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I write novels, eat dark chocolate, raise three children, love my husband, scrub toilets, ignore the laundry, and love a good story, but hardly ever in that order.



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Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Back At It

After a summer hiatus, I am revving back into our real lives. For those of you who follow this blog, and by that I mean Mom, thanks for your patience. I love you and will get you a really awesome Christmas present.

Isn’t summer lovely? I did not miss the schedules, the running, the grabbing of almost-nutritious snacks as we rush out the door. And I most certainly did not miss making lunches.

I really do not enjoy making lunches. I feel entirely uncreative by week three. How much can one vary on the turkey sandwich theme? Carrots, hummus if we’re feeling it, chips, fruit, and a cookie if I’ve made them, a few pathetic M & Ms if I have not. Seriously. I’m nearly asleep just thinking about this again.

My daughter will not eat ham, roast beef, or peanut butter and jelly, so that wipes out most of the bagged lunch pyramid. She’s generally an adventurous eater. Her favorite food for years was octopus and I’m not kidding. (Incidentally, it is difficult to find fresh octopus in Iowa, so she’s only had it once. This did not diminish her loyalty.) But octopus eaters tire of sack lunches and so do octopus-eating mothers.

The alternative to sack lunch, as you might recall from yesteryear, is the beloved and questionably edible school lunch. Chicken patty on a bun, anyone? Mystery Mondays? Fishsticks on Friday? I allow for some school lunch here and there. All right, sometimes I beg her to eat it so I don’t have to make one more turkey sandwich. But she is not altogether enthusiastic, and who can blame her? I remember having to read the laminated menu in order to verify what, exactly, was on the lower right square of that tray.

(Um, why is that tray lavender? Adding a little pretty to the miserable? Isn't that kind of depressing? And what's with the white glob? Whipped cream? Mashed potatoes? Ice cream? I need the laminated menu to be sure...)

Inspire me, please. What can I include? Please don’t say rice cakes or I will have to cry. Ditto on anything involving carob. Other than those items, what are you people sending to school these days?

Please write soon. School starts this week and I’m all out of octopus.


  1. Dude. I have NO IDEA! I would love help too. I am NOT ready to make Lunches AT ALL.

  2. I'm one of THOSE mothers. My kids eat school lunches! :)

    But that's no help to you unless it relieves some guilt. :)

    So, I should tell you about something we just discovered. Biscoff spread. If you've ever had the Biscoff cookies while flying on Delta, then you're probably as in love with them as I am. Well, I happened to notice the spread at the grocery store. And YUM! Of course, it's not as nutritious as peanut butter. But my kids love it in a pinch--on toast or on a sandwich. Nothing like feeding them crushed up cookies on bread! LOL

  3. I seriously sent the kids today with turkey sandwiches, apples, carrots and hummus. And it is only day 5. Sigh.

  4. not everyone can be lucky enough to be blessed with a 7-year-old son who will not eat lunch meat (t-bone steak, absolutely!) peanut butter, bread, yogurt, cheese, nuts or anything that resembles any form of protein. if only they could infuse goldfish crackers with some semblance of healthy.
    his lunch invariably consists of carrots, strawberries and popcorn. i am in fear daily that someone will discover us and call the authorities on the poor boy's lunch based on its patheticness (i believe i just made up that word.)

  5. ps...i would totally eat that chocolate thing with sprinkles on the lavender tray.

  6. We lived overseas for a time, where school lunches are not provided (did NOT know this was possible!!!), so we had to be creative with lunch packing. #1 tip: wraps! Wrap variety is endless with cream cheese, cooked/BBQ chicken, veggies, or even fruit (a la yogurt as the spread). When I'm really motivated I turn them into "sweet chips" (just slice them up, spray with PAM butter flavor and sprinkle with cinnamon and sweetener) and bake in the oven until lightly crispy (works with bagels too). #2 tip: get your kids to eat stuff cold. Cous cous with a few spoonfuls of cooked veggies, cream of mushroom soup, a little milk and cheese, heat and chill. Also, any leftover casseroles go (tater tot is a favorite at our house). That usually gets me to about a month before I start running out of options. ; )

  7. My kids eat leftovers all the time, especially if we had spaghetti or some other pasta thing. We bought a thermos and it works well.

