Back to School Time!
It's that time of year again …… back to school!! As a Canadian family living in the Dominican Republic our school year starts early, August 21st to be exact and for those of you in North America you will be following shortly behind us …...sorry, but it's true, the summer is almost over.
As my wife is the mother of three, one newborn, two boys under the age of six and recently inherited teenager (my niece) living with us for an exchange semester, the creator and driving force behind a new start up business manufacturing Certified Organic Baby Food ……. She is often asked, how do you DO it? Besides having an amazing husband (me) to help, it’s a well oiled and balanced machine. Keeping the family fed, healthy, dropping the kids off at school on time, delivering them to their respective after school activities and preparing snacks and lunches. Running a new business while the kids are at school and in the evening, allowing an opportunity to focus on homework and preparing a healthy dinner, without sacrificing quality family time. Making this happen on a daily basis takes focus and attention, a little luck and some advanced planning.
To keep our household running as efficiently as possible, she shops to have 3 days of fresh vegetables and fruit cleaned cut and prepped in the fridge. Most of the work is cleaning and cutting the vegetables so the more of that we can do in advance, the faster it goes in the morning. If serving a pasta or rice from a leftover dinner its pre packed and put in the fridge for the morning. Ice pack portion of food container put in the freezer over night with drinkable yogurt or small water bottle.
The Morning Of
In the morning, she packs each child a soft-sided and lightly insulate lunch bag with a self contained cold storage unit (CoolGear) cold sandwich, cold fresh cut vegetable, any other non-perishable sides and either a frozen water bottle or a frozen drinkable yogurt so there are two cold sources that keep the contents out of the "Danger Zone" (temperatures between 40°F and 140°F or 4.4ºC and 60ºC, the temperature bacteria grow most rapidly) until lunch time. The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) has great resources on safe food handling, particularly for bag lunches.
We’ve taught our boys to throw out their leftovers and not eat anything from their lunches later in the day. When they arrive home from school, they promptly discard anything that didn’t make it into the trash can in the cafeteria. I wipe out their lunch boxes with a cloth and some diluted bleach (200 ppm )and leave to air dry overnight.
By prepping a few days of homemade snacks ahead, she saves quite a bit of time. Mornings run smoother because there’s no shuffling and rummaging for something to eat. Knowing that the food was safely prepared, stored and packed in their lunch boxes gives us the peace of mind that we reduced the risk of foodborne illness in our kids while carving out a little more quality time to spend with them in the evenings.