April 17, 2014

Perspective Change on School Lunch: Mommy Moment


As our 6’3”, 270 pound, 17 year old football player sauntered into the kitchen, I placed the final touches on the school lunch which he would inhale later on that day.

“Mom, I just want to thank you so much for making me lunch every day. I know it’s a pain, but it means a lot.”

Whether it was my lack of sleep, morning coffee or a combination of both, tears started to well up in my eyes.

“In fact, I’ve been able to talk a lot about our family. You wouldn’t believe how many times I’ve shared lunch with kids who didn’t have anything to eat. They always tell me they can’t believe I have a mom who gets up every morning and makes me lunch, since their mom would never do that, and I just want to thank you because I really appreciate it.

When our five children were tiny, I think back on the times I prayed I could get through the day with a joyful attitude. A day of success meant that I just made it to the shower before dinner, and honestly, I considered oatmeal in the hair a great beauty product. With multiple toddlers, I took life day by day, knowing my desire to be a good mom, but more importantly, wanting to instill positive character qualities in my little ones.

I certainly didn’t think a decade ahead to an early morning kitchen exchange with my 17 year old boy man that would bless and encourage me, yet also give me a small glimpse into how the day to day, mundane tasks of mothering could literally impact others’ lives and families.

“Really,” I inquired, “kids really take note of your lunch?”
“Yep, you wouldn’t believe it.”

I wiped the tears from my eyes, gave that huge gentle giant an extra big bear hug, and then proceeded to stuff a few more extras into his lunch for the day.

“A little more for you to share, honey. Make a difference.”

As he walked to his car, I peered out the window and saw his lunch bag swinging from the end of his backpack. I thought of all the times I went through the motions of lunch making, wishing I was any place but at the kitchen counter so early in the morning. I admit, I hated making school lunches. It’s still not my favorite thing, but I did it…because sometimes it’s what moms do.

I just never knew. I never knew what a lunch might represent,  but now I do.

My outlook on those sandwiches has changed because I realize it’s more than just the lunch.

I channel my younger mommy days and all my years reading Dr. Seuss.

Sandwiches for him. Sandwiches to share. Sandwiches that make a difference to kids everywhere.

What great lunch ideas do you have to share?

I’m pushing along on the final months and my creative juices have failed me. Also, just to be completely transparent, that same week, another son texted me with definite opinions about how I need to step up the lunch situation, so sometimes those mommy moments are fleeting. BUT, they do happen. ;)

I can’t wait to see what you all are cooking up for Tasty Tuesday.

(Remember to link up, link back here in the post or it won’t except your link, and share the love.)


  1. What a thought provoking post! How lovely of your son to tell you what your efforts meant to him, and to so many others. I so enjoyed reading this. Thank you for hosting :)


  2. That brought tears to my eyes too as I just finished making my 5 year old son’s lunch.


  3. karen davis says:

    “Your children, shall rise up, and call you Blessed.” Sincerely, Karen


  4. This was perfect for me today! I have been having difficulty getting to the grocery to get lunch supplies, so for two days in a row I have sent money with my two teens to purchase lunch (they can go to fast food restaurants). I have made their lunches almost every day since they began school many years ago. I was thinking today how easy it was just to send them with money, but they were both disappointed not to have me hand them lunch boxes! You blog inspired me even more to get to the store and make the final push to get lunches made these last few weeks of school. Thank you!
    I want to share a few things I do for making lunches easier in the morning rush as well as cheaper! We try to get lunches made as much as possible the night before- we clean out anything left in the bag, and wash and refill the water bottles. I buy the prepackaged chip sacks when I realized I actually saved money because chips were only eaten at lunch and not for snacks like they would with an open chip bag. I try to prep fruit to last the week if possible (grapes washed and portioned into baggies) I also make a batch of cookies or granola bars and divide these into baggies to last the week. If I have gathered as much as posible the nigt befoe, sandwiches are pretty easy to put together in the morning if that is all I have to do!
    Thanks for the reminder on the bit of home we get to send out with our kids each day!


  5. i thought you homeschooled? so, is this a tongue-in-cheek post?


    Jen Reply:

    Nope, this is the story of our 17 year old son, who went to public school for the first time this year in order to get a full Division 1 football scholarship. Plus, the irony is that after not having had to make school lunches except once a week, I now make school lunches daily for both him and our eldest who is a freshman in college. :) The other three are all still home schooled. I’ve talked about this a bunch on my BBB facebook page and shared I plan on writing a post about it, but just haven’t yet.


  6. Molly Warren says:

    Thanks for a great blog entry. I had counted down the days till I was no longer making school lunches for my last son. However, I did not realize that…when the days entered the
    0 count, that I also was losing (releasing) my sons to grown up adult work days and their future!!

    Honestly, I miss those days of making school lunches.


  7. My kids don’t really love sandwiches unless it’s pb&j, so I have to get creative with what I buy. And since they started HS, they are responsible for making their own lunches. If they eat off campus, they have to pay for it themselves, so they rarely do. Daughter #1 would live on hummus, so I make it by the quart (literally). Plus, it’s easy to pack if you have leftover plastic containers. Daughter #2 prefers cheese and tortillas. Both will make pb&j sandwiches or pb & honey, which I encourage, because the beekeeper we rent hives from to pollinate our almonds gives us a couple gallons a year. A piece of fruit and the odd chocolate item (always with the chocolate, what is it with girls and chocolate?), and Bob’s your uncle.

    I always admire the creative moms’ artistic creations, but that just doesn’t fly around here — a good thing since I am sort of a dork about that stuff anyway.


