’s “cool”.

Plus there’s a cafeteria. Big. Deal. We’re talking HUGE. A highlight of her first days. CAFETERIA!

Her Cold Lunches are a little on the weird side though and I’m glad she hasn’t come home complaining yet. You see, she requests things like “Refried Bean Sandwiches” and I oblige. Because I know she’ll eat it, it’s a great protein and she eats like a bird.

I’ve gotten smart a few days in and now know a couple tricks to get her the calories and brain power food I feel she needs in school without packing her seaweed in her lunch sack.

I buy expensive bread.

She uses 2 slices every day – and I decided the high nutrition of the frozen, sprouted bread was worth the expense for her school lunches. Adding things like Refried Beans, Avocado, Egg salad and nitrate free meats? All the better. NO PEANUTS. She’s in a peanut free school. Period.

I don’t pack fillers.

She doesn’t get fruit snacks or pudding in her lunches. I know she’d eat them first and then forgo the healthier choices for recess time. It’s precious – the time spent on eating so I know I have to present her with the best options possible for a good rest of the day.

It’s organic whenever possible.

Along with not getting fruit snacks I make it a point to offer her a fruit and vegetable (organic if possible) in every lunch. Most days one of them comes home – which means she chose to ate the other along with her sandwich at lunch. Progress. I always re-offer the take home from day before in tomorrow’s lunch as well. Less waste.

I offer hot lunches, too.

I invested in a great Thermos for keeping foods warm/cold (on sale even!) for her lunches. She loves loves loves tacos so I’m excited to be able to offer her the choice once in a while without worrying about her food being cold or needing to be reheated. I also have a few recipes I can’t wait to try for hot lunches from home. Homemade (healthy) spaghetti-o’s! Soups, and even squash later this fall.

Praise her choices.

Of course if I showed her the huge bag of M&M’s in my cabinet she’d ask for some in her lunch and every once in awhile I say yes. But it’s the norm around here for her to pass on something like a cookie in favor of “listening to her body” or “keeping her body healthy” and at six I’m amazed with her willingness to put herself first like that. We praise this trait of her’s every chance we get. We also offer it up as an example to her brother and always congratulate her on making a good choice. Sometimes that good choice is the lesser of two evils. Ice cream yes, but passes on toppings or dinner out but no lemonade/soft drink … water instead.

She’s got some pretty wild stuff in her lunches; but it’s all packed with care for her health and my knowing that a full day away from home not being able to snack when she wants or eat when she’s hungry makes her learning environment a little unstable. My kids have my blood sugar imbalance where high quality proteins and food options serve them better than they know.

Their brain’s are so important.

Have you found a great tip or recipe that you go back to again and again for healthier lunches? For yourself even, or if you have them, for your kids?

It’s always hard to think that the food we choose to fuel ourselves with can affect the outcome of our efforts (at work, home, at the gym etc …) but it’s so very true and I’m glad we’re laying the ground work for our daughter (and hopefully our son) on what it means to respect our bodies.

5 thoughts on “School lunches

  1. Love this! I am obsessed with school lunch options. I will have to look for that bread you talk about. That would be great! I will give you my FAVORITE website, you may have seen it already, but I love it!! It’s http://www.thislunchrox.com. I want to try everything that she has on there. All if it!! 🙂

    Eva asked for the school hot lunch yesterday, and I had to tell her it probably won’t happen. She was not too happy with me. :-/ She ALWAYS has water, fruit, and a veggie. Lately, her veggie has only been carrots or broccoli. I’m trying to have her try other ones, but she is just not a fan. 🙁 She likes hummus and guacamole, so she takes that every once in a while too. She is not one to get fruit snacks or pudding either. She does take yogurt, and she thinks its such a huge treat when I pack her good life granola for her yogurt. 🙂

    Let me know how those recipes go for you. 🙂

  2. I’m struggling with this. My son gets extremely moody when he hasn’t eaten enough. He talks all thru lunch and goes til 3:30. He’s always been a healthy eater/grazer. He refuses to eat “wooden bread” as he calls it. Is there a lot of “stuff” in your bread? What do you recommend? Can this be purchased at Meijer or does it have to be Apple Valley? I know…so many questions:) Thanks!!

  3. Yes you can get the bread at Meijer … it’s “Good Life” bread. Like Ezekeil bread … freezer section. I think he would probably consider this brick-ish – it’s dense bread. But you could try wraps … or pita?? Would he eat that?

  4. I like that you provide choices. I think kids would find this interesting. I am struggling in providing a lunch that is both healthy and delicious. I noticed that my kid often doesn’t finish his lunch yet he complains he is hungry just hours after the break. I will try to be more creative and make sure my kid enjoys his meal.

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