I have to admit it. I love to make my family's lunches. Even when I had more than one kid at home it just never seemed to take that much time [It really doesn't. Even with 3,4 or 5 kids -it's the assembly line theory tadpoles. Trust.] and in doing so I was assured of a couple of things.
First off, I am able to save money. Lunches here are $2.45 for middle school and $2.60 for high school. I can certainly save money by buying things in bulk to make a week's worth of lunches instead of shelling out $441 a year to buy school lunches for Wallene.
Then there is the actual cafeteria and the food they serve. Although our schools are fortunate to have working kitchens and very hard working lunch ladies the food itself isn't all that great. A lot of it is the processed type of food I am trying to avoid with the kids. We are far from organic or vegetarian but I just don't like all the salt and preservatives put in the school lunches to make it palatable. And the pizza may be a kid fav' but no thanks. I also found that when I did give the kids lunch money they never managed to be served [or take] their full meal. Sometimes they would just be given the entree, take a milk and not realize that the fruit, veggie and dessert was included. They also serve everything on styrofoam. I hate this stuff. Do you really want to eat on styrofoam? Better yet does this stuff even biodegrade? [no] And the final kicker to the cafeteria? The kids get 25 minutes to eat. After walking from class and standing in huge lines they usually end up with 5-10 minutes to scarf down whatever they bought. 25 minutes may not be a lot but at least I know they can sit down and enjoy without having to wait.
So ixnay on the cafeteria eh?
Probably the thing I like the best tho' is I get to custom make what my kids want to eat. Don't like that fruit? Good then we'll go with this. The sight of mayonnaise makes you cringe? Okay...then you get mustard. No problem. I also get to throw in a note everyday - to make them laugh or smile - just a little reminder that no matter what we love them. I keep a post it note pad on my counter with a pen [touch them by penalty of death] and pop one in every morning. [Want to laugh? Go and see the note Sandra put in her husband's lunch. I am stealing it for Wallene, without the curse word. Too funny!]
My kid gets a main [sandwich, tortilla roll up, lettuce roll up or crackers with cheese], a fruit [whole or cups that are made with juice], a crunchy side [veggies with dip, granola bars, chips, pretzels, nuts] a dessert [usually something we make - cookie, cupcake, muffin] and a juice box [the ones without fructose - I was shocked at the sugar I saw in some of them. Shame on you Capri Sun and Hi-C.] Pooldad usually gets the same [plus an additional sandwich minus the juice box - he says it makes him feel like a 5 year old sipping out of them. ha! So I torture him with fruit roll ups instead. Try acting 54 years old while unwrapping one of those puppies. hee] I also like to put their lunches in reusable bento boxes - cheap to find on line or in your grocery store. The ones at our local Giant are in the Gladware aisle and cost $4.00 for two. We have been using ours for a couple of months and they are still holding up great. Dishwasher safe! Bonus.
I know making lunches isn't for everyone. I also know that a lot of families rely on the school lunch to provide at least one hot meal a day for their children under the free lunch program - I understand that. I am not saying everyone has to be on the brown bag lunch band wagon. It is just that once you are in the habit - you can save money, give your kids healthier meals they are guaranteed to eat and you get to spread a little love in the process.