Dear Miss School Manners:
I picked up my registration packet for school yesterday and wasn’t entirely surprised that school-bought lunches went up to $3. My son loves to buy. So with that in mind, he needs to start bringing a lunch so many days a week to defray some costs. But I know that if he brings peanut butter, he gets sent to the “peanut table.” So, what’s the favorite “brought lunch”? And do kids eat it? Signed, Needs Inspiration in San Ramon
Dear Needs Inspiration: Lunchboxes – so adorable, so challenging to fill. We’ve consulted a number of experts – several food gurus, a Walnut Creek middle schooler and several Lamorinda teens – and the consensus is …
(Read more after the jump. Or write to Miss School Manners now.)
what works for one family may not for others. So with that in mind, we’re offering some lunchbox suggestions and a hefty bribe. Send us your family’s faves and your contact info, and we’ll send you something swell. More on that in a minute.
OK, so we’ve done the PBJs, the ham and cheeses, and the thermoses of leftovers and frankly, we’re bored even typing that list. So here’s what our experts say. First, lunchtime’s not about food. Kids have very little time to eat, so you want to make whatever you’ve packed easy and quick. And most kids don’t mind repetition. (Of course, our kids griped when we wrapped leftover pizza slices and popped them in the ol’ brown bag, but we’ve found several nutritionists who say it’s not a bad lunch option. Eating the entire pizza, fatty and bad. A single slice? You’ve got your protein, your carbs and your sorta-veggies.)
But the trendy lunchbox option these days – and we’re not talking bento boxes although man, very very TRENDY – are wraps. Family Fun magazine suggests using a flour tortilla as the base for a Caesar wrap (sliced turkey, shredded Romaine, diced tomatoes, Parmesan and a slosh of dressing) or Southwestern Club. What we like is that you can take any combination of whatever your kids like, layer them on, roll, wrap, cut them in half and wrap them with plastic wrap. We’d freeze a juice box and toss it in the lunchbox too to keep the meat from going very, very bad…
Archana Ram, a sixth grader at Dorris Eaton School in Walnut Creek, says her friends prefer pasta, salads and soups – clam chowder and tomato bisque are faves – and none of those trigger food allergies. “After all, these are not only healthy in some ways,” Archana says, “but they also have each a quite delectable taste! When I look around in my school lunchroom, I see a lot of people having foods like pasta, soup, noodles, and turkey sandwiches.”
Our big question is how do these foods stack up when lunchtime rolls around? We’ve done the quesadilla thing (one “recipe” came from a web site that said “most schools have microwaves” so junior can zap it just before eating. Er, hello? Whose school is that?) but congealed cheese at lunch is a little icky. And we really like the idea of mini-quiches but we’re concerned about noontime quality.
So we want to hear from you. What do your kids like in their lunch box? We’ve got an enormous stack of terrific-looking parenting books, picture books, and gosh, all sorts of things. You’d probably love them. So send us your lunchbox tips and a little explainer about your fam, and we’ll send you a book. (And if you like the book, send us a review and we’ll print that too…)