Thursday, December 12, 2013

Packing Lunches

Of course I make plenty of traditional sandwiches, but this post is about some other lunch ideas we use around here.

My kids only get a 20-minute lunch break, and that includes standing in lines and packing up their stuff afterward, so they have to have a meal they can down in about ten minutes. I learned the hard way not to send foods that were too difficult to eat--I want them to get all those calories so they are fueled to learn!

Whole apples or oranges are out. I peel and/or slice everything before it goes into portion-size containers. And I cater to their individual likes. School lunch is not the time to cultivate new tastes. RJ likes celery sticks, B-- loves carrot-apple salad, M-- would rather have cold cooked veggies than fruit, with the exception of raspberries. Two like pineapple, one will eat a banana, one eats grapefruit any time, another eats asparagus, everyone likes mango. Yeah, it gets complicated.

My daily goal is to feed them some protein and a fruit or vegetable. (Thanks Mom, for letting me study your cookbooks and teaching me about complementary proteins!) The meal fills in around those essentials. I usually build each lunch around the protein element, and the kids help choose the rest. These are some recurrent themes:
  • Hard-boiled eggs (sprinkled with salt)
  • Deviled eggs
  • Yogurt or cottage cheese
  • Raw nuts
  • Hummus with flatbread, or spread in a pita pocket
  • Peanut butter with sliced apples and a cheese stick
  • Cream cheese in a bagel
  • Tuna salad, with crackers for scooping
  • Cold roasted chicken or turkey
  • Homemade pizza pockets
  • Tortilla roll-up with cheese and refried beans
  • Peanut butter on a whole wheat tortilla (sometimes with thin banana slices)
  • Artisan bread with butter, and sliced cheese on the side
  • Soup, chili, or chowder (in a thermos)
  • Leftover pizza slice

I have even sent granola to school, in a lidded bowl. (They can get milk at school to pour over the cereal.) Popular as it may be here for breakfast, I have learned that granola is viewed dubiously at lunch. Oh, well. Good to have something for emergencies! As long as we don't have to resort to granola, we must be doing well! And, bless her heart, my pickiest girl would still rather have granola than food from the school cafeteria.

We seem to be raising three little foodies, with the help of good role models like the characters in Russell and Lillian Hoban's delightful story Bread and Jam for Frances:

from Bread and Jam for Frances, illustrated by Lillian Hoban

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