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Brown-bagging it. How To Do it Better For Our Kids.

I don't know about you but my kid's a brown-bagger (and a fussy eater, to boot) and I struggle every day with what to put in his lunch.  

The WSJ had a funny take on it today, noting that, with all the instructions and regulations -- no peanut butter, nut products, candy bars, soda -- what's a parent to do?

Fortunately for me, my son pretty much sticks to routine -- a baggie full of saltine mini crackers, another of graham crackers, and maybe, if I'm lucky, some carrots.  Period.

Then there's all the media pressure about making our kids a healthy lunch.  "I pack [my son] a lunch every day and I hate it," Amy Hood, a stay-at-home mother of three from Charlestown, R.I., tells the WSJ's Andrea Petersen.  "It is like laundry. You're never done."

I, too, hate making lunch.  The minute my son comes in the door from school, I'm obsessing about it until I can make it and just shove it in the fridge.  Don't quite know why I hate it so much, but I do.

Some schools have even more draconian rules.  Notes Petersen,  some schools have a "no waste" policy.  No, not the food, but the stuff it comes in. "Disposable water bottles, plastic bags and milk cartons are no-no's. The school also has its own compost pile. Parents can ask that their child's lunch leftovers be placed there instead of being sent home."

Hood tells Petersen that she doesn't mind that kind of policy but hates that her sink piles up with piles of plastic containers.  

Petersen adds that what's in kids' lunchboxes has changed over the past several decades. "They are much less likely to contain a sandwich. In 1995, 73% of all kids ages 6 to 12 brought a sandwich for lunch. In 2012, 58% did, according to NPD Group, a consumer research firm that surveys eating behavior.

Instead, lunchboxes are filled with more snack-type foods, Petersen quotes Harry Balzer, NPD's chief industry analyst. "You are loading lunch up with more fruit, crackers, vegetables, yogurt, fruit bars. Take them all together and they equal the decline in sandwiches," he tells her..

So what's the answer?  A sandwich in the shape of Miss Kitty, Petersen asks.  Or a hard-boiled egg that looks like a bunny?   Hey, don't ask me.  I'm just reporting the problem!

Experts say to make sure your child has a protein (maybe some sliced turkey or swiss cheese), a fruit and something with not a lot of sugar to drink.  (My son is addicted to bottled water.)

Eating lunch in school will never be a gourmet meal, but we can make it slightly less unappealing when they pull it out of the wrinkled, stained bag that got sat on, on the bus.


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