Get ’em Started…Right


I never really ate school lunch. Sure, I remember the compact little tin foil dishes and the line of kids in elementary school queued up for sustenance. But it was never me. I came up during the era when Lunchables were first introduced, and between those and whatever lunch goodies our regular weekend grocery trips yielded, I was covered. Even in high school, school lunch was a RARE occurrence. Sure, our open campus policy helped contribute to that, but even when I did hit the lunch line I kept it simple: tater tots and grilled cheese sandwiches.

I was not, then, very conscious about what form my nourishment took, so it never dawned on me that there was a bit of self-preservation at work. After coming across this blog though, mine eyes have been open(th).

The site validates my obsession with packing my baby’s lunch/snacks and milk everyday for daycare. And if that is what she’ll be looking forward to in a few years, I most certainly will be doing it when she hits elementary school too!o

The blog, written by an Illinois teacher highlights her “adventures” eating school lunch everyday and blogging about it–and it’s not a good look! The blog is interesting though (read the American Teacher in Japan post…I’m trying to send my child to school there!) No offense to my teacher friends, but you know I want to my child to attend high school in another country anyway and your stories don’t go a long way to sell the American public school system. Some of the charter schools and magnet programs yes, but public education overall? Not so much.

With my baby, I don’t get absolutely everything organic and you don’t need too. Foods like bananas don’t usually have high pesticide residue, but apple, grapes, potatoes, thin-skinned fruits and greens (kale, spinach, etc.) do. Focus on those. There’s a list “The Dirty Dozen” that has the produce that is the dirtiest/most contaminated with pesticide residues, etc.

Produce is one thing that I may be flexible with, but I don’t even want to LOOK at non-organic animal products. Milk, meat, yogurt and I’ve been on the prowl for cheese (which a friend found recently. Yay!), whatever I can find that is wholesome and good and not loaded with unnecessary preservatives and sugar (stay AWAY from high fructose corn syrup, and it’s in just about EVERYTHING! I just read that it was in my beloved Wheat Thins a couple of weeks ago and I’m hesitant to even read the whole grain Ritz ingredients! We’ll have to find a new snack.)

It’s not just food though. It’s a lifestyle change we’ve been working on to just live better overall. Dr. Oz said (yes, I’m quoting Dr. Oz), that we’ll either pay for it now (yes, organic does cost more) or pay for it later by way of increased health-care costs, declining health and lower quality of life.

Most of the things I buy are available at Super Target, WalMart, Publix and Kroger. And if you PLAN you can find sales and use coupons: Kroger had Horizon milk boxes (organic milk that doesn’t require refrigeration. It’s all an interesting process-heated at extreme temps to pasteurized then packaged and sealed, making it shelf stable…(check this link for more details) on sale recently, 10/$10. I tried them with my child and they were highly convenient and good for her. And though we moved to almond milk almost five, six months ago, I would still use the milk boxes for travel and in a crunch.

Need more examples of the practicality of living better? I went to get charcoal for from Publix. As a joke, and a way to discourage the menfolk from asking me to pick up extra stuff from the store, especially since this was the third pass, I got the Publix Greenwise (organic) brand all natural wood charcoal. But the joke ended up being on me–not only was the BIG bag of that charcoal CHEAPER than the Kingsford and other brands, but all of those die-hard grilling men LOVED that stuff and now don’t even want to use the other charcoal anymore!

One of the best tips I’ve ever received was to buy in season. It seems logical, but how many of you knew that shrimp isn’t a year-round food? I didn’t. It’s in season in the Summer (June-August!). That’s also when it will be the cheapest. And buy wild caught seafood, not FARMED. Farmed sound better, but it’s not. Check out, for what’s in season when and what’s in-season in your area.

There is a plethora of ways to make it work within your lifestyle. These ideas will get you started or one of my fav sites, The Daily has thousands of tips and the dirty dozen list is on there as well). It only take a little bit of effort and some of you have it easy (The City of Chicago PICKS UP recycling, I have to load the car and drop mine off or pay an extra monthly fee to have it picked up. It may sound easy, but when the closet drop station is only open during the week until 4 p.m. and closed on the weekends, not so much.

You decide what works for you-don’t flush the toilet every time after using it unless it’s really necessary. Don’t let the water run when you’re brushing your teeth. Wash your clothes in cold water (really, only linens and greasy/oily things need hot water). Use vinegar and baking soda to clean. Whatever it is, just do something.

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