It is that time of year again! I am starting my 23rd year of packing school lunches. Wow! Over the years I really have packed thousands of school lunches. Yes, thousands!
I know that my youngest, a sophomore in high school, is perfectly capable of packing her own lunch, and on some days where I am running late, I do ask her to put her own lunch together. But more often, I pack up the lunches.
Why? As a teacher, I see many students that are responsible for packing their own lunches. This is a skill and responsibility that many kids should be able to handle, but many times, these students simply do not pack a full lunch or run out of time in the morning and don’t pack a lunch at all. Conventional parent thinking and natural consequences says that if they go hungry one day, they will make sure that they will pack their lunch the next day. Makes sense.
But as a teacher – I see the afternoon consequences of a missed lunch. Kids play hard at recess, they exert even more energy in PE, and they have a full afternoon of learning. A breakfast, no matter how healthy, cannot sustain a child until the late afternoon. They need the nutrients and calories of a healthy lunch to stay focused and to have the mental stamina to learn all afternoon long. Kids that skip lunch are headachy and tired – missing hours of afternoon learning.
So I pack the lunches. Mind you, I am not judging parents that have their children pack their own lunches! Really – it is an important skill to be learned. I just live both sides of this situation, and I choose to pack up the lunch.
So after 23 years of lunch packing what is my strategy?
Packing Back-to-School Lunches
I follow a formula – I always include a protein, a veggie, a fruit, and a crunchy. That is the basis. Over the years I can say that on most days lunches included a sandwich or dinner leftovers.
Here are some of the lunches that I pack up:
- Fried rice with vegetables, potstickers, edamame, mandarine oranges, raisins, crackers.
- Chicken or tuna salad and lettuce on flat bread, strawberries, carrots with ranch dressing, goldfish crackers.
- Chicken quesadilla, black beans and corn salad, cherry tomatoes, tortilla chips and guacamole.
- Meat and cheese roll-ups, grapes, sugar snap peas, pretzels with peanut butter for dipping.
My youngest also enjoys salads, so she gets salads as well. I make lots of salads in a jar for my husband and me to take to work, so I adapt these for her. I don’t pack glass jars in her lunch bag, I just pack the salad fixings into a plastic container and place the salad dressing into a separate container. She simply adds the dressing to her salad, and she is good to go.
So here is to another year of packing school lunches! Wishing you and your children a wonderful school year!