I still have two more weeks until my oldest is in kindergarten, and therefore, in school from 8-3 every day. That’s just 14 more days that I have to get my list of lunch ideas jotted down for quick and easy reference before each shopping trip, and every morning while making her lunch.
Ok, time for a moment of self-analysis: I’m making theses lists in a desperate attempt to try to control something, while watching my kids grow up and time marching on. I simply can’t slow it down, try as I may. I’m struggling with this kindergarten business much more than I struggled with turning 30 (I actually rather enjoyed that year!). And perhaps I’ll really enjoy this first year of Darah being in school for such long stretches, if I just give it the chance. I think that’s easier said than done, but however it goes, I’m gonna have some good lunch ideas, dang it!
I actually created a clean eating version of the ready-made lunches you can find in the refrigerated section of stores and will be sharing exactly what I put inside the kit in just a bit. It turned out great!
How to Replicate the Wet Napkin
Speaking of “clean” eating, the other thing I’ve been contemplating is how to replicate Darah having a wet napkin with her meals. This is something she has become quite used to at home, and I think every family has little idiosyncrasies that seem perfectly normal because you are used to them, until you step back for a moment and realize that it is actually rather unusual. Well, our kids get damp napkins to help them wipe their faces and hands with pretty much every meal. Anyone else out there do this?
I was originally thinking that I’d need to buy the canister of Wet-Naps and just pack them in a little plastic baggy for her each day. Seemed a bit wasteful, but I what other option did I have?
Where to Find Wet-Nap Products
I actually had a bit of trouble locating these in my Walmart, so I thought I’d let you in on exactly where I found them. Check the section near shampoo and conditioner that has other baby and feminine care products. That’s where I found mine! Other folks reported finding them in the napkin/paper goods aisle, which is where I looked first, but they were not there in my store!
Clean Eating Lunch Kit
Ok, so let’s break down what I found at Walmart to replicate those popular pre-made lunch kits (you know the ones…). To make it more in line with clean eating, I was looking to avoid artificial ingredients as much as possible, High Fructose Corn Syrup, enriched grains, pesticides and nitrates. I had a lot of success!
I used a pre-divided container just to give it more of that “lunch kit” feel, but of course that isn’t necessary. Use what you have, my friends!
I started with the fruit. I chose cantaloupe because my Walmart has a more limited selection of organic fruits, and canatloupe is on the “Clean 15” list, so pesticides aren’t as big of a concern for this conventionally grown product. Other options that aren’t organic would be kiwis, mangoes and bananas. Otherwise, try to get organic if at all possible.
I next added a sweet yet sensible treat. In this case I chose Somersaults because they do not contain enriched wheat or HFCS. I put them in a cupcake liner, just as I did with the fruit, so that they would stay separated.
For the drink, I decided to juice up Darah’s water, but just a touch. I found some organic pineapple juice (which tastes divine, but was definitely not cheap…hmph). I poured about 15% juice and made the rest water, and then added the mixture to a stainless steel cup. She’s used to water, and she’s used to watered-down juice, so I think she’ll like this just fine.
Now it’s time to make the meat, cheese and cracker combo! I couldn’t find the particular brand of crackers that I was hoping to buy, but I did find these whole wheat crackers from Carr. They were on the pricey end, but I liked their size. I used the cracker as my guide for how large the meat and cheese should be. And then I scoured the cabinets to find something that I could use to cut them to that size. I did eventually find something (though I was starting to sweat it, a bit!) and now I’ve got my go-to meat and cheese circle maker! :-).
When you are shopping for the meat, it’s really important to read your labels and look for the absence of nitrates. Most deli meats contain them, so start your search by looking for something that says “no preservatives” on the front as your starting point. As for the cheese, I looked for organic cheese first, and having not found any, I started looking for cheese with as few ingredients as possible, and no food coloring. The no food coloring bit wiped out all the “orange” cheeses immediately.
Gotta Keep ‘Em Separated
Once again, you’ll want to keep the crackers in a separate area from the meat and cheese, or else your kid will have soggy crackers by the time lunch rolls around. Besides, getting to build the little “sandwiches” is part of the fun!
Clean Up Time!
And of course, we can’t forget the Wet-Nap packet. It fits nice and neat in between the fruit and dessert. I realized after my creation was complete that there was room for a baby carrot or two, as well. Next time!
While choosing cleaner ingredients for this lunch kit does make it more expensive than it might be otherwise, the price still hovered right around $2.50, which is exactly what the more conventional kits cost. And honestly it didn’t take long at all to make. If you cut up your cantaloupe and your meat and cheese all in one setting for the week, which still only takes a few minutes, then putting lunch together each morning will be lightning-fast.
Happy lunching, friends! And don’t forget your Wet-Nap coupon!