The school year is just a few weeks old and I’m already hitting a creativity wall. This wall is not CPS’ doing in this case, as 92.8% of the lunches the kids have had have been sent by me (one day the girl decided on school lunch and ended up with “Trout Treasures,” which are neither trout nor particularly treasured). One kid likes sandwiches, the other prefers hers deconstructed. Both like fruit but not always the same fruit. One would take a bath in my newly-created “BLT Dip” but the other was repulsed. In short, morning lunch-packing gets interesting. But with a little advance planning we’ve managed pretty well. Here’s what we’re doing.
Kids like sugar, big surprise. But most of what they get is the processed variety. HFCS isn’t inherently worse for you than regular sugar, but the former ends up in everything, owing to its indefinite shelf-life (note: things that don’t go bad are not good for you. Except for honey. That’s pretty good for you.). Anyway, we’ve been packing their lunches with cherries, bananas, pineapple, cantaloupe, watermelon, kiwi, apples, peaches and so on. It’s still sugar – so they love it – but it’s also natural. Sugar tastes good to humans because it’s good for us, just not in the quantities we’ve grown accustomed to. Put fruit in their lunches and keep a variety on hand for Thursday, when they have dance and soccer.
Lettuce is fragile and largely devoid of nutrients. Kale and Brussels sprouts are neither of those things, bringing heft and bite and the durability to stand up to being tossed around in a kid’s lunch box for six hours before lunch. Before the lacinato kale finally succumbed to summer and the ravages of caterpillars we’d slice it very, very thin, treat it with an on-the-spot vinaigrette (2-1 olive oil to vinegar mix, or to taste) and a shake of salt and crack or two of pepper. The most popular Brussels sprouts treatment so far has been this one: