Thursday, September 16, 2010

Confessions of A [Brown] Bag Lady

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.

Got milk?


Yum Yucky said...

Thank you for lunch-making inspiration. Greedy Kid #3 just started Kindergarten and he demands homemade lunch. I'm not that creative though, so you gave me some ideas. ((hugging you now in thanks!))

LBB said...

I love that you make lunches for your family! I was also raised on brown bag lunch & now make them daily for my girls. I love that I KNOW what they're eating & they get to choose somthing they really will eat!

life in the mom lane said...

When I was a SAHM I always packed my kids lunches unless there was a specific plea to buy on a favorite day... The kids loved the notes I would tuck inside as well... as they got older AND I went back to work full time they preferred to buy because it wasn't "cool" to pack anymore.

Then by jr. sr. year the girls wanted to pack their own...(I would still sneak the notes whenever I could) :)

I miss those days :(

But I get my fix by making up college care packages!

Sandra said...

I'm a brown bag lunch lady too. I'm all for that little extra bit of love, AND the biggie for me is that I know exactly what they are eating. I have a 14 year old who would probably be obese were it not for the lunches I carefully prepare for him (he inherited the ex's fat gene! :(
So I'm with you Skippy!
Oh, and I love how you made that brown paper bag have your name on it! You're like a technologically genius!

Jeannie said...

I hated making lunches but there wasn't a lot of choice in elementary school - they had pizza day once a week and a milk program but that's it. I don't know what they did for highschool anymore. There was a cafeteria there but I think they went healthy. However, there were a couple of pizza takeouts nearby anyway. I probably don't want to know.

uh said...

Great ideas, thanks!

Amy said...

School Lunches = nastiness

When I taught school they had a lunch called beef sticks. I don't even know what they were TRYING to replicate with that one.

Thanks for all the ideas. Next year I will be packing T's lunch every day.

Have a good night.

ps - you'll be happy to know I went to walmart and stocked up on pencils and a sharpner. Now I can call myself a good mother!

Sally said...

My husband once offered to make my lunch for me everyday....but then wanted to give me peanut butter and jelly (which I only eat as an absolute last last last resort!) the lunch making only lasted a day or two :-)

I think it's great that you make lunch for your family everyday and I'm sure they love all of the special touches, too.

colenic said...

I love packing my own lunch....tried to pack hubby's but he would eat it as he pulled out of the driveway and still to (insert name of fast food rest.) for lunch. I bought a llittle bag when we were in Germany a few years ago that I use as my lunch bag- the bento stuff is really interesting- I wish Ic ould get into that you enjoy packing your kids lunch so much. And you absolutely can steal the list!! Have a good one!

Rudee said...

I wish someone would pack me a lunch.

Celia said...

I was just thinking how much I pay for school lunches. You've given me inspiration to pack, at least a few days, of lunches.