School Lunch-Boxes: Keeping It Real
In continuing with our last blog post about surviving the lunch-box, courtesy of Min Benstead (Health Coach, Nutritionist, & Recipe Developer), I wanted to share my own two-cents’ worth and give you an idea as to what the daily lunch-box packing routine is really like for many real families (like mine). Let’s keep it real, shall we?
Who packs those pesky lunch-boxes?
My kids. Yes, seriously. They pack their own lunch-boxes because it’s what works best for
me us. Getting them all ready for school is stressful enough for me (and my mental health issues), the last thing I need is each kid whinging to me that “I’m not eating that!” and me having to pack three different lunch-boxes for three different kids with different food allergies and/or requirements. I’ve always believed in equipping our kids with real-life survival skills and for us, getting them involved in cooking and preparing their own lunch-boxes is one way I believe we can help them learn those important life skills.
How do you make sure they eat properly for lunch then?!
Short answer is… I don’t. Long answer is this: I believe in not stressing over what they eat for lunch because I make very sure that they get a nutritious dinner that is overflowing with vegetables and all they need to thrive. That plus my requirement that their first snack of the day at school (‘brain food’) has to be something like fruits, vegetables, cheese, or yoghurt that can keep them well-nourished until lunch-time. Their school also has a nude-food policy, so that is great – it pushes them towards more real food options. My opinion is that lunch is not the only meal of the day and as long as I know that I’m doing my best to offer them nutritious food for the rest of their meals at home, I don’t stress too much over what they pack themselves for lunch.
Any practical tips?
I struggle with exhaustion due to medical conditions so I choose to simplify my life and make things easier for everyone. So I pre-make and freeze sandwiches in bulk for my kids to choose from. I ask each of them what they like, I buy the bread we need (white bread for my daughter with food allergies and wholemeal for my boys), and I put them together! Some of our regular choices are:
- banana & honey,
- roast beef,
- jam & Nuttelex,
- ham & Nuttelex,
- vegemite & cheese,
- salami & mayonnaise & cheese,
- mayonnaise & cheese, etc
Some other alternatives that will need to be made fresh, that my kids will eat, also include:
- or butter & feta cheese.
I also make sure to stock my fridge with their favourites veggies (which is A BIG VARIETY because they each have their own different preferences), so it’s easy for them to choose what they want to pack.
With one severely-allergic child, one fussy eater, and one easygoing superstar eater, packing school lunch-boxes is way to stressful for me and I don’t like doing it. So I choose to let it go, for the sake of everyone’s sanity. Let’s just call it “survival parenting”. I think that as parents, we tend to focus too much on being what the rest of the world thinks we should be. We constantly push ourselves beyond our limits and get stressed out, when instead we should be weighing up each situation and deciding if it’s worth getting upset over or fighting about. I DO care about my kids’ nutrition. A lot. Which is why I make up for any less-than-healthy choices at dinner time and over the weekends when they are home.
One last tip!
If you’re going to jump on board with what we do in our family with packing lunch-boxes, try printing out photos of colourful, yummy, real-food lunch-boxes that you know they’ll love, and have them stuck onto your fridge door or inside the door of the pantry. Kids are visual creatures and sometimes a bit of a visual reminder is all they need to choose the right foods. Some people call it manipulative (hah!), I just call it guiding.
Some great websites that have lovely lovely photos of easy real-food lunch-boxes include:
- 100 Days of Real Food
- The Organic Kitchen
- Primal Bliss Nutrition
- Raising Generation Nourished
- The Gracious Pantry
And that’s it! In short, do what works for your family, don’t sweat the small stuff, and just relax about lunch-boxes!