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Lunch Lady

My youngest child started kindergarten yesterday. This long-anticipated event — almost nine years in the making! —  has filled me with all kinds of mixed emotions including relief, sadness, joy, loneliness, and mostly a mild panic about having “no more excuses” for everything from dirty windows to skipping yoga to not writing a novel. It also put a very fine point on the whole school lunch issue. No more cute, leisurely lunches at home with my preschooler, no more picnics in the park (sob), no more packing just one lunch in the morning… And no more half-baked lunch routines.

Most moms I know dread the whole school lunch issue; either they pay good money for the convenience of hot lunch (which at our small parochial school, is fairly nasty and relatively pricey), pay even more good money for Lunchables (irritating because they are so bad for so many reasons, but I do get that they are super easy and kids LOVE them), or, if they’re like me, toil over making healthy, varied lunches that are reasonably environmentally friendly (no plastic baggies, no Capri Sun) and won’t make their kids sulk in embarrassment (apparently the Lightning McQueen thermos is not as cool in 3rd grade as it was in kindergarten). I know I am not alone in saying it can create more than a little angst.

There's a new lunch lady in town.

So this year, with two kids needing a lunch made by 7:30 every morning, I’ve decided to take a new approach and really get into the whole lunchbox thing. It’s going to be my new hobby! You know how some people get into scrapbooking and spend hours at Michael’s picking out cute stickers and fancy paper to decorate their “ballet recital” and “first Halloween” pages and have whole rooms in their house devoted to storing scrapbooking supplies? Well, I’m not going to be like that, (even though I think scrapbooking is totally worthwhile and a great hobby). But I do plan to have more fun with lunch-making. And hopefully I will create some awesome lunches for my darling children in the process.

So, because I have a very legitimate new hobby, I get to go shopping (!). Not only do my kids need new lunchboxes (last year’s model barely made it to May), but I need more lunch-making supplies. While I love the whole Bento Box lunch idea in theory, I’m not sure my eight-year-old son will go for mini compartments containing eggs molded in the shape of bunnies. Might go that direction for my daughter though; she really doesn’t like her foods to mix. So, in addition to looking for the actual lunchboxes, I will be searching for BPA-free reusable containers, snack bags, and bottles. Next week I will post my finds. Then, armed with all those nifty new gizmos, I will be ready to start Project Lunchbox.

One adorable option, hmmm.

In the meantime, here are a couple of ideas:

  • Wraps are for some reason more appealing to my son than sandwiches. Yesterday’s was a whole wheat tortilla with hummus, smoked turkey, spinach leaves, sliced Swiss cheese, and tomatoes. He loved it.
  • For my daughter, I bought some whole wheat mini-bagels and make cute little sandwiches out of them. Today she got cream cheese & turkey with sliced black olives, plus some sliced peaches in a little Pyrex bowl, and a mini Stonyfield yogurt.
  • A few years ago, I had what I thought was a brilliant idea to make and market a healthier alternative to Lunchables. Well, I never did it (see “excuses” above), and now it looks like someone beat me to the punch. For days when you’re totally in a bind, or when you want to reward your kids for being good at Target, check out new GoPicnic meals.
  • Not earth shattering, I know. I never said this was going to be perfect, and I am not above sending the odd stack of Pringles here and there. But I will post at least one new, healthy, and hopefully interesting lunch every week. Please send me your ideas, too!

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This post has 10 comments

  • michelle says:

    THAT IS AWESOME .. perhaps you will entice me to actually make a lunch for my children!!

  • rachel p says:

    isabel’s a big fan of the english muffin pizza as well as mediterranean fare (olives, salami, cheese, fruit)…bummer that someone else thought of the the “healthy” lunchable option….I need an idea!!!

  • Cathy Conn says:

    Maybe Lauren got that not mixing foods thing from me? Did I ever tell you that story about our having lunch w/Sam Rayburn and I insisted that my peanut butter and jelly not touch? M & D were mortified.

  • I’m looking forward to your ideas. I’ve been making turkey sandwiches (and sometimes I get all crazy and do a roll-up instead) for the past 10 days. I’m going to seek out those GoPicnic meals. Thx.

  • Carole Brandt-Fink says:

    Oh Readers, please don’t go for those GoPicnic meals. The food may be a notch up from Lunchables, but they are a packaging nightmare. The individually wrapped everything wrapped together by more wrapping then wrapped in a box is just, well, unappetizing. One thing that has made my life easier and my kids’ lunch boxes cuter is small BPA-free containers like Bento Boxes or reusable snack bags by “3 green moms.” They are like “baggies” but made out of food safe, washable rip-stop cloth in all kinds of cute colors and patterns. Bevin, I’m planning a post about this too. Let’s share ideas. I can give you good resources for lunch box containers and you tell me what to put in them. 🙂

    • Thanks Carole! We should definitely share ideas. I have some awesome reusable bags called Lunchskins, which have held up for more than a year. Also, just ordered a “real” bento (i.e. small) from Japan, so I will report more when I get it. Sad about those GoPicnics, but VERY good to know!

  • Yung says:

    Hi Bevin! It’s Yung; I’m at Meme’s house in Dana Point right now, and she showed me your blog. I love it! Have you discovered Lunchskins yet? They are reusable sandwich and snack bags that I recently read about. Haven’t tried them yet but plan to try them for this school year. Hope all is well. All best to you and your gang!

    • Hi Yung! Thanks so much for reading and for commenting! I love Lunchskins! Of all the reusable bags I’ve tried, they are the nicest. I bought the “apple” one for Lauren last year, and it made it through an entire year of pre-K and still looks almost new. I didn’t see one that Sean would go for (no camo — ha!) but I will keep looking. Hope the 300 Club party was a blast. Miss seeing you guys!

  • […] week when I wrote my Lunch Lady post, I didn’t really know what I was in for. After deciding to begin “Project Lunch […]

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