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  • Preparing for Kindergarten Part One: Lunches

    I have no idea how many parts this series will be, and I certainly have no concrete plans for when posts will go up. But I do know that preparing for kindergarten is always on my mind – it’s our biggest milestone yet, and so I’m more than a little anxious about it. (My son, on the other hand, is quite blasé about it – of course.)

    One of the things I’ve been thinking about is lunch. I know public school lunches are cheap, but I’d rather pack my children their own lunch, with higher quality ingredients.

    I pack lunch for preschool every day, so the actual act of packing isn’t a big deal at all. I’m more concerned about what will go in it, because with preschool, I have the option of putting in food that needs to be warmed up. I won’t have that option when the boys are in kindergarten.

    Fortunately, in the last month or so, both boys have started eating cold cuts. So cold cut sandwiches are now an option that I am grateful to have. I would have loved the PB&J option, but we don’t keep any nut products in the house because of food allergies. I’ve thought about buying Uncrustables when they’re on sale and keeping them in the freezer, but I have this fear that they’ll end up being given to the wrong child in an absentminded moment.

    I’ve got Price Protectr tracking the price of a Ms. Bento thermal lunch jar*for me (see Lunch in a Box for more info on thermal jars). I’m intrigued by these because they keep food warm, and it would be a way for me to pack pasta, pizza rolls or chicken nuggets for lunch.

    But that brings to another concern – whether little hands can open the containers I pack the food in. I have a variety of bento boxes that I currently use, but at preschool, the teachers transfer all of the food onto a paper plate, which the children must throw away when they are done. But starting in August, I plan to practice packing kindergarten-appropriate lunches and asking the teachers to serve them as is, without transferring the food to a paper plate. It’ll be a trial and error experiment to see which bento boxes work best for us as we transition to a whole new phase of life.

    *affiliate link

    Comments

    1. Anonymous says:

      Cathy, Keep it simple! Warm foods in a Bento might sound nice, but you can't always depend on a K-gardener to remember to bring home the jar. And if it sits over the weekend in his cubby, it will be either gross or missing come Monday.
      Sandwich suggestions besides cold cuts: Egg salad or tuna.
      My kids preferred to bring lunch because they could sit right down and eat instead of wasting time standing in the lunchline.

    2. Gina @ MoneywiseMoms says:

      I bought a Star Wars thermos at Target for my son, and he's happy with leftovers or whatever I can fit in there. I just heat the food in the microwave, then put it in the Thermos, and it's hot till lunchtime.

      I wouldn't worry about his hands being able to open everything. Our K's and 1st graders have help around the table, and lots of moms volunteer at lunchtime to help with things like that.

    3. Peter Schott says:

      Not sure why this would be a huge concern. We started sending lunches day one. Thermos for warm stuff, plastic sandwich container for sandwiches, reusable bottle for drinks, miscellaneous containers as needed for other things. (Our school would throw out disposable bags/wraps and we wanted to also see what was being consumed.)

      We had very few issues with the child not bringing everything back to us each day.

      I'm kind of curious what sort of kindergarten they'd attend where everything would be transferred to a paper plate. In most public schools, they line up for the cafeteria and either get in the line for school lunch or carry their lunch sack/box/bag if they've brought theirs. They are responsible after that.

      We didn't do anything fancy for thermal stuff – wrap in foil and drop in a plastic container if pizza-type food, almost everything else warm would work with the thermos container. (chicken nuggets, ravioli, fried rice, etc) No issues w/ little hands opening the container, either.

      I'd save yourself some money and just get a relatively cheap thermos to see how well that works before springing for the complete set you've listed here. I think we just used one of those $10-$15 "food jar" type containers and it's done really well for us. Holds one can of Chef Boyardee stuff (not my choice) and enough for a kindergartener to eat and be satisfied.

    4. Tia @ Tia Saving Cents says:

      Cathy, I swear by my pampered chef Cut-N-Seal. It makes all sandwiches look like uncrustables and I am able to make a few days at a time and throw them in the fridge so I am not making sandwiches every night. It works great with all sandwiches. Since you already make lunches I bet it will be a mostly smooth transition. Like Gina we use the thermos on occasion too and as long as I fill it with hot water the food stays hot. My baby starts K this year! I can not believe I will have all 4 in school. Eeek!!

    5. madmommy says:

      When I was little, my mom would send me with a hotdog bun in a baggie, and put the hotdog in a thermos and pour boiling water over it and seal. By the time lunch rolled around, I still had a nice warm hotdog!

    6. The Martin Family says:

      Also I wanted to say that you might talk to your school about the peanut butter issue. My dd starts kinder this year, but I already know that the peanut kids sit either at a different table or they sit separately from the rest…when they are little. So it's unlikely they will share with someone they shouldn't.

    7. Our daughter was in a full day PreK-3 class this year that worked more like elementary school than preschool/daycare at lunch. We use reusable stainless steel containers instead of plastic and were quite worried about She mastered it much more quickly than we ever expected. Even in the K-5 school I teach at, there are adults around to help, but most kids figure out how to be independent very quickly. Give him the chance to grow his wings! :)

    8. Wow, this is something we're worried about too! My daughter's preschool provides a hot lunch every day, but when she goes to kindergarten next fall, we not only have to pack her lunch, but it can't have any meat in it.

      It's troubling because the only kind of sandwich she likes involves cold cuts. And she's the rare kid who gets bored eating the same meals too often, even if they're her favorites like mac and cheese. Sigh. But we'll figure it out. And I'm sure you will too! I think practicing starting in August is a great idea, and we will have to do that too!

    9. Chief Family Officer says:

      Thanks, everyone!

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