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Hartselle Enquirer

Back-to-school can be stressful

By Staff
Michelle Blaylock, Mom's Corner
Is your house in mourning? Well, most of the members of this household are mourning. Why? Well, you see their life is coming to an end–school is starting.
Yep, that mean, old nasty place that actually requires them to think! Can you imagine? How cruel!
They think Mom's jumping up and down with joy because the kids are going back to school. I hate to burst their bubbles, but getting five kids ready for school is no picnic for me. Last week I shared with you about getting the clothes and school supplies ready, as well as getting everyone back on the school schedule. We are still putting the finishing touches on some of that.
I'm also getting everything together for school lunches. I had a mom recently tell me that making school lunches was a hassle and she'd rather just let her kids eat at school. I agree making school lunches can be a bit of a bother, but planning ahead really helps.
For example, if I'm making something for a dinner meal that would work well for lunches too, I make extra and package it for the lunchboxes.
I have one child who loves to take noodles and Alfredo sauce for lunch. Therefore, if we have pasta during the week, then I make extra for her school lunch.
I also try to plan ahead when I make snacks. My kids love to take my homemade banana bread for snacks, so I usually double the recipe or even make three or four batches of bread at a time. I especially do this if I need the snack to make it through more than one day.
Last year I had another mom say she would really rather her child take their lunch to school, but her daughter wouldn't eat it, even if she prepared it. We occasionally have this problem, too. I've found a couple things that help us.
First of all, I try to let the kids pick what they want to take for lunch…within reason. Obviously, they can't choose just snack food. I did have one who tried really hard to convince me that veggies and dip, banana bread, pudding and chocolate no-bake cookies were a balanced meal.
You'll love the reasoning behind this one. She contended she had protein from the milk in the pudding and from the peanut butter in the no-bake cookies. Her fruit came from the banana bread.
Her grains came from the banana bread and the oatmeal in the no-bake cookies and, of course, the veggies and dip rounded off the well-balanced meal. Obviously, this one didn't fly, but at least she was thinking about nutrition. Well, sort of anyway.
Secondly, we encourage the kids to put lunches together themselves. To help them, John came up with a wonderful plan.
We brainstormed with the kids to come up with things that are acceptable to take for lunch.
Next, John made up a list of those items putting them into groups of main dishes, side dishes, snack food and dessert. The kids had to choose at least one thing from both the main dish and side dish groups. They also get to pick something from the snack group if they are allowed to have a snack during class time.
Of course, the dessert group is optional and is definitely a pick one only group. Funny, the kids never seem to forget to pick one from the dessert category. Imagine that.
Some of the groups overlap. For example, carrots and dip are both a snack food and a side dish. Fresh fruits also fit in both categories. However, banana bread can be a snack choice, but not a side dish.
I try to keep things like veggies and fruits clean and ready to pack. Even kindergarteners can put sliced strawberries in a small plastic container for the next day or pop an apple in their backpack.
One of the other complaints I've had about taking lunch is there isn't a lot of variety. We still tend to fight this problem in our house, so I'm always on the lookout for lunchbox ideas. The internet site www.familyfun.com has bunches of great lunchbox ideas I'm going to try this year. One of my favorites is fruit kabobs. Basically, it is putting fresh fruit with peanut butter between on skewers. How simple!
This year I'm also going to experiment with homemade granola bars. I can hardly wait–but my kids say they can!
I'll keep you posted and share with you the lunchbox ideas that work best for us. If you have a hint, tip, or question for Mom's Corner, please send it to: Mom's Corner; P.O. Box 1496; Hartselle, AL 35640 or e-mail moms-corner@juno.com.

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