At the beginning of last year, Ethan got made fun of for his homemade lunches. In a class of 24 kids, he was one of only about two that regularly brought lunch from home. The main reason for this is that the school is a Title I school, which means that a high percentage of students are on free/reduced lunches (I think it's about 75%). We don't qualify, so Ethan brings his lunches from home. I was unaware that this teasing was going on, until he came home from school one day, sat down on the kitchen floor, and tore into his lunch box to eat his uneaten lunch. Certain things were apparently totally unacceptable, such as leftovers from last night's dinner, in a thermos. I even bought him a really cute kids foogo thermos, but apparently that was not socially acceptable enough for the other kindergarteners. The offending food that day was chili from the night before.
As much as I want to protect him from teasing, I've felt like there is only so much that I can do about this. I won't let him buy his lunch everyday, because the food is not healthy, and I can pack him a much healthier and less expensive lunch. I also don't want to teach him to bow down to peer pressure. I know that a lot of the things that we do are a little counter-cultural, but we have more important things to worry about than whether or not his friends approve of his lunch. He does get to choose one day a week to buy lunch. I try not to pack any 'weird' leftovers, and just stick to sandwiches, fruit, etc. Sometimes I'll put chicken noodle soup or mac and cheese in his thermos--he says those are okay. The thermos is apparently where we get into trouble, lol.
I am hoping that this year will be better. This year, he is at the same school, but he's in their brand new Spanish Immersion program. We're in a large, urban district and there are only two elementary schools that offer it, and any students in the district could apply. My thinking is that the kids in this program are generally going to have parents that are a bit more involved, might be the types that will be more likely to pack a lunch, and for that matter, teach their kids some manners!
I have been trying to pack him more interesting, kid-friendly lunches so far this year. Last week I gave him homemade "lunchables". I pack him wheat crackers, and slices of meat and cheese. I also made homemade chocolate pudding for last week's lunches. This week I thought I'd make some homemade jello. I thought about just buying the packets of off-brand jello, but I really don't want him eating all that artificial stuff.
I bought a large box of plain gelatin from Kroger. It was about $5 for 32 packets, so about 16 cents a packet.
I usually buy fresh fruit, but I do like canned pineapple. It's hard to find a really good pineapple, and it's usually really pricey. I thought I would make good use of the leftover pineapple juice from two cans. I will never again throw that juice away--two leftover cans yielded 1 1/2 cups of pineapple juice!
With my first batch, I used 1 c. of pineapple and 1 c. of orange juice.
We ate it all pretty fast, so I made another batch for Ethan's lunches. I decided to decrease the juice, and add fruit to this one. I used 1 c. of pineapple juice and 1 c. of water for the liquid. I added about a cup of diced pineapple and one banana. Yesterday I bought a bunch of brown bananas for 19 cents a lb. at Save a lot. The skin was brown, but the banana was just fine inside. I sliced those up thinly and added them in. When it was close to setting, I put the jello in small containers for lunchboxes. I also tasted it just to be sure it was good ;) It was delicious!
This whole process was ridiculously easy. It was essentially the same as making jello the way most people make jello (well, maybe everyone just buys those little containers now?). I like to make this kind of thing before bed, so everything is ready to go in the morning.
As a side note, did you know that gelatin is actually really good for you? I'll probably do a separate post on that later.