Extol March - April 2020 - Page 22

TM strengthing families from within By Adam & Kristin Kleinert LUNCHTIME LOVE How to take your lunch on a culinary adventure irst, please allow me to apologize. Most FamFitter articles have been penned by my wife, Kristin (aka “The Smart One”). She is in her first year as a full-time special education teacher, taking a few college courses, coaching elementary cheerleading and killing it as a mom like always. So, for now, you get me. F This even busier lifestyle we’ve taken on has given me the opportunity (sarcasm) to help out with a few more duties around the house. Aside from writing this article, one area in which I have enjoyed helping is with the kids’ lunches. When I started, my routine consisted of getting up and then trying to throw whatever I could into a lunch box. If there wasn’t time for even that, it was cafeteria lunch for my crew. This lasted until my oldest son challenged me to think differently. Elias, a freshman in high school, is very serious about whatever sport is currently in season. He’s always putting in extra work trying to get an advantage. (We are diligently working on getting him to apply that same enthusiasm toward his schoolwork.) Not getting enough out of school lunches or what I was packing, Eli asked if there was a way to not only get more food 20 EXTOL : FEBRUARY/MARCH 2020 in the lunch box but he wanted healthier food as well. This was not a request I was expecting from a 14-year-old, especially one who shares my love for doughnuts, pies, cinnamon rolls... Well, you get the point. I began thinking about the protein (chicken, lean beef, etc.) and how I could supply veggies that would be welcomed. I started with some simple dishes like chicken & rice, pork tacos, spaghetti (pasta made with garbanzo beans) and meatballs. These were usually things I could put together from what we ate for dinner the night before. A saving grace is that he has access to a microwave in the high school, which allowed me to be a little more creative. Soon our oldest daughter, Sydney, and Kristin were eyeing Eli’s lunches. These two are not picky by any means, but if food is not cooked to their liking, you may often get a bit of an upturned nose. To my delight, they loved my lunch-packing as well. Thus, I found myself having to figure out how to put together three reheatable, to-go lunches for not one but three people every day. Now, I’m sure you’ve heard of the concept of food prepping, but let me just reinforce how great it is. I cook on Sundays for the week and make lunches not only for Kristin, Sydney and Eli but for myself as well. I have made a habit of spending part of the day cooking several proteins, some veggies, a baked-good and batch of granola. It feels good knowing I can give my loved ones a little help on their busy weekdays. You may recall we have four children. I know at least some of you are thinking I’ve completely ignored my younger two, Molly and Brahm. Well, only slightly. They ask me to make their lunch as well, but I am not yet able to give them the same treatment since they do not have access to a microwave in elementary school. I do tell them that if they’d like me to pack their lunches, I won’t pack junk. This policy did not go over well at first, but we have evolved to a point where they are packing their own lunches with some supervision. Where Brahm and Molly tried before to pack chips, pretzels, popcorn and crackers (you know, the four main food groups according to kids), after some initial coaxing, one of the first things they look for now is even salad (!!). This might be my favorite part of our school lunch culinary adventure: seeing all my kids expanding their pallets and trying to make more conscious choices without a push from this parent. Here are a few of our favorite dishes: