Saturday, July 30, 2011

School Lunches

The famous question in my house, almost as soon as my boys get up is “What’s for dinner?” During the school year, it’s also, “What’s for lunch?”

Packing school lunches is always a quandary for me because my children all like different things and are picky about their lunch items. I am constantly searching for ways to make their lunches both healthy and tasty, which is often not an easy feat. I must admit that at certain times in the past, I have used some processed foods for them, mainly because it was quick and easy, and I was ill prepared. I am really making an effort this year to provide them with healthier, tastier lunches even though it will require more planning on my part. I can do this. I know that.

My first step in this quest has been asking the kids to tell me what things they’d like to take for lunch and what things they wouldn’t mind eating cold. I asked them their favorite main dishes, fruits, and sides to take and took notes. Now I am planning.

Another thing I am doing this year is making my own granola bars. I stopped buying any processed, pre-made bars last year because they seemed to all have HFC in them…at least the ones the kids liked did. So I’m trying to make my own as they are very good for snacks and lunches. I have 2 or 3 recipes from Mama Pea at peas and thank you that I am trying out this week.  She has quite a few recipes that I think would be good for school lunches.  I am also scouring the web for ideas to help me as I wade through this process and deal with three kids with completely different tastes and challenges. Braces are a challenge too, as well as non bulky food items for the student who has so many things to carry in his backpack that sometimes just carrying a lunch can be a hassle.

Some things I know I will do this year are

• to avoid sending processed foods as much as possible. They often contain HFC or partially hydrogenated oils and lots of sodium. Homemade food is always better if you can do it. I make no promises that I will avoid processed food 100 %, but I'm sure going to try.
• to avoid sending over sized portions. This will require a little trial and error, but I want to avoid food from being wasted if at all possible. Still, I am feeding 3 growing boys and they do eat a lot, especially when they are in a growth spurt. It is also important for me to remember that they only have 20 minutes to eat as well.
• to avoid high fat and ultra sugary foods while pushing fruits, vegetable, and whole grains.

I am really going to try to make some healthy headway with school lunches this year, and I may need to put my brain to work and be creative with my food choices, but any steps I can take toward healthier eating for all of us is a good thing.

My teenager just came in and asked what I was doing.

Me: Writing on my blog.
Him: What cha writing about?
Me: School lunches and how I can make them healthier.
Him: (half-hearted, sarcastic, and monotone, while still trying to sound a little positive) fantastic.

I wish you could have heard him and seen the look on his face. It was priceless.  LOL!

So, what do you like to send in your kids' lunch boxes? Do you have any goals for school lunches for the year?

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