Ah, the school lunch dilemma. My kids, now 2.5 and 15 months, both started going to daycare when they were seven and a half months old. They both made the transition to the toddler room around one year. During this time, big changes were happening to their diets. No more formula (looking back, I regret giving this to them. More on that later); time to start on whole milk (still leary of that); and time for complete grown-up meals at breakfast, lunch and dinner.
This meant that I had the option of packing them a lunch or electing to pay for school lunch. Now, this was back in 2006, way before I had become more knowledgeable in the types of food that my family was eating. I was excited at first to learn that I could pay just over $2 a day for my son to receive a "complete" meal during lunch. The thought of packing a lunch every night was just too exhausting at the time. I was pregnant with my daughter and could barely find the energy to feed myself at dinner.
Over the course of pregnancy with my daughter, I found a Web site called naturalnews.com. It's a constantly updated site that has tons and tons of information on how to better live and lead a healthier lifestyle. I strongly recommend signing up for the newsletter. It's free and is packed full of useful tips and health-impacting information.
I decided to make a 2008 and beyond New Year's Resolution: pack my kids' lunch instead of opting for the school's hot lunch offering. Since the first day of school in January, I've only elected hot lunch one time and it still annoys me to this day. I just got too lazy and didn't get around to packing it one night after about five rounds of "Time to go to bed!" with both my kids. My husband was out of town and I was ready for some serious couch time. I overslept the next morning and had just enough time to get both the kids and myself dressed and out the door. At school, I had a choice of the pepperoni pizza or baked chicken, with various side dishes. To trick myself into thinking I was taking the 'healthy(er)' route, I opted for the pepperoni pizza and asked that the teacher pick off the pepperoni before serving it to my daughter. My son got the chicken. Never again, I swore to myself!
Over the course of the past five months, I've gotten comments from my kids' teachers about the different foods that I pack in their lunches each day. Comments like "they eat better than I do!" So I decided to start a blog in hope that I can help people out there do the same thing, and to also keep me on my toes, creating healthier meals for my kids. I want my kids to crave veggies and not potato chips! I'm not saying that I'm packing the perfect lunch for them every day, but I'm betting it's better than 90 percent of what other kids are eating. It takes time and planning, but it's one of my top priorities as a parent.
For today's lunch, I packed them:
*Peanut/cashew butter and natural strawberry preserves sandwich on whole grain bread.
Reese gets homemade ground cashew butter because of the peanut allergy issue, and Bodin gets homemade ground peanut butter. They go crazy over this stuff as I'm grinding it, I kid you not!
*One container of Mandarin oranges.
High on the sugar side, but they're packed in their own juices, and contain no hfcs.
*One mozzarella string cheese
I'm still leary of the whole dairy thing. I don't drink cow's milk anymore; instead I opt for rice or almond milk, but usually drink water.
*Organic juice box (usually really watered down) for my son and my daughter gets either water or organic whole milk.
Costco discontinued the brand of juice I was giving to my son every day (Honest Kids) so now I'm looking for an alternative. Ideas, anyone??