So your baby is about to start school and she or he is staying for lunch. That opens up a whole new world of school lunches. I have a bit of experience with thousands of school lunches over the years and I wanted to pull together some questions and tips that I often get asked by friends whose kids are just starting kindergarten. A friend of mine prompted this post as she found it helpful last week when I emailed her in response to a question she had about school lunches and leftovers.
Six Questions about School Lunches
Q1: What lunch bag do you use? I only use the balanced day lunchkit for my kids’ school lunches. Why? Well this is one thing I refuse to scrimp on because my daughter’s school, like many other schools has balanced day. That means the day is divided into bigger blocks of learning time with two nutrition breaks. Not one big lunch for an hour and two recesses at 15 minutes each, but two 40 minute eat your snack and then go out and play periods. The balanced day lunch kit is available on line and at Scholar’s Choice. The benefit of this one is it is clearly labelled nutrition break one and two. My daughter doesn’t mistakenly eat all of her food at break one and then I suddenly get a call from school saying: “Hey there. Payton is in the office again saying she doesn’t have lunch.” This happened for the first six months of senior kindergarten when I sent her with cute little Dora lunchbags and such. They were not labelled.
Q2: How do you clean it? I normally wipe it out with a cloth. Then I wash it maybe once a month in the washing machine on gentle when it is really truly making me ill. I may still need to replace this one mid-way through the year and I have a backup lunchbag for when my kiddos forget to bring lunch bag home.
This one is worth it, because when I get called to the office I either have to drop everything, leave my work or activity and run off to deliver food. That costs me time and money. Or I let her learn her lesson. Really, that never worked with lunch. So I got smart. Surprising what a difference this lunch bag makes. Now my daughter’s amazing school – which I love – also has some boomerang lunches and waste-free lunches and things like that. Highly recommend them for school lunches, especially where there’s a balanced day.
Q3: What is boomerang lunch? Schools are trying to be greener than ever. They try to inspire students to create less waste by sending leftovers back home. This means that at 8 p.m. when your child goes to sleep and you pull the lunchbag out of their backpack it is a big fat mess of disgusting banana slop and orange peels and an exploded dripping Yop. Joy! That really is gross.
Q4: What can I do about the mess then? Well, we have found two things that work well. Send one extra Ziploc baggie and remind your child to stick all the garbage leftovers in there. Seal it in the lunch bag and the smell and leak will be contained. The second thing I now do – husband’s idea actually – props where he has deserved them – is get my child to empty the bag first thing when she gets in from school. It is her first job right after she races to the toilet after coming in the house. (I think my kid holds it all day because she only likes our toilets. It’s somewhat inherited as my MIL was exactly like this) Anyways it is a great tool, getting them to empty own lunch bag. She doesn’t usually come home with banana all squished into the corners any more. Yeah.!
Q5: My child loses her lunch bag. Well, label it and make sure you have a backup bag. Kids forget stuff and lose it all year long. There’s a lost and found in the school. Check it at least once a season. You’d be surprised what you find. Be warned though – you might actually even find full school lunches there.
Q6: Isn’t it the teacher’s job to see that she has eaten? No. Most schools have one or two teachers rotating the whole school for lunch supervision. Teachers get breaks and they deserve them. They don’t stand there watching your child eat. If you have a concern about who or how lunchtime supervision occurs talk to the principal or the teacher. Some schools handle this with VIPs, or older students supervising younger ones at lunch.