Tuesday, August 30, 2011

back to school:: lunches

the school supplies have been purchased.
we've got clothes to get them through the first few weeks. they'll be wearing shorts for a while.
new backpacks are in the house.
what's left?
only my favorite subject:: lunches.

our school has a great, healthy lunch program. it's gone through a transformation since we've been there.  i used to volunteer in the cafe when it was frozen chicken patty sandwiches and chips.  now they have a caterer that provides a hot, well balanced meal.  but it's a treat for us to buy.  i feel like i can pack a yummy and nutritious lunch for them everyday.  and it doesn't take much time.

it does take some preparation.

i have found that i should tackle the kids lunches the same way i do the family dinner menu.
i plan it out for the week.  this helps to vary what they eat and to make sure that i am using what i have. it eliminates the frustration in the morning of what to pack.  and if i do it in conjunction with the dinner menu i can work in leftovers.

i have three goals in making the kids their lunches.
1. give them something they will eat
2.  provide them the right nutrition for the day.
3. make only one boring turkey sandwich a week.

i hate boring lunches.
i hate when i pack boring lunches.
why not make it good and fun with just a little thought.

my oldest will eat pretty much anything.  he has a big appetite. i am more likely to buy lunches for him from the cafe because they are hot and he'll eat it.  my middle one is picky and doesn't have a very big appetite. he could eat the same thing for lunch everyday and be happy. my little one eats well and varied but she would much rather play than eat. small bites of food are better for her.   i have to deal with all of these issues when planning their lunches.

it's easy for me to make their lunches when i think in terms of categories:
1 protein - turkey, chicken, cheese
1 carbohydrate - wheat bread, pasta, roll
1 fruit - apples, grapes, strawberries
1 vegetable - carrots, salad, cucumber
1 treat - crackers, small cookie
1 drink - water

we are making a few changes this year.
i usually buy the water pouches with fruit juice in them.  this year i am doing only water and slicing lemon, orange or strawberries for some flavor. we'll see how long this lasts.
any treat that i include in their lunches will be homemade, except for maybe the crackers and occasionally some chips.

not every lunch is completely balanced.  i think that if they eat well most of the time, the occasional "treat" is ok.  and i believe that food should be fun.  they have to want to eat it, otherwise what's the point.

i love that our school is also moving towards a more nutritious school environment.  they have converted our monthly bake sale of mostly donuts and cupcakes to a treat sale that offers more nutritious alternatives and more home baked items.  everyone will benefit from that and that makes me happy.

i wanted to share some of my favorite resources for finding good lunch ideas.  these are great sources of inspiration, especially for my two youngest kids.  i think my oldest would rather i pack him a turkey sandwich and not cut it into a hello kitty shape.  we'll make adjustments for each.
this lunch rox
simple bites

my sister often jokes that my kids will be the ones with gourmet lunches, a cloth napkin, and no ziploc baggies.  and i say, why not? 

i'm looking forward to getting back into the swing of things.


Mackenzie said...

Can you pack my lunch too? I don't mind Hello Kitty-shaped sandwiches...I'm not even a picky eater.

Anonymous said...

I love your lunch blog!!! and the new lunch bags too. Sue