How a Little More Dependence Makes Our School Lunches Work

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The post is written as part of my partnership with Stonyfield. All opinions and container issues are mine alone.

The new school year is here, which I know because of the cascading mountain of plastic containers coming out of our dishwasher every morning. So many containers in all sizes, except the size I need, prompting me to order more containers, adding to the mountain. I’m back to making school lunches after years of leaving it up to my kids, and while some parents may look down on this step back from independence, for us, the trade off is worth it. When my kids eat a balanced meal during the day, they handle school better and they come home with an even temperament. When they don’t eat right or eat enough, it shows just like it did when they were toddlers. So, I’m back to making lunch early in the morning, but so far, it’s been worth it for all of us.

With a new high schooler running cross country, we’ve had to up our lunch game. This is a kid who doesn’t eat much, but because she needs fuel to get through a more rigorous school day, followed by a pretty intense training session, we’ve had to put a heavy focus on proper proteins. So much for the days of slapping together a few bites to eat in the morning.

My fifth grader is a different story: he gives a lunch review each day that is as nuanced and detailed of any food critic, and it’s not often appreciated by the chef. He has a high standard, but if left to his own packing, it would be a lunch bag full of chips and licorice.

No surprise, we found different things work for each kid. My son has a snazzy new PackIt chilled lunch bag that means we can pack fruit, YoKids Organic Squeezers or leftovers that need to stay cold. The variety matters to him and the chilled bag gives flexibility for different lunch options.

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My daughter will eat a lean protein sandwich and that is it for lunch. Any side dishes return unopened. A few hours later, she needs a boost for cross country, and this is where we turned to a road trip staple: packets of Justin’s nut butters. I can throw a peanut butter with honey, or almond butter in her backpack, and it takes up little space, which is key, then she can tear it open and eat in a hurry for extra fuel. Justin’s is the king of all-in-one snack packs that I feel good about giving to my kids. (We will be tracking down these to try soon!)

The hardest part of our new lunch routine is finding a home for all of the containers. We may need to add on to our kitchen.

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