By Alan Viau
Making nutritious school lunches the kids will eat is a challenge. The solution involves whatever they can or will eat, as long as it’s healthy. However, what they decide to put into their lunch bags might surprise you!
When they were in elementary, it was pretty easy. We packed them up with peanut butter sandwiches, fruit and veggies. They ate what we gave them.
Then food allergies started showing up at school.
We first got notice of peanut allergies. The school sent out a note to parents that no peanuts were allowed because a student could go into anaphylactic shock. The next note was about dairy. No dairy was to be allowed and therefore pizza days were cancelled. This was followed by another note… no seafood; no more tuna sandwiches.
We scratched our heads wondering what to give our kids after that. We were left with meat sandwiches. We also made up homemade granola bars with carrots, raisins and fruits the kids loved.
One day our pet Dalmatian dog was falling over, trembling and retching. We took her to the vet and found out she had eaten a rotten piece of meat and had food poisoning. After some investigation, we discovered that our eldest son was not taking the meat sandwiches to school. He dumped them in the waste basket in his room, which is where the dog was dining.
At our wits end, we said, “Fine. You guys fix your own lunches. You know what’s in the house. Go for it.” This turned out to be the best strategy. As long as we stocked the house with only healthy things, that’s what they took to school. Their favorite was homemade burritos. My wife would cook up beans and make salsa. They would assemble the burritos to their liking. Success – or so we thought!
There was one little hiccup. One day we found that our daughter had packed one of the dog’s Milkbone biscuits into her lunch bag. We were shocked. She had been taking them for a month to school as a snack. Oh My God: what an embarrassment! We quickly corrected that behavior by ensuring we had homemade cookies available.
What we found is you need to be flexible in providing good nutritious food for their lunches. Their tastes change with age and you need to go with it. And watch what they take; leave the Milkbones for the dog.