I have a confession to make. For the entire two years that my daughter went to Summit Christian Academy here in SA, the lunch I packed for her to take every school day was . . . a Lunchable.
Yep, those awful little packaged lunch things. I had mom friends at that school who were health food fanatics, so I can't imagine what their kids' lunches looked like. I never dared to ask. My shame would reach its zenith.
This contemptible habit of mine started because our first few weeks of her school, we were transitioning from an apartment to our house and my life was crazy and a Lunchable was mucho easy. But she liked them, and I never stopped. Every lunch.
I understand that this was lazy and irresponsible on my part. For one thing, Lunchables are expensive for what you get. And I'm generally a pretty thrifty person, so this was out of character for me.
I also realize that this was by no means a healthy lunch for her. Not only was she missing anything even resembling a fruit or vegetable, but it was processed foods all the way. I've come to believe that processed foods are doing great damage to the overall health of our nation. All the chemicals . . . all the carbs and starches and sugars . . . all the lack of any real nutritional value . . . I suspect it is a significant culprit not only in the obesity rate, but very likely in the increased incidences of ADHD, autism, allergies, learning disabilities, etc. etc.
And yet, I fed my kid a Lunchable three times a week.
Here's the reality: I like food. I don't necessarily mind cooking once in a while. But I HATE having to figure out what to prepare for twenty-one meals a week for my family. I would be tempted to find one of those ready-made menus with every meal set for your family for a month except that most of those are made for foodies -- they have "interesting" recipes with bizarre ingredients that my family won't eat and/or that I can't find in the grocery store. We don't really care that much if we eat the same dishes over and over -- we prefer that to "interesting" dishes that we don't like.
But even if we're eating simple foods that we all like, I don't always want to take the time to make it from scratch. Yes, I fill my freezer with frozen foods that my girls can heat up on their own for lunches or dinners when I'm not home (and that I heat up often, too). No, I did not teach them to cook healthy foods for themselves. I'm a lazy, irresponsible mom. I want easy meals.
When I come home tired after a long day, I want an easy meal.
When I've been working on the computer all morning and I'm forcing myself to get off for a little bit and eat, I want an easy meal.
When I'm brain dead and staring at the contents of my refrigerator and kitchen cabinets trying to figure out what sounds good to eat, I want an easy meal.
I wish I were one of those people who is energized and rejuvenated by some time in the kitchen chopping vegetables and all. However, I have noticed that most of my friends who find that kind of personal fulfillment in feeding others also struggle with their own weight issues. Their joy in food preparation leads to over-eating and does not lead them to the healthier choices. That would be me.
Sigh. I keep thinking that I've got to get a system in place that helps me get healthy food out there for me and my family to eat. I have no doubt that our mood and energy problems would improve dramatically. And I'm all about systems and routines. I need a system.
Or a personal chef. If anyone is volunteering, send me your résumé. Or don't even bother with that formality -- just show up with good food.