Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Lunch Boxes - Take 2

Nope, not the 2nd time I've packed them - you know better than that! But this time I'm posting two days of lunches. These are from our first two days back at school since the break. I'm due for co-op bounty this weekend, so I don't have as much variety in our fruits and veggies right now. I'm also using up some holiday leftovers (check out the sandwich rolls!). Finally, I'm lamenting the fact that the kids can't heat up their lunches at school and that pizza and chicken nuggets don't travel so well in the kids' thermoses (is that a word?). I want to send something warm in their lunches since it's downright cold here - lows in the teens and highs in the 30s, below freezing when I drive the kids to school in the mornings (I miss my garage!). Tomorrow they are getting leftover pizza, and I may try for mac and cheese later in the week.

I was very low on anything to pack into the Laptop Lunch Boxes for Monday. We'd traveled the last week of Christmas break, and Sunday was truly a day of rest. We really didn't do anything. I paid for it when I tried to pack lunches Sunday night.

Mister J's lunch
Applesauce (which I poured out of a single-serve container - cringe!), pumpkin bread (which I baked when I realized I was desperately low on lunchbox-appropriate items), blueberries (miraculously, I had fresh fruit on hand!), ham and cheese sandwiches on leftover mini-croissants (thanks, Aunt J!)

Miss M's lunch
Peach yogurt (poured from -gasp!- a single-serve container. She wouldn't have eaten it all anyway, so I snacked on about half of it as I packed lunches), pumpkin bread, blueberries, ham and cheese on mini croissant.

I replenished our groceries on Monday morning while the kiddos were in school. Have I ever mentioned how much I LOVE to go to the grocery store? While it's technically not 'me time,' it's certainly as close to bliss as I can come when I'm out running errands. I digress.... Tuesday's lunches, where actual vegetables make an appearance:

Miss M's lunch
Vanilla yogurt, grape tomatoes and baby carrots with ranch dip, blueberries and cherries, turkey and cheese on a tiny croissant.

Mister J's lunch
Carrots and cucumbers 'cut into shapes' per Mister J's request, roasted garlic hummus, snack mix (that, amazingly enough, has no peanuts), blueberries and cherries, turkey and cheese on mini croissants.

I know these lunches are relatively healthy. Considering how we ate over the holidays, they are really healthy. Still, there are things that I wish I could improve.
1) I need to work toward eliminating American cheese from our diet. I want to replace it with real cheese. I'm not sure I can get us all the way to low fat cheese, but at least I can get away from cheese 'product.'
2) I try very hard to buy domestic produce, but I caved at the grocery store. The cherries are from Chile, I think. The watermelons and cantaloupes, which I did not purchase, were not domestic, either. I came very close to caving on the watermelon, until I remembered that co-op bounty arrives on Saturday. But I could. not. resist. the cherries. They are so yummy, and I have eaten my fair share, but I want to work toward eating locally (a very long-range goal, but 'domestic' is a start).
3) I want to pack a wider variety of veggies in the lunches. Colorful peppers, broccoli (a sometimes hit around here), blanched asparagus. Ok, that last one is a stretch. We will try salads again when the weather warms up, and I'll start hiding tossing lots of stuff in there. Also hoping to try jicama - I'm already on the hunt for recipes. Also looking for vegetable items that could be hold up well when packed into the thermos.
4) I'd love to figure out a way to incorporate beans into the lunches - perhaps something that would go in the thermos? They eat edamame - but I'd also like to incorporate more black beans, chickpeas (not in the form of hummus), etc.

I know that all sounds pretty crunchy-granola, but I am becoming more and more conscious of what we eat and how much we consume (that is, stuff we use that is not re-usable, not necessarily just the stuff we eat). Therefore, the dietary improvement goals and the ((shiver)) when I opened a single-serving applesauce just to pour it into another container. Did I mention that I made applesauce over the break? It was a sort of experiment with proportions loosely based on a recipe I found online. It was delicious, and I definitely see more of it in our future. I left it a bit chunky - yum! Again, I digress....

I'm also worrying less about what other kids at school might say about Mister J's lunches. Yes, at the beginning of the school year I worried about this! From my lunchtime observations, using the class in which I volunteer as a guide, there are some pretty healthy lunches coming to school. Sure, there are pre-packaged convenience foods and sweets in some lunchboxes, but half or more of the lunches are healthy and contain a decent variety of foods. Have I mentioned that the kids drink milk at lunch? I'm slowly realizing that they don't often finish their milk (Miss M is especially guilty of this...), which bugs me since we are paying for that milk (!), but the other alternative is to send water since we rarely let them drink juice. And, since that can get confusing when they are making their lunch plans at the beginning of the school day (trying to remember if they need to buy milk or not), we make it easy by making it routine.

Well, that's the long version of two days of lunches in the life of an exclusively-lunch-packing mom. Hopefully, more lunches to come - perhaps with less commentary!


Heather said...

i LOVE all of your posts on food and producing less waste. I wish I were at the same point and while I am totally in line with what you're saying, I just haven't made the steps to get there yet. We're healthy eaters most of the time, but I'm just not sure where to start when it comes to accomplishing a reduced-waste, eat locally, healthy diet. Props to you though!

Anonymous said...

My kids love when I roast chickpeas. It's crunchy so it is a better replacement to crackers and chips and they get the fiber from beans and omega's from the olive oil I roast it in.

Terri said...

A great black bean recipe that travels well:

1 can black beans, drained & rinsed
1/2 can corn (better yet, fresh)
1/2 bell red pepper chopped very small
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1/4 cup (chopped well) scallions
coat with olive oil
2 limes squeezed over the whole thing.

Use tortilla chips to scoop up - yummy and healthy. My three year old LOVES it.

RLR said...

Terri - we have tried a similar recipe, and I really liked it! My son would eat it at home, but not at school :( But I am certainly willing to give it another try - perhaps on I day I go have lunch with him.
Anonymous - if you stop back by, please tell me more! Since nuts/peanuts are out of our diet, this might be a good replacement for those, too. Do you start with canned chickpeas? Hmmm - off to find a recipe online!

eilismaura said...

Jicama can be had raw - most I ask who enjoy it like it in salads.