Week three school lunch update, and we're doing ok so far. You might start to notice some consistent items and some repeats. I definitely don't come up with something new every day. But sometimes just arranging it a little differently makes it seem new, and that keeps it interesting for the kids. By far the most common question I'm getting is about whether my apples turn brown, and what (if anything) I do to prevent it. The answers are no, and no. I keep cut apples in my fridge for days, either in a well sealed container or a zip top bag, and I don't put anything on them. You can see in the first picture below that the apples are just slightly browned - these were apples that had been cut in the fridge for several days. I think it must be the variety of apple. I usually buy either Gala or Fuji - those are just my personal favorites. And I get very little browning. So I'm guessing that maybe those varieties just brown less than some others? I might have to conduct an experiment soon, could be fun.
I'm also getting a lot of questions about the temperature of the food. My kids are totally fine eating most foods either cold or at room temperature - even dinner type foods, like pasta and meat. If there's no meat in the lunch, and it's not a super hot day, then I will just put the lunch from the fridge into their insulated lunch bag, and they will eat it room temp at lunch time. If there is meat, and for one child who insists her cheese be cold, then I will put one or two ice packs in the lunch bags - depending on whether I want the food kept actually cold until lunch time, or if I just want it to stay cold long enough to be safe. I follow an FDA guideline I read recently for restaurants - 4 hours is the max that perishable foods should be kept at room temperature. So unless it's a food that I think they will want *cold*, I will just put in enough ice to ensure that the lunch is not sitting at room temp for more than 4 hours. I've never get complaints about the temperature of the food, and I've never had anyone get sick, so I think my system is working ok so far.
Other lunch tips for this week:
- Toasted sandwiches hold together well, if you have a kid that has a hard time holding a sandwich together.
- I've found with a couple of my kids that they will actually eat more of the sandwich if I trim the crusts. If the crust is on then they eat around it and leave the 'scraps', but if I trim just the edge of the crust then they'll eat the whole sandwich.
- I've experimented with a bunch of ways to send oranges without them making a huge mess - I've recently found that the slices you see below work best - cut the orange in half lengthwise, and then about 1/2 inch slices. They can eat it out of the peel without juicing it all over themselves.
- Taking an extra minute to cut the sandwich in cute shapes can make a big difference - they are more interested in eating food that looks like fun, and they really do eat more of the lunch. Simple little sandwich cutters can be found at a lot of kitchen shops and sometimes even grocery stores. Or just use a cookie cutter.
- Same thing with cute little toothpicks - a cute little character or animal on the end of the toothpick just makes lunch more fun!
I've also been getting a lot of questions about some of the things I use in the lunchboxes, so I've added a few links at the end to some of my favorite things.
Some of my favorite lunch things:
Silicone baking cups make great little dividers in the lunch containers.
Our preferred lunch containers, by EasyLunchboxes.
Super cute and fun little lunch toothpicks:
Fun sandwich cutters