This is what I am faced with most mornings:
My kids would love it if these were included everyday:
I, however, would like it to maybe look like one of these:
(thank you www.yumkid.com because this photo certainly did not come from my kitchen like the two above)
So at this point in the school year, making lunches becomes the bane of my existence. I can’t stray too far from the peanut butter cracker because most of the time it ends up coming home and is completely wasted.
I go through phases when Michelle Obama and her School Lunch Initiatives are screaming in my head (and as a side note: I’d really like to know if Sasha and Malia really eat all of that healthy food from the White House garden. I’m (respectively) calling someone’s bluff.). I’ll send in raw veggies and dip, fruit skewers, and only baked snacks. I’ve even made smiley faces on peanut butter sandwiches with chocolate chips. I’ve “pinned” tons of great ideas in Pinterest for healthy, “fun” lunches (and isn’t pinning close enough to actually doing it?).
What comes home? Most things that don’t resemble a peanut butter cracker or a chip.
There’s always an excuse – “the strawberry juice got on my pretzels,” “I couldn’t get the Ranch dip open so I couldn’t eat those carrots,” “Mom, there just wasn’t time to eat ALL of my banana!” “My peanut butter sandwich had chocolate chips in it – eewwww!” (Really!?!)
When I have lunch with my kids at school, I stalk the other kids’ lunches – what are other parents sending? Is anyone else’s lunch as orange/tan/brown as my kid’s? Am I completely failing the lunch making test (and thanks to Pinterest, I think the answer to that is a resounding “Yep!”)?
I’m not asking for a lot. I just want a little variety (a little color!) but for some reason my kids are just fine eating peanut crackers every day. Every day. (Actually, that’s two of my kids – the other likes peanut butter sandwiches and the baby can’t talk yet but he’s making it clear to me that peanut butter crackers are his preferred lunch). I try to get them to eat other things but frankly I’m tired of wasted food. Plus, it’s a lot of work getting that fruit chopped up and on to toothpicks if it’s not eaten!
I haven’t completely given up. I do try to sneak in the occasional deli meat roll up and sometimes if I’m feeling fairly energetic I make them eat what’s leftover when they get home (although something about that screams E. Coli to me – I think it’d be quicker to just have them lick raw chicken).
I envy the moms who can send in hummus and pita, tossed salads, and edamame. Heck, I’d even be happy to send in last night’s spaghetti in a Thermos! But I guess right now I’m taking the easy road and going for pure caloric intake over nutritional value. I’ll just have to make up for it at dinner I guess and pray Michelle Obama doesn’t come to our school to check out the kids’ lunches (mental note: I should be on my best lunch-making behavior next September when the Democratic National Convention is here.).
So, we’d love to hear from you – have you found the secret to getting your kids to eat healthy lunches? Do share!
I am right there with you. At Jason’s deli yesterday I saw a 6 year old Ask and get just a trip to the salad bar for lunch. Her bowl was the color of a rainbow with carrots, broccoli and peppers. I watched in amazement as she actually ate it all without being screamed at. I then promptly stared at my kid who was finishing a hot dog and begging for the free ice cream. Fail.
I hear you, sister! I only have 2 to pack and it makes me pine for summer. Packing 4 everyday? I’m not worthy!
At least you have cute and colorful food containers:-)
I do like the food containers you have!
I guess I am luckier than I realize that my kids eat more of a variety of foods than most kids their age. I pack 4 lunches every morning, actually 5 and sometimes 6 if you add in mine and my hubbys. But for 4 kids, they all 4 like to eat salad, but I only pack salad for my 3rd and 4th graders, my twins in Kindergarten need something quick and mess free, so they either have soybutter & jelly, ham/turkey or roast beef and cheese sandwich or they take s thermos most days with mac n cheese, soup or the like. For snacks, or sides as they call them (too much eating out?) apples with dip, carrots with ranch, strawberries, blueberries or bananas are faves, they also usually have a pudding cup, jello cup or applesauce and one more snack- which may be a granola bar, breakfast bar, Snack wells 100 calorie bag of popcorn, pretzels or cookies, plus their drink of water or pink lemonade. Some days I wish they would buy the school lunch, but they never eat enough of it to last them through the day. So I convince myself that packing lunches is fun!! All 4 help to pack their lunch, soon my older two should be able to do it all by themselves!!
