August 30, 2011

Running Out of Options

The novelty of eating in the cafeteria still hasn't worn off for my daughters. The excitement of packing their lunches has definitely worn off for me. Basically, I'm running out of healthy options.
Don't get me started on drinks. For whatever reason, the only juice boxes I can find are not 100% juice. My girls still struggle a bit with juice pouches (Caprisun, etc) and I can't blame them. Sometimes I have trouble opening them, too. It's easier to pack boxes, but I would much rather pack real juice than the stuff I'm finding.
Three of my girls are willing to experiment with sandwiches. They like turkey. They like peanut butter and jelly. (Thank goodness our school allows peanut butter). They'll even ask for sandwiches with just cheese. One of my girls refuses to try turkey, but she's happy with the other choices. (I should probably point out that they have insulated lunch bags and I throw an ice pack in each bag every morning). Still, I wish I could find more variety.
I tried packing carrot sticks. I stopped doing that after one my girls told me she gave away her carrots to a friend. I'll also pack a small bag of pretzels or chips. I've discovered, though, that they're not eating these at lunch. They save them for the car ride home. 
My biggest issue in trying to find variety is time. The entire lunch period is about 40 minutes, but this includes a 20 minute recess. The actual eating time is about 15 minutes. I'm really struggling to find things they'll eat and be able to finish in that amount of time. Any input is appreciated!


MaryAnne said...

I hate the short lunch breaks in US schools! I'm mostly grateful to not have to deal with lunch, only snacks for this year.

It is an issue that has come up with friends, and the consensus seems to be that the best bet is small containers of grapes/apples/berries combined with a sandwich. Or crackers and cheese, which is slightly less healthy than many sandwiches. Good luck, and if you find any great solutions, please share them!

Quadmama said...

I have no idea why I didn't think of sending grapes! Definitely on my list now!

Lauren said...

I could never justify buying juice boxes when I had to buy containers of juice too. So I went old school and got them each a thermos. I often have to pack their lunch for the sitters or grandpas and it helps tremendously. I will get them old school lunch boxes when the time comes. This takes care of the different preferences they have in drinks and I don't buy 4 boxes of juice on top of the 4 containers of juice. They also make a smaller thermos for warm foods that has a bigger top to accommodate a spoon. Lunch options are a tough one without going big. Sometimes you just got to give them that ravioli or homemade lunchable. Cheese sticks, granola bars, yogurt raisins, mandarine oranges or clementines are a favorite with mine.

Quadmama said...

I've been meaning to buy Thermoses for soup, etc. when it's cooler. I never thought to send drinks in a Thermos!

Stephanie Barr said...

My kids like apples (though they eat them to the core). Juicy Juice and Minute Maid both make all juice juice boxes. I don't know how to help you find them. They're everywhere here.

Lauren said...

I just always have figures running in my head these days...
Minute maid juice boxes - $3.49
Juicy juice boxes - $2.99
capri suns - $2.17
X 4 kids X 2 drinks a day X 5 days a week = broke quadmama

That $1.00 Barbie Thermos she begged and pleaded for at the thrift store is looking awesome!!! Throw a straw in the bag and she is good to go with her favorite drink!

Melissa Ann said...

I have to pack lunches for a hubby and two boys daily. I have a great book that I use. The Top 100 Recipes for a Healthy Lunchbox. ($5 at Kohls) They're fun lunch ideas you can try at home on the weekend to see what the girls like.

reanbean said...

From my days in first grade, I'll throw in that sometimes the hardest part of getting kids to eat snack or lunch is getting them to just sit down and focus on the food. I used to read to my kids during snack time, because otherwise, they'd just talk with their friends and waste the eating time away.

The second battle was always the food itself. I'd see kids throwing away completely uneaten, unopened food, and when I questioned them, I'd hear, "I don't like that." So, I think packing foods that your kids like and will eat is just as important. Most kids won't eat something they don't prefer (without the authority of a parent) no matter how much time they have to eat it.

I know we'll have this same issue in a few years. Hopefully you'll have it all figured out (and will have blogged all about it!) before we get there. :o)

Tiffany Maestas said...

Ryla pretty much eats the same lunch with a few changes every day and she always eats everything so I will keep packing it. Here are some of her favorites:

Main Item: English muffin cheese sandwich, pepperoni and cheese and crackers, cold chicken nuggets - we can't send peanut butter to her school

Fruit side: strawberries, grapes, raspberries, apple slices

Additional side: Squeezy yogurt, chips or popcorn

Drink: Capri Sun or Horizon milk box

Brooke said...

I pack a plastic water bottle (think $1 aisle at Target) because it's easy to open and doesn't smoosh the rest of the food. Mo loves cheese tortilini, cooked the day before and in the fridge overnight, served room temp. If I take the skin off a small orange he can peel the rest of the way at school. He loves berries. Fruit bars are easy. String cheese. Leftover cheese pizza. Rice cakes.

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