We (. . .well, I ) Love Sending In My Kids' Lunch For School

I know I was just talking about how important it is for kids to be able to take part in breakfast and lunch at school.  But for us, taking lunch to school is our best option right now.
I love being able to send in my kids' lunches for school.  It helps save us money and I can be almost sure of what they're eating, since anything that they don't eat still comes home in the container.  They still haven't started ditching stuff in the trash at school to "hide" it from us!    I love that the schools are in the process of changing over to healthier options for lunch, but they're still not completely there yet.  Plus, as I said, sending lunch saves us money.  Between both kids, the school lunches will cost us at least $110 per month once they are both there full-time.  That is actually a pretty good price, but we can still do it a little cheaper on our own.  I would love to still be able to fit their lunches into our household food budget instead of having it as an extra budget item each month.
But, we have been doing something lately that I'm ashamed of.  It's horrible.  We've been buying bottled water.  I had gone so many years without buying bottled water.  I don't want to be littering landfills and I don't think they can always recycle plastic efficiently.  So, it actually hurts my heart that I've been buying them lately.  It has really been a matter of convenience. 
The problem is that I don't really have any reusable water bottles that I like.  I've had several that I've gotten from different charity sites, but the mouths on them are narrow and I truthfully don't trust that they're BPA free.  I believe they were all aluminum, which of course you're not supposed to drink out of, so they add some kind of plastic lining.  The bottles are possibly unsafe and hard to clean because of those narrow mouths.  I can't stand the narrow mouths!
The thing is that I used to send fruit/vegetable juice boxes in with the kids' lunches.
  But, now I wanted to stop sending in juice because I just don't like that even the juices with the vegetable blends have a lot of sugar.  So, I wanted to start sending water, but I need to find a good BPA-free, wide mouth bottle that won't come open in their lunch boxes.
I think next year it will become part of their chores to make their own lunches.  Now, I still do it for them.  Since I'm trying to make sure they have enough protein, my kids take a lot of nuts, seeds and beans along with carrots and/or apple slices, plus sometimes cheese and whole grain crackers.  We have hot thermoses, so sometimes we send pasta or tomato soup.  I really need to find a good tomato soup that doesn't use high fructose corn syrup, though.  And every now and then, I break down and send in peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.  I try to use the lower sugar jellies though and we always use whole grain bread.  My kids have always eaten whole grain everything thankfully and don't know a difference.
I truthfully feel like we're in a rut with what we send in.  My son is pretty picky.  So, he always asks for carrots, apples and whatever the "main" thing is.  I think we need to broaden our horizons a bit and get some more unique things in the lunch boxes.  There are a lot of great blogs and websites that have lunch ideas.  I'll have to look into those.
I always try to make sure their morning snack (they both have their snack in the morning) is high in protein to make sure they still keep their focus.
Do you send in your kids' lunches or do you let them buy at school?  I think they are both great options.  Sending lunch is just the best option for us right now.  It might not always be.

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