I first published this post in the Spring of 2017. For the most part, things still hold true: My kids make their own lunch. In the Spring of 2017, the kids used to pick one day a week to get hot lunch, and the rest of the week they brought their own. Last school year, they started to bring their own at least 95% of the time. Over time, they complain less, and have become more creative. In my opinion, making their own lunch helps foster independence and encourages them to think about what they will be putting into their growing bodies around noon-time.
For me, it was gratifying to see them want to bring their own lunch more frequently. The older kids recognize the difference in quality and taste between something they make themselves in the morning or night before, versus something that's been reheated and/or mass produced in the school cafeteria.
There are still some "loose" rules. Some type of fruit or vegetable is required. There needs to be a variety. And only one treat. I've read many blogs about having nothing processed in the lunch, but in our world of the kids having sports, homework, piano practice, daily chores, and me running my own business, you gotta give somewhere. The last thing I want my kids to do is to totally obsess over all of the processed treats out there, and go nuts over them as soon as they get the chance. (Although I'm sure they already do.) Everything in moderation, right?
What's in their lunch-bags has evolved in the past year and a half. With 4 unique kiddos, it's still quite the smorgasbord. Leftovers are still a hot commodity. They all cut their own fruits and veggies (kid safe knives are great - I love the ones from Curious Chef). If I've made any type of homemade bread, it's usually in someone's lunch. Did I say leftovers? Sandwiches are still a go-to. Some of them like soup. They've started eating more wraps and salads and thinking more outside the box. They love homemade (or store-bought) date bars and granola bars. Here's an comparison from then and now, and a few pictures!
Lunch Fall 2018
Lunch Spring 2017
Kid #1 then: Homemade peanut-butter on store-bought bread, yellow bell pepper strips, strawberries, and a coconut macaroon made by another sibling.
Kid #1 now: Homemade tomato soup (with tomatoes from the farmers market), hardboiled egg from a local farmer, watermelon from our garden, cheese and crackers, semi-sweet chocolate chunks with homemade peanut butter.
Kid #2 then: Three slices of homemade whole wheat banana bread, a slice or two of rolled up turkey breast, left-over frozen peas, an applesauce cup, whole-grain Goldfish, and some unknown granola bar.
Kid #2 now: Ham and cheese sandwich on whole wheat bread, applesauce, watermelon from our garden, trail mix with peanuts, raisins, rice crisps, chocolate chunks, and cheerios.
Kid #3 then: Leftover rice noodles and veggies, cheddar cheese stick, blueberries, and semi-sweet chocolate chips.
Kid #3 now: Burrito with beans and cheese, cucumber from a friend's garden with homemade ranch dressing, homemade peanut butter, and semi-sweet chocolate chunks.
Kid #4 then: Turkey and cheese sandwich on Italian bread, strawberries and blueberries, applesauce, Nature Valley granola bar and semi-sweet chocolate chips.
Kid #4 now: Wrap with lettuce, corn, a hardboiled egg and feta cheese. Melon from the farmers market. Homemade peanut butter and semi-sweet chocolate chunks.