I mentioned here the main thing that works for me and my kids when it comes to packing lunches. After jokes and the need for dessert, it is important to pack food the kids will eat in the right size portions.
At first I wanted to pack wonderfully fun lunches full of variety…then I realized that was more about me than it was about them. Grace and Stanley are like many kids…they could eat the same thing day after day.
A usual lunch around here will consist of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, cold pizza, homemade “lunchables” or yogurt and granola. That is really it. Occasionally there might be a ham sandwich or a spinach salad, but for the most part it is pretty boring. And, they like it that way.
I have those Thermos containers to keep food hot. I offered taco meat and chips and cheese. I offered tomato soup to go with cheese and crackers or a cheese sandwich. Sloppy Joe meat to put on a bun was rejected too. They want it simple. Who am I to argue with that?
To accompany the main dish is always at least one fruit or vegetable. Usually carrot sticks, orange sections, kiwi, applesauce, or fruit leftover from a recent meal.
I have a thing about sending milk to school. The kids use a stainless steel water bottle in their lunch boxes and I am never sure the milk stays cold long enough, so they don’t take milk to school. When I find a really good price on Capri Sun or some other juice/drink box I will buy some to put in lunches. This is totally a treat and they tend to space this out so it lasts longer. The main beverage? water.
And then there are the desserts. Those vary depending on how much baking I’ve done recently. I make an awesome monster bar that freezes well so I can freeze them cut and already packed in snack size baggies. Brownies are good. Mini cupcakes. Rice krispie bars. If there are no baked goods they are content with a couple tootsie rolls.
To keep costs low I use small cloth napkins and real silverware in their lunches. I also have sandwich holders and various small containers that go into their lunchboxes. The occasional snack size baggie holding their dessert is the only disposable item they have. They even return the jokes to me. Some I save to use the next year and some I send on to friends who pack lunches.
I am not one to pack lunches the night before nor do I have a lot of time in the morning. I have daycare kids showing up before my kids need to be out the door, so time and attention to lunches is limited after 7:15. I have found that it takes less than 15 minutes to pack lunch for both kids. That 15 minutes saves me $3.50 that day. Definitely a good return on my time investment.
I don’t always want to pack the lunches…especially when I don’t readily know what to pack. But the kids remind me that the same as yesterday is fine, it was good. I make pizza every other week with hopes of leftovers for 2 or 3 days of lunches. Keeping in mind that kids like routine and predictability and really don’t require big portions helps me enjoy putting their lunches together. Knowing that it saves so much money in the budget doesn’t hurt either.