Would you let them eat the mystery meat and fried fat that's served in school lunches? You probably wouldn't... but I did.
When the kids went to school after years of being schooled at home, I committed to sending them to school with home-made lunches. My kids were fine with that... until they had the same lunch two weeks straight. I was still trying to get used to dropping them off by 8:00am without me getting a speeding ticket or them getting a late slip, so we decided to try the school lunch route for a bit.
The kids gave school lunches mixed reviews.
Some days, they came home raving about the lunches. I mean... what kid wouldn't love junk food? Other days, they came home complaining that the lunches made their stomachs feel yucky. Those days, I felt guilty about not getting up earlier to make lunch. After a few weeks of eating at school, the kids knew which lunches to avoid. On those days, I'd pack a sandwich for them. More often than not, though, they went with the school lunches. They didn't mind, and they were getting tired of the same old sandwich.
But the battle between mom-that-knows-better and lazy-mom-that-wants-five-more-minutes was fierce. Then my good friend, Michelle (a.k.a. Muffintin Mom) suggested that I make bento-style lunches. Michelle's blog is filled with creative ideas for feeding your kids and is full of beautiful pictures of all the yummy food. She also has suggestions for more ideas outside of her blog. I looked up a few examples from one of her advertisers, Easy Lunch Boxes. I loved what I saw, but I thought it was going to be too much work and might take up a lot of time. One day, I just finally decided that I was making too many excuses. I went to the store, stocked up on fruits, veggies, crackers, and cheeses, and re-committed to sending my kids to school with home-made lunches.
Here are a couple of the lunches that I sent the kids to school with this week:
This lunch box contains leftover pot stickers filled with chicken and vegetables, organic crackers, diced apples, and their choice of veggies (tomatoes for the boy, snap peas for the girl).
This lunch box looks a little lighter. What's not pictured is a Clif Bar that they had in their lunch bags. This bento-ish box also consists of leftovers. The main food (cheese tortellini with chicken sausage and tomatoes) was dinner the night before. I packaged grapes in a Ziplock bag to avoid any yuck factor. One of the small compartments has organic crackers and a cheese stick cut in half, and the other small compartment has a wet nap.
Another lunch that I didn't get a picture of included two mini burritos, carrots and celery, a small light Baby Bell round, and a cookie. We've made a few other random combinations of leftovers, veggies, fruit, cheese and crackers. They're really pretty easy to make, and as long as I pack the lunches the night before, I can still get 5 more minutes under the covers before taking the kids to school.
The best part? The kids love their lunches and give me HUGE hugs for making them.