Happy Happy Lunch Box: Too Little Time
Welcome to the Silver Shoes & Rabbit Holes edition of the Happy Happy Lunch Box blog hop! If you're new to my blog: Hi, I'm Danzel. I have two daughters, Big Sis (almost 8) and Little Sis (5 1/2). They started school last week! I'm rather book-obsessed, especially when it comes to kids' books. We read together a LOT. I love old stuff: movies, toys, books, STUFF. Welcome to our world!
Tuesday, we learned how Michelle at needle & nest tailors her lunches for her picky eater. Yesterday, Melissa at Julia's Bookbag showed us some neat-o bento boxes and accessories.
I like to fix lunches for my kids to take to school. (It feels weird to write "kids" - Little Sis hasn't even had her first full week of school lunches yet!) I like to know exactly what they're eating. I have bad memories of the hot lunches from when I was in grade school, and although our school system recently implemented a new program that gives the kids more choices, we have chosen to continue to bring our own lunches. What drives me crazy is the amount of time the poor kids are given to eat. Lunch is pretty early in the day at our school - they're finished by noon - and it only lasts about 15 minutes. I can scarf down some food in about 15 minutes, but little ones have their own set of issues. I ate lunch with Big Sis and her first grade class last year. We shared a sandwich and pasta salad, and I was there to help unwrap things and get her started. Talking is not allowed, due to the short amount of time. There were several other kids near us who brought their lunches from home. Immediately, hands went up, asking for help from the lunch aides. Kids needed help opening containers and packages. It took a while for the lunch aides to get to everyone. I helped several children myself. At the end of lunch, Big Sis and I had finished our meal, but other kids around us still had large portions leftover, and there were still four more hours of school to go.
I've documented my lunch frustrations and our solution in a previous post. Big Sis had a nice little lunch box with reusable sandwich and snack containers in kindergarten, but she still wasn't able to finish much of her lunch. After the problems resumed last year, we invested in a Planet Box lunch system. (Both of ours are the Rover variety.) I looked into cute bento boxes and other lunch systems, but I liked the layout of the Planet Box the best. It's stainless steal, so it keeps food cold and safe. The two small containers that come with the box are very simple to open. The lids simply pop on and off. If you have a picky eater, the separate little compartments keep food from touching. It rests inside a nice thermal zip-up carrying case. You can have a waste-free lunch, although I admit, we often have a little waste.
|The magnets are such a cute touch!|
|It slips into the case, I add plasticware and cold packs, then we zip|
it up and go!
Big Sis is a happy water drinker, and I have a few little water bottles I could put in her carrying case. Alas, what I discovered is that they are often hard to open. If I want to keep her hydrated, it's simpler to throw in a juice box or shelf-stable milk. She does like her squeezable yogurts, so we use those sometimes, but I learned last week that Little Sis cannot open one by herself. If I give her yogurt, it must go in one of the stainless containers. I pack forks and spoons, but one of my favorite things to use are wooden coffee stir sticks as skewers. They're so inexpensive, and the skewers are not only a fun novelty, but they make eating very simple.
I try to keep sandwiches small. I love tortilla wraps. I got some cute bento cutters/stamps, but I also use a dinosaur sandwich cutter or even cookie cutters to cut the sandwiches into smaller shapes. (The girls are picky about crusts.) I usually cut the sandwiches after I've assembled them, then Mr. B or I snack on the leftovers for breakfast. (No waste!) I take notes. Little Sis doesn't like peanut butter very much. Big Sis loves it, but it tends to slow her down. (She has been known to choke on PB&Js if she tries to eat them too fast.) I put together the ingredients for a yogurt parfait for Little Sis this week, only to find that the granola slowed down her eating too much. (Too crunchy.)
I try to make lunch the night before. If I put the whole lunch in the fridge overnight, it stays chilled until lunch time. I've only been making school lunches this year for a week now, and I've only made 5 for both daughters so far, so I'm still learning. Things change, and eventually, Mom will start to slack. But here are some pictures of real lunches the girls have taken to school this year!
(Check out what I did for Big Sis's lunch on April Fool's Day this year. All that Easter candy, all those wrappers...)
Obviously, there are other lunch solutions. Some kids (especially older kids) may not have as many problems with opening sandwich containers, using multi-tiered bento boxes, etc. But we really like our Planet Boxes, and the best part about them is you can't outgrow them. They will be handy for years to come.
Be sure to visit Whitney over at Pen Pals & Picture Books tomorrow! And thank you, Michelle, for organizing this whole thing!