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Moms Offer School Lunch Tips and Advice

This week's moms talk tackles school lunch - everything from whether they eat cafeteria lunch or bring their own to what the best food are for lunch.

Hamilton-Wenham Patch invites you and your circle of friends to help build a community of support for mothers and their families right here in Hamilton and Wenham.

Each week in Moms Talk, local mothers take your questions, give advice and share solutions.

Grab a cup of coffee and settle in to read this week's question. Below is how local mothers answered, but we want to hear from you. Leave a comment in the comment box below and share your thoughts.

Question: School is back in session which means kids will be eating lunch at school every day.
Do your kids pack a lunch or eat school lunch?
If they pack a lunch, who packs it, mom and dad or your child?
When packing lunches, how much attention to you give to nutrition?
What are some popular lunch items in your family?
If they eat school lunch, why? What could be done to encourage more
students to eat school lunch?

School lunch: Hmmmm, to be more appetizing, it would be helpful to make the meats not look like mystery meat!  Give the children fresh fruit, NOT canned, give them food that is not loaded in preservatives and artificial flavors and colors.

I pack the my children lunches most of the time. They love to eat pasta with meat sauce, fresh chicken roll ups, grilled chicken tenders, fresh veggies (carrots, cucumbers, celery), hummus and bread, salads with grilled chicken, soups and fresh breads, yogurts, fresh fruit, cheese and crackers and the good old PB&J (almond butter works for this one too).

When packing a lunch, we try to keep it balanced. Something crunchy, protein, something fresh, something sweet. We pack the lunches together. I guide them, but they make the choices.

Buying lunch with your friends at school can be fun. My children buy lunch a few times a month.  We check out the menu for the month and plan what lunches they WANT to buy.  My children really don't like everything that is offered, so it makes it easy.

We buy lunch two times per week with the kids choosing the day and lunch packed three times per week by mom.

Favorites for both kids are quesadilla with beans, tomatillo salsa and fresh spinach leaves. Another variation on the same ingredients is brown rice, black beans, tomatillo salsa and cheese in a thermos. Both kids like homemade fried rice.

One kid likes turkey, hummus and cheese in a pita bread. One kid that will not eat sandwiches or pasta, so this one gets dinner leftovers or canned Progresso soups.

We'd be more likely to buy if the menu resembled something other than food you'd by at an amusement park or McDonalds. There's too much processed chicken and not enough quality fresh produce (hey, you can't expect much for $3). Items I do not let me kids buy:

French toast sticks with tons of syrup and heat and serve sausage

Pizza Dippers

Large Pretzel with cheese stick

Popcorn Chicken

Trudy Reid: Most school days, both of my children take their lunch. And most usually, I pack it.

I do make sure that it's a nutritional lunch. My son will take a sandwich and fruit.  My daughter will usually take a healthy snack bar of some sort and fruit, a bagel, or half of a sandwich.

My son cannot buy lunch at school since they do not offer it - it's a small private school. I really don't know how schools can encourage more children to buy a school lunch. When my kids were in elementary school, and I worked as a lunch monitor, I did notice that sometimes the lines would be long, and if you bought your lunch, you would no longer sit down to eat it and it was time to leave the cafeteria. The staff would encourage the child to finish, but most often, the child felt they would miss out on recess if they didn't go out at the same time as the rest of the class.

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