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The Lunchbox Wars have begun

post #1 of 25
Thread Starter 

My seven year old son has been complaining a LOT about his lunches lately.  He takes his lunch 4 days a week.  Last year he wanted PB&J every single day.  This year, he suddenly decided that peanut butter was "yucky".  He's been taking crab meat almost every day (the imitation stuff).  A couple of times he let me put a thermos with macaroni and cheese in his lunch.  And then I put in some carrot sticks or pepper sticks, some fruit and 1 Hershey's kiss (my mom always put a "kiss from mom" in my lunch, and now I do it.  Even my 17 year old still gets one).  But I guess a Hershey's kiss doesn't count as candy or a treat.  

 

The last couple of weeks, he's been unhappy with everything I suggest.  It all comes down to the fact that all of his friends have "cool" lunches, which I've determined means lunches that include chips, candy, lunchables, pop tarts, cookies and (to quote him from this morning) jelly beans and gummies.

 

There are two major issues at play here: first of all, we don't even have things like chips and jelly beans and gummies in our house.  He does not eat that stuff at home, so I don't want to buy it for his lunch.  The other issue is that I try to pack a trash-free lunch (I know, the kiss is wrapped in foil).  And individual bags of chips or lunchables don't fit in with that aspect of our lifestyle.   

 

Part of me thinks that I'll just pack a lunch and he'll either eat it or go hungry.  But I remember wanting to have a fun lunch, too.  My mom packed...let's say...unusual lunches, and she was into recycling bread bags into sandwich bags long before it became cool.  So I can understand his desire to fit in and want what he sees other people having (especially if those other people ARE eating things like chips and pop tarts).  But on the other hand, I don't want to throw up my hands and say "fine!  Eat this junk food for lunch and I'll just make sure you eat healthy at home".  That doesn't seem like a good example to set for him.

 

I know that there are other moms out there who feel like I do about packing a healthy lunch.  And I guess what I really would like to hear is how you compromise your wishes to pack a healthy, nutritious lunch with your child's desire to have a "cool" lunch filled with junk food and excess packaging?

 

 

 

 

 


Edited by emelsea - 1/23/12 at 1:13pm
post #2 of 25

Are there baked chips or crackers you could buy a big bag of and put a portion in a reusable bag each day?  That would be a compromise your son might appreciate.

 

 

post #3 of 25

Until two weeks ago I was in the same boat.  I sometimes threw in a handful of chips or a few jelly beans in a bag for my dd and put it in her lunch about once a month or so.  Popcorn, dried fruit, and trail mix were also fun substitutes that I did a little more frequently.  I don't think any long term health damage is going to occur from very limited snacking on junk food and cool mom points once in a while are fun to get.  If you feel very strongly about never giving these foods though then that is something your son will learn to live with.  There are definitely things my dd has learned to live without even though "everybody else" has them. 

 

I mostly handled this issue by letting her choose the fruit, veggie, and sandwich she went with, by reminding her of why I pack the healthy food, and by steering the conversation to a discussion of what she has that other kids don't have.  If she ate she ate and if she didn't she made up for it with a healthy dinner.  She typically ate her food and if not she didn't suffer to the point that anyone noticed at school. 

 

Actually getting to try one lunchable when she was out with her grandma also helped this situation a lot because she realized how disgusting these things were.  If you do this I recommend the pizza one because once she tried it she stopped requesting lunchables and decided that I must be right about most of the other things being disgusting too.

 

 

post #4 of 25
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by One_Girl View Post 

 

Actually getting to try one lunchable when she was out with her grandma also helped this situation a lot because she realized how disgusting these things were.  If you do this I recommend the pizza one because once she tried it she stopped requesting lunchables and decided that I must be right about most of the other things being disgusting too.

 

 



This is a very good point.  Once, when I was traveling, his dad bought him a lunchable, and DS thought it was very gross.  I think he got the taco one?  Or nachos or something.  I'll have to remind him of that.  

 

In the past, talking about why I pack his lunch with the food I do has quelled the revolt, but I'm noticing that as he gets older, he doesn't really care about the fact that his food is healthy, will make him strong, doesn't have excess packaging that needs to be thrown away, etc.  He's starting to care more about what his friends have/say/do.  I knew this day was coming.

post #5 of 25

Does you school have a written policy on what can and cannot be included? Almost nothing on that list would be acceptable at any of the schools we attend. If they do have a policy at the school, why aren't they enforcing it and what can you do to get them to enforce it.

 

You might consider some healthier "looks like" options like baked chips, homeade cereal bars, etc. For instance, you might consider to vitamins in gummy form if you use them. Pack them in the lunch as the treat.

