Today was a wonderful learning day. I have two kiddos going to kindergarten this year. My oldest fell under birthday rule, while my middle kiddo did not. I am all about being prepared way in advance. So here we are, getting prepared for school lunches!
I bought these great little containers last year for a picnic. I thought they’d be great to hang on to for when they kids go to school. They’re silicone with a plastic lid. They can fold up, or expand when food is in it. They are dishwasher safe. I’m still trying to figure out how to get them in a cooled lunch box because of the shape…But we’ll get there eventually.
So what did I put in my kids’ lunch box? Well…It started off like this.
I let these three cutie patooties push their own mini-cart around the store and pick out what they wanted to eat for lunch. We picked up things like almond butter, dried fruit, and more. It was a little crazy because I had to constantly remind them to watch where they were going, but they had a blast and most people just smiled from ear to ear.
So….back to what I put in it. As a paleo (AIP) mom, I know that in the media there have been many parents come under heavy fire for what they send in their kids’ lunch boxes. I am not half as strict on my kiddos as I am on myself, for one. I leave occasional wheat based products (usually of higher quality) in their diet so that if they do slip up, they are not as gravely affected as I am. I did have a time where I was very strict, and my kiddos ended up getting very sick if they were anywhere but eating at home. In some paleo circles, this is just unacceptable, but for me…80/20 paleo is important to us for our kids and leaving in a little gluten allows them to have those occasional conventional treats with other family members.
For these lunch boxes I packed a pretty well rounded meal (in my opinion only). There are some carrots with ranch (not shown) because my kiddos can devour some carrots. We have some amazing dried strawberries with some walnuts. Finally, we have two sandwich halves that are oatnut bread and almond butter.
I look for a few things when compiling this lunch box. I’m looking for protein, vegetables, a healthy source of fruit or sugar, and healthy fats. Almond butter (as many nut butters do) have a good amount of protein. My kiddos love carrots and they keep well, so that is a great veggie to be able to send. The fruit is small, dried, and stable to be refrigerated or not. Then, the healthy fats are in the extra walnuts with the dried strawberries. I don’t look (or care) about the “whole grains” part because it is not a staple of our diet (another philosophy for another time).
You may be asking…Where is the dairy at? My youngest kiddo is severely lactose/casein intolerant. We do coconut and almond milk from time to time. I occasionally do high quality, raw, local cheese for the family. However, I am just not comfortable with having it under light refrigeration (via a cooling pack) over the course of many hours. I am wanting to look at the ability of a thermos that could help keep liquids cold for an extended period of time…But that’s still in the works.
This was an amazingly fun project to do with the kids. I think they really enjoyed picking out their lunch foods, and they’ll be really surprised this afternoon when they get to have all of the amazing things that they picked. Here’s the jist of what I learned from this experience:
- Get your kiddos involved. Make sure to ask them what they would like, and if it’s available to you, let the kids do the shopping.
- Pick your containers in advanced so that your kids can practice how to use it, and the general “rules” of eating at school. Such as, eat your sandwich and carrots before you eat your fruit treat.
- Know what is most important to you on their plate while considering what the conventional guidelines are.
- Look for the basics such as protein, vegetables, fruits, and healthy fats. (If you’re family does dairy and/or whole grains, know what the good/healthy ways to send these are.)
- Keep experimenting.
I hope you enjoy this post. I had so much fun doing it and can’t wait till I can figure out some more lunch combos as we get closer to the big day. If you have kiddos, what are their favorite things to take to school for lunch? I’ll be sure to share more as we experiment.
-Ami M. Lee, Lunchtime Experimenter, Whole Food Lunch Giver, Common Sense Cook