Day 153: bagel dog and Eat Along Challenge

Today’s menu: bagel dog, fries, fruit cup
I smelled it. About 20 feet from the cafeteria, I smelled dough. And then the aroma of hot dog followed.
One of the lunch ladies offered me a choice: bagel dog or chili. I could have chosen the chili, but another teacher just bought the chili in front of me. What I saw was burnt brown stuff covered in plastic. I pondered for a couple seconds and this particular lunch lady gave me a look. It was basically a look of “how can you eat this,” which was confirmed when she said the dough was soggy in the bagel dog. She probably thought I was truly crazy when I said,
“I’ll take the bagel dog.”
Hey, this is the second to last week of the project! And the bagel dog that I had over a year was THE SAME LUNCH that put me over the edge and got me thinking about my students, the food, and what I could do about it. And here I am facing it again. A full circle moment!
I bought it and took it back to my room. Oh boy.
The bagel dog was…gross. I can’t sugar coat it. The lunch lady described the dough perfectly: soggy. The hot dog was a hot dog. The fries tasted like nothing to me. They needed ketchup or there would have been no way. The fruit cup? Been there before.
Eat up kids!
I’m sure the kids didn’t finish all the doughy bread.
I wasn’t sure I would bring this up on the blog, but Thursday night I was violently ill. You don’t have to look back to find out what I ate that day: school pizza. It was odd in that I had no inclination that I would be ill before it happened. I went to bed just fine, but in the middle of the night I woke up with a start and raced to the bathroom.
It was then that I had a case of the I-wish-I-could-die-right-now-you-know-whats. I was dripping sweat and writhing in pain. On the bathroom floor I promised myself: no more lunches.
But I wasn’t convinced it was the lunches. Because of the timing, I thought maybe it was dinner. My husband cooked fish plain in oil, rice and broccoli. We all ate the same thing. I was silently begging that my son wouldn’t experience digestive pain like I had.
When everyone woke up, my son was fine and I asked my husband how he felt and he said he felt great. Neither of them experienced anything all day. Just me. I have a sensitive system, but wow. That was like no other.
I told my husband about my middle-of-the-night-promise to stop eating lunches and his response, “You can’t. You have to finish this. You’ve got to see this through.” I nodded solemnly. I even told my mom about it and she agreed, “You can’t stop. You’re too close.” I can’t wus out now.
My husband had the best line of all, “C’mon, it’s only 10 more days of diarrhea!”
We all had a good laugh over that one.

 plenty of finger food
My son’s lunch from bottom left, counter-clockwise: chicken and rice noodle soup (restaurant leftover), tofu and california/eel sushi roll (restaurant leftover), packaged gluten free snack bar far right, salmon (gluten-free bread crumbs fried in oil) and peas, coconut milk yogurt, fresh pineapple and sliced mini heirloom tomatoes. It’s for lunch and two snacks.
I use Laptop Lunches for my son (he’s two) and have been since September. He thinks all the containers are pretty fun. Normally the lunches aren’t this elaborate. We had restaurant leftovers (Thai/Japanese place last night) so I used them in his lunch since he liked those foods. I try to mimic the lunches that are served at the daycare, but recently I discussed it with one of his caregivers and she said that he likes eating his lunch and doesn’t seem to be too bothered if I deviate from what the other kids eat. So I feel like I can be more creative going forward. I’m lucky that my kid is a good eater.
Today at daycare the menu was ground beef, tater tots, diced pears and diced carrots with fruit and ice cream (?) as snacks. The menu says “ice cream” but I just can’t believe they actually do that; I haven’t seen it. And my son has never participated in ice cream as he has been “lactose intolerant” ever since he started there. But lunch sounds great, right? Well, yeah, but the tater tots come from a bag and the pears and carrots come from cans. I know this because I have visited at lunch. His caregivers know that my son is not eating gluten or dairy and that I prefer fresh foods. But I want him to participate whenever possible. For example, if they are slicing up bananas for the kids, my son can eat them too.
I have recently started writing up what is in his lunch on a post-it and putting it in his lunch because his caregivers will ask things like, “Were those purple potatoes? Were they dyed with food coloring?” When the kids last had tater tots, I bought some purple potatoes at Trader Joes and sent them for him with ketchup for dipping. Also he got quinoa in his lunch and they were perplexed as well. I love that they are learning about new foods through my son’s meals.
Well, today when I picked him up, the lunchbox was empty. He had eaten everything. That doesn’t always happen, but it did today. He loves all of those foods, especially soup, so today’s lunch was a hit. I’m probably going to do some kind of soup for tomorrow too because it’s supposed to be in the single digits. Brrrr.
I’m thinking about whether or not I should get myself a special lunch bag or system for when I return to packing next year (can’t wait!!), but I might just stick with what I had before, which was a generic lunch sack. I don’t have a ton of time to eat so the above would be too much food for lunch for me (and too much fiddling around).
Cost calc? Sorry, I don’t know but it’s probably more than $3 considering the restaurant fare. Tomorrow’s lunch will be a typical example of what I send and a mimic of the daycare menu, aside from the fish nuggets. *shiver*

