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Lunch-Pooling: Making Friends and Swapping Muffins

My neighbor Camellia posted on Facebook about her lunch pool -- something I fell in love with briefly once years ago but never executed. When she offered to write a post about her new experiences, I said, "yes!"

Camellia_lunch_pool
I was nervous about my almost-Three starting Montessori school. I was worried about him adjusting, about drop-off, and about…it seems silly, but packing lunches. After reading the recent posts about kids leaving their lunches uneaten and Sunday night insanity I was nervous about being prepared each morning with balanced, nutritious lunches he would actually eat. Even at home, I don’t feel like we always do a very good job of coming up with good little guy meals day after day. We fall back on quesadillas and Cheerios far more often that I’d like.

A woman overheard me discussing the topic at the gym and approached me with a suggestion: lunch-pooling. You find a parent in your kid’s class with compatible lunch-styles and take turns making lunch for both kids, one week on, one week off.

I love it. It’s actually easier to pack two lunches because you can use up your ingredients faster, packing fresher lunches with more variety. I feel like the challenge of coming up with a week’s lunches is much more manageable than the prospect of packing lunches every day. And so far, the kids are eating nearly everything! My kid actually eats better than he does at home, because I have to plan better, and he has to eat what he gets instead of demanding Cheerios. Arranging it in a cute little box helps, too.

Of course, the challenge is finding a friend who eats more or less the same stuff your kid eats. This could be harder if your kid has dietary issues. But even if you don’t find a lunchbox buddy right off the bat, there are other ways to lunch pool. Even if your friends’ kids go to different schools, you can swap home-made lunchbox staples for the freezer. Mini-muffins, meatballs, soups, and pot-stickers are a few our kids like.

In general, I love the ideal of “pooling,” be it transportation, lunches, or what-have-you… I love that the same effort goes twice as far, and it’s more fun, too. As the old saying goes, many hands make work light. I have friends who even pool soup dinners through their kids’ classroom: several families rotate cooking duty on Soup Night, making a savory soup that’s substantial enough for a meal with salad and bread. They exchange soups at school when they pick up their kids. I’m also part of a carpool for picking up our raw milk and fresh eggs from the farm. What do you pool? What are the pros and cons? And what are your favorite freezable lunchbox staples?

Comments

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Love the lunchpooling idea for school kids. I used to do this with a co-worker. One week on, one week off, Monday thru Thursday. Friday, we'd enjoy a lunch out together.

I also used to dinner pool with another family comprised of a mom and a kid (just like ours) who lives just a few houses away . We'd each cook 2 days per week, and we'd eat together. Eventually, extracurriculars and homework demands, one change to a GF diet and one kid who never outgrew their pickiness sort of derailed that, but it was fun while we did it. And we're still close--we just don't eat together as often.

I've been pooling trash service with the family that lives next door to me for a couple of years. We pool errands with the same family--if one of us is going somewhere out of the ordinary for us, we always check with the other to see if there's anything we can do or pick up while we're there (or if they want to ride along). I also pool Costco and other bulk purchases with 2 other small families.

My family and two other neighbor families have a Tuesday supper exchange. One family cooks and delivers for the other two each Tuesday night. On the 4th Tuesday, we have a potluck with a rotating location. The host provides an entree. We've been doing it for a year, with a break for summer due to travel schedules, and it's great! Not having to think about dinner 3 times per month makes it worth the cooking on my night!

Interesting idea, but with three boys all in full day school and picky preferences it's just not feasible for someone like me. I just keep things simple: Each boy gets the exact same boring meal that I prepare when I get out of bed in the morning. My stellar variety includes: bagel w/cream chs, mac & cheese, ham sandwich or wrap. Plus a few relatively healthy snacks. Not gourmet, but quick to make, and they always get eaten. However, I've always thought it would be great to have parents take turns bringing cut fruit (as snack) to class for the kids to share. That's hard to carry out in a typical elementary school, though. Maybe one day...

I like the pooling idea in general but in reality doing this for school lunches would really stress me out. I'm with Bileski.

One of my kids is pretty picky and has allergies so that is an issue. And I'd feel pressure over making sure lunches I made for someone else were "good enough".

I'm in a childcare pool with a couple of friends. We have a point system -- One point per child per hour. (Siblings are 1/2 a point.)
So, I watch their 'only' children for 6 hour stints and they watch my two for 4 hour stints. Whoever is dropping off packs a lunch for all. It has been working out nicely!

I know it is not the place for this but there is something strange in this photo. It almost made me hungry before noticing that the strawberry is next to the weenie. yeaks. But the post is perfect. The pooling idea is great.

Domestic cleaning

At our preschool each parent signs up to bring food for the whole group (16 kids + teachers) once each month...one main dish and two veggies. Of course everyone doesn't like everything but it's a great way to get kids exposed to new foods...my picky eater is now eating lots of things he wouldn't eat before and I love that I only have to organize it once a month!

How creative is that? I would love to do something like that for my child. It also makes you more creative when making for someone else too. Great idea for school lunches. Our lunch program has improved so much this year and is so much healthier that I dont make as many lunches. Its so nice.
THANKS!!
www.daycareheadquarters.com
Angela

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