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Geeky mom confession: My favorite part about the kids starting school is making their lunches. Jack began Kindergarten in New York City last year, and it was a really hard transition for both of us. The full day of new routines and responsibilities exhausted us incredibly, and I was very emotional about my first baby starting elementary school. I struggled (internally, of course) letting him go every morning for the first few weeks, but one thing that brought me peace was the packed lunch full of love and good stuff I had prepared from home.
Now that Zoe is in Kindergarten and Jack is now in first grade in a new town, a new school, a new life, that little piece of comfort has remained with me, and I can only hope with them as well. I really enjoy grocery shopping and planning their special lunches every day, even though it can definitely be a task sometimes. There is a strict no-nuts policy at their school (which I am grateful for), so we’re searching for peanut butter replacement items like sunflower butter and cream cheese for example. I’ve gotten plenty of creative ideas on Pinterest and the new Weelicious Lunches cookbook, and while I’m sure this eagerness will wear off in a few months I’m really having fun with it right now.
I’ve experimented with various different protein/sandwich options from turkey wraps, cream cheese roll ups and basic wheat bread & organic cold cuts shaped with cookie cutters. I’ve skewered veggies with blunt bamboo rods and even paper drinking straws (you know, the cute ones that are terrible for liquids), and I’m learning that the food needs to be pretty basic and made for quick, fuss-free consumption. They don’t get a ton of time for lunch it seems, and I suspect much of that time is spent socializing with their new peers.
It’s essential to have a stash of pre-packaged and healthy foods ready to slip into their lunches for either a snack or a side to the main course, so we depend largely on Mott’s®Snack&Go apple sauce pouches for that category. They are easy to open and can be tossed by themselves into backpacks or along side crackers or cut vegetables. My kids love them, and I appreciate that they are nutritious and made without any added sugar.
I find that I keep a box in the car for after school cravings and even in my purse in case we’re at the park and I left the house without preparing a snack. They’re shelf stable, so that’s also a plus for busy mommas!
On the rare occasion that I allow them to have juice, I always dilute it at least halfway with water. When we’re throwing a party of sorts, or for an after school/soccer snack, the Mott’s For Tots Apple Juice drink boxes are a nice option because they are already diluted with purified water-so they’re getting 40% less sugar than Mott’s®. “>Mott’s 100% apple juice without having any idea. It’s a treat with less guilt for me.
I’m really enjoying our new routine aside from missing Jack and Zoe while they are in school all day, but I’m also content knowing that they love school and they have healthy fuel, lovingly packed by me.