The bagged lunch conundrum.

On the whole, I would say I was happy about my decision to send Gracie to school with a bagged lunch. I might not find it the happy little chore that I thought it was at the beginning of the school year, but it’s still working for us. Or, I should say, it’s working for us for the most part.

I like having control over what Gracie’s options are. By sending lunch to school with her, I know she likes what she has for lunch and the chances that she’ll eat it increase dramatically. She doesn’t always have the healthiest lunch (that girl lurves her some bologna and pepperoni), but I would say that her lunch is usually on the healthy end of the spectrum. The same goes for portion control: Gracie is allowed to choose two snacks. One snack must be healthy (applesauce, fruit, raisins, sliced veggies) and one snack is, shall we say, less than healthy (gummy snacks, a few potato chips, a granola bar). I like being able to control how many potato chips my child can eat. I know she’s going to devour them before she even looks at her sandwich, but if there is only half a snack-sized baggy for her eat, then she will still be hungry enough to eat the rest of her lunch.

One of the other benefits is that I get to include Gracie in the entire process. It gives us something to do together. She can help fetch snacks and baggies and napkins while I make her sandwich or pour out portions. Sometimes, because we’re focused on other tasks, I might hear stories she wouldn’t otherwise tell me. Like about her “boyfriend” or about her feelings about being at her dad’s house. While all of that is going on, I’m also surreptitiously teaching Gracie about healthy choices and how to make those decisions for herself. She isn’t just being handed a tray with those decisions (food choices and portion control) made for her. She is learning by what I offer and my explanation for why there are only “like five!” chips in her bag.

All of these are very good things, yes? There is just one thing that’s driving me bananas right now: what to pack for her drink. Ideally, I’d like Gracie to have milk for lunch every day. What mom wouldn’t? But I can’t send her to school with a thermos of milk because there isn’t refrigeration available. I emailed her teacher to ask whether Gracie had the option of purchasing just milk. It’s something I think Gracie could handle now that she’s familiar with the cafeteria routine and school in general. I didn’t want to throw the confusion of sort-of a bagged-lunch kid and sort of a school-lunch kid in with the beginning of school.

What I have been doing – and might need to continue if the milk idea doesn’t pan out – is to pack a juice box. I hate it. I can’t buy organic or 100% juice because they upset Gracie’s digestive system (if you know what I mean). I try to buy healthier fake juice – Capri Sun “Fresh Start” juice boxes (or whatever they’re called) that have 100% of the daily recommended dosage of vitamin C and 10% of the recommended dose of calcium. They’re only 60 calories a pop, too, so while they might not be great, but they’re better than some of the alternatives.

As a last resort, I’ve thought about sending her to school with bottled water. It would be healthy (and would never stain! Hooray!), but that just doesn’t seem quite…right? I don’t know – is it just me? Her lunchtime is four and a half hours after we leave the house in the morning; do you think milk could survive in a good thermos with ice packed around it? What do other moms out there do? And why, for the love of god, do parent conferences at the beginning of the year cover real topics like this bagged lunch conundrum?!

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5 Responses to “The bagged lunch conundrum.”

  1. Kathy Says:

    She can probably buy just milk – white or CHOCOLATE.

    I used to send juice boxes all the time. The last several grocery trips I have “forgotten” to purchase them. No one has said a word. Sometimes I send water and with my daughter I then include a Crystal Lights singles mix or the water will just come home. Sometimes I don’t pack anything and assume they are purchasing milk. Recently it has dawned on me that at least on of my children probably doesn’t drink anything with lunch then. Oh well, at age 8 I know he knows how to purchase milk from the school.

    Oh yeah – I think the milk will stay cold in a thermos. Soup and steak stay hot. Just cool the thermos before filling it with milk so the milk isn’t doing the cooling.

  2. bluzdude Says:

    I agree that the thermos will keep the milk sufficiently cold. I’ve had them keep stuff cold a lot longer than 4 hours.

    When I was in school, Mom always packed my lunch and always wrote a note on my napkin.

  3. Kate@And Then I Was a Mom Says:

    I was always a bagged-lunch kid. I say, YOU GO GIRL.

  4. Agent Torklepants Says:

    You could test it yourself first. Take some milk to work in the thermos you’d send with her, set a timer, and then taste it youself to see it’s good enough for her.

  5. gayle Says:

    I was going to say you should test to see how cold the milk is after 4 hours, too! My daughter’s stomach is sensitive and she brings water to drink with lunch and she’s happy with it.

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