Apr 24, 2008

School lunch: Buy at school or bring from home?

The boys' daycare offers prepared hot lunches every day at $3.50 per day for all of the children except infants. (I'm sure that seems astonishingly high to many of you, but apparently it's average for the Los Angeles area.) At first, I always brought Alex's lunch from home. But when Tyler was born at the end of 2006, I started buying lunches for Alex simply to reduce stress.

Toward the end of last year, when Tyler was off purees and feeding himself, I began thinking about bringing Alex's lunches again. But I was afraid that he would balk, wanting to be like the majority of his classmates. I started slow, studying the meal plan for a meal I knew he didn't like and bringing lunch from home on that day. We have to order a month's worth of meals at one time, so I did this once in January and once in February to see how Alex reacted.

He didn't mind at all. Whew! So in March, I packed one lunch a week for him, and this month, I've been packing two lunches per week. To my complete surprise and delight, Alex has asked if he can bring lunch every day. I guess I won't be buying lunch next month.

Weaning Alex off school lunches instead of doing it in one fell swoop is as much for my benefit as it is for his. My preference is to pack leftovers, as I often do for Marc and me, but there aren't always leftovers to be had. (And more often than not, it seems, Alex rejects dinner or eats only a very small amount.) So by giving myself a prolonged transition period, I am giving myself time to figure out how to pack lunches that Alex will eat that also don't require much prep time in the morning, and how to shop for these lunches when I only go grocery shopping once a week.

Sometime in the next week or so, I'll share some fast lunches that work for us. In the meantime, check out Lunch in a Box and Just Bento for some great ideas.


Clean ClutterFree Simple said...

School lunch here costs $1.75; there are options of less/free for low income families. I've always packed lunch for my now-2nd grader, not so much for the money savings (though it is substantial) but because to get the lunch, she'd have to wait in line. That time would take up a good chunk of her lunch time socializing. And, I like knowing what she's eating. She always brings back any leftovers so I can see what she likes and doesn't.

Mercedes said...

I love those Bento boxes. I wish I could pack one for myself! I should do this for this summer as an experiment. Pack pretty lunches for my son and I and hit the park. Yeah right! like I will have the time, lol

Anonymous said...

I have been reading the Just Bento site, getting ready to pack lunch for my boy at his new daycare in June. I really like the lunchinabox site as well. Thanks for mentioning it.