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Back to School: The Woes of Packing Lunches for Kids

Back to School: The Woes of Packing Lunches for Kids

I am very fortunate that they provide food at my Bright Horizons child care center because it means that I only have to make  and pack one school lunch during the school year. I can’t believe how much time I spend thinking about what to pack for my child’s lunch and how outrageous it is that such a simple chore has become such a source of parenting stress. Here are my biggest   frustrations in no particular order.

Why I Dislike Packing School Lunches

  1. There are no refrigerators at school so they “advise against” yogurt, etc. Yet, turkey sandwiches are somehow “recommended.” Gross. (I still send in the yogurt, by the way.)
  2. No nuts are allowed because of nut allergies, so peanut butter and jelly sandwiches are out. (I know, I know. It’s necessary but I’m being honest here.)
  3. Besides peanut butter sandwiches, my daughter only eats grilled cheese sandwiches and tuna. She won’t eat cold grilled cheese (I’ve tried) and is already embarrassed by the smell of tuna! Shouldn’t that come in like 5th grade?
  4. Cafeteria food totally grosses me out. Always has – even when I was in school. My mother worked a gazillion hours and always made us lunch. We’re squeamish like that. But it would be much more convenient if I wasn’t grossed out by it. So sometimes I’m tempted.
  5. Sending in a cookie has become the equivalent of sending her to school with a pack of cigarettes. But, if you can believe it, the kids who buy lunch get free ice cream.
  6. She often only eats the things that are not perishable and comes home with an unopened yogurt (at almost $1 a pop). This makes me feel really old because 10 years ago, I wouldn’t have blinked at wasting a $1 and now I want to go crazy when it happens.

lunch-bag-pattern1

The moral of the story is: I struggle mightily with making appetizing and healthy school lunches within all the various constraints of what passes for school lunch in 2010. I’m not looking forward to adding this chore back to the list. What I do like is challenging myself to make her lunches as waste-free as possible.  We have incorporated a lot of re-usable containers but they are kind of run of the mill. DIY reusable snack bags and lunch boxes projects have recently caught my eye. So, if I can’t figure out what to send in to eat, I can at least make some cool stuff so that when we decide on some lunches, she can carry it in style.

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