A week of real food kindergarten lunches
The boys have enjoyed two weeks of kindergarden, thus far and everything has gone great! They love their school and really like their teachers! One of my goals, when they started school, was to maintain a healthy eating pattern. I knew that they would have to take on more responsibility for making good choices than they did in preschool. We were very lucky to have had great preschool teachers who would contact me whenever there was a birthday treat or a food-based activity at school. That way I could send in a special treat for the boys. At lunchtime that is different. Birthday treats are handed out at lunch time and there is no advanced notice. So, my strategy… the birthday bar! I put a store-brought kindergarten Trader Joe’s fruit bar in the boys’ lunchbox every day. If there is a birthday treat handed out, it is their choice whether they eat their birthday bar or the treat. William chose the gummies handed out one day and had such an upset stomach that he realized that was not the best choice. They excitedly come home to tell me that not only did they make a good choice but they politely declined the treat! So, it can be done!!
Here is a sample menu that I used to organize the boys’ lunches. I typically have everything ready one day in advance which makes it very easy to assemble as soon as they come home from school. If there are leftovers from lunch, they know to eat them at their afternoon snack before dinner. We don’t waste any food in our house!! They have a morning snack before lunch, which is written in all caps. Snack is only one hour before lunch so I always pack something small.
I took pictures of almost all the meals. Here is a little strategy behind the meals…
Friday: Lunch–Hard boiled egg, avocado, tomato, kiwi, and olives; Snack–Plantain chips and applesauce.
This one I did not take a picture of because it actually evolved into egg salad with avocado oil mayo and avocado. They still had tomato and olive salad with olive oil and kiwi for dessert.
Saturday: we skipped on the board because it was a hunting land day with Dad. Lunch was a collection of leftovers and fruit salad
Sunday: Hot ham and cheese sandwich with broccoli and tomato salad with olive oil.
The hot ham and cheese sandwich was prepared on my new buckwheat and teff flour bread. I will post the recipe soon! I use Costco boiled ham and raw milk cheese from Miller’s Organic Farm. A simple salad alongside a treat sandwich is always an easy meal.
Monday and Tuesday: Lunch–ham, and cheese roll-ups with beets, avocado, and olives; Snack–new muffins
I had to use up the Costco size package of ham from Sunday, so we did roll-ups. Beets are simply boiled until soft, peeled, chopped, and mixed with olive oil and balsamic. I paired it with a small avocado and olive salad. Their snack was another new recipe of banana teff and buckwheat flour muffins. (recipe to come).
Wednesday: Lunch–salmon salad with broccoli and apples, along with cantaloupe; Snack–Plantain chips and applesauce
I use Costco’s wild-caught canned salmon and mix in chopped apple, spinach, red onion, fresh basil, and avocado oil mayo. It’s super easy and an explosion of flavor for the boys. Cameron chose watermelon instead of cantaloupe. I give the boys 10 plantain chips each, so a bag will last us three snack days.
Thursday: Lunch–fruit salad, olives and carrot sticks; Snack–snack stick and apples
Simple and straight forward, here. I put the protein in the snack and extra fat at lunch with the olives to keep their tummies satisfied.
Friday: Lunch–mac and cheese with spinach and bell pepper; Snack–banana
This lunch is super fun. The pasta is made wholly from lentils! I simply add sautéed chopped bell pepper, red onion, swiss chard and raw cheese for a super power mac and cheese. The snack turned into a sliced apple and a sea snack instead of banana.
Saturday and Sunday: Lunch–hamburgers and sweet potato fries
This lunch plan was nixed because the boys were on the road again with their Dad. I typically make the organ meat mix burgers and bake them in the oven. I season them with salt, pepper, garlic and onion powder. Sometimes I lightly coat the pan with left over bacon grease for a little infused flavor and it helps to keep them from sticking. Sweet potato fries are baked in the oven for 30-50 minutes on 375. The time depends on how thick I slice them.
Monday and Tuesday: Lunch–turkey meatballs with raw carrots; Snack–seed cookies
I did not capture the deliciousness of this lunch! I made a garden sauce for the meatballs that was amazing!! I sautéed 6 spring onions (greens and all), 1 red bell pepper, 1 green bell pepper, 2 eggplant and 6 very ripe roma tomatoes in grass fed butter until soft. I let the veggies cool a bit and then put everything into my VitaMix along with a can of anchovies drained of oil. I let the vitamin do its work and presto…veggie garden sauce. For the meatballs, I used Costco’s organic ground turkey and added about 2 TBSP of nutritional yeast, 2 minced garlic cloves, salt and pepper. I baked them in the oven at 350 for 20 minutes. I warmed 8 meatballs along with 1/2 cup of sauce on the stove in the morning and it was still hot at lunch!! YAY! The seed cookies are a super yummy treat that is barely a cookie and more a nutrient powerhouse. I found some black grapes on sale over the weekend and added it to the snack.
Wednesday and Thursday: Lunch–Lentils with “hotdogs” bell pepper, onion, spinach and fruit salad; Snack–muffin
I forgot to photograph the lentils :(. I use the colorful lentil blend but you can use any color lentil. I soak them overnight in salted filtered water. Drain and rinse the lentils the next day before cooking. I cooked the lentils in some of the broth I had frozen from a previous batch for added nutrition. To cook the lentils, bring the broth to a gentle simmer and add the lentils. While the lentils are cooking, sauté bell pepper and onion in coconut oil until soft then add in chopped spinach. I had some carrots and two redskin potatoes to use up, so I added them too. Cook the lentils and veggies together in the broth for about 4 hours. I bake 2 pasture raised bratwurst from South Chestnut Farm in the oven and added them to the lentils. To serve, I heat the lentil and “hotdog” mixture on the stove and add to the thermos. The fruit salad was a combo of mango, kiwi, pears and peaches. This snack also evolved into muffin with black grapes and toasted pumpkin seeds.
Friday: Lunch–Tuna salad with lentils, spinach and rice; Snack–applesauce
This tuna salad actually turned into Friday and Saturday lunch. When I make tuna salad, I actually include 3 fishes: tuna, salmon and sardines. I mix them together with chopped apples, red onion, spinach and avocado oil mayo. I chose not to serve them with rice and instead added fruit salad. I also added toasted nuts and coconut to the applesauce snack…big hit!!
Strategies: My goal for school lunches and food in general is to provide my kids with the raw materials their bodies need to grow. The meal plan chalkboard gives me a framework from which I can work. If I need to modify things I can but I have a plan and that makes it a lot easier. The recipes are very simple and can be easily adapted to suit taste preferences. Having a meal plan also allows me to compare the lunch menu to the dinner menu so I can avoid repetition. I also strive to not waste food. That means I have taught the boys to tightly seal their thermos if they don’t finish something to keep it warm or cold until they arrive home. That way it is still safe to eat for a snack. They also know to eat the perishable foods first at lunch time. This stuff works…real, whole food that tastes good! With some planning real food can be done…even for kids!
Please share your thoughts! I love to learn from other awesome Moms out there!