Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Ask Chaviva Anything!: Packing a Kosher Lunch

There are dozens of amazing questions sitting in the Ask Chaviva Anything! queue, and I'm chomping at the bit to answer them all -- including some of the nastier ones! Oh wait, no I'm not. Listen, to whoever keeps posting questions about how miserable I must be making Mr. T's life, you're living in a dream world. We're genuinely happy, and if my word isn't good enough, then I don't know what to tell you.

Now, this is a question I received that I wanted to address because it's actually pretty timely with Passover coming up.

Any advice for a non-Jewish mom sending her kiddo to a Jewish preschool? I will be sending him with a packed lunch every day. I don't want to offend or break rules; I do want him to feel happy about his lunch.  (The school statement is that they are not strict, but ask that we send a kosher lunch and non-leavened bread at certain times.) On the tour lunch was a big point, and the word "compliance" was used.  Yikes! I don't know what I am doing.
How utterly exciting that you've got a little one heading off to preschool! When I was living in Colorado, the Jewish preschools there are some of the most highly rated and populated in the state because of the quality of education, and most of the student population believe it or not was not Jewish. The schools run on Jewish values and promote an understanding of the Jewish holidays and customs, but with a diverse population base, the goal is creating well-rounded participants of society. So to you I say kol hakavod! Way to be.

Now, as long as you follow the guidelines dished out by the school, you'll be fine. My advice is to find another parent at the school who you click with and bounce any questions or concerns you have off of them if you're not comfortable going to the school's administration.

Chances are, as long as you stay in the realm of "kosher style" -- that is, no pork or shellfish (how often are you sending shrimp cocktail with a preschooler anyway, right?) and no sandwiches that mix meat and milk -- then you should be fine. I'd suggest sticking to classic cheese sandwiches, yogurt, PB&J, doing vegetable sticks with hummus or peanut butter, chips, crackers, fruit, granola bars, and so on, avoiding meat all together in the lunchbox. It'll make your life a lot easier.

As for the non-leavened bread, that means that in a few weeks when Passover starts, do your best to send anything and everything but sandwiches. Consider rice or quinoa salad, lots of vegetables and fruits and nuts, take it as a chance to give the gluten-free or paleo diet a try for a week with your child, to branch out with the lunchbox experience (hey, maybe a great blog idea!). Send them to school with buckwheat pancakes and yogurt, some flavorful and yummy waffles, or Nut Crisp crackers and a bounty of veggie sticks with tuna or PB or hummus.

I hope this helps! I get to experience the lunch-packing thing now with iBoy, which has been a fun challenge because of what he will and won't eat and making sure he has shelf-stable food that will get him through lunch time and beyond.

Have questions? Just ask!