The lunchbox is not my favorite part of school. Thinking about food sitting in a smelly thermal bag with toxic icepacks and plastic containers that taste like dishwasher or yesterday’s lunch over a period of several hours until lunchtime makes my nose cringe. Not to mention,the amount of waste one little box can generate.
So, I feel much better when I find products like kids konserve and my pet peeves are put to ease.
I have mentioned this eco-friendly brand before here. My favorite thing about kids konserve is that some products are made from recycled materials (the sweat-free ice pack sleeve used to be a plastic water bottle!), and that ev and I can pack a completely waste-free lunch using the stainless steel containers, cloth napkins and food cozies.
Our favorite item this year is the new glass water bottle in a silicone sleeve. Those neon colors really pop!
Did I mention the ice packs are made out of a non-toxic gel. There is so much to love about these products!
It feels satisfying to support such an endeavor to keep lunch boxes clean, safe and out of the garbage pile.
As summer’s end nears, we are preparing to dig into another year of work. Avoiding hype and minding function here are a few items I have found necessary as ev prepares to rejoin her classmates.
- Comfy, ok if spoiled clothing: check out thredup, an online gently used clothing site. If you don’t already receive hand-me-downs from friends and family, this is a nice way to recycle clothing. I found some brands I like in great condition.
- Comfortable shoes: If you live in a warm climate like we do, you might find these super cute Bensimon sneakers the perfect pair of summer closed-toe shoes. I like the lightweight, thin canvas upper and the sturdy but flexible rubber sole. This is the second time I have purchased Bensimon sneakers for ev. Funny enough, I nearly returned the first pair for how unattractive I found them upon opening. Aren’t they cute on though!
- Lunchbox materials Kidskonserve is my go to for the lunchbox. I like how the lunch bags are made from recycled plastics and stainless steel speaks for itself.
Bensimon Star Sneakers
I hope you find these products as useful as I do. I’d love to hear your back to school essentials.
I guess it’s really easy to get caught up in educating our children, filling them up,making them smart. I feel relieved when I’m reminded of the simple needs children have and of the inner drive they possess that pushes them to grow without our input. It’s comforting to think of my job as a support and a guide rather than a creator or developer.
One of the fundamental needs of children is a role in their environment. A place and a belonging fosters dignity.
So when I share activities like this one, I hope you understand that they came from little ev and not my premeditated efforts to do “educational activities” or to create an “early reader” or to give her an “advantage”. How shallow would my personal efforts compare to that vital drive she has been endowed by Mother Nature.
This “activity” in fact wasn’t an activity at all.
After one year, yes one whole year, of me writing the grocery list at the Saturday morning breakfast table and inviting ev’s input, she has decided to have her own list, even to write it. I suppose a year ago I could have attempted to fill her up with all my wonderful knowledge on how to sound out words, how to make columns and how to check off. I could have really insisted. I wonder if today she would have so joyously asked me to spell the words as she recorded them. I wonder if she would have felt dignity in her role to help fill the pantry had I enlightened her as to how it should be done.
I wonder if it’s usually easier for me to impart my knowledge than it is to have patience as she unfolds herself.
If I am aware on this one point, I have been grossly blinded by myself on so many others. I hope with all of ev’s unfoldings I can muster the humility to guide rather than to create.
I’d like to think my narration catchy or my voice memorizing, yet I’m pretty convinced the writer takes the cake for this story time.
Goggles! by Caldecott author Ezra Jack Keats held the restlessness of twenty-two three to five-year-old children suspended for a glorious few minutes today when a thunderstorm interrupted the play yard.
After all, what child could resist a tale of clever craft by the likes of Archie and Peter, young as themselves, up against the “big boys”?
This tale will remain a trusty
weapon tool in my teacher cache, and you just might find a place on your own child’s bookshelf too.
Be sure to practice your narration beforehand. Don’t forget to whisper when Peter whispers and crouch low in the hideout after running from the big boys!
If dinner is a never-ending occupation, then school lunch is too. I do not know of a trick to get an empty lunchbox home from school. I do know I feel satisfied when ev eats a healthy lunch. Here are a few alternative lunch ideas I have noted from ev and pals’ snack/lunchbox hits:
- Wraps From tortillas to mountain bread, ev loves them rolled with melted cheese, spread with pureed beans like burritos (thinly to avoid ooze), or, like little friend Bea eats, with cold cheese and ham.
- Pancakes Little flapjacks are a snack staple for us. I like the idea of milk, butter, eggs, flour and minimal to no sugar all-in-one. Homemade is always a plus with great recipes from buttermilk to scotch, even ricotta. Breakfast makes leftovers for a change!
- Steamed Veggie Bites My friend Stef steams broccoli florets for her kids’ lunch. They eat them all up. Ev does too. A few drops of olive oil, drops of lemon (just a few!) and a pinch of salt leaves an empty container every time. Try carrots, green beans or your child’s favorite veggie (don’t forget the pinch of salt).
- Carrots, Celery and Dip These classics may be obvious, but the how could turn the yuck to a munch (nothing like a grainy mouth full of stalks and roots). Peel the outer layer of celery to lose the strings. Cut both thin and short for little mouths (see post in lunchbox series). Opt for organic carrots with tops still on; you may find carrots sticks more often in your lunch too. A tasty hummus will dip nicely.
Try new food ideas at home first!
Since I do have to prepare one everyday, my goal is to minimize my effort and maximize lunch success (eaten). Some thoughts as I make the lunchbox:
1. Put yourself in ev’s shoes. If she has snack after a hot and sweaty romp on the playground, what would she enjoy most? Juicy melon bites. How about after a cold romp on the playground? Grapes and cheese bites. What does she enjoy eating most at home? Pasta!
2. Choose seasonal/regional over variety (when possible). To eat seasonal foods IS to be varied. Where did all the pressure come from anyway to have a multi-colored, multi-ethnic DAILY-changing menu. How do summer nectarines and peaches from Chile make sense when we have winter citrus and star fruits in Florida? Each season offers a nice array of color, and, somewhere along the way, I heard a renowned doctor state that consistency in food is a good thing. Did I mention that ev brought fusilli pasta EVERY day this week to school!
3. Neat and Trim. Just the right amount in just the right size for ev’s little hands and mouth seems to go down better. The stainless steel minis by KidsKonserve are perfect for small things like olives, cheese bites or whatever little munchies yours prefer.
Small veggie sticks become crunch in no time!
I dare you to drink your water from the coolest plastic kids cup you can find in your kitchen cabinet. Do it for an entire day every time you are thirsty. Take the sippy cup challenge. Then, tell me these pioneers of food containers don’t rock!
KIDS KONSERVE We use the stainless steel containers. I don’t know how we managed without them. And I’m pretty sure I noticed this treasure on Pottery Barn Kids shelves.
EARTHLUST How inspiring is the story and how nice is the art on the bottles. How do you choose just one?
CROCODILE CREEK I love the bold, colorful prints on the water bottles. Wash with baking soda and hot water for fresh tasting water every day!
ev & pal toasting their steel
Our modern life demands quick and convenient, often compromising the normalities from a day when lunch hour was really an hour and nap was even a word. Unless you live in a part of the world where such blessings still exist, you, like myself, hope to finish breakfast at the table instead of the car, to eat from containers that don’t taste like yesterday’s lunch and to drink from water bottles that don’t taste like dishwasher. Thankfully, these alternatives take the edge off munching on the go.