Packing lunches

Guess what? Everyone with kids in school hates making lunches. I have seen this and heard this and kinda dread it myself, now that Ben is entering Grade 1 and staying at school all day.

I had some practice, recently, and even after just one week, I was relieved beyond measure when Friday came and I didn’t have to make a lunch for that child again. And that’s just after one week of soccer camp.

But.

Those school children have got to eat. And so do you, come to think of it. Lunch isn’t going to go away anytime soon, I think.

There are a few little lessons I have learned already, and my only hope is to remind myself of them when I reach that point of dread. Will they make a difference in my school lunch-preparing life this fall?

Time will tell.

Here is what I am willing to do:

Listen to your child

If he tells you for five consecutive days that he only wants salami sandwiches, well make the salami sandwiches. To my surprise, he ate the same exact lunch every day for a week. Promising? Perhaps. I have no experience with what will happen after two months of school…or six months. I have a feeling Pizza Day will be as popular with the lunch-making parent as with the kid.

When you unpack the lunch bag, start making part of tomorrow’s lunch

Fruit like grapes and vegetables like carrot sticks or cherry tomatoes are easy to pre-prepare immediately, especially if you prepared in bulk on the weekend before.

Prepping water bottles

I make it a habit of washing the squeezable water bottles and refilling them halfway right away, so I can place them in the freezer. That way, in the morning all I need to do is top up the water, and the pre-frozen clump of ice will keep the water fresh for a longer period of time. Not to mention it will act as an ice pack for the rest of the lunch. Juice boxes, if used, work the same way.

Sandwich vs what else?

Mini sandwiches made with those flat pita buns that are so popular now seem to be the preferred sandwich for my kids.

Likewise, rolls or wraps, cut up into bite-sized pieces, are super easy and quick to make and store. These salmon rolls are a favorite of our kids (and can be made with smoked or canned salmon). Substitute with tuna or other canned fish if desired.

What about those snacks?

Snacks today are an endless debate. Some people insist on only fruit, or vegetable for their children’s snacks, yet most kids seem to want some sort of sugar (think cookies, bars). Advertisements encourage purchasing peanut-free packaged snacks which eats into your budget (and aren’t healthy, regardless what the label says). Making homemade snacks are, in some districts, discouraged due to allergies. Some of the more nutritious (and tastier) store-bought granola bars are banned due to nut content. You can’t win.

Our school here sends home a form requesting money so that the school can supply the snacks. All kids get the same snack (from JK to Grade 5), no one goes hungry, and no one is eating Twinkies. I’m not thrilled with this development although 75% of the time they do provide fruit and vegetables. But I’m particular in some ways…has the fruit been properly washed? My child likes his fruit firm, not soft and juicy, for example. Sometimes they provide things like cheese strings (which Ben hates, being used to real cheese at home), but he always tells me how they are good for you because they contain calcium (although he doesn’t eat them). I have a problem with this since a processed food like that, or yogurt tubes (another item I disagree with) is not something we purchase, and if my kid doesn’t like it he doesn’t have an alternative and therefore no snack. I don’t think this is right.

To solve this problem, I anticipate bringing a snack to school with me when I go pick him up (or have one ready for him when he gets home). No other way around it…

Let the school lunch packing begin!

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