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Lunch Trades: More Than Just PB&J

10/01/2006 10:16AM ● Published by Brandi Barnett

By Andrea Senden

The art of making a student’s lunch can become a mundane task. Even worse, it can
become the food that students most hate to eat. Many parents lack creativity after packing
hundreds of paper-bag lunches. Be encouraged; you can put originality back into a brown
paper bag.

Sandwiches are still the staple of the brown-bag lunch. They are easy to make, inexpensive
and are able to withstand the pressures of going to school with an energetic kindergartner
while fitting into the busy life of a teenager. Elementary-age students desire something fun,
and a cookie-cutter sandwich is a great way to turn a mundane peanut-butter-and-jelly
sandwich into something new and exciting. Star-shaped sandwiches one day and heart-shaped
ones the next are sure to keep a child anxiously awaiting each sandwich, even if it is only
peanut-butter-and-jelly. Even more creative and fun is Disney character sandwiches. A
sandwich iron can be found for about $45, and it allows you to turn a plain piece of bread
into a fun, tasty panini.

For children who get tired of sandwiches – regardless of their shape – there are alternatives
that are sure to make them happy. Putting their favorite soup in a Thermos is a great way to
steer away from the typical sack lunch. Not only will a Thermos full of soup make them feel
distinct as they watch their friends eat the typical turkey sandwich, it is a great way to add that
little extra touch of warmth on cold days. Also, replacing a sandwich with salami, cheese, and
crackers adds a snack-like feeling to the meal.

Snacks are often the most important part of a child’s lunch because it is what they look
forward to the most. Cutely decorated cookies or cookies shaped like the first letter of their
name are sure to make children feel special. However, a healthier alternative to cookies may be
a slice of homemade banana bread, which will help satisfy a child’s sweet tooth while still
offering some form of nutrients.

Allowing children to help pack their own lunch is a good way for them to be involved and
to ensure that they take a lunch that they will enjoy. Also, slipping in notes of encouragement
is a sure way to add a smile to any child’s face.

Always a hit in elementary school is the parent who brings their child a lunch during
lunchtime. This typically involves a fast-food meal, but healthier alternatives are available.
This is a great opportunity to make a child feel special while offering a freshly cooked meal
rather than the typical cold lunch.

High school students are more difficult to convince to take a lunch to school when they live
in a world where pizza is in and sandwiches are out. Most often, high school students will not
want to be seen with a sack lunch, so it is a good idea to pack them something small – like an
energy bar or granola bar – that they can throw in their purse or pocket.

Whether sending a lunch with a small child or a teen, creativity is often required. Try to
stay away from mundane sandwiches and spice it up with your own creative flare.

Food+Dining, In Print october 2006 lunch trades pb&j school lunch
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