Thursday, August 27, 2009

A Better Back-To-School

First of all, I must say that I am boycotting Back-To-School this year. With all the rain and cold weather we had in June, this summer seems shorter than ever. I’ve enjoyed some time with a little less structure, a few less weekly activities, and sleeping in on Sundays. Since the kids will wear summer clothes until the weather turns cooler, I don’t see the need to go out and buy a boatload of fall clothes until later in September. I’ll hit the sale racks then. And as the mother of a preschooler and a child entering first grade, I really don’t need to go out and buy much in the way of school supplies. I think that this country’s Back to School season is now longer than our Christmas season, with the first Back-to-School flyers arriving before the 4th of July. Can we please have a little summer?

While some parents can’t wait for school to begin again (I think of that office supply store commercial from a few years back that used The Most Wonderful Time of the Year for background music), I am dreading the return of bus schedules, gymnastics, swim lessons, ballet, and sport-du-jour for my son. Probably the thing I dread the most is Lunch Box and Snack Preparation. Because you see, in our house, we need an excel spreadsheet to keep this task organized.

My two children attend a total of 3 schools all with different rules around heat-ups, cold packs and peanuts (or any nuts, really). My son needs 1 lunch (peanuts OK), a morning snack (no cold pack because there is no room in the back pack), and an afternoon snack (no cold pack, must be something that won’t be all wilted by 2 pm). My daughter attends a Nut-Free pre-school 3 days a week, for which she needs a snack with no allergens, and daycare 2 days a week, for which she needs a lunch that can be reheated. Now you see why we need the spreadsheet – and containers that we mark with the child’s name and whether it is lunch or snack. Good thing I don’t have 8 kids. I can barely handle 2. And my heart goes out to children with food allergies and their parents. We have friends and relatives who deal with food allergies, and it is very difficult for them.

When my son attended aforementioned Nut-Free Preschool (that would be a funny name for a school actually), he was there all day, so lunch had to be nut-free and the teachers do not have time to heat up your kids’ food in the microwave. And that is why my kids eat hummus and cheese sandwiches. You see, my son was not a big fan of ham-and-cheese or turkey-and-cheese. And peanut-butter-and-jelly (his favorite) was not an option. So, I started making hummus and cheese. It was a great way to give him some protein in the middle of the day. Hummus scores in the 40s and there are some great whole grain breads that score very well:

Nature’s Own 100% Whole Wheat Bread - 81

Arnold Natural Flax and Fiber Bread - 48

Pepperidge Farm Natural Whole Grain 9 Grain Bread - 40

And that is about all I’d like to say about Back to School, because I am going to enjoy these last days of summer, this luxuriously late Labor Day this year, and just a couple more Sundays to sleep in. Oh, and I’ll get right on making this year’s lunch/snack spreadsheet.

For more tips from people who want to talk about Back-To-School, like NuVal’s Communications Director, please check out our Back-To-School Press Release. It really does have some great ideas – and cool scores. I’m just not ready to think about them.


  1. Happy to see Pepperidge Farm Bread on your list although I would have thought it would have been a higher score.

    This week seems to be the only summertime that New England has seen. Enjoy!

  2. Great post! I love your blog and I am turning many of my clients onto your blog for great mom articles/recipes/ideas.

    Thanks again; keep up the great blogging.