Three nights a week I have to pack lunches for the boys. I order them hot lunches Monday and Tuesday, but send them our own food for the remainder of the week. It's not one of my favorite tasks. I don't have a particularly inspired list of lunch options for them, despite the fact that I always read the "think outside the sandwich in the lunchbox" articles that appear in magazines and on the web, especially during back to school season. But many of those would be better suited to older children who could assemble foods on their own. Things like fruit kebobs and whatnot.
Then there are the rules and the fact that the teachers see the lunches, which makes me feel like they probably judge. You can't send peanut butter (this is annoying since I could probably send Robby a PB sandwich every day without fuss). You can't send cookies; I'm not entirely sure what the teachers define as "healthy" -- fruit juices are not allowed, but those fruit chewy snacks are. Cookies aren't allowed, but I've sent chocolate chip mini muffins with no problems. Since I'm too unsure and don't want anyone thinking I don't send a good "square" meal, I stick to fruits, cheese and crackers, and pretzels or goldfish.
Usual lunch options:
- turkey sandwich
- leftovers (usually a rice or pasta with veggies and chicken)
- chicken nuggets
- leftover pizza slices (this is a recent addition that Robby has especially liked)
- mac and cheese (cold)
- sometimes a cream cheese and strawberry slices sandwich or a regular cheese sandwich
- sliced apples
- pre-packed pineapple bits
- mini muffins
- yogurt drinks
- cheese and crackers
- cheez it crackers
As much as I usually dread making lunch -- especially if I already had to make dinner -- when I do it, I usually experience a small sense of satisfaction, like I really have packed a little bit of love for them. I carefully wash all the fruit, then slice it. Grapes are a choking hazard so I slice them in half for Robby and in quarters for Joey. I cut off the tops and core strawberries, then slice into thin slices or quarters. Sometimes I do a little trick so the thin slices look like hearts. I have been known to cut slices of cheese with tiny cookie cutters into animal or alphabet shapes and sandwiches into a star shape. Occasionally I draw hearts or write Robby's name on the napkins or send a leftover party theme napkin in their box. Then everything goes into the fridge organized so Bob can tell who gets what.
When I make this kind of lunch, which surprisingly is the norm, I do feel like I did it right. Like I would actually deserve a few "good-Mom points." And I look forward to them eating what I have prepared for them with love.
Someday I'll figure out how to start incorporating all those great magazine lunch ideas with soups and breadsticks or smiley face sandwiches the kids make or salads they shake in a tube, but for now, I think I have something that works.