Fixing the school lunch box
I’ve got a new life philosophy: by doing less, I’ll do more. By focusing on the quality of my work rather than the quantity, my life will feel less busy, and I’ll actually feel I’m getting somewhere. Because this past week I got nowhere.
My goal was to pack our 4yo a healthy lunch every day, one that met Mayo Clinic’s guidelines — grains, fruits and vegetables, protein, and calcium — without using processed food. I wanted a lunch I could throw together easily each morning (I can’t cook in the morning while feeding and dressing three kids solo), one that didn’t require refrigeration.
Oh, and my 4yo had to be willing to eat what I packed. He is not one of those kids who will “eat when he gets hungry enough.” He has an iron will. That, coupled with his strong sense of morality, makes me think one day he will go on a hunger strike in a jail cell for justice (again, his dad’s dna; I’d cave at first whiff).
Here’s what I came up with:
Grains: homemade waffles and banana bread, substituting oats for 1/3 of the flour, with a banana thrown in, applesauce for 1 tsp of butter
Fruits and Vegetables: grapes, carrots, celery, raisins, pickles, strawberries
Protein: hard boiled or scrambled eggs, served cold
Calcium: milk in a thermos, or cheese / yogurt if I can find the Spiderman ice packs that came with his lunchbox. I should check our dryer.
It was easy to do after a trip to the grocery store, when we still had fresh fruit on our counter, but, as the days passed, I struggled to find healthy foods for his lunchbox. So, one afternoon, my 2yo and I attempted to dry apples to use on days we were out of fresh fruit.
First, we washed and peeled six apples. Then I sliced them up so they were all the same size to ensure they dried evenly.
Next, we swished them in lemon juice so they wouldn’t turn brown while drying.
Then we put them in our colander and steamed them for five minutes over a pot of boiling water.
We ran cold water over the apples to stopping them from cooking.
Then, we put a piece of wax paper down on a baking sheet, laid out our apples, and set the oven to 170. (NOTE: The recipe called for parchment paper or cheesecloth, neither of which I had.)
6 hours later, our apples were somewhat dry, with wax paper melted on them. I debated whether I could salvage them by scraping the wax paper off. It’s not like my kids notice when there’s plastic stuck to their lollipops. But would those chemicals cancel out the fact they were preservative free?
Could I really not even make dried fruit?
Finally, I rolled up the charred wax paper and chucked the apples. Time to move on. Time to let go, and move on.
Here’s to a new week.
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