Friday, September 30, 2011

Food this week

It's fall harvest time - roasted root vegetables are a favorite.  Tonight, parsnips, beets, and carrots, cut into strips to maximize child interest and dipping ability.  Lavender liked all of them plain ("I have so many favorite foods!" she said) ... but decided that they were even better with ketchup.
Now for a few of this week's packed lunches and how they compare to school lunch at $2.35.  In our district, school lunch consists of a highly processed entree that comes frozen and is baked in an industrial oven - there is no cooking in the kitchens.   Meals have to meet USDA school lunch requirements but as many people know, that leaves a lot to be desired.

First, homemade chili (made with local, grass-fed beef) with some trail mix (homemade granola, sunflower seeds, coconut flakes, freeze-dried strawberries, and currants) and fresh prune plums.  The chili cost about $1.10/serving, the prune plums $0.25 for 3, and the trail mix $0.20.  Total lunch cost: $1.55 (all numbers rounded up to the nearest nickel).
 Hard-boiled organic eggs ($0.35), baked potato chips ($0.30), carrot sticks ($0.25), prune plums $0.25).  Total $1.15.  (Eggs purchased at Costco, which has the lowest-priced organic eggs I've seen.)
 Wrap (cream cheese, sliced chicken, romaine, carrots, red bell pepper) at $1.00, baked chips, olives ($0.25), prune plums, muesli.  Total $2.00.  Cost of the wrap would be a lot lower if I had made my own tortillas.

My lunch system is fairly simple.  Although I can agree that there are some very tempting lunch and bento systems, for the sake of food safety I pack items in a container of the right size.  Things that need to stay cold are placed between two ice packs.  If we're using the hot food jar, I don't pack anything that needs to stay cold - both so that the food jar can remain hot (I wrap it in a towel for extra insulation, inside the lunch bag) and so that nothing perishable heats up from the food jar.  Lavender has an early lunch and a later snack, so sometimes I use a small insulated bag for each of those, and sometimes everything is packed together in one bag.  The food above is for lunch and snack together. Lunch is only 20 minutes - not a lot of time to eat much of anything!

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