Wednesday, October 6, 2010

school lunch

 During my week of nothing, my kids bought lunch far more than usual. We usually limit buying to once a week, and for the past two weeks they've bought probably 3 times a week.

When I was little, we got hot lunch on Friday. It was usually Pizza Hut or something equally healthy. If you forgot to bring your lunch any other day, you got a PB&J and milk. The kids school offers hot lunch everyday. It's your typical school lunch menu - with attempts at being healthier (salads, fruit etc . . .) but I'm pretty sure it's not the fruit that's enticing the kids to buy. A favorite is the popcorn chicken which I am fairly certain is not popcorn and likely not chicken.

So, why in the world do I go through the trouble and expense of buying local grassfed meats, of spending an insane amount of time preparing scratch meals . . . and then send my kids to school with 2 bucks to buy whatever over processed food-like product is being served on the lunch line that day?

Well, because it's easy. It's made even easier by the fact that I don't have to send them with real, actual dollars. I can go online and add money from my bank account to their lunch account. Yup - they have pin numbers and can buy lunch without ever holding the money.

Which means, that my 7 year old has been buying breakfast every morning at school. After having breakfast at home. We always joked he was like a hobbit - having more than one breakfast is not unusual for him, he often has first breakfast and second breakfast. Sometimes there is a third breakfast.

Anyway, having money on a card, instead of in your hand - means that my 7 year old has no concept of buying lunch. Or breakfast. So when I checked his account the other day, wondering where in the world 20 bucks went to already - I found that it went a dollar a day to breakfast, 1.75 to lunch on more days than normal and 65 cents to ice cream. Even on the days I take the time and care to pack a balanced healthy lunch - guess what else he's eating? Ice cream. Awesome.

Even better, while cleaning out my 12 year olds lunch bag, I've noticed he's coming home with cookie wrappers and doritio wrappers. And it's not on his lunch account. Which means he's trading or just getting these treats from other kids. Well, that's just awesome too.

But back to why they even have money on their accounts in the first place. It started with them being able to buy on my early Wednesdays - every other Wednesday I have to leave for work right after they get on the bus. It was easier to not have to deal with packing a lunch (since I'm not home till 9:30 the night before) and it was a treat for them.

But. Then sometimes I'm lazy. I mean, I'm just having a really hard time doing the morning thing. I get home from work at 9:30, I'm usually asleep by 11. Then I drag myself out of bed at 6:30. I need way more sleep I think. I wish I could be a morning person, but I'm just not. Not yet.

And sure, I could pack the lunches the night before. You know, when I get home from a 10 hour day at 9:30 pm, but remember the part where I said I was lazy. Yeah. I just don't want to pack lunches when I walk in the door. And my husband can do them, and does but remember where I also said I've turned into a control freak? He doesn't pack lunches as good as I do. Clearly my lunches are fantastic, since my kids never want to buy lunch and never trade with their friends and . . . oh wait.

So what's a busy some-what health conscious mom to do?

I've seen the bento boxes and they are awesome and clever  . . .

and so not me. I can barely slap together some peanut butter and some bread!

A typical lunch is:

PB&J or crackers and cheese and pepperoni, or leftover chili or soup in a thermos.
Carrots and ranch or apples and PB or salad and dressing
homemade cookies or chips
mozzarella stick or yogurt

I wouldn't want to eat that everyday either, it's freaking boring. I need help! I've looked and looked for lunch ideas, but am still having a hard time. Share with me lunch ideas! I'd love some make ahead/freezer sort of things for the mornings I'm feeling lazy.

We all know how great I am with goals I set, but I'm going to try some new lunch ideas and report back here every week or two. I can't be the only parent with lunch troubles!


City Sister said...

We homeschool, so we don't have the lunch box issues. My mom used to send us with pb+j, juice, and graham crackers every day until the revolt...then it was leftovers (maybe why I prefer cold leftovers) or she'd buy/make egg rolls or other items from the deli for we tend to have fruit, pb, crackers, or leftovers.

Gringa said...

I share your woes. School lunches are torture no matter how you look at it. I don't know why but I HATE making lunch for my kids. How to pack something that will keep well, can be eaten at a particular temperature, does not need to be reheated, is fesh and nutritious, etc etc etc. So much energy and Danny probably just thriws most of it away. AND I can't even do the ol' standby PB&J. School lunches are crap--pizza, corndogs... Bleh!

Marianna said...

I'm totally with you. I hate packing lunch! Actually, I make my kids pack their own, but I still have to make sure there is appropriate food in the house. Add to that one child who won't eat bread (she will eat lunchmeat, but only if she doesn't have to touch it!) and another who won't eat peanut butter (thankfully, he eats bread!) and things get even more complicated. Oh, and neither of them will eat cafeteria food either since, as they say, it tastes like plastic. Except the ice cream of course.

The one thing I've started doing for my non-bread eater is making mini kabobs with meat and cheese. I alternate turkey with cheese cubes on toothpicks.

And I hear you on the kids not buying with actual money. Last year my 4th grader was going through the money like crazy. I went on to look at what he was cream...every day!

gardenofsimple said...

Marianna -

The kabob thing is a neat idea! My 7 year old would probably love that!

Summer said...

I make hummus tacos for Lola. She thinks these are awesome, lol. Spread some hummus, sprinkle of cheese, lettuce, tomato and so on with it, lol.

Playing on the kabobs, you could do fruit with those, and that would be make a head for sure.

Sara said...

We are just into the first school year with James. We may travel the road ya'll have already trod, but for now the bento box is working.

He gets one lunch a week to buy and he has picked pizza day. The bento box has been a success, in that he gets something a little different every day. Whatever I can find in the cupboard, leftovers, in the fridge, etc. I just keep packing in food till all the little compartments are full. I don't do creative fun stuff. I just want it full and with something from each food group.

James packs his own lunch some's usually a handful of grapes, a handful of pumpkin candy and a cookie. He's still learning.

Ara said...

Packing lunches still lies in everyone's heart. If you are passionate in cooking, preparing lunches for your love ones, then you won't feel any boredom in doing these things. Rather it will make you more motivated to think of ideas on how you can create a unique and healthy lunch pack. Moving forward, when packing lunches, every individual should check the food stacking container that they will use, if it's safe, durable, eco-friendly and has 100% BPA free quality.