15 minute lunches have become SADly standard in schools today. Once you subtract the time the kids have to stand in line to get their "food," they have about 5 minutes to scarf the carbs and fats down. With standard lunch fare being pizza, fries and chocolate milk, there isn't much chew factor. The pizza is mushy, not even a crunchy crust, so the food CAN be just pretty much swallowed whole.
My son starts Kindergarten this year and I want to pack his lunches but wonder how much he'll actually get to eat since healthy food requires chewing. Maybe I can pack him smoothies in a thermos? I have visions of packing cute little bento meals. I don't know for sure how long his lunch period will be but am pretty sure I heard less than 20 minutes, and he's a talker...he might starve if he can't learn to STOP TALKING AND EAT.
What do you send to school with your kids? I've come up with Lara Bars and hardboiled eggs and less-chew fruits like peaches and pears.(again, we're talking easy to slurp down in a hurry, in-between discussing the merits of the best Bionicles and Nerf Guns.)
EDIT TO ADD: Have any of you been harassed by schools for such "strange" lunches, accused of not feeding adequately, etc? I'm in the stoneage midwest, and not in a good way. Most of the town has probably never heard of Paleo, Bento, or Lara Bars for the most part. From what I can tell, nothing has changed here since the 80's.
For what it's worth, I blogged pictures and descriptions almost 90 of my preschooler's packed bento lunches over this past school year. Granted, she had her lunchtime less than an hour before I picked her up (so it was easier for her to finish it as a followup snack when she got home if she didn't get to eat everything that was packed...)
You'll need to scroll down a few entries, because when preschool ended I picked up where it left off with packing (and blogging) lunches for my husband to take to work. Same food, slightly different configurations - because he has the access and knowhow for microwaving, whereas my preschooler didn't - she had about 20-30 minutes to eat her packed lunch with her peers, no warming available.
Here's the link to all of my entries tagged "lunchboxes":
You will find a lot of ideas there for kid friendly finger foods. Fresh fruit and veggies are always a big hit - with the veggies you can serve a little full fat sour cream or mustard as a dip. Whole fat plain yoghurt was also a hit - in various iterations, with a drizzle of honey, or fresh or frozen fruit added. Soft-baked mashed sweet potatoes were also a staple. Good luck - hit me up with an email if you like (primalkitchen a+ gmail do+ com)! :)
Chewing.. hmmm.. haven't really thought about that. My kids have done pretty well with what we pack them. Each week we crock pot a turkey and a beef roast (yes of course grass fed). We shred up the meat in the juices (yummy), so each lunch has a bed of baby spinach, the meat on top, then a side of nut mix (brazil, almonds, walnuts, raisins, and coconut shavings), and then a side of veggies either cucumbers or carrots. That has worked out great for us :D But does require lots of chewing, my kids have managed fine so far.
ETA: found pic of their lunch lol
I dont know WHAT to recommend for your son. BUt I am a school teacher, and in MY school, 20 minutes is accurate. and I have seen kids talk straight through lunch and they are famished later! in my school w have monitors(me) who walk around and harp o them to eat. but its hard bc they are told to be quiet all day long in classes, so balancing social with eatng is HARD! and I think this is where we all learn to talk with our mouths FULL lol. I wish they could get ore time, but they dont for some reason. same thing for bfast in my school, 20 minutes.
I loooove those bento boxes, my son is 15 now though, I don't think he'd use a cute box like that now lol Honestly I think you're worrying about nothing, if he is talking so much that he's not getting to eat, he will learn rather quickly to zip it and get to eating, I'm sure he's hungry! Millions of children aren't starving because they didn't get to eat their lunches. I would send him with whatever you think he will like, hard boiled eggs are great, cut up veggies, Lara Bar for dessert etc. I honestly don't think you have to resort to smoothies for him.
Edit to add: There's another bento type box that Sarah at Everyday Paleo recommends that I love a lot, here is the link Planet Box
I have a bento box we use for school lunch. I usually pack hard boiled eggs, rolled up lunchmeat, cucumbers, broccoli, carrots and some type of fruit. 1 protein, 1-2 veggies and a fruit. With water or juice to drink. He usually eats most of it and his lunch is about 20 mins. Key is to give them a few choices and let them pick what goes in the lunch box. Good luck!
My kids have 3 breaks where they can eat. When my little one was younger she had to eat every 1.5 hours or her blood sugar dropped rapidly (not so much no we're off gluten). I arranged it with the teacher for her to have cheese an nuts in her desk if she needed a pick-me-up.
As for lunches, I always pack whatever meat we had the previous night along with a salad, fruit, cheese, eggs and nuts. It looks a lot like the images of "thatonecrazylady". They have about 20 minutes to eat and seem to do just fine. In fact, they are less hungry after school when I pack more protein.
Love FamGrok's site, btw. Great ideas!
My son just finished 2nd grade and every day of his school so far he's brought a home-made lunch. His kindergarten was half-day so it was just a small snack. In 1st and 2nd grade, it's a full lunch plus a snack.
Our standard lunch is a small thermos which is usually filled with leftovers from the previous night's dinner, this could include pasta with home made sauce, steak, lamb, soup, etc. pretty much whatever we have (once beef tongue!). I would not want to pack something like seafood in there (besides tuna salad) though because it'd be near room temp by the time he eats it. We also give a large thing of water (especially in warmer months).
There it starts to get tricky. The lunch box / bag tends to get knocked around a lot and can get pretty warm or cold depending on the weather, so fresh fruits and vegetables can be tricky. Cutting an apple into halves or quarters and then rubbing lemon juice on the cut parts keeps it somewhat fresh. Carrot and celery sticks do pretty good too, as do small tomatoes. Salads tend to wilt (and come home soggy and uneaten). He doesn't like many nuts or cheese but will occasionally have roasted salted cashews.
Store-bought prepared bars are good for snacks, I am not generally a fan of them but given the options it is not bad. And he is a kid after all, so sometimes he gets Cheeze-Its or a small piece of candy or two. Dried fruit and similar snacks available at Whole Foods or Trader Joe's (i.e. fruit leather) is also a good option, lots of sugar, but again given the options, and eaten in conjunction with a decent meal, is allright by me. We tell him that if he brings the nutritious food home and all of the snacks are empty, he's in trouble.
Time does not seem to be an issue, he does not complain about being rushed and he is a pretty slow eater. He has funny stories about what the other kids eat. Those that buy their lunches inevitably buy two ice creams or something. The kids call the pizza "death pizza" because it tastes so bad. Forget about fresh fruits or vegetables, even if they had them, the kids wouldn't buy them. One kid apparently gets nothing but 1 or 2 pieces of fruit or vegetables most days (for example one tomato and one apple). That might be technically nutritious, but I'd worry about the kid getting too hungry during the school day.
Growing up, I was a picky eater. After I caused my mother much frustration, she vowed I would eat school lunches. When she realized I was starving myself instead of eating that crap, she started experimenting beyond the customary sandwich and snack (cookies or fruit roll ups was the norm).
I happily ate all my lunch when she packed:
Leftovers (usually pasta or meat w/ veggies)
Soup and any meat leftovers were stored in a thermos that kept them warm until lunchtime. I've always found that bread gets too soggy and never ate sandwiches (the initial cause of her frustrations, lol).