Thursday, June 17, 2010

Let's talk about lunch

Thing 1 & Thing 2 and the semi-civilized sister (SCS) will be going to the new Waldorf Charter School here in just 61 days (not that I'm counting) . They did a week of the day camp and we have another week coming up in just a few days. For all of these events, the kids need lunch packed.

Figuring out what to pack, how much, how to pack it, and how to make it look great is still a heavy learning process. For years now 'lunch' has been food rummaged for in the fridge somewhere between noon and 3- usually still in jammies. We seriously avoid HFCS, anything hydrogenated or with questionable oils; sweeteners other than honey, maple syrup and succanat; lots of gluten; conventionally farmed produce; pasteurized dairy products and factory raised meat. We absolutely have to shun MSG and food dyes or the boys are miserable. Our recent sushi debacle reminded me of exactly why we have to stay far from those things- as if a child with cancer wasn't enough motivation.

My list of things not to eat means that tossing a PB & J, a single serve bag of Doritos, a capri-sun and a hostess cupcake in the box is not happening. There are very few 'single serving' things that meet the criteria & those that do are expensive! $1.29 for a single 1.19 oz pack of Sundrops v/s $8.69 a lb in the bulk section. That's $17.34 a lb!!! I'll pay that for grassfed tenderloin for a (VERY) special occasion but not for hippie M & M's. So the challenge is this: how to pack a healthy (as I define it) nutrient dense meal which will so thrill the kids that they will have no desire to barter for Twinkies. Not only does lunch have to thrill their little appetites, I have to be able to pull it off without making it a full time job.

The lunches I packed the first week were too much prep in the mornings. I am not a morning person. There should, ideally, be neither light nor noise to assault my senses before I have ingested coffee. I consider anything before 10 AM to be uncivilized. 7:45 is not, to my mind, the time to be cutting tiger faces in the nori.

Two of the lunches were taste or texture failures. Bento day was a roaring success as was sausage and cheese day. The meat pies were too dry- we had the others for supper this week with gravy and that was fine. The turkey wraps 'tasted funny' but I think it was a bad jar of curry powder.

Next week we will find out if onigiri really do freeze as well as they are supposed to, if kids will happily eat little quiches, and how many ways I can sneak eggs and yogurt into lunches before they mount a rebellion. What's going in your lunch boxes?

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