School is out (for most of us, the rest will be getting out next week), and that means there are some parents (and kids) who usually rely on free or subsidized school lunches may find themselves wondering what to do.
Thankfully, a lot of great organizations have stepped up and partnered with local area school, rec centers, and civic organizations to provide free breakfasts, lunches, and snacks for al kids 18 and under this summer. For those of us in East County, here is a list of locations!
Those of us in the greater San Diego Area, there are a lot of great options all over town!
There is a kick off BBQ at Skyline Hills Park 6/21/17 10:30am-2:00pm! Parents eat free at this BBQ and there are all kinds of activities!
Lindo Lake in Lakeside is hosting a summer BBQ that’s free for kids, and only $4.00 for parents on August 15th! The best part is that each family leaves with 6 lbs. of fresh produce thanks to Feeding America! If the two lists above aren’t in your area, you can also turn to the USDA Find Summer Meals map here.
All of these programs are free and there is no proof of need and you do not have to sign up in advance. Just show up and hte kids get a tasty meal!
What I love about this program is that there are tons of rec centers hosting these lunches and they are usually adjacent to a playground, which means after a long morning of playing, the kids don’t have long to wait to get a yummy lunch!
Looking for a few ideas of summer fun with a nearby lunch?
If you know of more summer lunch programs for kids in San Diego County, I’d love to hear about them! Please leave a comment!
Bringing it back! To help get us back on track and use up what we’ve got in the pantry. I just did a pantry and freezer inventory, and I’ll need to do a quick trip to pick up some frozen veggies and fresh fruit tomorrow, but other than that (and a gallon of milk), we should be good for the week!
I’m just posting dinners for our meal plan. The kiddos have started eating a small toasted bagel with cream cheese for breakfast along with fruit. Hubs likes Oatmeal (my recipe for an easy almost instant oatmeal mix can be found here) if he’s got time, otherwise he and I have protein shakes with frozen bananas and PB2.
Lunches for Lil’ Man are usually Peanut butter and crackers, fruit, milk, a protein muffin (aka a kid cupcake), and applesauce cup. He takes his lunch every day! Hubs usually has a protein shake or I pack him leftovers or a frozen entree.
Bitty Bird and I usually have leftovers from the night before, or soup, sandwiches, quesadillas. She eats almost anything!
- D:Crockpot pulled BBQ chicken, steamed veggies, garlic bread
- D: Bean, Rice, and cheese bowls (they also have caramelized onions and peppers)
- D: Fritatta (with veggies, bacon, and cheese) and fruit salad
- D: Veggie Enchiladas (it’s a complete meal, no sides needed!)
- D: Date Night! (we go out)
- D: Crockpot Chili (I’ve got a batch in the freezer- I’ll de-frost and toss it into the crockpot!), fruit salad
- D:Chicken and Veggie teriyaki stir fry, rice
The menu may change, as I pull stuff out of the pantry to rotate what we’ve got (I am trying to cut down on waste, and put the older stuff up front to get eaten first. I need to replenish our snack bag that lives in the car, and make sure to take our water bottles when we leave the house!
Most kids are on Fall break right now and school starts back up on Monday, but this post comes from my heart. I can’t tell you how many times I opened my lunch bag as a child, only to be disappointed by a limp, sweaty bologna sandwich, a warm juice box and a bag of chips. My mom is an awesome cook, but lunches as a kid were always uninspired. She packed us the same lunch that our friends had.
Kids now have a lot more choices when it comes to lunches. Cooler bags/soft sided insulated bags are now chic, and many schools have restrictions on what kids can bring to school (mostly due to common food allergies).
Here are some tips that can help you pack a yummy, nutritious, frugal lunch for your kids (or heck, even for you if you pack your lunch for work):
- Plan ahead. Take an inventory of your pantry, fridge and freezer. Make a list of lunches you can make with what you’ve got on hand.
- Eat what’s on sale! You’ll save more if you eat what’s in season.
- Involve the eater of the lunch: if you involve the kids, they’ll be more apt to eat what’s packed.
- Keep Lunch fun! Use cookie cutters (like this one– I love it for sliced cheese) to make sandwiches, fruit, and cheese into fun shapes.
- Set aside time for prep: When you get home from the store, set aside some time to chop veggies, fruit, and cheese and place single servings in baggies. Store the baggies in a drawer in the fridge. Resist the urge to snack on them!
- Resist the urge to buy individual packages of snacks. They are usually not the best value for your dollar. Set aside some time after your shopping trip to portion out cookies, crackers, snacks and even yogurt.
- Along the same lines: Resist the urge to buy pre-made sandwiches, like UnCrustables. Many schools don’t allow Peanut Butter (or other nut butters) in school lunches. If your kids love those sandwiches, make your own. All you need in an empanada press (like this one) or a Wonder Bread Sandwich Sealer and D-Cruster a loaf of bread, your fav. peanut or other nut/seed butter, and some jam or jelly. Make about 12 sandwiches for less than $10. The average price for a box of 4 UnCrustables is around $3.50! You can use whatever type of sliced bread you like too!
- Sandwiches need not be an everyday food! Make wraps with tortillas, sliced cheese, deli meats, and flavored cream cheese. Send sliced cheese, sandwich meat, and crackers (think a homemade Lunchable!) in a plastic box in separate muffin papers. Cold Pizza, salads that include a protein, soup in a thermos, heck, even cereal in a plastic container and a thermos of cold milk.
- Re-use your empty Mio containers to send condiments or salad dressing to keep sandwiches and salads from getting icky and soggy. Simply remove the wrapper from the empty bottle, pop the top off and clean out the bottle and lid. Once they are dry, fill 1/2 to 3/4 full and write on the front of the bottle with a sharpie.
- Don’t just stick to Major Grocery Store chains! I love shopping for lunch yummies at Grocery Outlet. They have a wide variety of crackers, cookies, lunch meat, and a killer cheese section! Now that we have a Grocery Outlet and a 99 Cents Only in the same shopping center, I can get most of my school lunch shopping done in one trip!
Oh, and most importantly- Don’t forget the note. My mom always put a note in our lunch each day. It made my day, especially when I was having a hard morning!
Looking for more ideas on keeping school lunches fun? Here are a few books I found on Amazon: