School is well underway, and that usually means packing lunchboxes.
I confess: the contents of my kids’ lunchboxes aren’t all that exciting.
We have 3 kids, the oldest two are in high school and the youngest is in grade school. During the week, they all do some combination of buying and taking their lunches. The youngest is allowed to buy lunch at school 2 days a week and he decides which days those will be at the beginning of the week.
The older kids either buy or take lunch, it’s up to them. They can buy lunch as long as they have the money (we put a certain amount on their accounts each month), otherwise, they pack their own lunches.
The hardest part for me about packing lunches is making sure there’s a variety of things ready to go, and to be honest, I’m not particularly imaginative at it. Blogs and women’s magazines are full of cute and creative ideas for packing lunches for school, and I think they’re great ideas, but in reality, our school lunch routine usually leans toward more standard fare.
Actually, it’s more than “standard fare”, I freely admit, our lunches are pretty boring. As much as I’d love to be that person, I probably won’t make cute food in little plastic boxes or arrange colorful food in interesting shapes to take to school. Speed is of the essence around here even though we pack lunches the night before.
Sometimes, I wonder how our seemingly mundane routines like school lunches compare to other people’s. I’ve feared we were known as the “boring lunch family” at school, but I put my fears at ease yesterday when it was my turn to be the cafeteria volunteer. As far as I could tell, most lunches looked about like the ones I send, but there was the occasional creative one.
Packed lunches around here usually consists of sandwiches with peanut butter and jelly or meat and cheese, some fruit, occasionally chips and sometimes, dessert. I occasionally try to mix it up a little, but you never know what anyone’s going to eat, and we sometimes end up with things in the pantry that never actually leave.
I routinely stock bread, peanut butter and jelly, turkey, ham, cheese as well as fruit packages of pears, mandarin oranges and applesauce, and we build on that with other things. I try to accommodate if someone has a special request, but they never really do.
Sometimes, my daughter will get her own items at the grocery store and my middle child will make “interesting” concoctions to take (peanut butter and a whole banana on a hot dog bun, anyone?), but I always keep the basics on hand, and they tell me that’s OK.
However, it doesn’t matter if my lunches are boring or interesting if the food I bought isn’t there when I go to pack it.
None of my kids can resist the siren song of the individually wrapped package (especially the teenage boy), and I’ve talked until I’m blue in the face about, “If it’s in a little package and it’s for one person, I don’t want you to eat it at home”, so I’ve had to resort to some fairly drastic measures to make sure the lunchbox stock doesn’t get eaten in front of the TV, ten packages at a time.
I have to keep a small reminder on the lunchbox items for certain teenage boys:
Yes, that does draw a little attention when guests are looking in our pantry and I have to explain myself, but it’s worth the savings.
What about you? Are your kids’ lunchboxes packed with fancy things (I’m always open to suggestions for new, time-efficient lunchbox ideas!) , or do you stick to the tried and true like we do?