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  • My School Lunch Strategy

    Tomorrow is the first day of school, and I am feeling a lot better about it than I did last year, when I really didn’t know what I was in for. Packing my son’s snack and lunch is still a big consideration for me, though.

    One thing I learned last year is that my son doesn’t care for the school’s offerings. He’ll gladly eat the breakfast cereal and coffee cake, but has an intense dislike of the other options, including the pizza, chicken nuggets, grilled cheese and so on. I can’t complain, as I like to think he’s got a discerning palate thanks to the food he enjoys at home. The flip side, of course, is that I have to pack him lunch every day.

    This year, I know to pack a small snack because he has only 20 minutes to scarf something down, use the bathroom, and play. And his biggest priority on that list is going to be play, while his teacher’s biggest priority will be the bathroom visit. So my biggest priority – the snack – will have to be something quick and desirable, like an applesauce pouch or cookie. I’m anxious for the weather to cool down so I can do some baking.

    Unfortunately, my son rarely ate any lunch-type things I packed last year – he didn’t like the sandwiches, hot foods were untouched, and no matter how much I experimented, he just didn’t want to eat much. Apparently this is actually normal for some kids.

    So I’m resigned to packing something that looks more like a substantial snack than a lunch. My standbys are cereal-type bars (yay for the Kashi deal at CVS this week!), crackers (especially pre-packaged ones with peanut butter for the protein), single-serve cartons of organic milk, and fruit puree pouches. I serve him a fairly substantial lunch-like snack after school to make up for his lack of “real” food at school, and he eats a good dinner. The fact that he’s healthy and a healthy weight makes it easier for me to accept this regimen, although my acceptance was a long time coming.

    Did I mention I’m looking forward to cooler weather? I’m looking forward to experimenting with little finger foods that I can pack for him that are healthier than what I just described – and that’s as much for me as for him. 🙂


    1. You know, my kids are not big lunch eaters in general. Big breakfasts, small lunches and dinner is hit or miss. And when we do have lunch, it’s often not until 2 pm so I just do a snack anyway so as not to spoil dinner! Maybe it’s just the way kids work.

      So Kindergartners (last year) get 20 minutes a day to play AND eat?! Wow. That’s probably standard across the board, but that’s not much for a room full of 5 and 6 year olds!

      • Chief Family Officer says:

        I don’t think kinder was play and eat – it was just eat. Play is one of the perks of first grade, lol. It was a tough mental adjustment for me b/c he eats a good lunch at home (and did in preschool too). But I’m glad your kids follow a similar eating pattern – sure makes me feel better!

    2. My kids are not much of lunch eaters as well and they aren’t a fan of sandwiches. Fruit Puree’s and Go Gurts are my standbys. I too had to make my peace with their lunches. They will eat chopped up fruit so I send fruit skewers or a dish of chopped fruit with a cocktail sword to spear it with.

      • Chief Family Officer says:

        Thank you for letting me know I’m not the only one, lol! I love the idea of fruit skewers, I think I might be able to sell him on those 🙂

    3. I feel your pain- my son is a picky eater at school and home! I found that if I cut cheese slices, meat, sandwiches, veggies into shapes with cookie cutters and added a container(s) of dip in his lunchbox, he was more apt to eat them. I also just put the individual food components in there and told him to create his own “cool food” stacks, and his teacher said he loved it. I didn’t spend but 2 minutes more than I would have packing a regular lunch, and it eased my worry about him eating. Good Luck.

      • Chief Family Officer says:

        Thanks, Monica! That’s a great idea and I’m so glad you found something that works for your son. It sounds irresistible so I was surprised that mine doesn’t care for it – or at least, he didn’t last year. I should probably try again. 🙂

    4. It was a shock last year when my kid started kindergarten and suddenly was barely touching her lunches. In her case, it was one of the few periods outside of recess that the kids were allowed to socialize. My chatterbox still prefers to talk rather than eat during her lunch time. Drives me crazy, but she (usually) gets a good breakfast and dinner. My husband, who packs most of the lunches (yes — I know how lucky I am!), hates that she rarely will eat a sandwich or a “main course” for lunch. And for us, it’s complicated by not being allowed to send meat (dairy, fish and eggs are OK, but no meat or meat products). It was so much easier to make her lunches during the summer because she considered turkey sandwiches to be a major treat after not being able to have them during the school year!

      • Chief Family Officer says:

        At least you know why she’s not eating. I still don’t know if it’s a socializing thing or what with my son, but I’ve accepted that he won’t eat much for lunch no matter what. Your husband rocks, by the way!