Thursday, September 21, 2017

tweaks in school lunch and job charts

I promised I'd post on our new lunch ideas and job charts a while back so I'm here to follow through.

And just to forewarn, this doesn't include any rocket science or even any amazing new ideas...just a little tweak or two on how we do things around here.

Years ago we opted out of school lunches.  I think it was mostly because I went to visit during lunch one day and realized we could do a lot better than that in terms of healthy eating.  I'm sure some school districts knock it out of the park in the school lunch category, but looking at those lunches that day and thinking about how much money we forked out to pay for them each month made me realize we could do better.

And we did.  

Over the years we've tried a bunch of new things, but we've never had anything to keep lunches cool.  And because of that, the options have been limited.  Peanut butter sandwiches have ruled the roost and any fruit they took ended up mushy and not-so-appealing by the time they got to lunch.

I've been meaning to ask around to try to remedy this situation because I know there are all kinds of ideas out there, but finally I got down to business at the beginning of this year (if I want my kids to be self-disciplined I sure better join in), and asked my friend (an expert lunch mom according to Lucy), what she'd recommend to help us out.  And she gave us some great ideas.  (Thanks Ashby!)

First of all, we tried this "packit" lunch sack for Lucy that you freeze overnight and it stays cool during the day.
(That lunch box is HERE.)

And Claire was super excited about the little tupperware boxes so we tried this for her:
(That's Lucy holding it and that's the back but you get the idea...more info. on that little number over HERE.)

See that blue thing on the bottom under the containers?  You put that in the freezer overnight and it keeps everything all nice and cool all day.

We started packing things that needed to stay cool and the kids are loving it.  

Now that things can stay cool we're going to start sending salads too which Claire loves.

One thing both my little girls think is the greatest thing in the world are lunchables.  I'm sure those aren't the most healthy things ever, but I realized that probably what they like most about them is that they're all cut up and ready to eat.  They love the crackers and ham and cheese.  So I figured we could make our own little cracker and cheese sets for them lickety split:
They love these crackers from Trader Joes:
(Claire has opted to do that rather than a sandwich and Lucy uses hers as her morning "snack.")

We cut up the ham and cheese at the beginning of the week and put it in little baggies for each day so they're all ready to throw into their lunches in the mornings.

Claire ended up really not liking the little rubbermaid box system because it made her backpack so darn heavy (remember we don't have lockers here in the desert and they carry their stuff around with them all day).  So we got her a refrigerated lunch box too.
The benefit of those bags are that you can throw anything you want in there without the container parameters and you don't have to wash containers.  

And wouldn't you know it...Lucy decided she thought those little boxes were pretty cool...and fit perfectly in her old lunch box.
So now she switches back and forth.  (Grace likes to stick with the good old paper lunch sacks.)

Lucy loves these applesauces from Costco:
...and our home-made lunchables too.

We also got a bunch of these little containers for the kids to just throw away when we include stuff like dressings or peanut butter (for apple dip) or salsa:
(We got these little containers HERE.)
Those puppies are going to last for a long time.  And they can just throw them away when they're done which makes things pretty easy (thanks again for the idea Ashby!).

See, nothing too out-of-the-ordinary, but it's a new year and kind of fun to add new options.

Maybe some day we'll get to turkey wraps and home-made yogurt and/or dips but for now this is what's working.

We're trying to at least switch over to this kind of peanut butter but it's a slow process...

Ok, on to job charts, which will only take a second because once again, there's nothing mind-blowing about them.  We basically have the same charts we've had for a couple years:
(all about how these work and our money system over HERE.)

We've thought about doing dry-erase and/or making something more permanent than little papers taped to the wall, but we like to take these down and save them to use for "pay day" when we're on the ball enough to do it (sometimes it's after the new week has been put up).

BUT, the thing that we HAVE switched up this year is that we're much more self-disciplined (Dave and I included) on checking them every night and following through with clear, pre-discussed consequences when they don't get done (they don't get paid, and they don't get to go out on the weekends).  This follow-through is no joke, not an easy task.  Life so easily gets in the way!  But we've been pretty good so far and I'm here to say that follow through and real consequences make a difference.

It's amazing what those little tweaks can do to whip things into shape.

We'll always have a lot to work on, and always be trying to think of new things to improve and re-work, but that's where we are right now.

I'd love any ideas others are trying with their families!

30 comments:

  1. We've also done the pizza lunchables, using whole wheat slider buns and packing the sauce, cheese and toppings in the small containers. Bonus if they pick veggies for toppings!

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  2. I can't get over all the waste those lunches generate. Please consider more reusable containers :(

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    Replies
    1. I would think water for washing would be a bigger problem in AZ than landfills. They are using a reusable or easily biodegradable paper bag.

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    2. In a respectful way, I'd implore you to do some research. See what you find out. Dishwashers are incredibly efficient when run with a full load.

      Little plastic containers for condiments?!?? Super wasteful and unnecessary. Also, yeah, a paper bag may be biodegradable, but it's still wasteful. Remember "reduce, reuse, recycle"? The first step is to reduce.

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    3. Yes, yes!! they have a pool, and a pretty big one with a waterfall, I don't think an extra load of the dishwasher will make any difference. please,please, consider the environment.

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    4. Thanks for the reminder...since there are so many comments about this I'm commenting at the end to try to respond to all...

