From kindergarten clear up to their senior year of high school, I have always packed my children’s school lunches instead of letting them do it themselves. While you might think I’m nuts for tackling a task that teenagers should be able to do on their own, I’ve always had excellent reason for keeping this morning task to myself. Here’s why.
Balanced meals. If you’ve ever watched what the majority of teens eat during school lunches, you’d be appalled. Chips, packaged cookies, flavored waters, coffee, jumbo muffins and other not-so-healthy treats seem to be popular picks. Packing my kid’s lunches assures me that my kids will be eating a balanced meal that will give them the fuel they need to make through a long day at school.
Food safety. Most teens (and many adults) aren’t tuned in to safe food handling and think nothing of eating a ham sandwich that has been sitting in a hot locker for 5 hours. As a Mom, I know better. As crazy as mornings get around here, I can’t trust my kids to remember that they should pack ice packs for the cold food and decant the hot food into preheated thermoses.
Availability. I’m a scratch cook which means that my pantry doesn’t contain much in the way of prefab food, making it difficult for my children to determine what’s available for lunch. I on the other hand, have an assortment of lunch ideas stored up in my brain (and freezer) and can easily throw together a lunch faster than the time it takes to explain what’s available and how to make it.
Quantity. The few times my children did pack their own lunches, they didn’t pack enough to see them through the day. Kids tend to pack lunches based on how hungry they are at the moment, without anticipating how hungry they might be 5 hours from now. Parents often have a better understanding of how much food is needed to see a child through a full day of school and will also remember to pack an after school snack to see them through another hour of sports practice.
Tastes better. I have over 40 years of experience in cooking which is why the meals I prepare taste better than meals prepared by the kids. When the goal is to have our children eat healthy foods, the food an adult prepares is probably much tastier and satisfying than anything kids will make on their own. The better tasting the food and the nicer it is presented, the more inclined our children will be to eat their school lunches instead of reaching for junk food.
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