When they were in elementary, it was pretty easy. We packed them up with peanut butter sandwiches, fruit and veggies. They ate what we gave them.
Sometimes, it is not the kids that pose the challenge but the school. Allergies started showing up at school.
We first got notice of peanut allergies. The school had sent out a note to all parents that no peanuts were allowed in the school because there was one kid who would go into anaphylactic shock. That was unfortunate since our son really liked peanut butter sandwiches. The next note was about dairy. No dairy was to be allowed and therefore pizza days were cancelled. This was followed by another note… no seafood – no more tuna sandwiches.
We scratched our heads wondering what to give our kids next. Sweetheart approached the principal pleading that this was unreasonable to have the whole school quarantined for these foods because of a few kids. We resorted to meat sandwiches. Sweetheart made up a granola bar with carrots, raisins and fruits that they kids loved.
One day our pet Dalmatian dog was falling over, trembling and retching. We took her to the vet and found that she ate a rotten piece of meat and had food poisoning. After some investigation we discovered that our eldest son was not taking the meat sandwiches to school. He dumped them in the waste basket in his room – which is where the dog found it.
At our wits end, we said “Fine you guys fix your own lunches. You know what’s in the house. Go for it.” This turned out to be the best strategy. As long as we stocked the house with only healthy things, that’s what they took to school. Their favorite was homemade burritos. Sweetheart would cook up beans and make salsa. They would assemble the burrito to their liking. Success!
There was one little hiccup. One day we found that our daughter had taken one of the dog’s Milkbones. We were shocked! She had been taking them for a month to school as a snack! Oh My God – what an embarrassment. So we quickly corrected that behavior by ensuring we had homemade cookies available.
What we found is that you need to be flexible in providing good nutritious food for their lunches. Their tastes change with age and you need to go with it. And watch what they take – leave the Milkbones for the dog.