Lunchbox Struggles…

School is in session and we now have to deal with feeding the crew. Usually we just load up their school budgets and let them eat in the cafeteria, but the past couple of years have been difficult because not only do they get tired of eating the same thing for lunch, but, it can get expensive to feed them if they get extras and are charged a la carte. I contend that public school lunches are not only a scam, but are gross and not very healthy. I’ve been around the cafeteria at lunch time and hung out with the kids while they eat and I’m not seeing a whole lot of healthy. The menus rotate in three cycles and quite frankly, I’d get bored and tired too. My daughter simply refused to eat in the cafeteria last year. My oldest ate too much and it got expensive. My youngest thinks eating the cafeteria food is a treat, and why wouldn’t he? It’s all crap. Just looking at the main entrees on the menu is disappointing.

What do they serve at the cafeteria? Chicken nuggets, hot dogs, pizza, pasta, “nachos” (which are just chips with melted processed cheese). Well, my daughter refuses to eat it and since all my children are good eaters who like lots of veggies, salads, fish, and just plain good food, I’ve decided to up my game this year and not be lazy with the lunch fixing.

Last year it was mostly turkey sandwiches, chips, fruit, and a drink. THIS year, I’m going to try my hand at practicing the Japense art of Obento lunches, American style, while trying to practice including four different colored foods, 3 starch, 2 veggie/fruit, 1 protien. So tomorrow is the first day of school and their lunches are packed with simple foods, but tonight we had a few leftovers so I was able to pack two other bento type boxes. Here’s what I came up:

Half a ham sandy with lettuce (in the baggie), chips, half a granola bar, animal crackers, and grapes. After packing this first lunch for tomorrow, and then researching more ideas, I went back and took out the granola bar and added a serving of carrots to balance the meal out more. Technically, I’m not suppossed to be adding junky foods but, they are small portions so I’m allowing the chips and the other “snacky” items.

After dinner, I was able to pack the following which I think turned out quite nice, but it will be interesting to see if the kids actually eat it. 🙂 I used cupcake liners to separate the food. I think I’ll invest in some silicone cupcake liners. The ones I have in these plastic containers are foil and paper. I included pork chops on a toothpick, black olives, romaine, roasted potatoes, green beens, and pretzels. A nice sized little lunch with a lot of variety. Hopefully they’ll be hungry enough that they’ll eat it. I’ll see when the containers come home. Or, I just may eat them myself for lunch so they won’t sit for two days. I was just practicing anyway.
So, that’s my foray into Obento style lunches. I’m going to try and come up with fun and interesting items to put in their lunch bags. Hopefully they will eat them! Who knows, maybe over the next couple of weeks I’ll get really good at making them interesting lunches and not only with they appreciate them, but their palates might expand or they may come up with some ideas of their own!

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