 

And in all honestly, I think a hershey's kiss is quite a large treat. I know you find it sentimental but maybe it is time to allow your DS to choose his own special treat if they kiss doesn't thrill him. Chocolate covered dried cherries or a trail mix etc.

 

(And don't think I have fond memories of trading healthy goodies for a ding dong *every day* with a kid who didn't like his treat.

post #6 of 25

What about using a PlanetBox? DS is in his second year of using one, and I LOVE not having to use baggies. I also wonder about making up a list of all things you're willing to pack and letting him choose some for the week (or before you go shopping). What about a banana-chocolate chip mini muffin? Or Pirate's Booty? I like the PP's idea of popcorn, too. I occasionally buy Annie's Organic fruit gummies and it totally makes DS's week.

 

We attend public school and there are no restrictions on what parents pack. I know some of his friends DO get a white bread jelly sandwich, grapes, chips and a treat. So I try to walk the line for DS between making sure he's eating mostly healthy food and not being a zealot/freak. 

 

I also pack a joke every day in his lunch which he reads at the table, and it is now a tradition DS and his friends all look forward to. (I love the feedback I get: "Mom, we didn't get this one!" or "Okay, THIS one was really funny and everybody laughed.")

 

Hope you can find a solution. There's nothing worse than taking the time to pack a nice lunch every morning and then having your kid complain about it.

-e

 

 

post #7 of 25

I haven't read the other replies, but what about a super-cool lunch box?  A bento or something really off the wall to make him "special".  I do think packing a nice lunch is great but many, many children end up trading.  I'd be more inclined to give in on the chips or crackers vs. the sweets.  While we eat plenty of sweets here, I don't like the idea of my kids associating every meal time with a sweet treat afterwards.

post #8 of 25
Thread Starter 
 


Quote:
Originally Posted by JudiAU View Post

Does you school have a written policy on what can and cannot be included? Almost nothing on that list would be acceptable at any of the schools we attend. If they do have a policy at the school, why aren't they enforcing it and what can you do to get them to enforce it.

 

You might consider some healthier "looks like" options like baked chips, homeade cereal bars, etc. For instance, you might consider to vitamins in gummy form if you use them. Pack them in the lunch as the treat.

 

And in all honestly, I think a hershey's kiss is quite a large treat. I know you find it sentimental but maybe it is time to allow your DS to choose his own special treat if they kiss doesn't thrill him. Chocolate covered dried cherries or a trail mix etc.

 

(And don't think I have fond memories of trading healthy goodies for a ding dong *every day* with a kid who didn't like his treat.



Our school doesn't have any restrictions for lunches.  I wish they did, and I brought it up at a school meeting once and was told that it would be too hard to enforce.  

 

I did have a talk with DS this morning about what, specifically, he'd like in his lunch.  I said I would buy healthier versions of chips and crackers and we could look for some kind of treat for his lunch.  I think what he's enamored with is the jazzy, single serve packages.  

 

I like your suggestion of sending gummy vitamins in his lunch.  Now, I know that kids have gotten in trouble in the past for bringing vitamins (yes, just plain, multivitamins) to school, but there would be no way to tell if these gummies were vitamins, right?  (He gets a vitamin every day, but it's a regular chewable, not gummy.  I don't know if they look any different from a gummy bear.)  

post #9 of 25
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Youngfrankenstein View Post

I haven't read the other replies, but what about a super-cool lunch box?  A bento or something really off the wall to make him "special".  I do think packing a nice lunch is great but many, many children end up trading.  I'd be more inclined to give in on the chips or crackers vs. the sweets.  While we eat plenty of sweets here, I don't like the idea of my kids associating every meal time with a sweet treat afterwards.


We have a couple of bento boxes that he uses now.  

 

I think you are right, and I'm going to have to wander down the snack aisle to see what I can find that will satisfy us both.  I guess I'd rather put some baked chips or pretzels in his lunch than a pop tart.  

 

post #10 of 25
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by LuckyMommaToo View Post

What about using a PlanetBox? DS is in his second year of using one, and I LOVE not having to use baggies. I also wonder about making up a list of all things you're willing to pack and letting him choose some for the week (or before you go shopping). What about a banana-chocolate chip mini muffin? Or Pirate's Booty? I like the PP's idea of popcorn, too. I occasionally buy Annie's Organic fruit gummies and it totally makes DS's week.

 

We attend public school and there are no restrictions on what parents pack. I know some of his friends DO get a white bread jelly sandwich, grapes, chips and a treat. So I try to walk the line for DS between making sure he's eating mostly healthy food and not being a zealot/freak. 

