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Lunchroom Blues

Residents October 8, 2012


As September rolls around, and back-to-school shopping becomes old news, there are many parents – like myself – who are getting ready to send their oldest kid to school for the very first time. It is terrifying and exciting all at once. Will she make new friends? Will she have a hard time adjusting to her new schedule? Will she like her teacher? These are the normal anxieties any parent has when they entrust them to the educational system. While I share deeply in all of these concerns, the one most on my mind is… lunch.

Yes, it has become painfully apparent over the past few months that I have created a food monster within my child, and I am in a total panic. Not only did she burst into tears when I read her the month’s menu for the school’s hot lunch, she also seems to think lately that I’m going to make her mac & cheese for every meal. I imagine she expects the same when the school year kicks into gear.

So me, thinking I’m smart, I went and scooped up every kid and parent magazine I could find  that claimed ‘healthy lunches kids love’ and ‘your first month’s school lunches solved!’ and ‘fun, easy recipes for school’. All I gleaned from sharing this with my daughter was more tears, and an ‘I guess I could eat the grapes or the plain carrot sticks’. And maybe even I feel a little bad for the kids of the ‘America’s Top Chefs’ who wrote the recipes (just sayin’).

Now that we’ve established that she will not be eating hummus or cilantro fish tacos or heart shaped peanut butter sandwiches, maybe I need to take a step back, and get a little bit less creative. So I won’t be sending her to school with microwave mac & cheese, or $3.50 for a 500 calorie slice of soggy pizza and a scoop of canned green beans. But things are a lot more efficient and high tech than they were even a few years ago. They have awesome lunchboxes and thermal bowls that hold heat for 5 hours now, not to mention the awesome reusable bags for sandwiches and other snacks.

I can send her to school with a thermos of chicken noodle soup, or a turkey sandwich, or yogurt and a fruit salad, or ravioli with homemade marinara, or some fried rice and hot edamame… See? My kid branches out. And I guess I already have a first week full of food planned out in my head. I suppose once we get through that, we will be well on our way to lunchroom harmony.