School Lunch Checklist - My kids are fed. They have food they enjoy.
**Danielle is one of our guest bloggers from our listening area, you can read more from her blog at A Mom's Best Guess.**
Sent my son to school today with his lunch in a Target bag, so that makes me qualified to tell you how to prep a successful kid’s lunch! Right?? If you’ve been around for any moment, I hope you’ve realized something . The Guess Tribe is not perfect. This is me taking a guess at life! Keeping in mind what’s important.
With school lunch, here’s what is important:
1. My kids are fed.
2. They have food they enjoy.
Just to clarify, the Guess kids do have lunchboxes. Something about a middle school brained boy - brain cells start to scatter. I know one day (soon, Lord!) they will gather back together. But for the moment, the lunchbox gets left in the locker some days. No, the Target bag is not to punish him or bring shame to a “mistake”. It was his solution! And so we move forward.
”SHOOT FOR THE STARS AND YOU’LL LAND ON THE MOON”- Mr. Guess’ translated quote of a positive thinker, Norman Vincent Peale. #familymotto
PREP LIKE THERE IS A TOMORROW
There is nothing worse then opening an empty fridge needing to pack a lunch. Maybe worse, waiting until 4 minutes to leave and three kids fighting each other for the leftover taco soup. Prepping for us looks like washing fruit and chopping veggies. Weekly grocery trips. Separating last night’s leftovers into ready to go containers. Having clean lunchboxes and washed out reusable storage bags.
PICK A DAY, ANY DAY!
To keep from being the Wicked Mom of the West (we just got done reading Wizard of Oz, so yeah… it’s come up!), I have my two youngest girls pick one day a week that they buy a school lunch. This is not to only save $$$ every month but also to make sure they are getting good food in their bodies. Most likely it will be taco day. My Kindergartener is learning to read “I am blue.” You know, sight word level. But girl knows how to spell BURRITO! “Momma, today is burrito day!!!” was the first thing I heard waking up this morning. Goodness, kids are something amazing.
Listen, I’ve spent hours in elementary school lunchrooms of our county through a mentoring program.
1. Your kids are not eating their packed lunch.
2. School lunches aren’t the healthiest.
I love a lunch lady. They give me cookies and smiles and LOVE THOSE KIDS! This isn’t about a lunch lady. This is about your kid, their needs. I’m so thankful some kids get a paid for lunch at school and sent home with a snack bag, knowing they most likely won’t get dinner at home. Sheesh. This broken world is hungry, FED IS BEST.
Here’s a fact- I stopped adding up the grams of sugar in one “balanced” meal after 20. 20 grams of sugar. If you’re a Momma wondering HOW you can set your kids up for success and an exuberant amount of sugar in a school lunch alarms you, take note.
Balance doesn’t mean my kid has a completely plant based/food specific diet. It means, “Okay, my son has a sniffly nose. No sugar or dairy.” Or, “Lillie-Mae has been devouring dinners and asking for extra breakfast, she must need extra protein in her lunch for a growth spurt!” Maybe even, “Mindy isn’t eating anything at all. How much longer can she survive?! Let’s throw in a chocolate for excitement!”
MAKE IT WHAT THEY LIKE!
I tried it once; giving my kids only what they wanted for an entire day. By end of day they were cranky, tired, and had belly aches. Kids KNOW what makes their body feel good when they’re consistently exposed to good food items.
From first bites to now, we’ve just always had a pretty good assortment of foods. I don’t know how to deal with your picky eater. I know what we have done for ours in different seasons.
“You have to try one bite.”
“Miss Priss doesn’t like the texture of squishy veggies. Let’s mash those.”
“Okay, they’re all screaming for sugar like heroine addicts- let’s cut back and have more smoothies.”
“What’s that dear? You LOVE your hot little trees (aka steamed broccoli). Noted!”
”Since you liked this same food last week, take four big bites and you’re done.”
“What do you want for dinner?”
“Wednesday night, will you cook your favorite dinner for the family?”
Giving options. Prompting questions. Focusing on the positive… all good ways to give them what they want AND it be good for their body.
Yesterday for lunch I had a couple slices turkey, half a bowl of pickles, and a banana. Cause it’s what I wanted! So in the mornings, I first ask my kids what they want for the day. It might be random, but hey, it gets them involved. This morning I heard “pretzels, chips and salsa and peanut butter crackers”. Well child, that’s three grains too many. “Okay, and an apple.” The compromise- leftover Beef Lo Mein, an apple, chips and salsa…. in a Target bag, GO!
Modern Honey gives great presentation and meal ideas!
I don’t have any pretty lunch pictures. Imagine a Pottery Barn lunchbox (third year running, washing machine tested!), with an assortment of containers, all mismatched, and manipulating the zipper closed to fit it all in for the new football player in the family.
You do you, friend! Don’t spend a fortune but do buy for longevity. Unless your kids lose or throw away things- then Target has a great $5.99, 32 piece storage set! We LOVE the switch from one time use storage bags to reusable- more durable multi use bags. Water cups are mostly found at Dirt Cheap, but still name brand/durable/without many parts.
PROTEIN- chicken, lunch meat (check out Aldi’s Never Any! brand), hummus, beans, yogurt, cheese
VEGGIES- celery, cherry tomatoes, sweet peppers, pickles, cucumbers, carrots, salad
FRUIT- strawberries, candy grapes (big hit right now), blueberries, apples, banana, pineapple, melons, oranges, natural applesauce <
EXTRAS- chips and salsa, dye free and/or organic snacks, popcorn, graham crackers
At the grocery store (always Aldi), I buy a couple of things from each category instead of having more variety which in turn is more food to spoil. I like fewer items for less choices and more peaceful packing.
LEFTOVER IDEAS- soups and casseroles are so easy to reheat in the morning and then store in a Thermos. Pay attention to dinners your kids love- double it up next time! Could have lunch for a week just doing leftovers!
What are you packing in your kid’s lunchbox? Always up for ideas!
Stay tuned for “Successful Breakfast Ideas”. I’ll give you a hint- toast, air, and oatmeal are the genius rotation here in the Guess Tribe Kitchen.