  8. I love this post. I send extra treats in my sons’ lunchboxes for them to share with their friends (all kids I’ve known since they were tiny), but I never really thought about how that might impact them in the long run. I’m thinking I’ll step it up even more now!


  9. I’m a huge advocate of healthy lunches with all the fixings too. But I like to make everything I can in bulk, which is why I posted my shoe box sandwich bread that makes 3 loaves at a time! My kids beg for lunchables, but they get homemade ones instead :)


  10. That is the sweetest thing!
    Love this story. :)


  11. I started making all of our bread earlier this school year, and the first time my son took a sandwich to school made with “my” bread, he came home and said “no one believed that you made this bread, Mom.” I was struck by that because my son thought it was really awesome that I could make bread for one, and he shared his excitement with his friends; but two, none of his friends believed that you could actually get sandwich bread from anywhere but a store! I really do hate making school lunches, and we will begin homeschooling when this school year ends, but it is an opportunity to make your child smile with a special surprise, or a little note. My 8 yr old especially enjoys finding jokes to share with his friends :)


  12. Thanks for hosting! I am bringing my daughter’s Snickerdoodles to your party this week. :-)


  13. As someone who occasionally works in my boys’ school cafeteria (when I’m not subbing in the classroom), you are doing a good thing by packing his lunch. The school lunch portions would never satisfy your hungry football player! And you would be amazed at the number of kids who don’t get enough to eat or go hungry because many school lunch programs have reduced their portion sizes way too much. We’re talking about 3 small chicken nuggets and six sweet potato fries (toddler portions) for growing 10-11 year old boys. Not saying a 5th grader needs 20 nuggets, but let’s be real here. They certainly need way more than three to maintain their energy throughout the afternoon.


  14. Susan H. says:

    Love this post. We never know how some mundane chore as moms may be a blessing to someone.


  15. What a great post Jen – I love that your school lunches are a testimony and giving your son an opening to share Christ with his fellow students. It’s the cup of cold water in My Name scenario with a corned beef on rye twist …

    As far as some creative lunch ideas that would fill a big hungry boy athlete – have you made corn dog muffins? I used to make up a big batch of my favorite corn meal muffin recipe and add big chunks of cooked all-beef hot dogs to the batter before filling up muffin tins and baking them. They are fine at room temp or can be zapped in the microwave for a few seconds and they freeze well. They aren’t on our current healthy eating plan, but they do seem to fill hungry teens up for a treat. Here’s a recipe to try: http://www.tasteofhome.com/recipes/corn-dog-muffins

    What about crustless mini quiches using lots of cheese and ham/bacon/crumbled sausages? I make them in jumbo muffin tins and they are super popular with a nice side salad. I’ve used this recipe and just adjusted the baking time for my larger muffin pans: http://www.thekitchn.com/makeahead-recipe-crustless-min-125509 .

    If they have access to a microwave (or can sweet talk the kitchen ladies) twice baked potatoes with lots of ham chunks, bacon and cheese warm up really nicely for a filling lunch to go. We have thermoses with hot homemade soup that we take for lunches on field trips, and my hubby loves his Corning Ware vented mug filled with soup, chili, spaghetti or leftovers : http://www.bedbathandbeyond.com/product.asp?SKU=12151799. When I make soup I fill them up and they are super easy to grab for his work lunches.

    I’ve even filled a thermos with steaming hot sloppy joe meat and sent along buns, a paper plate and a plastic fork to make hot sloppy joes, but he’s a responsible adult so I know I’ll get the dishes he takes to work back … eventually! I hope this helps – I know you’ll come up with some great ideas and finish the school year strong!


    Jen Reply:

    Thanks so much for the great ideas. I used to make those corn dog muffins but have not in forEVER, so yay, thanks for the reminder. :) They don’t have a microwave to use, so the thermos is something I need to get on the ball with. :)


  16. LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this!!! It also gives me great encouragement! My girls are 9 & 10 and I’ve always put a note in their lunch everyday. Imagine my surprise when one day at my daughters school where I work part time, I opened up my desk and found all these little sticky notes with words of love an encouragement from my girl. It gave me such joy, and made me realize that even though they don’t mention my notes, they are making an impact on them.


  17. What a great reminder to keep on. I’ve never had to pack school lunches (just snacks on co-op day) but I’ve had similar conversations with my college age son. His eyes have been opened since going off to college.


  18. Kimberly says:

    What a sweet moment with your son! And what an eye-opener for me! My oldest son used to frequently share his lunch with those that didnt have any and I’d get upset with him that he’d be giving his food away because he’d come home even more hungry than usual (at first I was upset because I had to depend on my husband to do the grocery shopping, which he hated doing, so I was always concerned about running out of things before he went back to the store, then after he moved out it was concern about the cost of food and how I’d afford it). Now he takes hot lunch most days. I think next week I’ll pack his lunch again, with extra food intentionally for him to share. We may not have a ton of extra, but there are others who have less, and what a horrible thing I was teaching my son to put himself first and not to share.


  19. Jenn, this made me smile. A “thank you” from my kids always means so much whether it’s the little or big things. On a sidenote, thank you again for hosting inrl this weekend. It was so nice being able to connect with other women closeby. Your home and hospitality was beautiful.


  20. I just wanted to say Thank You for this post! My children are in preschool and kindergarten… And I’m already tired of packing lunches. Lol. Stumbling on this link today (from The Prudent Homemaker Blog) totally bit home and was exactly what I needed. Give your son a hug and Thank You from me as well. :). How blessed you are!



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