September 05, 2014

School Lunches - The Plan

The day has finally come!!  I get to pack school lunches!  I realize I'm in the honeymoon phase with this and I'm sure I'll have the odd day that I'll wish I didn't have to pack a school lunch... I may even become like many of you who loathe this task.  But right now I'm going to enjoy this honeymoon phase.  I've been thinking A LOT about this for the last several weeks... and several years if I can be honest. 

I was a bit obsessive about what Marin ate for her first year when I was home with her.  To the extent that on her first birthday that vision of a one year old digging into a sugar laden, artificially colored cake was too much for me.  I made her an organic white cake and frosted it with cream cheese, sweetened with apple juice.  It was extremely cute, shaped and decorated to look like her beloved 'Spotty Dog', but ultimately a colossal fail!  I redeemed myself the following week with a chocolate cake and have the pictures to prove it. 

Cake #1 - didn't taste as good as it looked!

Take 2 - Success!

Shipping her off to daycare where I lost control of her snacks and lunch was also a big adjustment and caused a fair amount of anxiety at times.  I have since 'Let it Go!'... in fact, I let it go long before the Frozen craze.  But I must admit, I'm a little stoked to be getting some control back and I've come up with some strategies that I'm hoping can make packing school lunches the fun and easy breezy task I have envisioned.  (I hear you all snickering)

Here's my plan:
1) Have a go-to list - I am on the constant lookout for lunch/snack ideas and I have compiled multiple lists and have a Pinterest Board to keep track of ideas.  However, I was finding I had too many ideas and it was getting a bit mind boggling.  So I've made a master list of go-to lunch and snack ideas that I'm going to laminate and post on the fridge.  I know I won't stick strictly to this list but it's concise and contains foods that Marin is familiar with and I know she likes.

2) Document success - If I come up with a combo that's a success I'll save a picture of it.  I feel if I can come up with 10 hits, that's a fairly decent variety to rotate through.  My biggest challenge in the beginning will be packing the right amount of food, so having a visual of serving sizes will be a help.

Here's two from this week...

Couscous with soya sauce, cherry tomatoes and leftover chicken.  Vegetables, peach slices and Love Grown Cocoa Power O's and Pretzels

Pizza on Homemade Naan, Cherry Tomatoes, dried apricots and chocolate chips, juice pack and yogurt smoothie.

The pizza and smoothie lunch was the winner of the week.  I was immediately asked if she could have it again.

3) Pre-pack snacks - I have placed a bin in the fridge and pantry for easy to grab snacks.  Every 2-3 days I'll restock them.  This will be great for work snacks as well.

4) Stock the Freezer - Last year I did a freezer makeover and started to really see the value in using my freezer wisely.  I recently gave them another clean and I'm going to start restocking some of our basics like tortillas, naan and muffins. 

5) Get Marin Involved - Another benefit of taking pictures of lunches and using Pinterest for inspiration is that I can get Marin involved in meal planning by choosing a few ideas from a lunch 'menu'.  She's also old enough to help restock the snack bins and choose her own snacks.  I hope I can have her take over the majority of this task before I become a lunch packing hater!

Have a great school year!


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