To link up your lunch post, see below:


A red Built NY Neoprene lunch bag. Anyone who participates is eligible, even if you are only able to participate for one day this week. Winners to be announced next week.

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20 thoughts on “Day 153: bagel dog and Eat Along Challenge

  1. Sounds like the wheat thing to me…either that or the cheese…sorry you had to deal with that, it is the WORST. The stomach pain can make you feel like you are dying.

  2. So, with your son's laptop lunch –do you carry that in so it doesn't get turned upside down, etc? I've never been able to do things like soup in my daughter's lunches –the laptop box goes in a cloth lunchbox, and the whole thing gets turned on end to go in her back-pack, and then I'm pretty sure it gets tossed into her locker, sometimes upside-down. Does all that food in your sons lunch still look like that when he gets it at lunch?

    This has been a big frustration for me with the laptop lunches –peeling back a lid that's covered with sauce makes for a very messy lunch. And if there's any space left in a container, everything gets jumbled around. I've actually started to just use re-usable plastic containers in the cloth lunchbox, since that way everything has a lid. But if I did soup, I'd have to do it in a thermos.

  3. That is quite the spread that you've put together for your son! It's so rare to find a young child who not only eats those types of foods, but actually enjoys them. Just out of curiosity, have you worked with your son's pediatritian or a dietitian in regards to his diet? I only ask because his meals seem so well balanced and I know from personal experience that it can be difficult to do on your own. Either way, you are setting a great example that he will surely mimic as he gets older and makes his own food choices. Way to go Mrs. Q!

  4. Oh, my, not the dreaded bagel dog again! Hate that you had to eat that. I had to chuckle though when I saw it–just told my mom yesterday, "I bet she has to face that bagel dog one last time before she's finished!" And, there it was today.

    Sorry to hear you were ill, but glad you're feeling better!

    Great job on your son's lunch. Looks awesome.

  5. Hi Emily,
    No, I haven't worked with anyone to make balanced lunches, but oddly I think I have learned from seeing the menus for school lunch as well as the ones from the daycare. I have a working knowledge of the USDA regulations and I guess I really do try to improve from there. Thanks so much for the compliment. My son is a great eater (I'm probably jinxing myself by saying that). His eating does fall apart when he is sick though as to be expected.

    Renee – You know, I send the lunches with him so I don't see what happens to things like soup and yogurt by lunchtime. His caregivers have not said anything bad about the containers or their lids, but I could ask them. I feel quite grateful they are willing to accommodate his special lunches.

  6. I hope you're feeling better! I woke up horribly ill on Thursday night/ Friday morning as well, though it was the stomach flu and not school "pizza".

    We put our nearly-4-y.o. son on a gluten-free/casein-free diet 5 months ago, and I can't wait to see more of your son's lunches for additional ideas!! I did consult a dietitian, and her main concern was to make sure our son's getting enough riboflavin, niacin, calcium and D, but otherwise she was very pleased with his overall diet (we cook mainly from scratch). It's easy to make sure he gets the right vitamins and minerals, so no worries there!

    Also, I remember when the school cafeteria served those ice cream tub things. Usually it was vanilla or chocolate with the cardboard lid and the wooden spoon. Yup… I packed lunch K-12. 😛

  7. Does your son eat his lunch cold? Soup? Salmon?

    I want my kids to have a good, hot lunch when the weather is this cold. But they can't heat anything up at school and thermoses have not worked for us at all. If I fill them all the way up, the kids spill the contents when they open them up, usually all over themselves. If I leave a little space at the top so they can open them without spilling, the food doesn't stay hot.

