Sending my small people back to school is fantastic. And by fantastic, I mean, I almost skipped around the house on the first day of school. We are back to a routine, they are back with their friends and have resumed structured learning, and my house is blessedly quiet for hours during the day. There is only one small hiccup:
You see… I don’t love them. At all. And yet, these lunches are a necessary evil. My kiddos, no matter how much they beg, are not going to be buying lunch at school each day as the nutritional value is suspect. And quite honestly, it is far too easy for me to fall into a rut and give them the very same thing every day, so I’ve had to slap on my creativity hat to make school lunches manageable.
5 Tips to Beat the School Lunch Blues
Stay Away From Pinterest – I know this sounds like the easiest route to take, but I mean it when I say this is the best way to make yourself feel as though you are failing in the school lunch department. So many of the photos you will see are a) more work than you will ever be willing to put into your child’s lunch and b) include many, many foods your kids simply won’t eat.
Ask the experts – Look to the people you know who are in the trenches with you on this – other moms. The moms you see at pick up, at the playground, on the sidelines at the soccer game; these are the moms who are doing JUST what you are doing and are likely waging the same daily battle. Ask them (in person or on Facebook) what is working in their home. You might be surprised just how creative they can be.
Get your kids involved – If left to their own devices, my small people would probably STILL be having peanut butter sandwiches every day, but I asked them to look around at lunch. What are their friends eating that looks good? Especially now that they are getting a little older, they are happy to tell me they have always wanted to try celery and peanut butter, a thermos of soup or blueberries. Additionally, have your kids HELP to make their lunches each day… teaching responsibility is a good thing.
Make a list of options – In our home, moderation is key. We give the kids the ‘fruit and veggie’ list and the ‘treat’ list. They can choose one from each to put in their lunches. Naturally, they can’t take two treats, but they can certainly take both carrots AND grapes. I want them to enjoy lunchtime, not dread it, so including a treat is a great thing. And giving them healthy options teaches them to make good choices.
Go small – when I was a kid, I loved anything and everything that was sized just for me. Use small bags or containers to create pint-sized portions for your small people. This makes lunch a creation ‘just for them’ and even more fun than eating at home.
Do you have any additional tips for making school lunch madness an easier process? I’d love to hear them (and use them!)