Monday, August 31, 2009

Help for the Hungries

I know this blog is where you come for new food ideas, but I’m in need of some help this time around. My son is starting a pre-K/young 5s program next week to which he will be taking his lunch every day of the week. In addition to that, I, in the role of Mom of Student, get the extreme privilege (as far are privileges resemble scheduled responsibilities) of providing a classroom snack a couple of times each month. Both of these requirements have caused my brain to turn completely off.

As far back as I can remember, my school lunches consisted of a triad of components: a sandwich (usually meat and condiment on white bread, unless I was graced with a cheese single in there as well, or PB&J), a bag of chips (the Frito Lay variety pack was big in our pantry, and am I the only person on earth who thinks nacho cheese Doritos are vile?), and a dessert (typically a Little Debbie selection, and boy howdy, so I still love me some Swiss rolls). Occasionally a warm thermos of something would make its way into the rotation, but this was the mainstay, at least on days when I didn’t bring my crumpled up dollars for my school’s Item of the Day. We didn’t have a cafeteria, so over the years, the school would contract a local eatery of sorts to provide items in bulk for our sustenance, should we choose to indulge. These included hamburgers, burritos, fried chicken, chicken fried steak, and cheese pizza, as well as hot dogs lovingly boiled, bunned, and packaged by an industrious group of moms on a weekly basis. So I don’t have a lot of experience in the lunch diversity department. I could use some quick and easy ideas, and extra points if they work in fruits or veggies without being messy or requiring super-defined motor skills (he’s 5, y’all).

Now, there aren’t a lot of restrictions on the classroom snacks, other than they be healthy and not include strawberries due to an allergy. OK, that’s more than enough restrictions. If it’s not store bought, I have to include a list of ingredients. So, if anybody out there has some tips or tricks for me to satisfy 12 little kids, please let me know. Thanks in advance for the inspiration.

I'll be back with some food thoughts of my own, as soon as I can find all of the utensils that have been spirited away from my kitchen by very short people.

1 comment:

  1. My guess is that anything new or different in the lunch box may be rejected out of hand. So the best bet would be to stick to things you know he already likes. They make miniature thermos type things that you could use for favorites that aren't sandwich-ish. Spaghetti - raviolis - leftovers from last night's dinner. As for sandwiches, don't forget cashew butter or almond butter as a change up from pbj. Amanda does that with peach jam and the girls love it. Pop in an ice pack and tuna or chicken salad would stay fresh. You could put those in the container and put bread or crackers in a zip lock bag, explaining how to make his own sandwich at school so the bread doesn't get soggy. The cold packs also help for yogurt or an occasional pudding (milk, right?) Speaking of which, they make "juice pack" style individual milk containers that would be great for lunches. I used to freeze the capri-sun juice packs for the girls - use that as the ice pack and by lunch it would be slushy-good. Of course, juices are mostly sugar. Does he like raw veggies? Carrot sticks, broccoli etc with a container of ranch dressing to dip in would be good. Never under estimate the joy of dipping! Hummus and pita bread. Apple slices and caramel. Chicken strips dipped in apple sauce. What is his favorite fruit? Oranges (pre-peeled), pears, grapes, well, all fresh fruit makes a great lunch item or a mixed fruit salad. And then there are the fruit cups.

    Some of the recipes that Amanda has shown here on The Fricken Chicken would be great to add to his lunchbox. The savory pancakes spread with cream cheese or the pb and banana ones with apple sauce dip.
    Some of these would be great for the group thing too. Healthier rice crispie treats, Oatmeal cookies, Banana bread (or you could turn them into muffins).

    One interesting thing Amanda mentioned a guest speaker at her PAMOM group the other night talking about preparing your young one for kindergarten. She said to make sure your kid knows how to open everything. Zip lock bags, thermoses or any containers you use. Make sure they can poke the straw in their juice/milk pack. She said lunchrooms sometimes only have a couple of monitors for a big group and kids have been known to not eat lunch cause they couldn't open it!

    Most important, get Sammy to help choose what goes in his lunch. If he has ownership of it he is more likely to actually eat it.

    I did a quick search on google and came up with about two million hits on "kids lunch box ideas." But creativity won't mean much if he won't eat it.


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