Tag Archives: back to school

Lessons from the Lunchbox: Back to School on A Budget

Fall-HarvestFall is my favourite time of year.  I love the ever changing tapestry of colours, pulling on well worn sweaters and snuggling under the blankets with the window open.  Growing up on a farm in the prairies, fall was a time of bounty and bringing in the harvest.  However, now that I am a parent, fall is largely shaped by ‘back to school’ responsibilities signalling a return to schedules, routines and activities.  Back to school also means ‘back to packing lunches’ and despite the cool stackables and highly processed lunch meats, my kids miss eating at home.  For me, being a mom means growing healthy kids.  Healthy eating on a limited budget is challenging, especially in the early years when my budget was pretty meager, falling well below the poverty line.

Yet, despite teat healthyhe constant struggles of trying to make ends meet and treading water just to stay afloat, some of my most fulfilling memories are embedded in those trying times.  Living on a budget stoked the fires of creativity and I soon learned how to make something from nothing, giving me a strong sense of mastery over my limiting circumstances.  I planted a garden, learned how to can, freeze fruits and vegetables, price match, and buy  local.  Visiting local farms to pick our own fruit is still an annual adventure, jam packed with numerous hands on learning experiences.  Homemade meals became feasts, adding yet another reason to celebrate the life we were building together, one discovery at a time.

pack my loveAlthough I still find packing lunches taxing, I have learned that left overs sometimes turn into sensational salads and home baked biscuits with jam and cheese are a welcome break from a sandwich.  Freezer pickles liven up a turkey sandwich and hummus is a super user friendly, healthy and affordable way to fill up empty tummies with a punch of protein.  Soups are another alternative as they are easy to make and can be frozen for a later date.  My daughter likes heating up this vegetable soup and taking it to school in a thermos because it is reminiscent of being at home.  As practical and pragmatic as it may be, the packing of the lunchbox is also a labour of love that ties us to the people and places that we call home.

Pizza Cinnamon ChipImages used courtesy of Google.

Recipes used courtesy of food.com.