Lunch Box Wars

History repeats itself. My mom packed my lunch for much of my early childhood. I pack my boys lunch now. My mom tried to feed us healthy foods and drinks. I try to feed my boys healthy foods and drinks. Through the course of time, there have been some changes. I do not pack the occasional mystery pink sandwich goop that showed up in my lunch from a local grocery store deli. Nor do I pile the sandwich insides 3-inches high. Korean mothers show love by portion size, and I was well-loved even if it was unidentifiable pink stuff.

Today I have the advantage of ice packs and insulated boxes (although even the fancy PBKids and Skip Hop lunch boxes cannot hold a candle to my childhood metal Peanuts or Strawberry Shortcake boxes). Like my mom did with folding sandwich bags, I had been using plastic bags to pack their sandwiches. I also used some reusable tupperware for certain sides, but the bags fit better. Going through so many plastic bags did make me feel a little wasteful even if each purchase of Ziplock boxes gained a Box Top label worth 10 whopping cents.

Then this week brought a major win in the lunch box world: LunchSkins! Connor’s school’s parent association was selling them as a fundraiser. I got the email and discovered them for the first time. Like Rihanna, I was wondering, “Where have you been all my life?” They are BPA-free. They are slim and fit easily in each lunch box. They are dishwasher safe. They are reusable. And through the fundraiser, they were offered at a discounted price. WINNING! No, I did not use cloth diapers but am paying penance through LunchSkins.

Sandwich and Snack Bags

Sandwich and Snack Bags

It’s not all easy being green. I used to make lunches right after putting the kids to bed. Now I have to wait till the dishwasher has cycled through after dinner (I only bought one set each for the kids) which means sometimes I am forced to make lunches much later (post-wine) when I’m really sleepy. I also discovered that if I don’t place them properly in the dishwasher water can pool up and no one wants a sopping wet reusable food storage item. But these are small prices to pay for relieving guilt loving the Earth.

Like my mom, I have my kids drink milk all the time. If it’s not milk, it’s water. Once in awhile, I let them live life on the edge and indulge in lemonade or juice or flavored milk. But I don’t make a habit of buying those drinks for home. For their lunches, I buy single serve milks to pack. In Chicago, I could buy cases at Whole Foods. When we moved here to Albuquerque, I could not find cases for the life of me. If there was a large case like at Costco, it was only flavored milk. For my preference of low fat, plain milk, I had to resort to small packs of 3 or 4. Why is it so easy to get sugared up milk and so hard to get regular normal milk?! I use 8-10 per week, and it was annoying and more expensive buying them in 3’s or 4’s. I found the best option was Trader Joe’s 4-pack. They were the best deal financially, and I could buy 3 or 4 packs at a time. There were times when there would be only one pack in stock or worse they would be sold out. I suppose I was not the only parent in this predicament.

Today I went to TJ’s to fill up again and discovered they were no longer there. Not just sold out, but GONE! I reluctantly bought an 8-pack of juice boxes (at least they were way cheaper). Connor will think it is Christmas when he drinks his juice for lunch tomorrow. It is not a total loss. With my already slim options getting slimmer, I researched online and contemplated ordering cases from Amazon. Then the research brought me to these Rubbermaid drink containers from the Container Store.

My plan is to go and purchase these bad boys while in the Midwest over the holidays since there are no Container Stores here and the shipping cost would be more than the actual product price. I can then pack the boys low fat, plain milk myself! It will save money and landfill space. Another win for Mother Earth and this Mother Milk Nazi.

Once a week I let Ethan buy a school lunch on pizza day. Even though I pack fresh, healthy, yummy lunches, Ethan definitely prefers the processed, mass-produced school lunches. HE LOVES THEM! I don’t mind since it gives me a break. Being the son of a low fat, plain milk pusher, he knows what I prefer. I assumed he was getting regular milk until one day I thought to ask him. He confessed he had chocolate each and every time. I attempted to set him straight. Although he always drinks regular milk at home for every meal, he suddenly decided that he HAD to have chocolate when he bought lunch. After my lecture, he finally agreed that he would no longer get it. How did my mom brainwash me to get regular white milk every time as a kid? I never once thought to get chocolate. Where did I go wrong as a parent? 🙂

There are worse crimes in life. Everyone needs to be a rebel sometimes. I hoped Ethan enjoyed his James Dean milk episode. Apparently, it was not over. Weeks went by and when I checked in again sure that my lecturing had paid off, he told me that he was not drinking anything. He would rather drink nothing at all on pizza day than have to drink regular milk that he drinks every other stinking meal of his life! I was actually amused. He may not be on my side, but he feels strongly enough about something that he is willing to boycott than give in. And I thought Connor got my stubborn gene. Who knew Ethan had it, too? One day I hope he will channel that activism for good! What starts as silly anecdotes may one day blossom into change for the better. At least that is what I am telling myself rather than repeat the end of the last paragraph again.

After the boycott discovery and subsequent lecture, we decided to take a break from buying lunch. It just so happened that the menu did not have pizza last week anyways. Tonight I told Ethan that it was pizza day again tomorrow.
Milk Nazi: “Do you want to buy lunch?”
Ethan: “Yes.”
Milk Nazi: “IF you buy lunch tomorrow, what kind of milk are you going to get?”
Ethan: “White milk.”

And that was that. Did I mention I like WINNING? 🙂 For any Ethan-sympathizers out there thinking I am ridiculous, you have full permission to slip my kids high fructose corn syrup laden sugar shakes till they have it coming out both ends. They may buy packs of them once they leave my house in a fit of rebellious glory. However, there just may come a day when they will be packing their own children low fat, plain milk for lunch, too. History may repeat itself again.

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One Response to Lunch Box Wars

  1. Pingback: Clouds and Rain In Sunny ABQ | Confessions from Momville

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