August 17, 2018
Last fall, my daughter started her 2’s program. School for 2 years olds! I was so excited for her half day to play with other kids, learn, and start to get a feel for some “independence”. But, then I received the intro packet. My 2 year old, who would be attending for 3 hours a day, would need to arrive with a snack AND a lunch!! I was not prepared!
My husband and I are Russian immigrants. Russian kids are raised on a ‘hot” lunch of soup. Russian grandmas (babuskhas) will shame if you do not feed your child hot soup daily! So that’s what my daughter was used to eating served fresh and hot, in our kitchen. And now, I had to find a way to replicate that homey lunch into something a two year old can feed herself at school.
I consulted with some friends, and the number one lunch item appeared to be grilled cheese. That’s easy, I thought! Two pieces of bread, some butter, some cheese….done. So I packed up a delicious homemade grilled cheese and it came right back, untouched.
I told myself that I would never be that mom that made pasta for school lunch every day. Well, call it failure, but by October, that’s pretty much what was happening. My one way to curb the guilt was to use more nutritious pastas such as quinoa, lentil, and buckwheat-of course! My trick for adding even more nutrition is to mix in veggies, which adds only a few minutes of cook time. And lo and behold, the lunch box now came back empty.
As the year went on, I began to experiment with other items — some were winners and some were clearly not my daughters’ thing. If you are anything like me, an empty lunch box makes you want to do a happy dance, even an occasional “woo hoo!”
Here are the winners:
- Alternative pasta (quinoa, lentil, chickpea, or buckwheat) with veggies
- Quesadilla (She wasn’t a fan of grilled cheese, but somehow the tortilla version worked)
- Sunflower butter and jelly sandwich (cut into animal shapes)
- Tortellini (Its inn the pasta family, but it has cheese so a bit more nutritious and filling.)
- Leftovers, such as
- fish and rice
- chicken “katleti” (Russian style meatballs) and, of course, buckwheat
Lunch containers divided into compartments are my favorite for packing lunches. I make sure that one section gets a fruit, another a cold veggie, and the third a treat. And of course in our house the only treats that make it into the lunch box are BuckWHAT! Noshes!
Luckily, for us busy parents, there is a plethora of instagramming moms out there with amazing lunch box ideas and I’ll be shouting and to these and others during the BTS season. Below is a short list of some of my favorites. The guy from Australia (@schoollunchbox) is definitely worth a look — his lunches are like works of art and he’s turned his lunch-making skills into an actual business!
To all the moms out there, good luck! And remember, a bag of BuckWHAT Noshes makes a great snack!!