Thursday, September 27, 2007

Day Eighty-One - The Lunch Box

Packing Snacks for Preschool

Well it's been three weeks now that the kids have been in preschool and we're all finally getting into the swing of things. Ethan likes his teacher (despite the fact that she asks him to pick up after himself) and Daphne has stopped trying to physically latch herself to me neck like a baby spider monkey when I drop her off (sort of). So now that I have some time to think about the morning snacks I throw in their bag, I realize I've got serious room for improvement.

Let's start with the fact that the school does not allow raisins, grapes, peanuts or anything that slightly resembles a circular or oval shape, due to choking concerns. Valid point. But, they also don't allow fresh fruit, unless it has been all peeled & cut up ahead of time. Yuck. Who wants brown apple slices for snack? So we're left with packaged foods.

Unfortunately, so many of these foods come in those oh-so-easy-to-buy-and-pack single servings, which really should be off limits to me, since I did my post on Size Really Does Matter. So that means no more over-packaged, single serve Goldfish, Cheese & Crackers, or Cheez-Its. (This is where we all feel bad for Ethan who loves ANYTHING that comes in a single serving bag. I swear the kid would eat dog crap if it was packaged in a small, shiny bag -- possibly two bags' worth if the bag featured Spiderman on the front.)

So then I'm left with the dilemma of whether or not I should pack the kids' snacks in Ziplocks or not. Sure, I'm able to buy the big box of Cheez-Its at Costco, but then I'm just re-packaging it in another plastic bag that, unfortunately, the teacher tosses in the trash after snack time. Just doesn't seem to make sense to me.

So, once again, I found myself needing a new solution to an old problem.

MUST..... FIGHT.... URGE.... TO... BUY.... NEW..... TUPPERWARE....

So, without breaking my compact, I rooted around in the cabinets and found a bunch of old Gerber baby-food bowls that have fitted lids. They are the perfect size for snacks! Also, since the tops are clear, I was able to write each of their names on the lids with a Sharpie, thus eliminating the need to put a name sticker on them each day. Super Score!


Ethan goes 4 days per week and Daphne goes 2 days per week. Prior to this journey, I would totally have stocked up on single-serving packages of animal crackers, Cheez-Its, Goldfish and all those other toddler-friendly foods. Now I will be serving all bulk-packaged purchases (or brown fruit) in reusable containers. That's six snack food packages I'll be avoiding per week. The kids attend school 36 weeks per year, so I'm saving 216 plastic packages during that time. That's GOT TO be at least a couple chock-full grocery bags worth, don't you think?

Not to mention the fact that you definitely pay a premium to purchase that kind of convenience. I bet by cutting out the single servings, I'll be saving a few sheckles at the grocery store as well.

Difficulty Level: 1 out of 5

Just another habit that needs changing. It's funny, but I never noticed that an entire half aisle at the store is dedicated to "single serve" packaged foods. Wow. That doesn't even include all the breakfast items that are with cereals, or the pudding cups kept with the baking stuff. I don't deny that it is all very convenient to use, but it comes at quite a price, literally and figuratively.

Now if one of you could point me in the direction of a no-fail granola bar recipe, I'll be all set...


Mary Elizabeth said...

If you treat the cut apples with lemon juice it keeps'm from browning (as much)? And it doesn't affect the flavor terribly? Worth giving it a shot at home and testing the waters before sending it to school;)

Burbanmom said...

Ah, thanks for the tip, Mary Elizabeth. I'll give it a shot. Do you think it would work on pears too?

Good to hear from you... thought you might be MIA! :-)

Mary Elizabeth said...

I d'no, but it's worth a shot? I love Pears. My problem is that I love pears so much that I usually can't wait for them to ripen perfectly, and eat them too soon. Hence practically ruining the pear;)

I'm not MIA, I read every day! I just don't always think of anything to say;)

I did have a question about something I wanted your insight on the other day and now I can't think of it for the life of me...hrm..hopefully it'll come to me!

Have a great day!

Heather said...

Try some "fruit fresh". It's a powder you can sprinkle on the fruit to keep it from turning brown.

Jenelle said...

Ellie Kreiger has a great granola bar recipe. Here's the link:

My daughter won't go for the dried cherries so I put in mini chocolate chips instead. Hope you like it!