School Lunches 2014: week 10

Week 10 in the books already!  Halloween has blown by and it's already November.  I can hardly believe it, time moves so fast.  I'm enjoying having my lunch menu each week, which gives me some fall back standard when I'm too tired to figure it out.  But I've also managed to mix it up a bit and try a few new creative things.

With kids and food, we celebrate small victories.  Three of my kids are pretty good eaters (we won't talk about the fourth one!).  They eat a decent variety of foods, but anything resembling leafy and green is where we struggle the most. Pretty much kale chips are it, and aside from that I'm just sneaking it in. Recently I've served shredded iceberg lettuce as a topping with a few Mexican style dinners, and I noticed a couple of the kids helping themselves to it, to my surprise.  So I thought I'd go ahead and give a try at putting it in their lunch.  Honestly I didn't expect them to eat it - but two of them did!  Winner!  I know, it's iceberg.  No nutritional value.  But it's a start.  Most of us started only liking salads with iceberg - and look at us now, eating all those kale salads!  So you gotta start somewhere.  My biggest tip for getting kids to eat new foods is to just keep trying.  For like, years.  I'm working on a whole post with all my ideas and tips for getting kids to eat veggies, but with some kids it just comes down to time and repeated exposure.  So keep offering it - don't give up!

Ok, so I get some questions on my lunches when I post them on Facebook and Instagram.  And the most common question I get goes a little something like this:

Do the kids have any issue with eating cold leftovers? I would like to incorporate cooked foods into my child's lunch, but she's so picky that I don't think she'll eat them cold.

And my answer goes a little something like this: Nope.  No issue.

It's funny really, I never even gave it a second thought before I started posting these lunches and people started asking.  I've seen lots of picky, but being picky about the temperature of the food had never occurred to me.  Really, how often do kids eat food that's much more than room temp anyway? I don't know about others, but my kids mess around and take so long to get settled and start eating, that I think their dinner is usually pretty close to room temperature by the time they eat it anyway, so I really never gave a room temp lunch a second thought. I think we, as adults, are just trained to think that certain foods must be hot to be enjoyed, and we're passing that on to our kids. I think it's no different than the notion that certain foods are breakfast foods, and certain foods are dinner foods.  It's just how we're trained.  If we want to open up more possibilities for lunches (and breakfast and dinners!), then we need to unlearn some of those preconceived notions about how and when certain foods should be served, and stop teaching them to our kids.  Have some cold spaghetti for breakfast, and some eggs for dinner - kids love it!

My kids eat all kinds of things at room temperature, without any complaint.  They're just used to it.  We eat pizza, quesadillas, burritos, pancakes, french toast and waffles, pasta, chicken, and plenty more.

So - back to the lunches. I try to time it so that my kids lunch is room temperature by lunch time, not cold. I only pack ice if I'm packing something that I want to still be really cold by lunch time. Most of the time I want the food to have gotten to room temperature by the time they're going to eat it. I usually pack the night before and take the lunches out of the fridge right before I put them in their cooler bags in the morning. So they're starting out pretty cold.  Most guidelines I've read say that most foods are safe to be held at room temperature for up to two hours (I've read a few things that said 4 hours).  So I figure it takes a while for the food to come up to room temp, they leave for school at 9:00 and lunch is at 11:50, so I don't think the food is at room temperature for more than 2 hours.  No, I have not done a temperature test.  And no, I am not a food safety expert - so don't rely on me.  I'm just telling you what we do, and this is working fine for us so far. 

Thoughts about this week's lunches:

  • I made some super easy pizza rolls and they were a big hit!  You must make these, but be sure to make lots extra!
  • As I mentioned above about the lettuce: don't give up on the veggies - keep trying!
  • You'll probably notice a lot of fruit in my kids lunches.  Lunch is when they eat most of their fruit for the day.  
  • I also always try to have some kind of protein too.  Sometimes it's more than others, but it also depends on what I know they are having for breakfast.  The pizza rolls lunch didn't have much protein in it (just a little cheese in the rolls), but I made a smoothie and gave them cheese at breakfast, so I figure they had started off their day with enough protein. Sometimes I'll just add in a cheese stick or a little ham. 
  • The little skewers and silicon cups and separate containers aren't just to be cute, they also serve a purpose - they keep the lunch tidy and organized, so it still looks pretty much like this when they open it at school, even though it's been upside down in their backpacks.  Skewers are great for keeping bite size things lined up, or little toothpicks to hold sandwiches together. 
  • I made individual baked oatmeals for Wednesday lunch.  My two carb-loving kids gobbled them up and asked for more. 
  • They also had pumpkin pie french toast.  I used my usual french toast recipe, but added about 1/2 cup of pumpkin puree and some pumpkin pie spice.  
  • Our lunches are packed in Easy Lunchboxes, and the lidded containers used in side them are Easy Lunchboxes Mini dippers.  
Pizza rolls, with tomatoes, grapes and oranges. 

Pizza rolls, with tomatoes, grapes and oranges. 

Bean and cheese burritos, grapes, apples.  One has sliced ham, kiwi and plum.  One has orange bites and kiwi.  One has orange bites and raspberry gummies.

Bean and cheese burritos, grapes, apples.  One has sliced ham, kiwi and plum.  One has orange bites and kiwi.  One has orange bites and raspberry gummies.

Breakfast for lunch: individual baked oatmeals, applesauce, pumpkin french toast, cheese stick, grapes, banana. 

Breakfast for lunch: individual baked oatmeals, applesauce, pumpkin french toast, cheese stick, grapes, banana. 

Tuna salad boxes.  Simple tuna salad with mayo, celery, celery salt, and shredded mozzarella.  With tomatoes in a lettuce cup, cucumbers, cheese, crackers, orange, and kiwi. 

Tuna salad boxes.  Simple tuna salad with mayo, celery, celery salt, and shredded mozzarella.  With tomatoes in a lettuce cup, cucumbers, cheese, crackers, orange, and kiwi. 

Deconstructed meatball sandwich kits.  Tiny meatballs on skewers, bread, tomato sauce, shredded cheese, with peas and apples. 

Deconstructed meatball sandwich kits.  Tiny meatballs on skewers, bread, tomato sauce, shredded cheese, with peas and apples. 

Visit my Amazon Store to see all my lunch packing essentials.

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Lisa Marsh

Mom to two sets of twins.

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