Ah, the kid’s packed lunch. The embodiment of leading a horse to water. We can provide our kids with healthy food, but do they eat it when we’re not looking? That’s the question whose answer tells whether our good training is actually sticking. Either way, we keep at it.
Not My Job
This year I had an epiphany that is very late in coming: I don’t pack my kids’ lunches anymore. They do. My kids range in age from 5 to 10, and are fully capable of doing this. They pack it the night before.
Advantages to a Kid-Packed Lunch–
Saves me time.
They learn to pack a healthy lunch.
They decide what to take (to a certain extent) and can’t complain.
I am not a short order cook. (“I want a cheese sandwich with the cheese on the side.” “I want my apple in wedges, not in slices.” “I want crushed ice in my water bottle, with one cube.”)
Why do for kids what they can do for themselves?
Now mind you, kid-packed-lunches are not a free-for-all. I made up this handy-dandy guideline chart, and I inspect the lunch after it’s packed. This particular chart is vegetarian in the whole theme of Meatless Monday. Click here to download this chart.
The idea here is healthy, but kid-friendly. My family isn’t vegetarian and so I have turkey and ham sandwich options as well. I’ve laminated mine and circle with a dry erase marker the items we actually have and then also write in extra options we happen to have.
Other Green Considerations
Non-disposable containers (love the bento boxes) or insulated Thermos food jars are a must. If we went disposable, we’d use around 2700 plastic baggies and 540 drink boxes/pouches/bottles and paper sacks in one school year. That’s a lot of trash!
Reusable water bottles. And I send water. Maybe with ice. We’re not fancy.
Good sturdy lunch boxes. These are from L.L. Bean. Two of these are 3 years old.
A 3-point rant against school lunches:
They’re expensive. $2.50/day or $1350/year for my three. My homemade, mostly organic lunches cost less than $1/day.
They’re unhealthy. A fruit or veggie notwithstanding, the “main dish” is still highly processed and unnutritious.
They’re time-consuming. Standing in line cuts available eating time in half. I have slow eaters. They’d starve.
Download the chart and then customize it and leave white space to write in extra items on hand. Here are some other ideas to add to your own chart:
Granola (homemade?) – with or without milk
Broccoli, blanched – my little one has a tough time with raw
Fresh or Frozen peas and corn – my kids prefer them frozen (weird, I know)
Fresh or Frozen mango or pineapple – (see above)
Melons – although the juice can soggify other lunch items
In the Thermos:
Oatmeal (why not?)
Rice & Beans
Baked Beans (homemade?)
Rice & Curry
Now I’m getting hungry! When’s lunch?