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  3. Wow. I thought they were doing awesome at limiting waste. Reusable lunch bags, reusable containers... making their own lunchables!! Awesome ideas, Shawni. Thanks for sharing. -Lisa in WA

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  4. My girls love the premade salads from Costco. They come two to a pack for like 5 bucks and include the fork. You can get ceasar, santa fe, and BLT. Add a fruit and cracker and they are good to go! Even my 1st grader takes salads during the week. We love the homemade lunchables too.

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  5. What section do you find those in?? Great idea!

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  6. Love these ideas.. lunch making is the worst 5 minutes of my day lol

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  7. Making lunches is great. Please switch to reusable containers. All of that plastic will still be sitting in a landfill somewhere when your grandchildren's grandchildren are alive. It's poor stewardship of the planet to generate so much waste.

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  8. Ah, a friend of mine works for Bell Plantation-the company that makes PB2. They are local to me!

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  9. Lunches are hard to keep exciting - good for you to make changes that work for your family. We use the smallest pack-it's for my jr high and high schooler. They both carry their lunches all day - so these are small enough to fit. We combine them with lunch-bits containers and they work well. Enough room for a main, fruit, drink and snack.

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  10. came here to say the same thing. Please please, teach your children that using plastic that will last decades for just a day it's wasteful not smart. please, please. p.s. shawni I love your blog!

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  13. My three school age children have Planet Boxes, and we LOVE them. They come with an ice pack and smaller containers. It is a heavy lunchbox, but all reusable. There is also a Planet Box Instagram account with great lunch ideas.
    https://www.planetbox.com/products/planetbox-rover-lunchbox?variant=20636936321

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  14. Thanks for all the great ideas, everyone!

    And thank you for bringing up the environmental awareness as well. I do appreciate the reminders. We need to step up our recycling game here in the desert!

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  15. We love our packit lunch sacks here and have been using them for years. To help with eliminating waste at lunch, our school does a low waste challenge occasionally. They try to encourage the kids by table to have the least amount of waste (not talking food, but talking packaging, plastic bags, lunch sacks, etc.). Not all the kids participate, but it does bring awareness to the children. Also, our school composts and recycles, which I think helps the kids too. A way that we use less plastic bags, is to buy the small gladware containers and make our own lunchables. see: https://www.target.com/p/glad-174-star-wars-rectangle-container-9oz-6ct/-/A-16691266#lnk=sametab and https://www.target.com/p/glad-food-storage-containers-mini-round-4oz-8ct/-/A-14730768#lnk=sametab Although they are plastic, they are recyclable, and weigh less than many of the glass containers we have tried.

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  16. Thank you for motivating me to step up my game and be serious about those job charts. I want them to take it serious but I need to also. Love the ideas on school lunches!!!!

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  17. Silicone cupcake/muffin holders are great for holding little foods in the lunchbox bins (could hold the cheese, meats, crackers)! My kids love them!
    https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00N4ONBGY/ref=ox_sc_act_title_6?smid=A3FBXRCQM2YOFH&psc=1
    Sorry-now sure how to make it a hyperlink in a blog comment!

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  18. Glad to see others commenting on the waste and appreciate Shawni, I appreciate you being so receptive! Check out these reusable plastic bags: https://rezip.com ! I absolutely love them. I also LOVE lunchables and commend you for giving your girls a healthier version. I also eat and love the PB2... did you know there is a banana and pb flavor also?

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  19. Glad to see others commenting on the waste and Shawni, I appreciate you being so receptive! Check out these reusable plastic bags: https://rezip.com ! I absolutely love them. I also LOVE lunchables and commend you for giving your girls a healthier version. I also eat and love the PB2... did you know there is a banana and pb flavor also?

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  20. We are doing the family economy at our house now after seeing it in your blog for years and then reading about it in your parent's book. But I have a question that I am not sure what to do about -- when a kid is sick do they get a pass for that day? Part of me thinks obviously yes, but then part of me thinks that often times in the real world (especially my real world as a mom) we still have to get our things done when we are sick. How do you handle it? And what about weeks when you are on vacation, does it follow that kids just don't earn money those weeks?
    Thanks!!

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  21. We have mostly homeschooled so packing lunches with something I was not used to when my daughter started going to her high school full-time a few years ago. Making lunch easy and more interesting is definitely the way to go! I completely over thought and over researched :) everything in an effort to make it easy and echo friendly. I did a couple blog posts way back when about the gear that we choose carefully and a few of the first lunches that we packed. your girls might like some of the ideas.
    We loved lunchbot containers and eventually ended up with the large size also.
    http://kirstencan.typepad.com/kirstencan/2014/09/first-packed-lunches.html
    hhttp://kirstencan.typepad.com/kirstencan/2014/11/lunch-lately.htmlttp://kirstencan.typepad.com/kirstencan/2014/09/lunch-gear-1.html

    (Those packit bags are cool but you can use any insulated bag with reusable cold packs)

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  22. my daughter likes salads in her lunch, I just pack all the toppings separately in different tupperwares. I also found using Tupperware, the fruit and veggies don't get beat up so much. My kids love grapes, kiwis, mango, peaches, oranges, strawberries, cantaloupe, etc. especially during the warm months of school. To have cold fruit is so refreshing. They also like to have celery sticks with almond butter for dipping, carrots, and sliced cucumbers. I like to send whole wheat muffins sometimes, or bagels or pitas to shake things up. Also whenever we have meats for dinner, I save out a portion for lunches, steak, chicken, ham whatever. Prepared lunch meats kind of gross me out, so using our own cooked meats is the only way I send meats in their lunches. Ha! I do get burnt out by the end of the school year packing lunches all the time, but my kids do most of the packing along with me so that helps.

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