Posted by Dana Hinders on March 7, 2012
As concern grows over the increase in childhood obesity, school lunches are often blamed as one of the main culprits. Schools are on a tight budget and dealing with serious time constraints, so they stick to easy to prepare food like chicken nuggets, corn dogs, and pizza. While these are fine as treats, they’re often not what parents want to be feeding their kids on a regular basis.
By packing your child’s lunch, you ensure that he or she is getting a nutritious meal tailored to his or her unique eating preferences. You’ll see what food comes home, so you’ll know whether or not your child is wasting food. Depending upon the cost of hot lunch at your school and how carefully you shop for your groceries, you may even save some money.
To help cut the cost of packing a lunch while doing your part to keep extra garbage out of the landfill, use reusable containers. Invest in a sturdy dishwasher-safe lunchbox, sandwich keeper, snack container, and water bottle. These purchases will quickly pay for themselves. If your child is in the lower elementary grades, make sure everything is clearly labeled with his or her name. If your child is forgetful, buy some extra supplies in case they get left at school overnight.
Many parents stick to simple lunches like a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, a banana, and a homemade cookie for dessert. If you want to branch out, however, there are plenty of other options. You can send leftover macaroni and cheese or soup in a thermos. You can skip the sandwich and send a hard boiled egg or two to give your child the necessary protein. Many children like tortilla wraps cut into bite size pieces. Simple cold pasta salads are popular as well.
If you’ve never sent a lunch with your child to school before, it is a good idea to check with the administration to see if there are any restrictions regarding what can be packed. It’s common for schools to not allow students to bring soda or candy from home, but a growing number of schools are banning peanuts and other items that could cause an allergic reaction.