School Lunches 2014-2015 - week 16

If you're paying attention and go back and look at the lunch posts, it will seem like I skipped a bunch of weeks.  I did.  But I got weeks 11-15 all caught up in one post last week, so I'm still on track with sharing all our lunches for this year.

The first week of the New Year was all about catching up from the holiday break - putting away new toys and clothes, getting the kitchen back in order, doing laundry - certainly not a time to get fancy with the lunches.  So my goal for the week was to keep it simple, but still make it attractive and something that anyone would want to eat. Also - it's the start of ski season.  Where we live we are only an hour away from the local ski mountain, so some combination of kids will be in lessons every Saturday for the next 2 months. (Sounds exhausting, and it is, but it goes by fast.) So for the next two months I will be packing lunch 6 days a week. 

I haven't shared some of my lunch packing tips in a while, so here are a few thoughts for you for this week:

  • Ordinary food does not have to look ordinary!  But it doesn't take a lot of work to make it look special.  Just a simple little mini cookie or vegetable cutter is all it takes to take a plain old PB&J and make it look special.  Or take the extra minute to just arrange the food in an appealing way.  I don't know about you, but I'm much more interested in eating something that doesn't look like a mess.
  • The question I am getting the most lately is whether my kids eat these foods cold.  And the answer is yes.  Unless you see something packed in a thermos container, then it is eaten either cold or room temperature at lunch.  Usually room temperature.  I only pack ice if there's chicken or something where I'm overly concerned about spoiling, or for my one child who won't eat her cheese at room temp.  Otherwise, they are taken out of the fridge cold in the morning, packed in insulated lunch bags, and allowed to come to room temp by lunch time.  I've never had a complaint about the temperature of the food. 
  • The second most common question I get is what do I do to keep my apples from turning brown.  The answer is that I do nothing. It's all in the apples I buy.  I only buy organic apples, and I generally buy the more crisp varieties - Fuji or Gala most of the time.  And they just don't turn brown very fast.  So another way to save yourself some time and worry is to just buy apples that aren't going to brown in the first place.
  • I get a lot of people telling me "my kid won't eat that".  I get it.  I have a very picky child. But I pack the food anyway. Study after study has shown that continued exposure to food is the best way to get a child to try, and eventually, eat it.  I have been putting lettuce in front of my kids for years.  Years!  And suddenly, they have all decided to start eating it. What if I had quit offering it?  Then they wouldn't be eating it now. I try to always pack things that I know they will eat, because I want them to have a meal.  But I also don't shy away from including things I'm not so sure about, because I do want them to continue to be exposed to a variety of choices.  Does that mean waste?  Sometimes.  But usually there's at least one kid in the family who will eat it, and lunches are often finished for snack at home after school.  So what little sister didn't eat out of her lunch, big brother is more than happy to finish for her when he gets home. 

Enough lecturing for today? How about the lunches from the first week of the New Year?

First - I got a couple new lunch tools that I'm loving.  The first is a set of biscuit cutters, that's what I'm using to cut the round sandwiches.  The large cutter works better than any other sandwich cutter I've bought.  And I got a new set of mini shapes cutters - just a little fun thing for making shapes in the sandwiches.  And, just for fun, I got a set of little letter cutters.  Really there is no practical need for this, but hey, I'm packing lunches 6 days a week, so I want to have a little fun!  

And as always - don't forget the lunchboxes.  We use Easy Lunchboxes and I can't recommend them enough.  Get yours right here! 

Simple sunbutter and jam sandwiches on multigrain bread, cheese, chex, and two kinds of apples just sliced and alternated.

Simple sunbutter and jam sandwiches on multigrain bread, cheese, chex, and two kinds of apples just sliced and alternated.

Quesadillas, two have beans and two have chicken.  Three have sour cream for dipping and one has guacamole.  Plus apple bites, sugar snap peas, and tomatoes. 

Quesadillas, two have beans and two have chicken.  Three have sour cream for dipping and one has guacamole.  Plus apple bites, sugar snap peas, and tomatoes. 

Waffle sandwiches - three have cream cheese and one has butter; with cheese, applesauce, chex, and a trail mix of almonds, raisins, cranberries, apricots. 

Waffle sandwiches - three have cream cheese and one has butter; with cheese, applesauce, chex, and a trail mix of almonds, raisins, cranberries, apricots. 

Breadsticks, cheese, tomatoes, bananas, and a selection from peas, salami, red peppers, depending on who likes what.  One child has cashew butter. 

Breadsticks, cheese, tomatoes, bananas, and a selection from peas, salami, red peppers, depending on who likes what.  One child has cashew butter. 

Make your own sandwich kids.  Bread, cheese, lettuce, carrots, tomatoes, cucumbers.  Two have salami, one has peppers, one has sunbutter. They also have apples and a muffin from the freezer.  

Make your own sandwich kids.  Bread, cheese, lettuce, carrots, tomatoes, cucumbers.  Two have salami, one has peppers, one has sunbutter. They also have apples and a muffin from the freezer.  

Or first ski lunch for the season.  Dad and kids have burritos.  Three kids have just bean and cheese.  One also has chicken and sour cream.  Dad's has all that plus some rice and salsa.  They also have cheese and veggies.  My lunch was a salad (there's lettuce buried in there) with chicken,  tomatoes, olives, and a simple dressing of just sour cream and green salsa.  We all have a fruit (apples for dad, banana for the rest of us), and some combination of nuts and chocolate. 

Or first ski lunch for the season.  Dad and kids have burritos.  Three kids have just bean and cheese.  One also has chicken and sour cream.  Dad's has all that plus some rice and salsa.  They also have cheese and veggies.  My lunch was a salad (there's lettuce buried in there) with chicken,  tomatoes, olives, and a simple dressing of just sour cream and green salsa.  We all have a fruit (apples for dad, banana for the rest of us), and some combination of nuts and chocolate. 


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Lisa Marsh

Mom to two sets of twins.

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