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Winning the Lunchbox Wars


The reality is setting in: summer is over. And after 8 years I am finally winning the lunchbox wars! Here's a poem that a friend wrote about me - just in case you had any doubt that I am a kitchen witch...

There once was a really mean mother
Who was evil to two little brothers
"Nothing deep-fried!"
She yelled as they tried
To eat food just like the others.

But, in all seriousness, we have had years of tears. Years, I tell you.

My boys are not picky eaters. They eat escargot for goodness sake. They pluck lettuce from the ground and shove it in their mouths. They love kale. But, for some bizarre reason, they didn't want to eat like that at school. They were closet-foodies.

Each and every year we fought about what went into their lunchboxes. My all-time favorite comment, from R, was during 1st grade: "Mom, can you please pack the leftover pad thai and take it to Nonna's so I can eat it after school? I really want to eat it. But I want a peanut butter and jelly sandwich at school...just like the other kids." Really?!? What's wrong with pad thai?

So sandwiches were on the kid-approved list for awhile, but I am not a sandwich kinda gal. No matter how exciting the filling is, I would just rather eat anything but.

Two years ago some kid's comment about D's curried egg salad sandwich brought tears to his eyes; R wailed about someone making fun of his tuna sandwich even though he "told them it was dolphin-safe!" So, then sandwiches were not high on the list. But wraps - tortilla wraps, lettuce wraps - were kid-approved.

The lunchbox solution that works for us: leftovers + fruits + veggies + a granola bar + water. The photo at the top is what went to school with them today. That's leftover farro with roasted salmon, carrot sticks, cherry tomatoes, clementines; what's not pictured - naan bread, a granola bar, and their water bottle. A friend asked how I get the boys to eat that. Easy. They eat it or they go hungry. I'm mean that way. I'm kidding...just a little. I am mean that way and they do have to eat that, but it's a process.

R once asked to try a packaged lunch whose brand-name I will refrain from using. He had seen other kids with it and was curious. So, I bought him one. It came home with a tiny nibble out of each thing; and he was ravenous. I asked him why he didn't eat it. "It's too salty...and too sweet." Win!

We've settled into a groove. And, maybe it's maturity, but they don't mind standing out as much these days. My closet foodies are out of the closet. I'm grateful.

What's in your lunchbox? Any tips for healthier lunches?

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