 

I also pack a joke every day in his lunch which he reads at the table, and it is now a tradition DS and his friends all look forward to. (I love the feedback I get: "Mom, we didn't get this one!" or "Okay, THIS one was really funny and everybody laughed.")

 

Hope you can find a solution. There's nothing worse than taking the time to pack a nice lunch every morning and then having your kid complain about it.

-e

 

 


I like those planet boxes.  Do they leak?

 

We use a couple of bento boxes and a laptop lunch set right now.  

 

My sister just suggested that I make some mini muffins, too.  I'll have to try that!  

 

post #11 of 25
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tjej View Post

Are there baked chips or crackers you could buy a big bag of and put a portion in a reusable bag each day?  That would be a compromise your son might appreciate.

 

 



I did suggest this to him this morning.  I think he's really more interested in the fact that the little bags look "cool".  I think I'll just tell him that I'll buy some baked chips or pretzels or something like that and he'll take them in one of our reusable containers, or he won't get them in his lunch.  That sounds kind of mean, but I'll try to say it in a much nicer way to him.  smile.gif

post #12 of 25

 

Quote:
I like those planet boxes.  Do they leak?

We've never had leaking problems. Probably the "wettest" things I pack in the regular box are fresh pineapple and melon. DS isn't much of a sauce kid, but when I have packed sauces/yogurt in one of the Dipper containers, there's no leaking then, either. It closes up pretty tight.

 

DS is rough on his stuff, and while we have had to replace the outer zip-up carrier, we've been using the metal box for a year and a half, and I foresee getting at least three years total out of it, maybe more. Definitely a good purchase for us! (I also like doing one quick wash out after school, and it's ready for the next day.)

post #13 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by emelsea View Post



I did suggest this to him this morning.  I think he's really more interested in the fact that the little bags look "cool".  I think I'll just tell him that I'll buy some baked chips or pretzels or something like that and he'll take them in one of our reusable containers, or he won't get them in his lunch.  That sounds kind of mean, but I'll try to say it in a much nicer way to him.  smile.gif


If you have a Costco membership or the like, maybe you could let him pick out a giant box of whatever (chips, crackers) and let him take one bag on Fridays or something.  Obviously I would only allow them in the lunch since you're paying for the special packaging. 

 

I should have read the other replies!  shy.gif

 

post #14 of 25

Popcorn is a relatively inoffensive "treat" that still seems to have the "cool" factor for my kids anyway.  I portion it into reusable containers.

post #15 of 25

If he's really enamored of the bagged stuff, could you spring for some reusable sandwich bags? Like these?

 

I know there's plenty homemade ones on etsy, and the crafting threads here on MDC have some info on making your own, if your into that kind of thing... sewmachine.gif

 

I aso really like the planet box idea, but it's pricey. Anyone using the Eco lunch box? I'm surprised by amazon reviews of shoddy ness... shrug.gif

post #16 of 25

I recently had a similar situation with my daughter about afternoon snack at school.  They switched from having a snack day where one person brings snacks for the whole class to having each kid bring his or her own snack.  Even though she doesn't mind for her lunch, she really didn't want her snack in a reusable container...like a hard container.  She wanted a bag of some sort I guess because most of the other kids had either individually packaged stuff or zip top bags.  

 

We found a reusable bag she liked, a Snack Taxi, so it all worked out.  But if we hadn't, I would have just found some relatively healthy (like at least no hydrogenated oil, high fructose corn syrup, and/or artificial colors and flavors) individually packaged snacks she liked.  I'm all for trying to reduce waste, but I also felt like she should have some input and it wasn't worth digging my heels in over.  

post #17 of 25

I was also going to suggest reusable snack bags. They some in fun designs now and made from food grade materials.

 

DH was buying the individual yogurt cups for DS but honestly they are a bit spendy and very wasteful, when you can buy the big tub. We started using screw top freezer jam containers instead. They have the same shape as a yogurt cup with a purple lid that screws on securely.

 

It's funny how it's all in the packaging :-)

post #18 of 25

Speaking of bento...

 

http://www.bentolunch.net/

 

What about something super fun like some of these ideas?  Take the regular food and turn in into a picture of his favorite character or something?

post #19 of 25

The gummy vitamins we buy from Whole Foods both 365 and Rhino? maybe look identical to regular gummy bears. I am trying to wrap my brain around a school that allows gummy candy but not vitamins -- but -- what about getting some little gummy wrappers for them.

post #20 of 25


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Just1More View Post

Speaking of bento...

 

http://www.bentolunch.net/

 

What about something super fun like some of these ideas?  Take the regular food and turn in into a picture of his favorite character or something?


 

This is what I was going to suggest also!  We are veggie so I use http://www.veganlunchbox.com/gallery.html but same idea, make the lunches look cool!

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