By Megan Gillette
Perhaps I poured out all of my anxiety about my son starting Kindergarten into my preoccupation with his lunches. We made the trek to the store, he picked out his favorite lunch pack, thermos and beverage container. I got some sage advice on storage containers—all-in-one, east-to-open–from The Container Store now, I just needed to figure out how to fill them!
He’s not terribly picky so plums, cherry tomatoes, peaches, baby carrots, sweet peas, and grapes are all a safe bet. Fruit and cheese, meat and cheese and sunbutter (made from sunflower seeds for his peanut-free school) and jelly sandwiches, boiled eggs, and the occasional pasta or soup for his thermos seemed doable.
I felt like a failure when I started packing his first lunch—the diced, grilled, blackened chicken for a sandwich seemed kind of weird-looking, like his new friends might ostracize him for an uncool, non-bologna lunch on the first day. With a furrowed brow, I stuffed it in the goldfish-shaped sandwich bread I couldn’t resist for the start of school and hoped that would suffice. Then, I crammed a few animal crackers in so I didn’t seem like a heartless health fanatic. A small red plum, green grapes and cherry tomatoes rounded out the meal and filled the voids in the container. It came home with only an unused napkin and the plum pit so I think it went okay.
Another angle I’ve been researching is brain food. Although our pediatrician blames it on the Y chromosome, I believe my son may have more trouble listening than many. Foods that help you focus seem like common sense. But it took a refresher to get me in the mindset: 1) start off the day with protein, whole grains, and a diet rich in omega-3s, 2) cut out overly processed and dyed consumables, focusing on fresh fruits and veggies, and 3) severely limit sugar and chocolate. It was worth a try. We’ve noticed results immediately!
When I checked out the school lunch menu I was dismayed. I realize this is the only option for many and some may not have the time to obsess about their children’s lunches as I do. The fact is I don’t really have the time either, but food and the idea that ‘you are what you eat’ is so important to me that I make the time, plan the menu, and buy the food because I know if given the choice, my son would choose to eat hot dogs, chicken nuggets, and corn dogs, and whatever poppin’ chicken is, in just one week.
I shudder at the thought. My compromise is Fridays, he can have pizza day at school, because I know he’ll happily eat the cucumbers, watermelon and apple juice that comes with it.
Suggestions for packing lunch? I’m all ears!
Megan Gillette is a mother of two active little boys — FIT kids (Foodies in Training). In her “spare time” she is a senior graphic and web designer at Wolfram, a real-estate broker with TeamKay at Keller Williams, and a real-estate maven for the family holding company. Megan is in constant pursuit of perfect food, exciting dining experiences, and farm-to-fork meals with her husband and personal sous chef, Kurt.