Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Packing a Lunch

About 18 months ago, I splurged on a purchase that I've never regretted. I have a black belt in buyer's remorse, so that's saying a lot. That purchase was 2 stainless steel lunch boxes for my girls:  Planetboxes. These things are indestructible, tidy, customizable and oh-so-convenient! I LOVE them. The kids are pretty fond of them too.

They inspire creativity in me. For some reason, those compartments just call out to be filled with tiny morsels of yum.  I never in my life could have predicted an obsession with taking photos of my kids' lunches, but there it is. Here's a VERY small selection of my Planetbox pictures (the ones still on my phone!). Keep in mind we're not 100% perfect paleo. We're gluten-free at home, but we eat some dairy (sour cream, cheese & yogurt mostly) and 2 of the kids eat legumes in the form of peanut butter daily. My goal for them is whole foods, gluten-free.  They do eat a fair bit of lunch meat in their packed lunches, but--our family motto--"It is what it is."

Salami, Nut Thins, butter beans and rice(cooked in bone broth),
cherry tomatoes, organic ranch dressing, apple wedges
sprinkled with cinnamon, dark chocolate kiss

Pepperoni, cheddar cheese, Nut Thins, butter beans and rice
(cooked in bone broth), baby carrots, organic
ranch dressing,
apple wedges sprinkled
with cinnamon, dark chocolate kiss

Lemon-Garlic Roast chicken with catsup for dipping, butter beans,
cherry tomatoes, apple wedges
with cinnamon,
dark chocolate kiss

pepperoni, Nut Thins, cheese stick, home-grown green beans,
mashed potatoes, baby carrots with
peanut-butter-honey dip
(and a raisin face),
dark chocolate kiss

Slices of chicken breast (ghosted-up with food markers) with
catsup for dipping, home-grown green beans,
Nut Thins,
banana chunks (gussied up with food markers),
dark chocolate kiss

Nachos!!  Taco meat in the Big Dipper, tortilla chips,
shredded cheese and sour cream, lettuce leaves,
dark chocolate kiss

Seasoned ground beef, mashed potatoes, green beans,
cumin-roasted carrots, apple wedges with cinnamon,
dark chocolate kiss
My rules of thumb for packing Pretty-Paleo Lunches
  1. Know your kid!
    My oldest can be incredibly picky.  It took her a long time to get okay with eating meat and she's still resistant to a lot of it.  It's a texture thing for her, and when we find something that she likes, it becomes part of the permanent rotation.  She LOVES seasoned ground beef.  No sauce.  No veggies mixed in.  Just ground beef with salt, pepper, garlic & onions.  She likes sliced pepperoni, too, and has been a cheese fiend since toddlerhood.  Those are all acceptable forms of protein in our house, so that's what she has.  Every day.  For dinner I do insist that she try new things, but I require lunches to be easy and eaten.
  2. Aim for balance.
    I do my best to make sure each lunch has protein, some sort of veggie and fruit, and starch.  Some days work out better than others.  If I miss something one lunch -- or if a particular kid decides to stop eating the veggie portion of the meal for days at a time -- then we make it up at dinner with extra veggies.  Some days are just hard.  We're in the middle of soccer season, which has meant some really awful, unbalanced dinners eaten standing around the kitchen table while changing into uniforms, packing backpacks and doing homework.  Last night the kids ate Larabars and banana chocolate chip muffins for a pre-game snack, and hot dogs, potato chips and roasted marshmallows for dinner at my brother and sister-in-law's house.  It is what it is.  We're going to have a rocking dinner of Garden Fresh Meatballs with mashed sweet potatoes and some kind of sauteed greens tonight.  It'll all balance out.
  3. Make it fun!
    I suspect food markers are less-than-paleo, but drawing pictures on food is hysterically funny and really cool.  Last Halloween I drew jack-o-lanterns on cherry tomatoes and you can see my chicken-breast-ghosts above.  I've drawn flowers on boiled eggs, MADE flowers out of lunch meat, and bought skewers that look like little swords.  Kids LOVE that stuff.  It's hard sometimes being the kid that doesn't get to bring sandwiches and Cheetos for lunch, and my kids have a LOT of stuff stacked in the "weird" column just by being in our family.  Whatever I can do to make their lunches the coolest-looking ones at the table, that's what I try to do.

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