Thursday, August 3, 2017 | By: Rita Hutcheson-Cobbs

Picnic Lunches...why not revisit this option...

My daily schedule is pretty routine. Boring by most peoples standards I suppose. I am predictable. The life of a caregiver is like that and only crises of the person you care for or, heaven forbid, an appliance malfunction, will upset the apple cart. ((Is apple cart a southern saying? Curious)) So, when I am driving alone, I usually take "tiny car," my little white Nissan that God blessed me with in March. Then when I get home to take Garrett to his activities, I jump out of tiny car and get in the Silver Bullet, the Dodge Caravan that I have had since she had 11k miles on her and now is about to click over to 319k and is absolutely in beautiful shape. Garrett has her packed with whatever activity equipment we are using that afternoon, golf, bowling, horseback riding, etc and my lunch. If I am out and about, I pull in the driveway, get out of tiny car and get into the silver bullet.

Garrett started packing my lunch about a year ago. I had made the comment one morning on the way to out to work that I didn't have time to make my lunch, but that I would be fine. When I got home, Garrett had my lunch made. Sometimes, I get sandwiches made with lettuce buns, maybe some tortilla chips (if he has done something outstanding and has some dill pickle chips...I have some of those...WOW yup, I eat them) and probably a banana. Other times, Garrett will pack a warm dish of pasta or then a mega salad for my lunch. I always get a real form and plenty of napkins. My salads are loaded with fat-free Italian salad dressing and black pepper, but I eat every bite.

Packing lunches doesn't have to be a chore. Something that we need to revisit. In the photograph above, Garrett obviously packs a creative salad into a container that doesn't have a lid that closes. It is actually a container that you make eggs in the microwave. Maybe it's time we revisit building a picnic lunch around family. Having our kids make our lunch and even their own. What if it has more fruit than protein? It's a learning process. Cleaning out the pantry, fridge and cabinets of all the "illegal" food will take care of the things we don't want on our plates and in our picnic lunches on a regular basis.

When we have treats, like dill pickle chips or strawberry milk, gross I know, it has been a rockin' awesome reason. No more than once in a week or two-weeks does Garrett get these special things. We have pizza on Sundays too. There is no soda in our house and the granulated sugar is well hidden to use only when a bread recipe will not work without it or my son Ethan comes over to make a mega meal, he is a chef.

Six Rockin' Awesome Ideas for Picnic Lunches:

* Notes dropped inside: I use to do this for my family. I would add special quotes or scripture to encourage, make happy faces on the bags inside.
* Make the meals the night before: Always make meals in advance, use Sunday afternoons to do this for the week. Did you know that Peanut or Soybutter sandwiches can be made and frozen? By lunchtime, they are thawed and pretty good actually. Also, lay out all the clothes and accessories you plan to wear the night before to make getting ready the next morning easier.
* Food prep is a must: It is so much easier for working families to go ahead and prep foods when you bring groceries in the house. I make it a family event. It is good for my mother and Garrett to use skills working occupational skills while pealing, chopping, cutting or bagging foods. I tenderize meats prior to them going to the freezer too. I don't meal plan like I once did, but I have an idea what I might fix for the week. Salads are ready as are fruits and other vegetables.
* Beverages ready: I bought a water cooler at a yard sale for $10 and that has encouraged my family to drink water. It was the best investment that I made. You may not find one for that price, but I refill the large bottle with tap. Easy, cheap and quick. I freeze half a bottle of water and then fill it up the rest of the way with water so that by the time lunch comes around, we have cold water to drink. Hydration is important for our outdoor activities. They will get use to drinking water, promise.
* Swap sugars: My family didn't notice when I swapped the sugar in the canister. It was rather funny that Garrett only noticed the texture. I also told him we got new measuring cups when I reduced the amount of sugar he put in the tea. Yes, he loves to help make tea for him and mother.
* Fruits go dark? Dip the fruits or vegetables in lemon juice. I like lemon and lime juice on my fruits and vegetables. Have you ever tried lemon juice on your broccoli? Wow! It gives it a whole new flavor. Bananas need to stay in the pealing I think but it can be sliced as well and dipped in lemon juice.

These are just a few tips, nothing fancy. I have tons of things I have done. Regardless, if you have someone make your lunch, smile and eat it. If it is unhealthy, then that gives you a reason to excuse yourself, pretend to eat it and let it go, share it or it can be composted but never tell. I haven't had that happen. However, I have gone to a luncheon and nothing was there I could eat. I fixed my plate and very easily dumped it with nobody being wiser. A friend says she is allergic, this isn't a good thing for someone like me lol that really is to some things. I usually take something to a picnic regardless if I am asked or not, just so that I can enjoy the food as well. Tell them you are experimenting with a recipe and want to see what they think.

Hope you have a fabulous School Year!
Praying for a successful first day and tremendous blessed year!


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