at the lunch table

March 10, 2012

I have gotten a lot of emails asking about Adriana's lunches and I really wanted to dedicate a whole post to answer them. There was actually an "Aha!" moment and I feel like it goes perfectly with answering some of your questions. I'll answer them within the post, so keep reading- I promise I will answer them all.

 A few weeks back, Adriana asked me if I would like to come eat with her at school- I was delighted and agreed to bring her grilled chicken nuggets (new & awesome by the way) and fruit from chic-fil-a. Anybody who knows me knows that I'm either significantly early to where I'm going or significantly late (with notice). This time, I couldn't give notice and I was running late. I thought I had enough time to get to chic-fil-a and to her school before 10:50am. Boy was I wrong. I was so anxious she would think I forgot to bring her lunch and eat with her and I really didn't want her to charge her account to buy lunch in the cafeteria. There was no way for me to let her know I was on the way, I was worried. I finally arrived and was only about eight minutes late. I carried Ryland in with me and as I approached her at the table, she looked up and said, "phew, I'm so glad you're here mom!". She had already gone through the line and sat down. I told her teacher I would eat her lunch so the food didn't go to waste- I grabbed her tray and we sat at the end of the table. I couldn't have been more proud at that moment. For some people it's not a big deal but for me, well I like to know that my kids choose and eat wisely without me with them. 

I looked down at the tray and this is what I saw.

the other options were: chicken patties and a hamburger.
I feel good knowing that everything hubby and I have taught her about what is good for you and what is not has sunk in- that it's not just at home when they ask for a banana or apple as a snack or that they would rather have the healthier option to the unhealthy one. I wanted to pat myself on the back, my teaching them has paid off and I do believe it is something that they will take with them the rest of their lives. Habits change but when you start educating them about it at a young age and helping them become accustomed to healthier options, it helps in the long run.

So why do I pack Adriana's lunch?
It's not because I just plain didn't want her to eat cafeteria food. It's because I wanted her to maintain the same diet at school that she has when she is at home. I don't want her to have to make a choice between two unhealthy options, if there is no healthy alternative, when she can pick what she wants at home and to be excited about it at lunch time. 90% of her lunches are picked by her, because why shouldn't it be? she is the one eating it. I know it's only one meal out of the day but it's five meals a week that I am unsure of- I don't know that she is getting all of the nutrients she needs to get through the rest of the day. At the beginning of the school year, all of the parents were invited to come sit in the classroom and go through the daily routine. I was exhausted just listening to it- it's non stop from 8:50am to 2:00pm. I don't want her to eat a meal that is going to weigh her tummy down and make her tired the rest of the day or feel lack of energy, it wouldn't be fair. 

I'm in no way against cafeteria food, not at all. I grew up on it going to public schools. I probably picked the most unhealthy options in middle and high school but it was a personal preference. I had an option to make my own lunch, but I rarely did. I didn't mind eating school lunch. I am just more aware of what it is our schools prepare for our kids, as an adult. I wish there were ways for them to get around unprocessed foods but there isn't enough money or power (& care) to make that happen (have you seen Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution? it's pretty amazing what he was trying to do- unfortunately I don't believe they air the show anymore for reasons of his idea's not being accepted by the schools he tried to help.) There are however, a few healthier options for kids to pick from, like peanut butter and jelly sandwiches if your child isn't allergic to peanuts and salad if he/she will eat leafy greens. There just isn't enough to pick from and it should be more of a priority considering what they expect from them during the day.

I make Adriana's lunches because it's something fun, something she's created and something I did for her. She tells me all the time how happy they make her and that she thinks of me when she opens her lunch box. It's a little bit of home, at school and it makes her smile. What more of a reason do I need? 

I had a question about my opinion on an incident with school lunches and I recently heard about it on a morning radio station here in Greensboro. A teacher took away a kids homemade lunch and replaced it with a school lunch made up of chicken nuggets and other things. The teacher didn't think the lunch from home was healthy enough, it consisted of; a turkey and cheese sandwich, chips, a banana and apple juice. Apparently the mother of the four year old was billed for the replaced lunch and told that the one she packed was inadequate and did not include what the USDA guidelines asked of parents and schools. I don't believe the school nor teachers have any right to come between or decide whether or not kids who are bringing lunch to school are eating "healthy enough" when the lunches being provided at the school are not exactly what our kids should be eating to begin with. If it were a bag full of candy... sure charging a lunch that is better for the child than candy is acceptable but not when a parent has spent money and time to make their child a perfectly healthy lunch. A note home would have sufficed? A friendly reminder that, hey if you want to make your kids lunch there are guidelines? I'm not even sure that it would be acceptable to do that or what boundaries it would cross but anything is better than just throwing away the homemade lunch and charging the mother for the crappy replaced lunch given to her. There are serious risks that were taken when that teacher took that leap- the child could have been extremely allergic to something she put on her tray and wouldn't have even known it or there could have been something she choked on and she would have been held liable for giving her something that was not intended for her to eat. It's just ridiculous.

 I want to get your thoughts on this issue, though- would you be upset if your child was sent to school with a lunch you packed, with the food you bought, thrown away and replaced with chicken nuggets? What would you have done in that position? Do you care at all, is it a big deal or not?

Also, do you pack your kids lunch? If you do, why? If you don't, why not? I am always curious and well I got so much great and positive feedback from bloggers about Adriana's lunches that I wanted to share with you all why exactly I do it and answer all of your questions the best I can. I like turning the tables and asking you all- so please do share your ideas and opinions! 
anything and everything is welcome!


