Last year I stopped sending lunch boxes to school After getting a lunch box with moldy bread and a rotting apple, two weeks (or longer) after it was sent to school, we started using brown bags only! The new problem: with literally 10 minutes to eat their lunch before they are herded out to recesses, the majority of the lunch, bag included, ends up in the garbage.
Problem number 2: My son has traded an entire bag of carrots for ONE measly M&M. Trading is big business at the elementary school.
My solution: They pack their own lunches. Do not underestimate your children. From Kindergarten up, they can pack their own lunch. The earlier they learn this skill, the easier your own life is going to be. And for the record: I had all my kids doing this even before they entered school. Last year, with a kindergartner who did not eat lunch at school, he would pack his lunch with the rest of the kids so I wouldn’t have to get the lunch stuff out twice.
The kids must pick one item from each category. We have a list inside the pantry that looks like this:
Fruit or Fruit Juice: Apple, applesauce, orange, 100% fruit leather, fruit cup, 100% fruit juice boxes, grapes, strawberries, etc.
Vegetables: Bag of carrots, sliced celery, peppers, cucumbers, fresh peas or beans.
High Fiber Grains: Whole wheat bread for sandwich, granola bar, cereal, cold pasta, cold rice, soup.
High protein food:Nuts, hard-boiled egg, meat for your sandwich, peanut butter for your sandwich (or dipping).
Non-fat dairy: Yogurt, string cheese, milk.
You can either just put these lists up with pictures, or words and let them pack their own… OR you could separate all the appropriate food into baskets once a week for them to portion out each day on their own for lunch. BUT give the kids ownership. When they pack their own lunch, they are less likely to trade away their food, and more likely to eat it.