We decided to send our kids to school with packed lunches long ago, and I don’t see that changing anytime soon. But there’s a sticky little problem that goes along with it—around our house, we call it “lunchbox envy.” And this far into the school year, we know it will make an appearance any time now.
The signs of lunchbox envy start off as subtle things. The boys may mention what their lunch mates nibbled on that day, or they might say, “Mom, can you get pizza rolls the next time you go to the store?” Anything is worth a try when you’re a kid, right? When that doesn’t work, they move on to more obvious hints. They’ll stand in front of the refrigerator with the door wide open and proclaim there isn’t anything good to pack. Or they’ll diligently pack the protein, veggie, and drink (if they wish) that we “suggest” they include but hardly eat any of it. I always know when it’s the latter—their moods are atrocious by the time they get home.
When I start to see the first signs of lunchbox envy, I know it’s time to pull out my list of tricks for combating it. I recently came across a few tips in the Weston A. Price Foundation article Packing the Perfect Lunch Box. But I also know what works with my boys. Here are a few of their most envious complaints and my favorite tricks for combating them:
- Friends get a candy bar each day? I tell my boys to choose a homemade treat that we can make together, and then I let them pack one in their lunchbox each morning.
- Buddies get fun things like pizza rolls in their lunches? We’ll go online to look for something similar—say a pizza tortilla rollup—and then buy the ingredients to make it ourselves.
- Tired of taking a cold sandwich? For a change of pace, we make a big batch of whatever soup or chili they choose. The boys get to fill up their thermos and enjoy a warm lunch.
- Not eating their vegetables? I know I don’t want to eat a carrot every single day, and I understand my boys don’t want to either. I’ll just ask them what they’re in the mood for and make sure to get it for them.
Life is a lot simpler when I pay attention and wrestle lunchbox envy to the ground before it gets out of hand. But even when I don’t, I can get the boys excited about new lunch options. Letting the boys choose what to take in their lunch keeps them pretty happy with packing them each morning.
What are your tricks for keeping lunchbox envy at bay while still making sure your kids are enthusiastic about lunch?
Photo credit: CC/Melissa