September is here, and most parents reading this blog are feeling pretty much in control of their kid’s lunch boxes.  Of course, you do, it’s September!  Lunch boxes are like a pitiful before and after pic in reverse.  September, the lunch box is clean, there is a healthy sandwich with the crust cut off, the veggie sticks are making happy faces and a homemade treat is wrapped in paper with a note saying “I love you” on it.  By June this same lunch looks a little different…no more crust cutting, instead the sandwich is replaced with a “do it yourself” lunch concept of a jar of jam, a slice of white bread and a chunk of kielbasa.  Veggie sticks no more, and the lunch box has been missing since October 1st!  Although I wish I could help with the lost lunch box, in this blog I will put first things first and focus on the single food habit that needs to be corrected in our children’s lunch box, that is the consumption of deli meats.

Let’s start with the facts, deli meats are BAD for your health.  A year ago we saw the WHO classify luncheon meats as a GROUP 1 category, stating that consumption of luncheon meats is carcinogenic to humans.  In other words, luncheon meats have an impact on health equal to cigarettes.  This is for a series of reasons, luncheon meats are smoked, they contain preservatives, corn syrup, nitrates, sodium and bad fats.  This is not new news to anyone reading this, but we still eat these products and worse…give it to our children on a daily basis.  We do this for the sheer fact that luncheon meats are convenient, and with morings being so rushed to get everyone out the door, time savers always win.

Last year I took the deli meat free challenge, I made a conscious effort to avoid using luncheon meat the whole year…I will not lie, this was difficult especially because I am a mom of three, that works full time and don’t enjoy making lunches. Going into my second year of deli free lunches, I am proud to share my top 5 rules to make it stick the whole year.

  1. The kids have to help, no more super mom, on the first day of school my kids have a job description of their role in lunch making.  I am the main meal or sandwich maker, but they must prep their snacks, bag, and beverage…(healthy ones of these will be a future blog).
  2. Have a menu set for the week, I kept things really simple, since I grocery shop on the weekend, the beginning of the week lunches were very different than the end of the week.  Monday and Tuesdays are typically fresh sandwich meals, and by the end of the week, bento boxes with dried fruits, cheese and crackers did the trick.
  3. Getting fresh meats ready.  Once a month, I will be in bulk organic chicken breasts and rib steaks, I will slice them extremely thin and freeze them.  Most mornings as I am putting on the coffee pot, I thaw a thin slice of meat and grill it in minutes.  Fresh meat ready to go!
  4. Make extra dinner.  Make more food and portion it out before it hits the table for dinner.  Leftovers make great lunches.
  5. Think outside the box, sometimes the kids want sandwiches and sometimes they don’t.  I have given my kids hearty yogurt parfaits or traditional breakfast meals for lunch.

For more ideas take a peak at some of these mcc blogs for lunch ideas…

JAR LUNCHES – these are lunch ideas made in mason jars, easy to make the night before!

A TWIST ON TOAST – these are easy ideas for cracker toppers for lunch

DO IT YOURSELF PROTEIN PLATES – great bistro box style lunch!

This year take the challenge and make it a deli free year!