  8. Some lunches I remember as a child...
    I think every day of 3rd grade, my mom sent me to school with a thermos of mac & cheese. It was just room temp. when lunch time rolled around, but that didn't bother me at all.

    Thermoses are great for holding things like pasta, soup, and other things like that.

    And every day of 5th grade, I'm pretty sure I had grilled cheese in my lunch box. My mom would make it in the morning, wrap it in tinfoil and stick it in my lunch box. Again, room temp. by lunch, but I liked it that way.

    And one other lunch I remember taking to summer day camp for many years was 2 slices of bread and a salted hard boiled egg in a bag. At lunch time, I would squish up the egg in the bag and dump it onto the bread for an instant egg sandwich. But this sandwich can be pretty messy, which is probably why mom sent it for lunch during the summer (when we ate outside) and not during the school year (when we ate inside).

  9. Today I bought precooked grilled chicken strips, and steak strips and lots of yogurt, pudding, jello and applesauce. for my one who doesn't like sandwiches I thought he could do the chicken strips and steak strips cold with some ketchup in a cute tupperware dish. This is our first year of making a serious effort towards cold lunches, I grew weary of hearing what they ate and worse off what they didn't eat. And at the price of $3.25 a day and they don't like it....we can do better. Oh and watching Jamie Olivers school lunch revolution gave me some serious issues with the food served.

  10. The thermos we have will keep whatever you put in it hot until well past lunch! It is from Lands End and a little pricier but worth it.

    Also on the lunch agenda, Wraps! Anything in a tortilla wrap seems to be gobbled. I have taken the taco night ingredients (rice, beans, meat, cheese, sour cream, etc.) and mixed them up and spread them on a wrap for instant Pancheros. My little girl has been a "vegebaconarian" since she was born. Which is, of course, a vegetarian that won't eat any meat except bacon (which we consider a condiment anyway). She likes the BLT Wraps. Got fish? Fish with a little fresh cilantro and pico wrapped up is fab! For whatever reason "same old" food on a thin layer of tortilla takes on a whole new taste! LOL

  11. I had my very first child-send-off to school today. We're both so excited about everything so any of my green and untested ideas may be foolhardy. Some thoughts: I saw individual lifeway kefirs at Costco, so I'm planning to incorporate that. No spoon or anything, yet not as ridiculous as "go-gurt" - ingenious. Deviled eggs. I have a recipe for breaded chicken tenders (will use frozen Trader Joe's - reasonably priced) that are described as great for picnics and school lunches. I'll give the recipe if it turns out to be effective. Also, I'm planning to sometimes make quesadillas (cheese and corn tortilla) for lunch with the other kids and give MJ some in her lunch the next day. We'll see if room temperature cuts it. Also thinking about some kind of asian-flavored cold noodle salad with carrots, little bit of meat, maybe snow peas? (as a leftover) We'll see. The road ahead is tough, I can see now. Thanks for the heads up. Better to go in without too much naive exuberance:0)

  12. Speaking of adventurous eating. I had a student tell me today his grandma made him a "mystery meal." After eating what he thought were eggs...."Grandma, that was delicious! What was that?" "Goat brains." Eghk.

  13. How about turkey/string cheese/grape tomato toothpickabobs?

  14. You people are amazing! I'm salivating over your ideas (with the exception of Goat Brains Mystery Meal.

    My mom saw this post and said, "I used to send along Cheetos a lot in your lunch. Isn't that dairy?" So you see the legacy I have to discard. Or not. Cheetos are pretty awesome.

    Yesterday's inaugural lunch of tuna salad on fancy bread, grapes, pita chips, raspberries and a chocolate chip bar met with firm approval. I was out of goat brains, so we'll see what today brings.

    Love you people. Now can you help me clean my house with equal creativity?