Posted in bento by tchemgrrl on September 27, 2012

Funny, right after I put that post together about the Toddler’s lunches, we got an article from school about lunch packing. It included some general notes about food safety, and a list of 50 food suggestions.

Looking through it, I’m kind of shocked. It’s basically a list of pre-prepared foods or foods which involve very minimal preparation (hard-boiling an egg or cutting a hot dog into nonchokeable bits). No beans except hummus (no vegan protein of any kind except hummus), no rice or any other non-bread grain (and this is a school with a very high first-generation Asian population), no pasta (!), and apparently the only vegetable that any child under 4 can eat is cucumber. Lots of canned fruits, lots of branded crackers and breads, lots of lunch meats. Bleah. It’s not that we never use those things, but they’re mostly what we use when we have no real food in the house. There are so many better, tastier, faster, more environmentally and economically sensible options!

I feel like the most useful lunch packing tip is “make more dinner and pack that.” It’s cheap, it’s easy, it’s faster than making something separate, and you already know what your child liked about it. Plus, I’m really big on kids being served what parents are being served from the get-go (with obvious concessions to chokeables etc), and I think having leftovers the next day ties into that. It’s “our food”, not “his food”. I can’t say that this method would work with an inherently picky kid, but I haven’t noticed him getting increasingly narrow with his options the way I’ve seen some toddlers do, so I think that at least it’s not making things worse.

I don’t think of us as doing anything spectacular; I get fancy with baking and canning now and then, but most of our weeknight dinners are one-pot affairs. T’s not bringing duck a l’orange or perfectly sculpted sushi to school, just beans and rice or avocado on pita. And it’s not like he never eats junk, though I try not to pack that for lunch. So it was surprising to me to see that apparently we’re far enough out of the norm that a list of typical lunchtime foods is way out of our daily experience.


2 Responses

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  1. fillyjonk said, on September 28, 2012 at 7:55 am

    I suppose the “prescriptions” are based on the general assumption that Most People Don’t Cook Anymore.

    Does his preschool permit peanut butter? I know some don’t because of allergy concerns. But peanut butter was one of my favorite foods ever as a kid…I was an “inherently picky kid” but peanut butter (and oddly enough, cottage cheese in a cold-cup) were two things I would reliably eat.

    (Can they keep their snacks cold? Where I work, I’d be afraid of taking soft cheeses or hardboiled eggs in my lunches if I could not refrigerate them….on some days my office is close to 90 degrees)

  2. tchemgrrl said, on September 28, 2012 at 9:01 am

    No nuts, although soy and sunflower seed butter are okay–well actually, they’re kind of nasty, but they’re allowed, and he and the other kids seem to like it because they don’t know what they’re missing. 🙂

    We’ve got an insulated lunch bag with a cold pack for now, and based on experiments when we’re out it seems to keep things relatively cool until lunchtime. I know some parents have hot Thermoses but T seems to prefer his food room temp or cold, plus a hot Thermos would involve cooking in the morning. I do avoid things that are nasty cold (we had butternut squash soup two nights ago, and I didn’t send that in his lunch.)

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