You ARE so lucky, Jennifer! I am going to keep trying (and maybe bribing??)! I do love those food containers – ha ha! I got them when my oldest was 1 – so about 6 years ago – at Target. They are that Circo brand – I haven’t seen them since. They’re awesome – especially for preschool! I did, however, see some cool containers at Old Navy the other day – who would’ve thought?? One had a container on top for veggies and dip (or salad) and the bottom had space for a sandwich.
Cheryl, this one is near and dear to my heart. My husband and I try to be pretty healthy, meanwhile my kids are eating whatever. I have days when I want to go “all in” and make everybody get on board with only healthy food. I think I’ve learned that what works best in our house is picking our battles. I got rid of juice (except sometimes when we are out to eat) and that was a big win. We have currently decided that treats will be reserved for Fri-Sun only. We have even avoided those cookies at HT – wow I didn’t think it was possible for us. I’ve only been doing this for about 2 weeks though so we’ll have to see if it lasts. As far as preschool lunches, I try to keep it balanced but I am constantly getting veggies and fruit sent home too. Then they are starving at 1:30 and want a snack. I am still trying to figure out what to do about this. I don’t know. They are growing kids and I think calories are better than no calories. I can’t imagine if they were in school all day – they have to eat something!!
LOVE the no treat idea during the week – keep me posted on how it turns out. Preschool age is VERY hard with the eating – and the constant snacking doesn’t help. The school-age kids don’t have that problem as much because they are no here, but definitely the preschoolers do. Summer should be interesting when there is no schedule. 🙂
As as holistic health coach, people say to me, you must have it so easy when it comes to feeding your kids well and the answer is, nope. They are kids and like most kids they want sugar and junk. Yes, some parents are lucky and their kids like a variety of vegetables straight from the womb and never put up a fuss but for most kids it takes time for their taste buds to develop and grow to like a variety of foods. The key is to not give up and be selective on the foods you will and won’t buy. Our taste buds are meant to like bitter things (i.e coffee, dark chocolate and vegetables) but in our society everything is so overly processed and refined that our taste buds adapt and start to crave those unhealthy foods. The more our kids eat real food, the more they will look for real food. I have seen it happen first hand with my kids.
Using the peanut butter and crackers as an example..there is nothing wrong with peanut butter or crackers but like all things, they are not all created equal. Some regular peanut butters contain hydrogenated oils (trans fats) so by making a swap to the natural version and 100% whole wheat crackers (with 5 or less ingredients) you can increase the nutritional value and provide them with more nutrients and less sugar, sodium, unhealthy fats and preservatives. I have also found that by packing two carrots instead of a bag of them that my kids will eat them – go figure.
It is hard when we put in the effort to pack a healthy lunch to only be rejected but finally when the day arrives when they come home with the empty lunchbox, it somehow makes all the rejected days worth it!
Thanks so much, Adri, for your thoughts!! You’ve inspired me to look beyond the Ritz cracker – any suggestions for yummy, healthy crackers (what brands have your kids tested and approved?)? And you’re right – it’s a major victory when the lunchbox comes home empty!!
We do a lot of peanut butter on banana slices and apple slices (for lunches you could put peanut butter in a small container and have them dip it). Makes for a great breakfast or snack as well. You could also try peanut butter, almond butter or sunflower butter on 100% whole wheat tortilla (Trader Joe’s) with a banana and little bit of real honey. Roll the tortilla and cut into bite sizes. Let me know if they like any of the variations. It is also amazing what happens when you stop buying certain packaged foods. It is surprising how much they don’t miss it when it is out of site, out of mind!
I agree, if you don’t buy the packaged snacks and offer healthy alternatives it takes some time but they will eat it! We do homemade pb n crackers. Veggies chopped with homemade ranch (greek yogurt, sour cream, dried dill, garlic powder, cider vinegar, salt and pepper to taste and a little mayo if necessary stirred up), berries, grapes, yes hummus and chips/crackers, often times a thermos of pasta, tuna or leftovers. We make cookies vs buying them etc. Once it goes away they do get used to it! 😀 I really like a local blog 100 Days of Real Food, I grew up on real food and offer it to my kids. I do find that it is truly a lifestyle change though and for my family we are generally 80/20. We do eat treats and fast food but only on occasion.
It helped with my LO and her snack packs to give her a shelf in the pantry for just her (the bottom) and box of stuff (cut veggies/fruit) in the fridge and tell her she had to pick one from each and put it in there herself. Didn’t completely fix it, but it helped a lot. she liked the idea that she got to pick her own, even though everything in there was “screened,” but when she ran out of goldfish, she has to pick something else.