Wednesday, March 4, 2009

The 'Lunchables' Debate

We truly love being a part of our Homeschool co-op! We all enjoy the fellowship and the kids are learning wonderful new things every week. It's a great time, but a huge effort since it really tires me out. It also means that we do 5 days of schoolwork in 4 each week, and we have to keep on top of things to make it through the curriculum as planned.

One of the huge 'novelties' of co-op day is packing a lunch! I suspect that most homeschoolers generally eat lunch at home. We certainly do! Home is the cheapest place, very convenient, and the most nutritionally balanced place to eat. We can't wait until the weather warms a bit because then we will be eating and doing our schoolwork on the back patio! Yeah!

So, packing a lunch each week has been a lot of fun. We don't have a huge amount of time to eat, so it doesn't need to be big and elaborate. We avoid peanut butter since we a have a little one in the co-op who is allergic to it, and the children would be relegated to the 'peanut butter' room.

We've done sandwiches, home made soup in thermoses, luscious leftovers and hodgie podgie plates. We've picked up Tim Horton's ham and cheese sandwiches in a pinch when 'planned leftovers' the night before didn't go quite as well as planned. Ahem!

But the kids have been looking around. Other kids have 'Lunchables' and they look like they are a whole lot of fun to eat!

We've never eaten 'Lunchables'. They don't sell them in the grocery store isles where I shop. We do the 'perimeter' thing and fill our cart with fruits, veggies, blocks of good cheese and fresh meats to supplement the canned and frozen fruit, farm fresh eggs and milk, farm co-op butter and frozen farm raised meats that we regularly buy.

The whole 'lunch in a box' thing doesn't seem to fit in with our efforts to eat healthfully and avoid preservatives and excessive fats, sugars and sodium. We don't eat perfectly by any means, but we are trying to eat healthy and work at eliminating our very very bad poorer eating habits. I really don't want to add another bad habit, but ... I thought, it wouldn't hurt to do 'Lunchables' .... just once? Maybe?

I did my research. Calorie Count at is so very helpful. I love the way they lay it all down there in black and white and even make cute pie charts that I can understand. I couldn't find a 'Lunchable' that rated above a C-, and what's more, most of them were super high in fat, calories and accounted for a half day's worth of salt.

I was not impressed.

Now, I know there are many of you thinking 'lighten up!' It's just one lunch! You're right. It would not kill them, or ruin their health, or give them a taste for high fat and salty meals.

BUT ... there is another principle here. I will not support a company that is knowingly selling products to mainstream Americans that are so decisively unhealthy. It's just not where our money is going to be spent, even if they do keep putting them on sale and putting coupons in the paper! They can do better - much much better. I think we are in a health crisis that is far more serious than the financial crisis this nation faces. The makers of these products should be held accountable for their contribution to the problem and make an effort to do better.

On top of that, it's the 'garbage in - garbage out' principle. Do I really want to see what our children can do fueled by fat, salt, sugar, dyes and preservatives - especially when they are away from home? I don't think I should do that to the co-op teachers!

{Climbing off my soapbox now}

I presented the kids with the facts. We had a good discussion. We decided against 'Lunchables'. When I asked the kids what was so appealing about them, they decided it was how everything was all cut up small and put in little compartments. Hmm. Is that all? No brainer! We can DO that!

Problem solved.

Tomorrow's lunch:

tiny whole wheat crackers

little squares of cheese

thin little slices of herb roasted chicken breast (leftovers)

sweet little baby carrots

small red pepper and cucumber cubes

mini apple slices

bite sized whole wheat pumpkin nut bread

bite sized jelly jigglers

100% pure organic juice boxes

TIME FACTOR: about 15 minutes to make three lunches

That should do it!

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  1. Hi Heather!! I found you through Magnolia Memories!! I'm a Christian homeschooler who shares your healthy food philosophy!! We do occasionally deviate from what I know is best, but we're eating healthier than we ever have. There is just so much junk in almost all prepared foods.

    I'm looking forward to visiting you more! :o)


  2. Have you checked out Bento Box lunch blogs?

    Very cool and healthy.

  3. Oh, I know about the lunchable whines....I heard them for so long, until my kids tried them at a friend's house. Twice actually, then decided they are gross and have never asked for one since! LOL We much prefer homemade "lunchables", too!

  4. Hi Heather. I found your blog while looking for tassels! I look forward to reading more. Have a lovely weekend.

  5. I went through this same discussion when Christopher was younger. He thought these were the coolest things when he saw others have them while still in school (K, 1st, and 3rd grades in public schools).

    I bought these just a very few times and always when we were "out and about" and needed a quick lunch for him. He had them so rarely that he saw them as a treat rather than the usual lunch (like so many of his friends).

    I understand that they are very easy to pack but they cost so much money for what they are and they are not at all healthy.

    I buy the large chunks of Colby cheese and cut them into cracker size slices, then put six slices in a snack size Zip Lock bag. Sometimes I'll also put six Triscuits in a snack size bag, too (only if they are for Christopher to pack his own lunch).

    I got six bags of sliced cheese ready for the guys to grab for a snack or lunch for the same price as one Luncheable (albeit they will have to add crackers but also fruit).

    I rarely, rarely buy packaged lunch meat and if I do, it's the small packages of shinly sliced ham to chop up with scrambled eggs.

    Instead I buy sliced or shredded chicken at the deli on sale which is usually cheaper than in a package.

  6. I loved your post! I felt exactly the same way when we joined a coop last year. I could not believe what I was seeing in everyone's lunches -- and how many lunchables there were in the room!!! I have to admit I felt a bit "out of place" with the plain jane (healthy) lunches I brought. Fortunately, my kids don't know what lunchables are yet, and haven't noticed yet what they are missing out on. Your solution is terrific! I'm hoping my kids keep their eyes to themselves and are happy with what I'm packing (whole-wheat bagels with pb or cream cheese, fruit, and homemade cookie) for awhile yet!Glad I'm not the only one who feels this way.

  7. Thanks for the tips. Homemade luncables are soo much better indeed. I recently readn an article about bento boxes (home made again) and thought that was cool idea too.....Nways, thanks again for sharing.....

  8. I am so impressed, not just with your choice but the fact you had the discussion with the kids. Very well done. We have the lunchables here in Ireland but I don't buy them, they are too expensive... even if I had money to throw away!

  9. Great job! Homemade is always better.

  10. Hi Heather, I love your idea for the home made lunchables in the plastic boxes. We have been making our own lunchables for quite awhile, but I have given in to the kids (and my own laziness) on occasion. I really hadn't taken much time to think about just how unhealthy the store-bought ones are. I think I will be talking to my kids soon and making our own all the time now.

    By the way, thanks for stopping my blog and giving me the name of your manners curriculum. I'll be checking it out soon.


Thank you for taking the time to comment! I so enjoy reading your comments when you kindly share your thoughts!