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Little Lunches: Here are My Tricks; Please Share Yours

It suddenly occurred to me that starting next week, I have to pack lunches again. Vacation is officially OVER.

In my world, FALL is the start of the brand new year.  

Most people believe that January 1st is the time to make resolutions and jump-start weightloss goals.  It must be the teacher in me but it's September in my household.  That's when I clean out closets, assess clothing needs and get our "School Station" ready and organized before it's overrun by paperwork (it usually becomes a certifiable natural disaster by the second day of school).

I will admit it:  I am NOT ready for school to start.  Not because I enjoy spending every second with my little Pickies but because I'm not ready for the responsibility, schedule and expectations.  

It just occurred to me yesterday that I have to get things ready so I can pack my biggest Picky's lunches.  I prefer to pack so I have a little more control over what she eats and I can also keep track of the healthiness factor (although I usually sneak in a tiny treat).  Buying school lunches is EXPENSIVE and we do it occasionally, but I know that once I have all three kids into the RCS, I will be paying a million dollars if I don't get on this packing thing.  Here are a few of our favorite lunch accessories:

The Horsie Lunchbox:  I had no clue that my daughter liked horses until she picked out this lunchbox.  Really?  No butterflies?  No tie-dyes lunchbox?  Really?  Horses? OK.  And it got us through 1st grade swimmingly.  The plus side?  It wipes down really nice.

Reusable Napkins:  The eco-friendly side of me cringes when I think of all the napkins and paper towels that get thrown away in the lunchroom.  My solution? Thick washcloths.  They absorb EVERYTHING (My Pickies are MESSY) and can be thrown in the washing machine.  They hold up really well, too.  I think I bought a whole bunch of them from Target for under $10 a couple years ago and they still look terrific.  I also love that they don't get wrinkly like cloth napkins.  Who wants to iron cloth napkins?  I'm lucky if I iron ANYTHING.

Wide-mouth Thermos:  This BPA-free thermos lasted me only a year because we used it and washed it in the dishwasher EVERY. SINGLE. DAY.  The wide mouth is an absolute necessity ... it holds a good amount of food and we were able to experiment with different dishes without having to stuff it in a traditional tall thermos.  If you are a good planner (I pretend but rarely succeed), I put the thermos in the freezer the night before if Picky #1 will be eating something cool.  If it will be a hot dish, I boil water and let it sit in the closed thermos for 15 minutes. Pour the water out, wipe the thermos and put the heated food into the thermos.

Some of our Favorite Lunch Choices:

Bean Burritos

Hummus Wraps

Spaghetti

Small Pizzas (when I make my super-easy pizza dough, I use a cookie cutter that is thermos size.  Then I bake pizzas and freeze them individually.  Microwave them in the morning and you are good to go!)

Macaroni and Cheese

Leftover homemade (healthy) pancakes

Miso soup

Healthy Snacks:

Hummus and veggies (or crackers)

Organic cheese sticks

Air-popped popcorn

Fruit--we are huge fruit fans!

Applesauce

Those are some of our family favorites and although I am dreading the whole school routine, it's nice to have a plan to follow.  Wish I had a plan for organizing bedrooms, closets and cupboards.  Or a fairy Godmother.

What healthy food do you pack for lunches??

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Michele September 06, 2011 at 02:20 PM
Kim - you can find that Thermos at Target in their sporting goods area. Also, another version of the mini pizzas is to use biscuit dough cut in half and pressed into muffin tins - delicious!
Heather Mir September 07, 2011 at 11:22 AM
Girls are certainly different than boys....I think my middle son had four lunch bags in his locker at one time. They have to use disposable in the upper grades or I would be afraid of the smell in the lockers....I do love the divided lunch boxes at EasyLunchBox.com for my 2nd grader.
Amanda Kirksey September 07, 2011 at 11:22 PM
OHMYWORD. Haven't even thought of how I will handle middle-school lunches. Just breathe, just breathe...
Cynthia Beaupre September 07, 2011 at 11:52 PM
Amanda had little pizzas made on English Muffin halves as a child...
Susan M. September 08, 2011 at 09:34 AM
Oh, and cold pizza ($5 Hot & Ready is great!) is a lunchtime favorite around here.

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