Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Wanna Trade?

Starting tomorrow (maybe the next day) my kids will be getting cold lunch. You know, sack lunch. Lunch from home. Lunch made by yours truly.

It's cheaper and easier to just give them school lunch. School lunch here is waaaay cheaper than it was in California (by almost 2 bucks!) and it's easy not having to worry about homework, shoes, jackets, backpacks, AND lunch. Just the first stuff.

But my new found diet means a closer look at school lunch. It's not "bad" per se, but it sure as heck ain't good!

So, the food budget is going to change to reflect this. Luckily there is enough amazing food that my kids can eat that might actually like to eat. The varieties are endless! My biggest worries:
1. They will trade away all their good food.
2. They will hate everything I give them and then trade away all their food.
3. They just won't eat anything and come home starving.
4. They will start drugs and start livin' in a van down by the river.

Thus a candid conversation and some ground rules about lunch. Hopefully. I don't want them to feel stifled/trapped (trust me, their lunches won't be just lettuce) --I want them to learn to enjoy and love good food. Healthy food, you know?

Do you pack your kids' lunches or do they eat school lunch? Why? If you do pack their lunches, what are some good healthy things you've put in 'em?


siobhan said...

school lunch here is $2.50. as a single-income family of seven in southern california... yeah, they bring lunch from home! besides that, the hot lunch is junk like chicken nuggets and pizza.

my oldest will eat ANYthing, number two is picky. they have laptop lunchboxes (a type of bento box), so it's easy to pack almost anything. picky kid's staples are strawberries and broccoli with a main dish and some sort of side. oldest gets more variety. we also have thermoses for soup and stew and they like to take leftovers.

i aim for at least one vegetable side, one fruit side, and one "dry" side. i'm morally opposed to daily sandwiches, so they get wraps, salads, breakfast for lunch, and other stuff. we use cookie cutters and decorative picks like crazy to fancy stuff up. the picky kid in kindergarten especially likes that.

our rules: you can't trade and you can't throw anything away. if you don't want it, bring it home. this prevents waste and tells us that it's either too much food or something you don't like. its worked for us thus far.

Rochelleht said...

Here's my suggestion: Do not make your kids' lunches. They should make their own. I never touch my kids' lunches. They do it every morning. I just have great foods for them to choose from and they always know they have to take a milk (Gossner's shelf milk), sandwich (always whole grain, wheat), snack and healthy snack. They get one day a week where they get to choose to eat school lunch.

It's just another way of teaching them responsibility.

Julie P said...

Jacob takes money every Wednesday. It's pizza day AND he gets a cookie, which makes his WEEK. I send lunch the rest of the time. I'm down to sending him a sandwich and a fruit or vegetable because I'm tired of him eating almost nothing. Sometimes it's just half a sandwich and 2 small "sides". And he's fine. It costs us $1.50 per lunch here, btw. What were the prices at your old and new schools?

FluffyChicky said...

We only allow The Kids up to two school lunches a week. The rest of the time, it is home lunch, which always includes yogurt, a veggie, a fruit, and some "main course" item. And they either get water or plain skim milk to drink. It works for us.

Amanda D said...

We're on free lunch so for the most part the kids get lunch at school. For the most part, I actually think it's pretty healthy. On the times when I've popped in at the school and got a glimpse of my kid's trays they always have fruit and salad on their trays.

I was hoping you were going to leave suggestions for what you are going to pack. I know that my kids get SO tired of sandwiches. I also send spaghettio's (my kids like them cold), mini bagels and yogurt, but other than that, I've no ideas. My kid make their own lunches when they take lunch.

I hope you'll share your ideas.

Emily & Co. said...

Last year my kids made their own lunch and it worked great. I kept a list on the fridge of grain options, veggie options, fruit options, etc.
This year, my kids have a lot more homework plus they are helping out more w/other chores around the house, so I make the lunches. Crowd pleasing veggies for us are baby carrots and salad.
My picker eater LOVES hard-boiled eggs so those are a daily staple. Other ideas are: pasta salad, sandwiches, quesadillas, muffins, pancakes, leftovers, trail mix, yogurt w/granola, pizza, potato salad, oatmeal cookies, and then a side of fruit or veggie.
We have the same rule about bringing home what you don't eat...that is usually their afternoon snack.
Question: Who know where to buy an inexpensive thermos? The good ones here are $15 (yes, I live in Southern California), so I bought cheap ones and they don't keep anything warm...

Alison Wonderland said...

My kids make their own lunches. In all reality they;re not terribly healthy, usually just PB&J but it's wheat bread and seriously, have you seen the school lunches? PB&J is better for you.

There is a strict no trading, no sharing rule at my kids' school. Sometimes I find that pretty annoying (kids who don't drink their milk have to throw it away rather than giving it to someone) but at least I do know what they're eating.

Leslie said...

