I stress every day that the lunches I pack for the kids will be judged. I have two picky eaters who are content to eat the same cheese sandwich each and every day. Along side the sandwich I’ll add sliced apples or mango, peanuts (but not at the nut-free table), carrots or popcorn and maybe a fruit strip with no sugar added of course. I worry they don’t have enough protein, and when the lunch boxes come home with food still in them, I worry their rail thin frames will wilt away. Today, I spent two and a half hours at the kids’ school on playground duty, which included helping during K-8 lunch periods and here’s what I learned.
1. Not Everyone Has Gluten-Free Organic Non-GMO 100% Natural Fair-Trade Lunches
In fact, I saw everything on the list of the liberated parent: Rice Krispie Treats, Cheetos, Smuckers Uncrustables, GoGurts, and gasp, plastic-swathed deli meat in Mickey shaped trays (apparently, these are called Foodles?! Who knew). I also didn’t see any Pinterest-worthy hand-cut, cartoon shaped crustless sandwiches. I mean, come on now.
2. Some Parents Actually Pack Home-Cooked Meals
Miss C refuses to eat cold lunches. Every day she gets a hot lunch from school, but this practice is not economically sustainable. My prayers were answered when I saw a little boy unscrew a small metal thermos, only to see steam rise from his rice and beef stew. And it smelled good. I saw noodles, soup and even greens staying warm in those cute little heat-trapping insulated jars. Various styles of stainless steel bento boxes housed left-overs, neatly organized by experienced homemade-lunch packers throughout the lunchroom.
3. Foodies Start Young
As I walked around stabbing tiny straws into Capri Sun pouches, carefully peeling back the plastic lid on peaches in heavy syrup and cleaning up V8 Fusion spills, I spied a girl intently focused on her meal. While most kids were laughing, talking, and even coloring, she was sprinkling red pepper flakes onto sliced cucumbers from the tiniest bottle of Asian spices. She delicately seasoned each cucumber in her plastic tray and then savored each bite. You should have seen the shock on my face.
What do you pack for your kid’s lunch? Do you ever pack something you know they won’t eat because they should eat it?