School lunch has been my obsession of late. I've been reading over the last year the very sad state of the US school cafeteria (check her out Fed Up With Lunch: The School Lunch Project) and the idea of @ going from eating a healthy balanced lunch to hamburger, grapes and ketchup (no kidding that was today's lunch) was just depressing. So I decided straight away that lunch was going to continue to be healthy and balanced and that didn't allow for a steady daily routine of PB&J and chips. So I started surfing around online. I discovered Lunch in a box and her efforts with bento lunches for her pre-k kid. I started surfing through her FAQs and site links, many of which seem to be only marginally maintained, and then started doing some brainstorming. What did I really want to see @ eating at lunch everyday? Healthy and Balanced but what would that look like when I made it in the morning and it sat around till noon-ish? I'm fortunate in that @ has NEVER been a picky eater, we just really never thought of it as a choice in our family and he isn't strong willed. I made a list of ideas. Here is a partial of that list:
- Chicken and rice (rice packs nicely on top of the thermos)
- Curries and rice in general seemed like good options - he always been ok with them
- Quessadillas- refried beans store well in the fridge and putting them together is as easy as a sandwich.
- Muffins- store up in the freezer and thaw by lunch, made at home means whole wheat
- yogurt, granola and fruit- really its one of his favorite things
So with that in mind, my thoughts turned to how to package the stuff. A good quality lunch box was a must and I was pleased to find those on sale at the wal-mart with back to school stuff. His has a swift "garage" compartment where a ice pack or frozen bottle of water can chill the stuff up top. Its roomy enough to hold a lunch size thermos and a baggie or two of other stuff. The thought of baggies became depressing though. I've gotten a little crunchy green since living outside the US and my concious is bothered by sustainability and responsibility. I have a lot, a lot should be expected of mem, but that is a blog for another day. So I started surfing around and found reuseable bags. A huge market of reuseable bags. I started to see some agreement and a post from Simple Mom sealed the deal. So I started looking at reviews and different places to buy reuseable bags and prices. The prices were a little spendy, admittedly. $8.95 for a reuseable velcro sandwich bag gave me pause and I had to slow down on my ideas. I'm still a pretty frugal girl even when my concious bothers me. So I surfed some more and I found a 25% off coupon from Oprah, apparently she had done a special about back to school. So I went ahead and took the plunge. I choose the Lunchskins Sandwich bag and Snack bag. @ came in to choose the colors and designs he wanted and we talked about how these would not be thrown away. These could come home every night and be washed. I read about how sometimes they develop a chemically smell but the reports weren't consistent. We've been using them for 3 weeks solid, with daily use, and no smell. And they have come home in his box everyday. Nothing in @ lunch is disposable so we don't have to worry about him taking anything to the trash. We're thrilled. I just ordered another set of Lunchskins Sandwich bags and Snack bags, one for me for my purse (pregnant girls get the munchies sometimes at the most inconvienent times). I've been packing strawberries, grapes, apple slices, blueberries, trail mix in the snack bag size. No problem so far with them leaking or staining. I was really surprised about the staining thing too.
Go ahead and begin to rethink lunch boxes. They really can rise above PB&J and chips and not take anymore time to prepare. And you'll feel good about it to.