Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Packing a Better Bagged Lunch

School lunch is an easy target for gross violation of healthy eating standards. But what about the standard issue bagged lunch? What can parents pack their children that will be nutritious, sustainable, eaten and enjoyed?

Four or five things go into my kids’ lunchboxes:

1. A water bottle. Both kids now have stainless steel water bottles ever since the BPA-leaching hysteria of polycarbonate bottles. In all truth, I think our old Nalgenes are just fine for daily use. The leaching centered over storage which is easily averted by tossing what comes home onto my houseplants. Am I mistaken?

2. A main course. This is usually a sandwich of sorts. I got my kids eating sprouted wheat bread when they first cut teeth so it's never been a source of complaint for them. And at 5 grams of protein per slice, a very nourishing lunch staple. On especially cold days they might take a thermos with pasta and some roasted chicken. I'd like to get them enjoying soups but they still don't. Other options are yogurt or a caesar salad, with cut romaine in a container along with some parmesan and slices of chicken breast, and a separate mini Tupperware pot of dressing and often croutons because, COME ON!! You gotta have croutons!

3. Fruit. It's often a whole pear or apple. Sometimes I cut up either one put it in a mini Tupperware container and sprinkle it with cinnamon sugar. Other times it's applesauce. My oldest loves cinnamon on her applesauce so I found her a little covered shaker at a camping supplies store and filled it with cinnamon.

4. Vegetable. Carrots. I'm not very ambitious here. Carrots get eaten and other stuff doesn't.

5. A treat. The treat doesn't go in every day but when it does it's either a couple of Hershey kisses, a few cookies (something from Whole Foods) or a freshly baked cookie, straight from the toaster oven.

Details please:
Waxed paper bags are available at Whole Foods and are good for sandwiches, cookies, chips. I admit to using the snack sized Ziploc bags for carrots. I could improve lunchbox sustainability by using containers or being better about reusing those plastic bags.

I buy sprouted sandwich bread at Trader Joes. I also really like the Alvarado Street sandwich bread available in the freezer at Whole Foods.

What are you packing in those lunchboxes that your children enjoy?

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