I would be lying if I said coming up with a variety of healthy, real food, peanut-free, tree nut-free, portable lunch options wasn’t a challenge. I understand that the school is trying to protect children with severe peanut/tree nut allergies, but I have to admit that I often feel their little rules conflict with what we are trying to do…eat real food that is. On the school’s “safe snack list” which offers hundreds of “approved” options I literally found only 15 items that we would also consider to be “approved” for our kindergartner. They seriously have “Wendy’s Frosties” listed as an approved option so I suppose they would rather me send in one of those or something like a package of goldfish for her snack instead of a little all-natural cashew/dried fruit mix?
I know I can’t just sit here and complain and not do attempt to do anything about it. I am definitely going to do something…not necessarily overrule the nut-free aspect of it all, but something to hopefully encourage the school to put more of an emphasis on healthy “approved” snacks! We are only a few weeks into our first stint at the Elementary School so I feel like I want to spend a little more time observing first though. Certainly if you have any ideas or experience or suggestions in regards to healthy foods in schools or healthy food PTA/PTO committees…please share!
In the meantime, let’s talk about what I have been sending in my daughter’s lunchbox. I was at first giving her separate little items like a sandwich in foil, some pretzels in a small snack container, an apple in a plastic bag, and at the end of the day she was coming home with hardly any of her lunch missing! Then one day I went to school to have lunch with her. I got to witness first-hand the limited amount of time they have to actually eat in a cafeteria that naturally provides a massive amount of distraction. By the time she got the last little container open it was practically time to start packing everything back up.
So I knew I had to do something different, and I’d heard about all of the lunchbox/bento box/laptop lunch systems out there. While I liked the idea, I decided that I certainly didn’t need anything fancy or expensive (or that required me to pay an additional 5 or 10 bucks in shipping). So rather than ordering some overpriced “lunch system” off the Internet I just drove my car down to Target and spent a few bucks on a divided plastic Ziploc container. My 5-year-old now has to only take one lid off of one container and voila, her entire lunch is displayed in front of her. She has started coming home with almost everything gone since we made this change…and I am of course thrilled about that!
Here are some examples (pictured) of what I have been sending to school with her so far this year…
- Hummus, cheddar, and carrot shavings on whole-wheat bread, popcorn, grapes and little organic carrot sticks
- Celery with cream cheese and raisins on top, cheese, applesauce, peaches, and Triscuit crackers
- Hummus and cheese on a homemade whole-wheat tortilla, grapes/raspberries, mango (her favorite), and a big whole-wheat pretzel
- Cream cheese and jelly sandwich on whole-wheat bread, half of a banana, some apple slices, and a whole-wheat pretzel/pumpkin seed/dried fruit mix
I am also occasionally sending warm items in her little thermos as well. I will do a follow up post soon on those ideas and other options for snack time, too. Please also feel free to leave a comment with your school lunch ideas and suggestions if you have any!