It's that time of year. For us, school starts tomorrow and that means several months of brown bag lunches. My kids have a love/hate relationship with bringing lunch from home. First, the vast majority of kids eat school lunch, so those brown bag kids are stand outs from the start. Second, there are a few kids in each of my girls' grades that have made fun of the girls' lunches. Obviously, I'm not a Fruit Roll-Up and Cheetos kind of Mom, so that makes their lunches "weird." As an adult, I can point out that the lunches are nutritious, tasty, comprised entirely of things they like, (and that those kids are dorks), but that doesn't hold much weight with the girls. They do like bringing their own homemade goodies and they do like the food I send, so that, along with getting a fun new lunchbox keep them semi-satisfied.
My goal (beginning this week and lasting for the school year) is to widen the variety of foods I send, find homemade and healthy alternatives for the fun items that other kids bring, and keep the budget well below what the school lunches cost. My purpose in making the girls' lunches is two-fold. One, I don't fully endorse the meals that our school prepares. I think they are doing great things and are well ahead of their public school counterpart in nutrition and freshness, but they follow a set of dietary guidelines that I do not believe to be healthy. They are set on low-fat dairy options, soybean based oils, commericially produced meat and canned goods. Those are things that we don't served at our house and while the Earth isn't going to come crashing down if my kids eat canned corn, it isn't something that I want them consuming on a regular basis. My second reason for making their lunches is money. Lunches cost $42/month/child. $84 out of my $500 grocery budget is a good-sized chunk (almost 17% to be exact). I can find better things to do with my money.
This week I hope to post recipes of snacks that the girls are taking, as well as a few pictures of their lunches. I already know that I'll be trying a fruit-filled cereal bar (think Nutra Grain) that Zaira posted on Living, Loving, Learning Naturally. I've been looking for something like this for a long time and I think this might be the one! I'm excited! I will probably also be on the lookout for softer foods since Baby Girl had her braces adjusted this morning. The next couple days will require some soft foods!