Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Child Labor

Don't you just love all those "Back To School" segments that permeate the airwaves at this time of year. My husband and I saw this short Healthy School Lunch piece on our local Boston NBC station Monday night. While I admire Molly's nutritious choices and creative presentation, I just can't see myself making a Turkey Kabob for my son's lunch box. Molly cubed the turkey, and cut up pieces of home-made bread for her kabobs. That is just not happening in our household. And then I think of what my son would do with the skewer once he was done with the kabob? Use it as a weapon? Hmmmmm. Not a workable lunch idea for me. Even the news anchors were doubting Molly's suggestion to get your children to eat roasted red peppers.

Instead of a labor-intensive lunch making plan, I decided to use one of my favorite strategies to make life easier: use child labor. My son started first grade this morning. So last night, I asked him if he'd like to make his own lunch. He enthusiastically agreed to do so. So I got him set up and he went to work. While he worked on his peanut butter and jelly sandwich, I cleaned up dinner dishes. It was a win-win situation. Yes, there was jelly to clean up after, but it was worth it.

I went into the office today to see my friends who work in Scoring to see how my son's lunch fared. I was pretty excited because I thought I had found THE AMAZING BREAD THAT SCORES AN 81. I was wrong.

Nature's Pride 100% Natural 100% Whole Wheat Bread: 27
Trader Joe's Natural Peanut Butter: ?
Smucker's Strawberry Preserves: 1
Organic Baby Carrots: 99
Apple Slices: 96
Horizon Organic Reduced Fat Chocolate Milk: 27

So the bread that I bought looked really healthy. Look at all those claims - 100% Natural, 100% Whole Wheat. But it got a 27. Not bad, when you consider that the median score in Bread is a 25. But it's not THE AMAZING BREAD THAT SCORES AN 81. That would be Nature’s Own 100% Whole Wheat Bread. And this is why I really wish I had a grocery store that actually had NuVal in it. I work there and I work with scores all the time, but when faced with the completely overwhelming bread aisle, I can't remember which breads get what score.

The peanut butter that we used is from Trader Joe's and we haven't scored their store-brand products. Now, I could assume that it gets close to what Teddie Peanut Butter Smooth gets (a 36). But as I learned from my Bread experience, you really can't make those assumptions.

My son also packed a snack for school.

Fruit Falls Tropical gets a 41 (a much better score than many juice boxes)
Pepperidge Farms Goldfish get a 24
Bananas get a 91

With my own first-day jitters, I worried that he might get hungry and so I quickly packed him a second snack this morning:

Minute Maid 100% Juice Mixed Berry which scores a 13 (see what I mean about those juice boxes)
Wheat Thins which get a 23 (nope, they're not better than Goldfish)
Grapes which get a 91

Well, he's home now and he had a great first day. His lunch may not have been made on a skewer, but it was a fun project. And it included this note that you see in the picture. Now that's creative. And it only took me a minute.


  1. I love this post and, like most moms in America, I'm disappointed that PB&J probably doesn't stack up that great.


  2. Thank You for this info. I am always unsure of which bread to buy. I spend most of my grocery time reading bread labels. I will look for Nature's Own 100% whole wheat:)