Wow, school lunch must be super-cheap there to be less expensive than sack lunch! I send sack lunch with my girlie. It's less expensive for us. I make her a sandwich. We only buy (or make) bread that is whole grain. She prefers a nice turkey and cheese sandwich and is actually very happy to have that every day. I do send her with PB & J or honey sometimes - either way she's getting good protien. She always gets a large serving of a fruit or vegetable. Some kind of juice or water is always in her lunch. Occasionally she gets a very small helping of chips (rare) and she does always get something sweet to finish off her meal. I don't worry too much about making her meals vary too much, she likes it that way and when she does decide that she wants different options, she will be given the opportunity to make her own lunch. If there is a day when she really wants school lunch, she usually gets to pay for it from her own savings (because I already have a low cost option for her). But she usually doesn't do that, she likes me to make her lunch and she seems pretty happy about it. I have tried to teach my kids that snacks are healthy and treats are not. So their after-school snack is something like applesauce, grapes and cheese, etc. Way to go Cheryl on helping your kids enjoy healthy options!

sariqd said...

We have the no-trading, no-sharing rule here in our district. Simply because of food allergies. Which is fine with me because I'm pretty paranoid about other's food prep - do they wash their hands?

Anyway - I like the Rochelle's comment in having the kids prepare their own lunches. I think that's going to be implemented asap!

Michelle said...

our lunches are really simple: my first and third grader take a half sandwich on wheat bread and a capri sun or 30 cents for milk. My sixth grader takes a whole sandwich. That's it. Yeah, we'll throw in a bunch of grapes or carrots a few times a week but my kids are more interested in recess than food.

Once they are in jr. high and high school they pack their own. But they never wander past the sandwich, drink, fruit mold. I figure we all get enough sweets in random places. We don't need to pack them in.

siobhan said...

emily, we found our thermoses at walmart, but we searched for a year to find decent ones at a decent price. they're thermos brand and stainless steel with plastic-y tops, but they were only $5.00 each, regular price. they definitely keep stuff hot till lunch.

our school is tiny (150 kids for grades k-8), so the kids do end up sharing (everyone knows carli can't have eggs and haylie can't have nuts!), just not our kids! they have to stay seated and eating for at least 15 minutes. the smaller kids have to wait to be excused and someone checks their plates. the librarian always checks the kids who get hot lunch and will send them back in for vegetables and fruit, which makes me looooove her.

we also have silicone popsicle molds with well-sealing tops that we use for yoghurt. we freeze the yoghurt and by lunch, they have a healthier "gogurt!"

flip flop mama said...

I don't like the food they serve in our school lunches so Rachel only gets them maybe once a week--like on pizza day. She loves pizza day. We do get reduced price meals though so it would be WAY cheaper and easier but I like her to eat healthier. The regular price meal is $2.00 so that's not super cheap. She usually gets a peanut butter sandwich, a fruit or two, and a snack. She doesn't really eat that much at school. She would rather just play so I try not to pack too much things that take too long to eat. Today she had her peanut butter sandwich that she didn't eat yesterday, some apple sauce, and a couple fruit leathers. Sometimes she'll come home and have just eaten her apple sauce or yogurt. Then she'll spend all afternoon eating. Other times I'll give her apple slices, orange slices, some kind of cracker or Annie's bunnies, chips....Pretty basic things. She doesn't mind eating the same things over again like someone else said so I don't worry about too much variety.
Oh and we also have a strict no sharing policy at her school too so I know that if she didn't eat it, it's coming home with her.

Emily & Co. said...

Thanks, Siobhan. I didn't have luck w/Walmart before school started, but I'll keep checking back!

Cardalls said...

My oldest started middle school this year and hot lunch is 3.50! gasp! So he always gets a lunch from home. He loves sandwiches with turkey, cheese, tomato or tuna with pickles and tomato. He gets a few chips, water or juice and a treat. I was putting fruit/veggies in and they always came home wasted. So our deal is I don't put it in their lunch but their after school snack has to be fruit or veggies. My son in 4th grade gets the same lunch, but I let him choose to take hot lunch twice a month.

Never A True Aggie said...

Our school lunches are $2.50 as well. Last year Maren did it, but it was expensive. This year we are totally sack lunch. I actually made them some sacks from oil cloth at a RS homemaking night. I went to our local salvation army and they had Thermoses for $1-$2. They are small enough for the sacks. The kids like to take hot lunch in them. So, in the AM I might start some mac and cheese and then put it in the thermos for lunch. Sometimes I will reheat spaghetti and put that in. Maren likes hard boiled eggs and so I will boil up a few for the week. Liam likes soup. Sometimes it is left overs from the night before, sometimes I just heat up a can and put it in. We do sandwiches, but the kids don't like it too much. One I am going to try is nachos. I was going to mix some cheese sauce and chicken in the thermos and give them chips to dip it in.