The exasperation of making lunch

I hate making school lunches. There, I said it. I HATE it. And I know I’m not alone. Say it out loud. Admit it. It feels good.

I probably feel this way because I have to make two different lunches. If it were up to me and the boys didn’t complain, I’d probably hate making lunches much, much less. But these two have very different demands as far as lunches go, and it’s not fun to see your best intentions come home rotting at the bottom of their school bags.

One doesn’t like sandwiches. ANY sandwiches. Except suddenly salami sandwiches. But not today. Nope, maybe tomorrow. The little one likes lots of finger foods as opposed to one main dish and some side dishes, snacks and fruit. He needs to graze all day long. One likes ketchup ON his food, the other won’t eat his meal if there is any ketchup ON it, but won’t eat it if I don’t pack a side container of ketchup for dipping.

Oh, and the gym doesn’t have a microwave for warming food, so cold meals it is.

I’ve tried making lunches at night. I’ve tried making them in the morning. I’ve tried prepping a week at a time. I’ve never found anything that works.

But now, in my fifth year of making lunches, I’ve picked up a thing or two. I’m going to share my list of “Lunches for Picky Little People” that seems to be a hit.

All leftovers are lunches waiting to happen…

Pasta: From last night’s dinner or bags of tortellini from the grocery that take 5 minutes to boil up. A can of alphagetti or even ravioli. There’s mac and cheese and gnocchi too.

Chilli & Stew: Send a good slice of crusty bread or some crackers for accompaniment.

Roast: Slices of roast (steak, pork chops, any meat) with a couple of potatoes. It’s good hot or cold.

Chicken: Last night’s chicken can be today’s chicken salad. If you’re going to make chicken fingers, then toss in a few extra for tomorrow’s lunch. Don’t forget to include a little container of dip: ketchup, plum, barbecue. It keeps the kids happy.

Breakfast for lunch!

Breakfast for lunch is a big hit with the my boys.

Cereal: I put the cereal in the tupperware and the milk in the thermos. Add spoon.

Waffles: Just add a container of syrup on the side for dipping. When I make waffles on the weekend I do a double batch and freeze the extras, but store bought are super easy. I cut waffles into strips for easy dipping.

Egg Wraps: Scramble the eggs (night before or morning of). You can add in a strip of bacon, ham, tofurkey, or some potato if you’ve got leftovers from last night’s dinner. Just egg is good too.

Cheese Bowl: Cottage cheese with fruit such as peach slices, apples or mandarin wedges. Even granola works well. I love this option and its got lots of protein. Add a touch of honey and fool your kids into thinking they’re not eating healthy.

Go exotic…

Sushi, pad thai, dim sum dumplings, lemon chicken, and pierogi (don’t forget the little container of sour cream). The freezer section has so many great finger foods. While I strive to be that mom that makes food from scratch, I do use freezer foods as back-up, especially for things I can’t make on my own.

Sushi isn’t hard. Take last night’s rice with some avocado and/or last night’s chicken and just roll it up if you’ve got a sushi mat. I’m told it’s actually not terribly hard to do, but I occasionally have leftover California rolls that they get (don’t forget a container of soy sauce).

Dumplings and pierogi are my go-to’s. They boil in minutes and can be eaten warm or cold. I go for the “exotics” when the boys are tired of my usuals. It’s a treat and has saved me more than once.

We’re meat eaters, anyone care to share more veg-friendly menus, ideas for gluten free and allergies?

The case of the missing tupperware.

Aside from hating making lunches, after lunch is equally disastrous. My kids don’t like to bring home their lunch containers. I have learned from my eldest that this is because after they eat in the gym, they go outside taking their lunch boxes with them. Being a Platinum Eco School, Equinox students have to take everything they bring with them for lunch back home—no garbage. But if my kids are taking all of these expensive bentos and timpanies and lunch kits and tupperware, I want it to come back home!!! I label them. If they don’t come home with my boys, I check the lost-and-found (see my last rant/post for details). I also talk to my kids to get them into the routine of leaving their lunch bag in a specific spot and picking it up on the way in.

You parents with upper grade kids – please share your secrets of surviving the lunches for the littles! I’m just at grades 1 and 3…