Yes, I know we’ve been making school lunches for one or the other of my kids for the past 9 years. BUT we have some new challenges this year now that we’re at public elementary school. Here are the rules for my kindergartener:
- No nuts or peanuts (new school is completely nut-free)
- No red dye (DC2 gets hives)
- No cheese (DC2 hates cheese) (Also no tomatoes, same reason)
- Nothing “spicy” because DC2 has no tolerance for spice (which is bizarre because I lived on Indian food when I was pregnant with hir and everyone else in the family eats plenty of spice, AND so did zie… hir spice tolerance seems to be going down instead of up!).
- Things DC2 can open on hir own (this was the big new piece of information for us). Note that DC2 cannot open any of the individually packaged apple sauces or fruit cups that we bought in great supply in the city the weekend before school started [update: we have successfully pierced foil covered applesauces with a plastic spoon. Plastic topped and screw topped will have to wait for more hand and arm strength.].
- Nothing that needs refrigeration (I am regretting my decision not to purchase the fancy $23 lunchbag we saw at Whole Foods that has a spot for an icepack– I may end up trying to find one at Target, but for now, DC2 really loves hir lunch bag that looks just like DC1’s backpack but doesn’t have any insulation much less space for an ice pack)
- Something healthier than just jam sandwiches
- Things that take WAY the heck less time to put together at 10pm than what you get when you google “what do I send in my child’s school lunch” or any similar query. Pinterest is not what we’re looking for.
I do not know if DC2 likes sunflower butter or not. I will be getting some at the grocery store this weekend. BUT, even when zie was allowed nut butter zie would only permit one almond butter and jam sandwich per week. DC2 likes variety. If I send, say, a mini-salad for too many days in a row, zie refuses salads for weeks. Generally I can get away with things about once a week. The one exception is fruit– so I will always be packing fruit, but zie can’t just have fruit.
Extra points for things that we can buy on Saturday but will still be in decent shape by Friday.
We have 3 different kinds of bento boxes (two of which fit in hir lunchbag, one that’s bigger), several small plastic containers, one insulated small metal thermos that sort of fits in the lunch bag (but can’t be heated up), one reusable sandwich bag, one reusable snack-size bag, and all shapes and sizes of ziplocs. Also I could probably be easily convinced to buy more bento boxes because they’re clever and adorable. (I also use them for my lunch when I’m not just taking a pyrex of leftovers to reheat.)
Last year, faced with the challenge of making hir own lunches in middle school, DC1 ended up getting hot lunch instead. That coincided with DC1 getting to be obnoxiously picky about healthy food zie used to eat without complaint at home (something that has subsided a great deal this summer). Zie has promised us zie won’t eat French fries every single day, although that seems to be an option at the middle school. Some of the lunch options at the elementary school are healthy, but many are not. I’m worried about DC2 making unhealthy choices through peer pressure. If we get too overwhelmed with lunch making and DC2 agrees, we will load up hir lunch account too, but for now we’d like to keep sending healthy food. If we can just figure out what.
What do your elementary schoolers take? What did you take as an elementary schooler? What do you suggest that fits the rules above?