Cool School Lunches

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How to have your kids thank you for a cool school lunch.

Most of us remember a moment in the school cafeteria when the unveiling of our bag lunch was less than desirable. Sometimes it was only that the apple was dropped on top of the sandwich, but maybe it was as bad as being given pistachio pudding (known affectionately by my classmates as “booger pudding”!). Incidents like that can change your life, and make or break your school reputation.

In an effort to preserve the sanity of your home and the reputation of your school-age children, we would like to offer you some ideas on how to make a cool lunch for your kids. Who knows? You may even get them in the kitchen cooking!

For starters, make sure the container or bag is not “un-cool”. Ask your kids what works. Maybe they would actually like a brown bag. Oh, and don’t write any corny notes on their napkins unless you know they can take on anyone in the schoolyard. This is an eminently un-cool thing to end up showing in public.

Once you have that settled, try to gauge how much they will eat. This may take a week or two to figure out, but try to find a happy medium between that picky “2 carrot sticks count as lunch” philosophy and the “hungry man” school of gluttony. (No offense to hungry men meant here, guys.)

Okay, so now we can get to the meat of the sandwich, so to speak… try some of the following ideas as a switch from the old-fashioned ham and cheese or PB & J:

Use tortillas instead of sliced bread and make wraps – this works especially well with things like chicken or tuna salad and veggies (lettuce, sliced peppers, avocado, etc.)

Try a salad with something other than lettuce – pasta with veggies, chicken, or shrimp (include a portable icepack with meat or fish items)
Leftovers like cold pizza or chicken wings might be fun once in a while – some people like them cold, and many schools now have microwaves for the kids to use.

Maybe more of a snack selection – yogurt or cottage cheese with fruit is okay for lunch and not just breakfast, a bagel with cream cheese is good for energy, or even cheese and crackers with some veggie sticks is better than nothing (and better than fast food for a busy brain)

There are also some general tips to remember to have a safe and happy lunch:
Try to avoid tomatoes unless they are in a bowl – in a sandwich or wrap they make everything mushy. If you want to include them, wrap them separately so they can be added at the last minute.

Remember to include a little icepack or to use a lunch bag with an insulated compartment when meat and/or fish are part of the meal. It can get pretty hot in a school locker!

Drinks are important too – here is another place a cool receptacle can help. There are lots of great beverages out there that provide great taste and nutrients. When in doubt, water in that cool bottle is always a good choice! Oh, and if you freeze a drink it will act as an ice pack too!
Dessert or treats can be fun too. My Mom used to make a chocolate pan cake specifically for lunches – she would pull the bottom half away and stick it on top of the icing so that it was like a mini layer cake! No icing stuck to the waxed paper. (Okay, so I am old enough to remember when everything was not in a specially-shaped Tupperware container!)
Don’t drop the apple on the sandwich, please!

The best thing to remember is to get the kids involved. If they have a chance to tell you what they like (and don’t like), you should be able to come up with lots of ideas that work for everyone. And they will be on the road to becoming responsible adults. Of course, that means you should be showing a good example and taking your own lunch too (I have been guilty of this too, but that is my autumn resolution – no more skipping lunch.) Bon appetit!

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About the Author

Kristin Peturson-Laprise is a customer experience specialist by trade, which means she is someone passionate about people having a good time. 

Her company, Wow Service Mentor, helps businesses enhance their customer experience through hands-on training, service programs, and special event coordination.

Kristin enjoys her own experiences too, and that is what she writes about in this column. She and her husband Martin Laprise (also known as Chef Martin, of The Chef Instead) love to share their passion for food and entertaining.  

Kristin says:

"Wikipedia lists a gourmand as a person who takes great pleasure in food. I have taken the concept of gourmandise, or enjoying something to the fullest, in all parts of my life. I love to grow and cook food, and I loved wine enough to become a Sommelier. I call a meal a success when I can convey that 'sense of place' from where the food has come . . . the French call that terroir, but I just call it the full experience. It might mean tasting the flavours of my own garden, or transporting everyone at the table to a faraway place, reminiscent of travels or dreams we have had."


E-mail Kristin at:  [email protected]

Check out her website here:  www.wowservicementor.com


The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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