A while back I was complaining to someone about how much I hated making lunch for the kids every morning. Their suggestion: have the kids make their own lunches. My response: "I've tried that!" Because I had. I had a bin of snacks, one of "sides" and one of main meals and I let the kids pick from each. The result? The processed crap was snagged first, fights broke out over who got the last fruit snacks, Pop Tart, Sugary-Teeth-Rotting-Whatever, and I about went broke, even with coupons.
Then I made nifty menus for each kid, and spent an hour each morning making noodles and BLTs and muffins that the kids would end up complaining about and/or throwing in the trash. ARGH!
Then the amazing happened. I convinced Dr. D to buy a chest freezer, moved it into the Cat Room (a basement utility room that used to house the laundry facilities), and started reading up on Once A Month Cooking. Ham sandwiches can be frozen? Who knew!
So now once a month we have a Sandwich Party. Each kid makes a dozen or so of their own sandwiches, bags them up, labels the bags and they go in the freezer. Pie prefers peanut butter (though she put pepperoni on some), Fish and St. Nick like meat and mustard. Mostly mustard for Fish. Weirdo. We also make and freeze smores, bag up crackers or pretzels or other goodies, and I've even been known to make homemade ice cream or spaghetti-o's for the ole' thermos.
Can you believe we now have no complaints about lunch? No? Ok, we do still have complaints - like pizza-quinoa bites were not a favorite. But overall one-hundred-ten percent improvement. I spend almost no time getting lunches together, the kids can only blame themselves for disgusting sandwich combinations, and another new rule: If You Don't Like It, Don't Tell Me, all make my life so much better.