9.05.2010

Our Bi-Weekly Lunch Schedule

In conjunction with the Not Back to School Blog Hop last month, I posted about our (idealized) daily schedule and mentioned our bi-weekly lunch schedule and monthly dinner schedule. Since then, a few readers have asked me to share both meal plans.

I'm in the process of revising our dinner schedule - it contains many items we don't make anymore for one reason or another - but I've spent the last couple of weeks "test-driving" and tweaking our lunch schedule so I feel comfortable posting it here.

Admittedly, this may not work for some. It really just fits my reality (i.e, needing basically nutritious but easy-to-prepare, palatable food for my home-educated, elementary-aged daughters and the two or three preschoolers I watch through my in-home babysitting service). And it reflects the fact that we're not dealing with any food allergies or food-related health conditions and just my particular position on nutrition (i.e., that, while I want my children and the others in my care to eat balanced meals - something from every food group daily - I have not - at least to this point - been personally convicted about going "all-natural" or "organic"). It also doesn't include ideas for Saturdays and Sundays; we just "wing it" then!

All that said, if our "schedule" benefits someone else, I'm happy to share it:

WEEK 1
  • Monday: Lunchables, carrot slices, raisins, milk
  • Tuesday: Breakfast for Lunch (waffles, eggs, sausage or turkey bacon, bananas, milk)
  • Wednesday: fishsticks, tater tots, mixed fruit, green beans, milk
  • Thursday: macaroni and cheese, peaches, peas, milk
  • Friday: peanut butter and jelly on whole-wheat, apple slices, baby carrots, milk

WEEK 2
  • Monday: Lunchables, carrot slices, raisins, milk
  • Tuesday: bagels with cream cheese or peanut butter, apple slices, baby carrots, milk
  • Wednesday: English muffin pizzas, pears, broccoli or cauliflower, milk
  • Thursday: turkey hot dogs with buns, grapes, green beans, milk
  • Friday: grilled cheese sandwiches, peaches, peas, milk

A few notes:
  • I had a monthly lunch schedule in the past, but I found it too hard to come up with 20 different realistic meal ideas. On the other hand, 10 (nine, really, since the Mondays are the same) came easily and seems to provide enough variety for the kids;
  • The Monday Lunchables are, of course, not ideal choices nutritionally. I do get just the basic packs (with sandwich meat, crackers, cheese slices, and cookies or a small candy bar), but I know they're rather fatty and definitely processed. It's my nod, though, to the reality that we have a kind of hectic Monday schedule - early afternoon piano lessons almost 30 minutes away and one preschooler who still needs a nap before we go (which means she eats lunch at the piano teacher's house during the older girls' lessons) - so it's what works;
  • My napper often has to eat "on the go" on Tuesdays as well, when my girls have early afternoon ice skating lessons. I make the above-mentioned food for the others while she sleeps and then pack her a "Trail Mix Lunch" (Cheerios, cut-up string cheese, and raisins) to bring to the rink along with a cup of milk (and - if I remember! - a vegetable);
  • The English muffin pizzas are a cinch to make! Just spread some tomato sauce on muffin halves, sprinkle with mozzarella cheese, and bake at 350 for about five minutes;
  • We do alter this as the situation warrants - especially when we take a field trip or if there is a particular curriculum-related food that would be fun to try (this week Wednesday, for example, we'll attempt Southern Cheese Grits Casserole!);
  • I try to maintain a balanced approach about all of this, too. For example, I purposely don't schedule in food I know any of the children hates, even if it's very nutritious - what's the point in that battle when there are decent alternatives? And - while we have a "No Thank You Helping" rule (i.e., each child must take at least a tiny bit of each course) - I'm not a member of the "Clean Your Plate Club." Instead, I want all the children in my care to continue to know and trust their bodies' built-in, natural hunger mechanisms - just as we all did as babies. Plus, I think there's wisdom in the 90/10 guide (i.e., that, if 90% of one's intake is decent, good nutrition, it's okay if 10% is not "perfect"), especially because, with my kids being home, I know exactly what goes into their mouths all day long.
So far, so good with all of this: none of the children gets sick with more than a cold or two a year and are quite lean; they have no allergies or sensitivities; they enjoy a pretty wide variety of food (my girls' favorite vegetable is cauliflower, of all things!); and both our pediatrician and dentist give Rachel and Abigail "high marks" at check-ups. And having the schedule really helps me. I know at a glance how to shop each week, and I avoid the, "Oh, what will I make?" concern in the midst of our full learning days. It won't work for everyone, but it's great for us!

2 comments:

Jennifer said...

Although the food choices wouldn't work for us - we do have food allergies to contend with - I do like the idea of the rotating lunch schedule. Now, to come up with 10 dairy-free, gluten-free meals that both of my boys will eat. Hmmm... I'm thinking, I'm thinking. It's not going to be easy, but I think it might be doable. Thanks for reminding me that this was something I have been saying I want to do. :)

The Noy Maker said...

Thanks for sharing your ideas! I find we do SO MUCH better with a menu plan! Now if only I could stick with it longer than a week;-)

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