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!"
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?