This is my first year of having to pack a lunch every day and it's proving to be more of a challenge than I ever knew! During the sporadic daycare years, packing lunches was fun and easy. Since we didn't have our son in regular care until age four, and only then for a few months, the occasional lunches I packed were like a treat and could be heated up in the microwave, so it was very similar to a lunch meal at home. Now that he is in full day kindergarten however, there are no such conveniences. I am quickly adapting to this and learning to be creative. I have searched the Internet and asked friends what they pack. The blogosphere is a wealth of ideas for lunch ideas for the school aged set.
Here is some of what I am learning:
1) Kids don't have much time to eat. At lunch time, they goof off a lot with their friends. There are many distractions. This means that a whole apple will go untouched, or, come home with two tiny browning teeth marks in it, or even worse, go into the trash after one bite.
2.) If it's mini, round or shaped like a star, it has a better chance of getting eaten. Mini bagels and tiny carrot sticks have not come home in the lunch box yet. Big bagels and celery chunks did not get eaten. Oh, and last week he liked ranch dip. This week, not so much.
3) If the container is not easy to open, forget it. It's not getting eaten. If his friends say, "Eww, what's that?", he won't eat it. It was a smoothie, but he didn't know that so rather than risk it, he just didn't go there. Now, I tell him what I am packing and give him more choices, and he's happy. Lesson learned.
4) If the lunch is too far from the norm, forget it. He likes to know what's in there or it will go uneaten. Surprises are nice though, I will have to think of some good ones.
5) Our school is "peanut aware" so nothing with any kind of nuts can go to school. They also discourage baked goods altogether, and junk foods, for nutritional reasons. So far, the treat part is usually home made granola, without nuts, or commercial cereal, but I need more ideas here.
6) I have also learned that he loves a hard boiled egg, peeled, to eat. He thinks it's neat. Yay, cheap protein!
7) Preparation is key. It takes time to think of good choices, cut it up tiny, make it attractive and package it all properly. 20 minutes before the bus arrives is a stressful time to attempt making a lunch. Ask me how I know.
8) Finally, I have learned that, once again, I feel fortunate to only have one child. Lunch making must be crazy for siblings!! I feel a little bit spoiled, except when the bus is coming and I didn't make lunch the night before. Then I feel like a sous chef in a restaurant during the dinner rush. Breakfast and lunch at the same time. Order up!
What have you learned about brown bagging it? Please, share your pearls of wisdom. I will steal your ideas and put them into practice in my own life.
What could be better than that?