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The dreaded back-to-school lunch

The dreaded back-to-school lunch


Welcome back to school – the time of year when a kid’s tummy is filled with butterflies in anticipation of their new class, teacher, and routine. But what about filling their tummy at lunch? Preparing school lunches can be one of the most frustrating chores for a parent. Even if your child isn’t a picky eater, school lunches are hit and miss. Things that your child normally loves to eat at home may not be allowed at school. My kids love hard boiled eggs and almonds, but because of nut and egg allergies, these snacks are out. A tuna sandwich is nixed because of fish allergies.

For those lunch items that are allowed, finding healthy and tempting things can be quite a daunting task. Of course there is a whole grocery store aisle devoted to prepackaged snacks like granola bars, pudding, fruit cups, fruit chewies, individually wrapped cookies and packaged chips, but how many of these do you want to put in your child’s lunch?

Besides, I was told by my six-year old that she can no longer take a fruit cup with her because when she opens it, the juice spills everywhere and it’s much too messy for her to deal with. In fact, she said any snack with a peel away lid was off her lunch list. Then of course there was the English muffin with her favourite herb and garlic cream cheese on it that came home because little Johnny somehow managed to knock it down to the floor.

I can appreciate the severity of some children’s allergies and the constant fear that their parents must live with. Having to trust other parent not to send their kids with specific types of food to ensure your child is safe must be extremely stressful. I know I would have an incredibly difficult time relinquishing the control of my children’s safety and trusting other parents and teachers.

My frustration of trying to pack a healthy lunch may seem trivial compared to that of parents who are concerned for their child’s safety, but my frustrations are still valid. I want to teach my kids healthy eating habits, while also reminding them that wasting food is expensive. That cheese string that sat in the lunch bag all day shouldn’t be eaten by us in case it makes us sick, but the dog will appreciate the sweating, soft pieces of cheese.

So what’s my game plan? Hmm, aside from having input at the grocery store for the kids, it’s going to be trial and error. And of course, if your kids are like mine, they will be constantly changing on a weekly, if not daily basis as to what they like and don’t like to eat!