Lunch box notes from a pre-latte, barely holding it together, stressed out parent:
"I hit the snooze 7 times. Enjoy the Pop Tarts."
"Ok, Ok. I know that Isabel always has these amazing lunches and that you're tempted to trade your thermos of lentil soup and "gently aged" pear for her bente box of impeccably arranged sushi, veggies cut into flower shapes and homemade 100% fruit-juice sweetened cookies. I guess what I'm trying to say is - go ahead."
"That round thing is called a spoon. Use it. ... Also, sleeves are not napkins."
"If you toss this lunch and buy three puddings instead, I'll know."
"Enclosed is a butter knife - You cut the crusts off."
I borrowed these lunch box notes from an article in my Eating Well magazine. They really do describe my parenting style pretty accurately. I could see myself sending any one of these notes in my children's lunch box.
Trust me when I say that the presence or absence of a unique and creatively handwritten note tucked inside the lunch boxes of your little ones on a daily basis is not an accurate portrayal of the quality of our parenting. Don't judge yourself too harshly if you're not a note writing kind of parent. I usually started out the school year with big dreams of making homemade granola bars and my own fruit juice gummies but by the second week of school I couldn't even manage to refreeze the ice packs on a daily basis. Somehow, my kids managed to survive on canned tuna and a sleeve of ritz crackers.
We would all love to be "Isabel's" parent but let's face it - that doesn't always happen. There were days when I would send my kids off to school with a Martha Stewart worthy lunch and then prepare a healthy, homemade dinner for my family. But there were many MORE days that I would send my kids off to school with a cup of mandarin oranges and a peanut butter sandwich and still barely manage to scrape together a half-way healthy dinner for them to scarf down 30 minutes before baseball or soccer practice.
Meals can be a struggle. It's time we admitted it. I'm here to make meal preparation just a little less painful for you AND your family. If time and lack of cooking skills are your meal time obstacles, you need to give this Skillet Chili Mac a try. It's ridiculously easy, it comes together in under 35 minutes and it's super delicious.
Skillet Chili Mac
12 ounces whole wheat elbow macaroni
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, diced
1 poblano pepper, diced
1 stalk celery, sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 pound lean ground beef or turkey
3 Tablespoons chili powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
28 ounce can diced tomatoes
1 cup low sodium beef broth
15 ounce can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 cup sour cream
3/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese
Serve with cheddar and scallions.
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