Ahhh, back to school

Back to school is finally here! Well, next week for our kiddos. I’ve decided that the kids will be bringing their own lunches this year. Thankfully, my children agree! Even my middle schooler! YESS!!!

Looking at the garbage that they serve in our school cafeteria these days, it’s a wonder why anyone lets their children eat that crap and yes, I used to because my oldest wanted to have school lunch like the cool kids. The schools here offer a summer lunch program, which is basically the same things they serve in the cafeteria during the school year. There are some good options, however… Most of what I have seen is pre-packaged (i.e. Uncrustables, muffins, etc…) or attempts to me marginally healthy while tasting like styrofoam and cardboard. Yuck. They have a teeny little ‘salad bar’ at the exit from the lunch line, which is the last thing on our kids’ mind when they have already gotten their hot lunch and are  making a bee-line to find a place to sit and choke down this idea of food that the school thinks is a good meal. I don’t see any of the teachers or other staff members eating it, do you? Why would they? I have a saying that I like to live by and that is: If I wouldn’t eat it, I’m not going to make my children eat it or even ask them to. There were several times that my oldest came home from school and I asked him what he had for lunch (like I did every day) and he replied that he wasn’t really sure what it was called. There were a few times that he didn’t finish any of his lunch because there was a green spot on his sausage patty. That little incident got itself a phone call to the school. He still insisted that he eat ‘hot lunch’ as I called it when I was in school.

So I decided since he is willing to take his lunch, I’ve got to make it a) taste good, b) be healthy and c) be a variety of foods instead of just a sandwich and applesauce, etc… My youngest is entering 1st grade and it’s his first year eating at school so this eager little dude won’t have the option to eat what the school is serving. After all, they’re MY kids. I will decide what they eat, thank you very much. Not only is it unhealthy, gross and unappealing, it can be super stressful for a kid just learning how to navigate the cafeteria. They have to remember what to get, there are always a couple of options for the main course but you can only have 1, carry the tray, remember silverware, a napkin, a drink, the list goes on. MUCH easier to just grab your lunchbox, sit down and not have to worry about any of that because it’s all in there. Thanks, Mom!

Enter the bento box/laptop lunch idea. BRILLIANT! Little sections of small amounts of different food. After researching this several times on the internet, I learned that this is a pretty popular thing. Who knew? Not me, obviously… lol

I found a nifty little container at old navy with 5 compartments for different foods and one of them holds an 8oz container for a drink but will also hold a juice box  and at Ross, a clear plastic box that held 10 different sized little containers for food. I also came across 16 $2.00 off of 1 snapware containers, which were on sale at Fred Meyer for $1.99 so they were…. you guessed it. FREE!

Then I made a list of things to use in their lunches and printed it out and put it on the front of the fridge.

To list a few, here goes:

Hard boiled egg
baby carrots
applesauce cups/ packet
String/twisty cheese
cheese cubes
ham/turkey cubes
tortilla roll ups
banana/pb roll ups
grapes
pineapple chunks
goldfish/teddy grahams
cherry/grape tomatoes
boconccini
apple slices
orange slices
kiwi slices
go_gurt
fruit cups
baby marshmallows
strawberry cream cheese/jam sandwiches
stuffed celery
chex mix
baby bell cheese
cut up leftover pizza
craisins
Ritz/pita chips & hummus
pretzel sticks
spinach leaves w/ranch
cracker packs
baby bananas
meat/cheese skewers
trail mix
dried fruit
hummus & carrots /pretzel sticks
low fat ranch dip
mac & cheese (tiny thermos)
Mini bagel sandwiches
salami/cream cheese taco shaped roll ups
strawberry/chocolate milk with twisty straw
sandwich cut & seal sammies
mini corndog muffins
fruit newtons
strawberries/whipped cream
cheese wiz for dip (pretzels, veggies, sammies)
raisins
cottage cheese
sugar free pudding cups
100% juice boxes/pouches

And I add to the list whenever something catches my attention or one of the kids mentions liking a certain thing. Also, Cookie cutters for my 1st graders lunches. Sandwiches and cheese are so much yummier when they look like airplanes, trains, or even Darth Vader. Might be a bit too childish for my 7th grader. We shall see.

So take THAT School lunches! I will make my own ‘uncrustables’ and they will be ten times more nutritious and yummy. Now begins the battle of making sure they bring the little plastic containers home.

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