  1. I personally love that you make Adriana's lunches for her every day. You're so right that it's important for her to continue to have the healthy diet she did at home and I'd imagine it makes her feel awfully special and loved everyday when she partakes of what her mommy has put time and thought into.
    watching my students eat lunch from the cafeteria on a daily basis (it's rare for kids at our school to bring in their own lunches) absolutely disgusts me. like you said, sometimes there is no healthy alternative. the breakfasts they serve are even worse.
    i applaud you for taking the time to make your little one lunch every day and I imagine it's something she'll always remember you doing.
    oh, and I love seeing the pictures of what you pack for her :o)

    1. thank you, it means a lot. I know that for some parents they can't provide breakfast and lunch for their kids and that by law and some paper work it can be given to them for free- we went to school with some kids whose only meals were school lunches, so it was special to them to have food. I just wish it were more healthy. I wish they could do more for the kids- they under pay teachers, keep our kids on a tight schedule and feed them food without thinking about what it's really doing to them throughout the day. It's pitiful.

    2. Oh Tia it's so true, they fill them in the morning with sugar packed doughnuts or pizza and then don't understand why they can't sit and be quiet.

  2. I would have been very upset if I packed a lunch and it was just tossed aside, and then on top of that, being charged for the school lunch. I think that is simply unacceptable. And since when is a turkey sandwich less healthy than chicken nuggets?
    What if the kid didn't even like chicken nuggets?! It is better for her to not eat than have a sandwich? The whole thing irritates me.

    I plan to make Jack's lunches for health reasons and also, just because that is how I grew up. Buying lunch was a special treat for us. (I love me some cafeteria pizza, ha!)

    I love seeing the lunches you make for her, great inspiration! I hope to get a cool lunch box like the one you have some day too. :)

    1. we got ours from! they have so many cool magnets for the container and awesome colors for the lunch bag itself. go take a look, he will fall in love with the options :)

      p.s. I love the school cafeteria spaghetti and texas toast <3

  3. My children are 2 and 4. I have packed their lunches since they started daycare. Whether it was breastmilk, or a slotted tray my then two year old carried in his metal lunchbox...I need to be in control of what goes into their bodies. Always.

    This was one of the reasons (one of many) that I quit my job to be home with my babies. I couldnt stand to see what they werent learning, or what they were eating, dispite my specifically labeled lunch. You are exactly right, its one meal a day, but its FIVE meals a week. Thats pretty substantial!

    I cant say that my lunches are as fancy as yours, but my kids appreciate that I cook for them- and I appreciate that when we are out they ASK for salad, for limabeans, and broccoli. It makes my mommy heart sing to know I have instilled a healthy palet in their little mouthes. Now, dont get me wrong, If I offer an Oreo, they will devour it- but they know the difference in meal food, when your body needs energy, and a snack, just because it tastes good.

    I will most def pack their lunches for them when they head off to school- and if anyone dare replace it, they will have one mean Mama to deal with!

    1. you go mama f! our kids should hang out, they seem a lot alike and we need some mama hang out time because, we have a lot in common. why haven't we yet, again?! ;) my kids devour oreos from time to time too, they love sweets but everything is in moderation. I am a control ocd freak and well I like you, want to know what is going into my kids bodies, its natural. And it is music to my ears, like it makes your heart sing <3

    2. I think it is awesome you take the time to pack your child's lunch and to educate them about healthy choices. I would have been livid if the school had taken my child's lunch and reolaced it with garbage.
      It's very sad to me that children are allowed to eat all the horrible food that is out there for them.
      I think you raise a very valid point about the allergic reaction that child could have had. I'm especially aware now that Logan has been diagnosed with numerous food and environmental allergies.
      Many of the children's health issues now are directly linked to what they are allowed to put in their growing bodies.
      You keep up the good work! You have a lot to teach uoung (and old) moms that will listen.

    3. Thank you Carol! It is important for school systems to realize just what kind of harm is being done- they expect so much from our kids yet they fill their tummies with less than what they need- sure it's one meat, one fruit/or veggie and milk but what they don't realize is just because they add no additional salt, there is a lot more wrong with the food than just what isn't added to it. It's the processed heavy product they are finding acceptable to plop onto their plates.

  4. your little girl is the sweetest thing ever. I hope I have sweet little ladies like that someday :)

    I'm so glad that Adriana is able to make healthy choices on her own so early on in life. Great work modeling that for her, tia! You DO deserve a pat on the back! I work at a school and our students have midday snacks. Some of the things the parents send in their lunchboxes is shocking. Sugary, fried, processed foods make their way into their tiny stomachs as soon as 9am! The kids get so used to it, that when faced with healthier options, they treat it as if they had just been offered worms to eat! jaja!

    I had a little party in my classroom for valentine's day and required that parents bring in healthy snack options. While some classrooms had soda, chips, and cake, we had crackers, cheese, pretzels, fruit, and 100% juice. The kids barely touched any of it :/ As soon as one of parents brought in krispy kreme donuts, they were ALL over them.

    Healthy eating and nutrition is a top priority for my husband and I, and I hope to raise my kids eating healthy and making smart food choices. I love reading your lunchbox posts for that reason actually, so I can get inspiration for the future! Keep up the awesome job!

    1. you hit some really good points- I don't know how many times I have witnessed the same thing you talked about at school, healthy options being available yet being so foreign to kids. It's so silly to think parents find it easier to give their kids a cookie than it is a bowl of grapes or an apple, anything is better than junk all day every day. my kids love cookies, but they eat their fruits and veggies too.

      you are so sweet, I always look forward to your comments, they make me smile :) I'm so happy you love the lunch posts and that we inspire you- I hope we continue to do so!!

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