Ugh. It’s Packing School Lunch Season.

September 4, 2014

Every school year, Kenny and I start out thinking, “This year’s gonna be different. We’re going to go for wholesome, healthy lunches and minimal junk.” (Ok, so it’s only our third year going to this rodeo, but still, that’s enough to try to successively better ourselves, right?) I imagine many parents think the same – no shortcuts, we’ll just prepare and try to be healthy, etc. Kind of like a New Year’s Resolution for School Lunches.

Also around this time of year, I get pangs of severe working mom guilt for some reason. I can’t volunteer at school as much as I probably should, and the Fall tends to be crazy-busy so we are running from thing to thing – seeing each other is a bit like strangers in the night who are on a strict schedule. So, I try to do things – like super-de-dooper healthy lunches – to let the kids know I am with them even when I am not. You know, the whole actions speak louder than words thing. Generally, though, these things phase out pretty quickly, and by June, I end up feeling super accomplished and happy that I at least got a few decent pictures on the first and last days of school between conference calls and that their homework / projects were mostly turned in on time.

My first attempt at doing something like this was last year when Grace started Kindergarten. During the first week of school, I Pinterested her PB&J sandwich – i.e., I cut it with a heart-shaped cookie it was like a sweetly-shaped, home-made Uncrustable. I was bragging about my creative sandwich genius to Kenny that night at dinner when Grace chimed in, “Wait. I had a heart-shaped sandwich today?” Seriously? Seriously. And that was the end of that.

Still, this year, the working mom guilt sucked me back in and I got myself all crazy-headed about packing perfectly amazing kid lunches, and brought Kenny along for the mental ride.

So, last week, while Kenny was traveling, I prepared.

I got sprouted whole wheat bread, because all kids love that, and because I blissfully blocked it out of my mind that my kids barely tolerate sandwiches, let alone sandwiches on whole wheat bread, so sprouted whole wheat bread was sure to be a winner.

I made plans to pack carrot shreds and cucumber slices – organic, of course. I got some fresh fruit – organic Tuscan melon and a few organic apples.

I got some treats to go along side their sprouted whole wheat sandwiches – organic, of course.

I picked up some organic fruit / vegetable juice boxes from CostCo after the kids had a free sample and LOVED them.

I even looked up some creative lunch ideas, and got some silicone tubes that could, in theory, afford my kids frozen smoothies, apple sauce, fruit puree, and more – right in their lunch sack everyday.

But I forgot this is real life. And what looks good on the internet, is often almost always staged in the best possible circumstance in the best possible light. And I forgot that I am not really that mom, so while it looks awesome online, I was for sure, going to have some sort of issue in execution. And I also forgot that when it comes to packed lunches, our kids are practically rabbits – and only take a few nibbles of a few things and then house a big dinner. They cry lack of time to eat, but I think it’s limited time combined with a lack of interest in what’s packed combined with a heavy interest in chatting with friends.

And after a brief three-day run during the 2014-2015 school year, here we are, my friends. The end of the trying-too-hard lunches.

What did me in?


Yea, no.

Yea, no.

Oh, yes. That was a friggin’ peach smoothie that Gavin probably opened, looked at and shoved back in his lunch kit without properly closing the top, even though I reminded him to take care twice this morning.

It’s funny really. Because sane-school-lunch-Bridget thought to herself – you should put that tube in a plastic baggie to minimize the risk of a giant mess later today. Crazy-school-lunch-Bridget thought, nah! They are going to love these – they’ll be empty, so no worries. Sane-school-lunch-Bridget was 3/4 right. Grace ate most of her peach smoothie, so only some of it spilled in her lunch bag. Gavin was money – did exactly what sane-school-lunch-Bridget was trying to plan for. Opened it. Didn’t close it, so it melted all. over. everything. And because they don’t eat their lunches, I had to literally clean off an entire lunch (so I can re-use the snacks they didn’t eat – haha!) and some ice packs.

I will say that my patience for trying-too-hard school lunches was already running thin after the kids hated the melon they picked out at the store and ate all the apples within two days, leaving me with few fruit options for the balance of the week after a failed food store trip involving a forgotten wallet. Then, Gavin told me this morning that he wanted a different juice box because the new ones are weirdly shaped and he felt like everyone was staring at him when he was drinking it. Really. Like this was a real conversation that happened in my life today with my seven-year-old son. Self-conscious about juice boxes? Yep. Apparently. And, finally, since I am not sure if either of my kids have even eaten ANYTHING out of these lunches I tried so hard to make delicious … I feel kinda done. On day three of the school year.

If you’re in Portland, and your kids go to my school and you volunteer around lunch time – peek into the cafeteria from now on and rejoice in the fact that my kids’ lunches will be the worst ones in the cafeteria. They’ll be the ones “eating” Saltines, some grapes, maybe an applesauce, maybe some other kind of fruit and perhaps sucking down a water bottle, provided it’s the right shape. Or quite possibly, “eating” the same sandwich every day that week. Picture this on repeat every day until June.

If I think about this though, it could be a huge food bill saver, right? Like I can just make one sandwich per kid on Monday and pack some snacks, then send in the same things to sit in the lunch box day after day? Score. Our financial planner will be impressed with the savings.

P.S. If you’re the serious type, I am kidding. I will be sure to send fresh food. At least every other day. (Again, kidding.)

Happy start of school to all my fellow school lunch failures. I know you’re out there. I can’t be the only one. Haha.

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