I try to pack lunches for my kids as much as possible. With all of the bad publicity school lunch gets these days, you almost feel like a bad parent if you don’t. But, I must confess, sometimes the two sweetest words in the English language are “I’ll buy!”. When I hear those two words as I’m
dragging gently urging my children out of bed, I know that my morning just got a bit more relaxed. Maybe I will sit down and watch “Martha Speaks” on PBS for a few minutes (secretly, one of my favorite TV shows ever, second only to “Mad Men”). Or maybe I can get some of those decorations off of the Christmas tree (yes, yes, I know it’s MLK day…why can I not get this tree down????). But on the days when I hear “I’ll bring” I have to buckle down and pack those healthy, economical and environmentally friendly lunches. And it’s challenging. Because if I’m going to take the time to pack them lunch, I do want it to be all of those things (or at least 2 out of 3!). If I am just going to throw a few pre-packaged, processed items together…what’s the point? I know that I’m not the only parent that struggles with this. Any trip down the aisles of a grocery store makes this very clear. Go-Gurt, Lunchables, Uncrustables. There is a huge market for convenience lunch items for kids. But we really need to take a closer look at what these time savers are made of.
Luckily, I discovered Lisa Leake’s blog One Hundred Days of Real Food. She is the queen of packing lunch and I have found so much inspiration on her site. One of the best ideas I have gotten from her is the use of Ziploc Divided Lunch Containers. These containers make it so easy to pack a variety of items efficiently without having to use a lot of plastic bags or wash a bunch of smaller containers. They are reusable, BPA free, and dishwasher safe. I’ve been using ours for a year and a half and still have not had to replace them (I have 4 containers and 2 kids). The compartments are individually sealed so food can be kept separate and there is no leaking. We use insulated lunch bags from Target (Embark brand) and the containers just fit inside along with an ice pack.
Head over to Lisa’s site for some amazing ideas along with pictures. If you have not been packing lunch, start small…set a goal to pack a real food lunch once a week and then add on as you can. Make sandwiches on the weekend, freeze them and then dole them out all week. If you pack the frozen sandwich in the morning, it will be thawed out by lunch.
Pictured is one of Katie’s favorite lunches…cream cheese/salsa roll ups, cherry tomatoes and popcorn. And yes, we did finally kick our tree to the curb…just in time to start decorating for Valentine’s Day!
Some questions for Katie about buy vs. bring…
Mom: So would you rather buy lunch at school or bring a lunch that I packed?
M: (shocked and saddened look on my face) Why is that?
K: Well, because then I don’t have to worry about carrying my lunch bag out and putting it in the bin and then remembering to pick it up from the bin after recess…
M: (relieved look on my face) Oh…I meant the food…which food do you like better?
K: Oh…that depends on what they are serving at lunch.
M: So what is your favorite school lunch?
K: Chicken Tenders.
M: (thinking to myself…she hates any chicken dish that I make!!!) And what is your favorite lunch that I pack?
K: Tomato Soup in a thermos! (See our last post!)