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Friday, August 17, 2012

A mom's survival guide to the school lunch box #back2school #LMDconnector

It's that time of year!

{Here is the gang on opening day one year ago....they have really grown in a year!}

Back to School

Holy cow, those lazy, hazy days of summer have sure flown by, it is hard to believe that it is back to school time of year.   I admit to loving everything about summer falling into autumn.  I love the cooler temperatures which usher in school days, I love new backpack and lunch bag shopping and I love getting those new running shoes for the kids.  Come this September 4th, my world is about to change - my oldest daughter is entering high school, my youngest daughter is starting full time school in grade one, and my son is no longer in primary grades - he is in grade four!

When this time of year rolls around, I always find myself with the best of intentions.  I make a meal plan for the week, I plan out school lunches and I purchase a Mom Calendar for my fridge to keep myself organized.  I am yet to declare victory over these things - and admit to all of them being a work in progress.

September is full of new beginnings

This is why I love back to school time, it is a season of fresh starts and new beginnings, and new adventures.  For my children it is new teachers, new classmates and new opportunities - all which I can live through them.  

September also means a new beginning for mom.  I can once again put my best self forward and try to get myself organized.

Great lunch boxes start with items which your children will actually consume

I've packed lunches which I thought were fantastic, lunches which covered all the food groups and were nutritionally sound.   And, they returned home at the end of the school day untouched.  When, I've asked my children what they ate all day, they've told me that they visit the snack bin.  I cringe when they tell me that, as I consider the snack bin for children who don't have enough lunch, and not for those kids who are turning up their noses at their packed lunches.   So, I've come to realize that lunch packing needs to revolve around what your child will actually consume.  Our elementary school participates in the balanced school day initiative, so packing smaller portions is a good idea, and let the child divide up their food over two nutritional breaks.  I still try to include all of the food groups and have come to realize that using a few prepared items isn't the end of the world.  Let your children tell you what they like to eat and pack the lunch box to include some of their favourites.

Speak to your children about healthy choices

I believe in letting my children make some of their choices when it comes to their lunch box.  I don't label their lunch into Lunch A and Lunch B (I know many may do that, and if it works for you, I am happy).  I do however include two sandwiches cut with their favourite sandwich cutter, and include a vegetable and fruit choice.  I always include a cookie or prepacked treat, and they understand that if only those things are eaten they will no longer appear in their lunch box.  At home,  I post a copy of the food guide on the fridge and we discuss good food choices, as we are making decisions over what to include in their lunches. 

Make lunch time a fun time

I've learned not to fight my children when they want the same thing again and again in their lunch box.  My son loves cheese sandwiches.  While I would get tired of having cheese sandwiches every day, he doesn't and it is him eating the lunch and not me.  I figure why make them stress over food choices when I know what they like.  So, while I might send those cheese sandwiches five days a week, I will also slip in a note or a simple smiley face from mom randomly throughout the week.  A special note from home will also help with those first day jitters.

Don't stress over the stuff you can't control

My years of lunch box packing tell me that I have little control over what they actually eat.  Some days no matter the best of intentions things just do not work out.  I do, however have a lot more control over breakfast and supper options.  As I meal plan for the the school weeks ahead I will be checking out easy recipes found at Life Made Delicious.  

When it comes to sending them back to class, make lunch boxes fun.  Make a plan, but, don't be afraid to deviate from it when you see something isn't working.  Be prepared with a welcome home from the first day of school snack when they return from school and enjoy some time together hearing all about every thing they did on their first day.   Hear about who they sit beside in the classroom and who they ran with at recess.... these are the moments which slip away all to quickly.

Disclosure: I am part of the Life Made Delicious Blogger program and I receive special perks as part of my affiliation with this group. The opinions on this blog are my own.


Brandi Yee said...

Nothing more stressful than when your child's lunch returns home mostly uneaten! I've learned pretty good after my son's first year what works and what doesn't. But I still have those moments where I put in something special that I think he'll "for sure" eat...and it comes home none the less...*sigh*! Great post, lunch is SO important for kids at school!

Liz @ A Nut in a Nutshell said...

I feel the exact same way about fall. It's a fresh start and a new beginning, and I love the crispness and coolness of the air (none of which I get down here). Poo on it.

Mom vs. the boys said...

we seriously struggle with this, our kids are so picky and hate anything good for them. of course you don't want to look like that lazy mom who doesn't care but if I fill it with healthiness it all comes back home at the end of the day :(

Mama Ash said...

My son is staring JK this year!
I also love September and know that Fall is around the corner. My favorite season.

Just Us Girls said...

This is something I seem to struggle with. My son isn't picky at all. I found last year most of his bags came home empty. My daughter on the other hand, not so much, she's very picky and would rather not eat then eat something she doesn't like. Good luck to everyone, brand new year, brand new start.

Shashi said...

oh good lawrd, I am NOT looking forward to thinking up ideas for school lunches again. LOL I'm all about making lunch time easy, enjoyable and healthy. as healthy as I can. Thank goodness they're not picky eaters.

3 more weeks to go....

Tarasview said...

great tips! I can't believe it is almost time for making school lunches again!

Shayna said...

Oh I wish my mother had actually asked me what I wanted in my lunch box when I was a kid! I never liked sandwiches but every day she sent me one and every day I either gave it away or threw it out.

NPC23 said...

Love these tips and I definitely make it a point to teach them healthy habits. :D September is the start of a new year! :D

Lee-Ann said...

I'm so glad my hubby does the lunch packing for the most part. :)