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A few months ago, one of the morning shows was previewing the new book “French Kids Eat Everything” by Karen Le Billon and I was hooked. Then I forgot all about it, probably because I don’t have little kids anymore. I have teenagers and most books like that are for parents of young children. But it did make me think about American school’s lunch menus and they’re not necessarily the healthiest. Compared to what I saw there was a stark difference between American and French school lunches.
Then today I stumbled across the website for Karen Le Billon and was hooked again. I haven’t read through the entire site, but I was fixated on French school lunches. Wow! I wish I was in school in France! These kids eat amazing lunches. They have fresh fruits, veggies, the main dish, bread and cheese, and something sweet. Can I go to school there? Then it made me think again. Is the American child’s lunch taking a failing grade? What about our homeschool lunch?
I’m a homeschool mom and homeschool moms have a reputation of sorts for home-cooked everything. Right? I have friends that make everything from homemade crackers to growing only organic foods and some are even looking into butchering their own cows. Now, I don’t go that far, and if you do, that’s incredible! I just have a small garden, but could I do better?
I must say that when my kids were little it was easy to plan their homeschool lunch and make sure it was very healthy. But, as they get older and we’re in a rush to do school and get out the door for practices and games, it’s gotten really hard. Especially since a lot of the time, they make their own lunch. So how does your lunch stack up to the French? Is there a way to do it, or a version of it that would fit in a homeschool?
The French eat 3 meals a day and one after-school snack. Lunch is their largest meal wherein in the U.S. it’s supper. Refer to the picture above of a typical French School lunch. Can a homeschool lunch do that or better?
Here’s our homeschool lunch today:
- Oven-baked chicken tenders (not the breaded kind, fresh)
- Sautéed corn in olive oil with a little seasoning (ok it was out of a can)
- French fries (baked, not fried)
Not exactly what the French would have in mind but it sounds ok. Could be worse, could be better. Not the best example of one of our lunches, but I’m being transparent about what we really ate today. Some days it’s closer to the French version and other days it’s totally American fast food. Even though I homeschool there are ways to get my kids to eat better.
How to make your homeschool lunches healthier:
One way is by planning your homeschool lunches. Even if you homeschool, you can plan your lunches. It honestly makes your week easier by taking the “What are we going to eat today?” off your mind. This way you can pre-plan exactly what you’re going to eat and make sure everything is healthy or healthier.
As often as I can and time allows, I try to pack something to eat when we’re running to games, practices, field trips, park days, etc. We keep a snack basket in our van with granola bars and individual packs of snacks. Sometimes I even make lunch or supper that we can take with us. I keep plastic silverware or reusable on hand in my van. We also have different sizes of coolers and ice packs to keep food cool.
They also love it when I make a fruit and cheese board or a veggie and dip tray to snack on. Lots of times I will make these for them to eat while I’m cooking lunch. They also make for a great snack. This way they get even more fruit and veggies. It’s also a bonus because they’re not whining about when lunch will be ready!
Look for ways to incorporate healthy alternatives that sneak in veggies or fruits for ones that are a little picky. Look for healthy, kid-friendly recipes to try. Need even more inspiration? Read Karen’s book! You could even look up what your local school district is having for lunch and find ways to make it healthier.
Some other things I’ve done to help my kids eat healthier is to make healthy food more accessible. For example, keeping the tubes or cups of yogurt within their reach in the fridge. Keeping fresh fruit out and keeping chips, cookies, etc. out of their reach when possible.
What do you think? Are homeschool lunches better than school lunches? How do you think we stack up against the French? Have we succumbed to fast and easy over nutritious and yummy? How does your lunch measure up? I would love to hear your thoughts and feel free to share your lunch!
If you’d like to read Karen Le Billon’s book just click on the links below. I’ve also included some great links to help you find ways to take healthy meals on the go and to make them more accessible for the kids at home.