Healthy Kids’ Lunches?

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Is Trying To Make Healthy Kids’ Lunches Making You Crazy? Just because news reports stress certain healthy foods doesn’t mean you have to spend a fortune!

Healthy Kids Lunches

Is Trying To Make Healthy Kids’ Lunches Making You Crazy?

Dianne Writes:

Just when I thought I was finally free of regular cooking, I get full time care of my grandchild… It’s weird how much ideas about healthy cooking have seemed to change in such a short period of time. I think, for the first time ever, I am finding myself overwhelmed with what to put in lunch boxes, what to feed the family without feeling guilty and how to take shortcuts in cooking without feeling bad because my meals don’t look like the lovely ones that I see see in books and the Internet.

Thank you for your blog post about once a month meals. It made me remember why I should not attempt it again. I am at the stage that I resent cooking, even though I am considered a good cook. It also made me realize that for me personally partially frozen might be the best short cut I can use (i.e. separating raw ingredients into meal sized portions and freezing, freezing buttered bread, etc.).

Your post also helped me remember to trust my own instincts about how food should be cooked and served and what is healthy, rather than relying on people with big incomes and helpers to tell me how to do it.

I think there is too much information and advice being shared about food that is simply not that realistic for everyone. The fact that I have have just now spent $25aud (about the same in U.S. dollars) on maybe 2 days of “healthy” school lunches for just one 6 year old child is, to me, a bit of a joke. But there you have it. If i don’t provide it, the school will call me and its not even a private school.

Thank you again. Your post was refreshing and more than worth thinking about in more than just a “once a month cooking” way.


 Jill’s Reply

I understand exactly what you are saying Dianne. I am also of an age where, even though I have written cookbooks and have a website on that subject, I really don’t want to cook anymore. I also think the world has gone totally insane when it comes to food and the “new” advice about what to eat and what not to eat. “What not to eat” food suggestions have become  like clothes fads. This style is in this year and that is not. Next year it will be different and everyone will forget how urgent the advice was this year. In the same way that I refuse to follow fads in my clothes, I refuse to follow fads with my food.

I don’t believe in jumping on the bandwagon just because “they” said this is the way to eat healthy or studies show this might cause this or prevent that. People state these things as facts but they have no solid proof and most of the time the jury is still out about the conclusions.

In the same way I buy clothes that are classic but still fashionable, clothes that are neat and make me look nice, I keep my food simple, stick to the basic food pyramid and try to relax.

If I was in your place, I would slap some peanut butter on a piece of white bread, throw in an apple or banana and a cookie and call it good for lunch for a 6 year old. That menu worked great for the past three generations or more and the only generation having big problems with their health are the ones who are now trying to scientifically analyze every bite that goes in their mouths. They are going to stress themselves into a heart attack and when they do, how much good will that healthy eating have done them? What we need now more than anything with regard to food is moderation and common sense.  

Emperor’s New Clothes

All these new food fads remind me of the story of the Emperor’s New Clothes. To refresh everyone’s memory, some bad guys out to make money, told the vain king that they would make him some special new clothes that were invisible to all but the stupid and incompetent. No one, including the king and leaders, could see these new clothes but didn’t want to say anything because they were afraid of being thought of as stupid and incompetent so they all went along with it.

One day a young child saw the king and said, “The king had no clothes on.” Of course everyone tried to hush him and say he didn’t know what he was talking about. He holler sol they finally had no choice but to agree he was right.

You are probably wiser than most for realizing there is something not quite right with all these food dos and don’ts. So many others wouldn’t dream of saying what you said or admit to feeding their kids a cookie once in a while because, like the people in the story, they go along with things because they don’t want to be considered politically incorrect, unhealthy or judged to be bad moms. 

Relax and feed him a bowl of cereal once in a while when you don’t feel up to cooking. He would much rather have a happy relaxed grandma than one who is stressed all the time worrying about whether or not she is feeding him right or being politically correct with his food.

We all need to pull out our books of old fables and read them once in a while. It is amazing how much they still pertain to our lives today. Human nature really doesn’t change at all. Hmm… Maybe next week I should write about the grasshopper and the ant.



  1. Kris says

    I agree with Jill, although I use whole wheat bread, not white. With that lunch you are getting 2 servings of whole grain, heart-healthy protein, a fruit, and something to make lunch a little fun. My kids also purchase milk at school (for a nominal price–much simpler than dealing with a thermos). One thing I find with my kids is that there are only 15 minutes allotted for lunchtime, so I try to have their lunches be quick and easy to eat. (I sent applesauce frequently because of this).

    What frightens me is the level of misinformation about food choices; the people making decisions on what “healthy” eating is are not always qualified to be making these decisions. While I don’t think Doritoes and brownies constitutes a healthy lunch, if they are eaten occasionally in moderation as an adjunct to a healthy lunch, they may motivate a child to eat the healthy bits. Depriving people of occasional treats is a set-up for binging (I speak from experience!) and is counter-productive.

    Having been through the Weight Watcher’s program, I can recommend their nutritional advice (and they don’t believe ANY foods are “off-limits”). You may be able to glean some information from sources like that. I steer clear of anyone who “outlaws” a certain food group–these programs typically aren’t managed by a registered dietician and to me, are suspect.

    • says

      I have never done weight watchers or any other diet but for years people use to as me what diet I was on to stay so slim and I would always say my diet is eat anything you want to diet. I never told myself I couldn’t have something and oddly enough I don’t inhale or eat huge amounts of any food and always feel satisfied. You have to really work at that mentality because there is always this little nagging thing in most peoples mind that keeps saying “Should you really have that?’ You can’t think like that at all.

  2. Kris says

    Sounds pretty healthy to me, Jill! It seems like “food choices” is the new big “issue” these days. It isn’t enough that I eat whole grains, lean meats, fruits and veggies–is it organic? Are the chickens ethically raised? Do I buy local and in season? I recently read a post on another blog where one reader blasted the blogger for purchasing supermarket chicken. I agree that we as consumers need to be aware of what is getting pumped into our food and to advocate for healthier choices, but it’s being touted as the “moral and ethical” concern for today, which disturbs me–for one, many simply can’t afford to be “moral and ethical” with their food choices, and secondly, I think there are far greater concerns in our world today (clean water sources, human trafficking … ) which should demand more of our time and energy … but I think I’m just complaining to you now, so I’ll stop. :)

  3. getforfree says

    When my son started kindergarten, I was packing lunch for him everyday. I would put

    a boiled egg, (he loved boiled eggs at the time, now he likes fried with bacon),

    a zip lock bag of cut-up fruit pieces, baby carrots or just a banana.

    a cookie or a zip lock bag of dry cereals, or even candy

    and a reusable bottle 8 fl oz milk, sometimes juice if we are out of milk.

    You need to know what the child will actually eat. My kids will not eat apple souse, certain veggies, and my son will not even eat some of berries and fruits. You have to know what the child likes and not waste the food that they will not eat or throw away or bring back. Whenever I was worried that the lunch I packed was not enough, I would add a cookie to it.

    Now, that we qualify for free school lunches, I don’t send lunches with them. The food they get at school is not that healthy. It’s mostly chicken nuggets, fries and other fast-food-looking stuff. I just try to give then a healthy snack when they get home. A plate of cut-up slices of apple, banana, cucumbers, broccoli, carrots and whatever else you have.

    I try to give my kids more protein and veggies for healthy growing and then they can eat whatever else they want.

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