Tips on school lunches from a pre-K teacher:
By Linda from Fort Smith, AR
Instead of buying new everything; why not reuse plastic food containers you would otherwise be throwing away? We do that all the time. Also, unfortunately kids do eat the prepackaged convenience foods before they eat anything else. So I agree, don't buy them. They're unhealthy and expensive.
Also, be very careful when buying snacks like granola bars or fruit leathers that are labeled as healthy. Most of them are little more than candy bars...high sugar and almost zero nutrition. Forget about what's advertised as healthy; LEARN about what is really healthy and read your labels.
i know parents send thier kids to school with good intentions. BUT the majority of kids i see where i substitute either dont eat any of the lunch packed and or throw the most of it away. ,,many kids just sit there. first thru 5th grade i see every day completly ignoring their lunches. even the ones they buy from school that they have a choice they dont eat .. the employees always comment the parentts have NO IDEA what is really going on. i hear that all the time
The school where I used to teach had microwaves in every classroom so the students could heat up their lunches. I agree that kids prefer last night's leftovers to just about anything else. If your school doesn't have this, perhaps it is something to work for.
I also agree with the poster who said that a lot of kids waste food. I think that this has to do with attitudes learned at home and somewhat with the rules of the classroom. Some primary teachers forbid children from throwing food away, so that if the kid doesn't eat something, it goes back home so mom can see what has been devoured. A mom could make this her own rule as well, although if the kid gets in big trouble for not eating something, it will just lead to more issues. Some kids toss stuff because it is easier to get rid of it than to argue with mom about not eating it.
I work in the schools as a lunch lady. Let me tell you, the kids do not eat hardly anything the parent send in. They try to throw it away as fast as they get into the lunch room. The saddest thing I see is the children that get free hot lunch throwing the whole lunch away because they do not like what was offered that day and their parents don't want to take the time to make them a lunch. Or another sad thing is seeing the child who came to school and they had their lunch box with just a granola bar, again because the parents did not want to take the time to make their lunch. One thing I do know children do not like it those Jello bowls you buy at the store. Also, they have a hard time opening their go-gerts. If they are 4th grade of lower do not send them. They explode while child is fooling with it to open and they make a mess.
My daughter takes her lunch. I try to pack what she wants, and I know she will eat. She loves pasta, a can will make two lunches. I have the squatty thermos that I preheat with boiling water, and after heating her pasta, empty the water and put it in. She says it is still warm when it is lunch time.
I have small plastic containers that I put in such things as grapes, cherry tomatoes, etc. She also asks for a grilled cheese sandwich. I try to make sure her meals are low fat, and low sugar. Which in our school district the school lunches are loaded with fat and sugar.
Those individual flavoured yogurts, though "convenient" are bad on a couple of counts. They are way over-packaged and the packaging is not reusuable. The flavoured ones are loaded with added sugar. Half a cup of flavoured yogurt (my brand) has 21 Gm of sugars, 16 Gm of that is added. That's the equivalent of approximately 4 teaspoons of sugar! in 1/2 a cup!
If you mix the flavoured with plain, you cut the sugar and you are educating your kids palate not to need super sweet stuff. You can skip the "fruit" flavoured ones and just add your own jam or pureed fruit. You can also add whey powder (it comes flavoured) to bump up the protein. Chopped nuts aren't allowed in school lunches but are a nice addition at home.
Experiment with plain brands to get one your kids like. You can buy premium yogurt for less than the its over-priced over-packaged, stuff.
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