    Hot lunch is a complete travesty at our school and my conversations with the lunch lady have amounted to nothing. "I have to use government issue," she says. I point out she could pick the healthier choices. "The kids won't eat it," she says. I point out that they will if they are hungry and the meals are bright and colorful and varying in texture and there's nothing else to eat. "I don't have time," she says. "It's an investment in our kids," I counter. "Most of these kids are on free or reduced lunch," she complains.

    So what — the poor/low income kids don't deserve healthy food?

  8. Took a look at the school lunch list from the elementary schools I attended in my town, which is posted on the schools website. Its been a while so I was curious to see if theyre the same as I remember. The entire week of lunch is repeated every single week of the month. As in, if they serve chicken nuggets on monday, they serve chicken nuggets every monday of the month, etc. The menu never changes week to week, it's really a shame, as I'm sure the lack of variety gets old very fast. Also, the teachers get their own school lunch menu too, its more sandwich type items. Except I noticed their menu is set up the same way, with each day repeated with each coming week.

  9. SL Hansen Writer – they heat up the soup and salmon in the microwave, which is what they do for the other kids' daycare provided lunches.

  10. They just give those kids ground beef? That's really weird. I don't think I've ever eaten plain ground beef unless it was a bite while I was cooking a more complex dish (some kind of soup or chili or maybe tacos. (I know some people that have eaten plain ground beef while on diets.) My husband and I don't eat much meat or poultry, so it's really strange to me that the kids get ground beef. Is it just me, or is that really weird?

  11. Interesting post. I also pack all of my daughter's lunches (she is 2) and have brought a dose of education to her school, too. 🙂 (We are gluten-dairy free).

  12. We used the laptop lunch system for three years and just loved it. When the kids got a little older we moved to the and have loved it. My eldest son has always been great about having a different lunch than anyone else… loves taking shrimp or sushi to lunch. My daughter… wants to be the same and doesn't like it when anyone pays attention to her lunch.

  13. Right, maybe it's because I've grown addicted to looking at photographs of your food, but I LOVED looking at your son's lunchbox. I took sushi from time to time in elementary school (california rolls so that there was no raw meat) and after a few weird looks from the kids, I dug in and always ended up sharing with my friends.

    I know it's probably way more impractical to photograph what you pack for him since you're in the middle of that hectic mommy rush, but any time you have a moment to whip out your phone and take a snapshot, I'll be eagerly waiting to see what you packed!
    (I also stare shamelessly at what people put on the conveyor belt in grocery stores. I guess it just fascinates me to see what other people like to eat)

    Poor you and your… er… pizzeria… 😉 I've had food poisoning three times in my life, and I remember each of them vividly. Combined, they have been the worst 72 hours of my life. Thank you for sprinting these final yards so we can all see you cross the finish line.

    It is very… what's the word I want? Ironic? Just? Unjust? Expected? Unexpected? Well, let's just say that it's somewhat amusing that nearly 365 days after you launched your experiment, even with improvements made to many of your lunches (fried rice, whole grain breads, real fruit, etc), you STILL got the flipping bagel dog and french fries for lunch.

    What amazes me is that if the bagel dog is SO BAD that even the cafeteria lady recommended the burnt chili, WHY do they continue to place orders for that particular meal? Wouldn't a nice pasta dish have gone over so much better? I'm sure the kids weren't digging the soggy bread any more than you were, so what's the point of trying to pretend that if it has the word "hot dog" in it, kids will go crazy over it?

    Hey, you know what I just realized? It's been AGES since you were handed one of those fruit popsicles for lunch, hasn't it? You haven't gotten one of those in this new school year, have you?

  14. My son, now 9, has always hated cheese — which makes the majority of school lunches unappealing for him (especially since the menu is not always accurate — the one time, in Kindergarten, he tried to do school lunch, the menu said chicken nuggets, but they really served cheese enchiladas. He's never even asked for it since).
    So, we have a laptop lunch too, as well as a little Ms. Bento hot lunch jar (expensive, but we've had it since preschool; still going strong!), and a soup thermos. This way I can send either warm or cold food.
    I don't have a place to post photos online — but yesterday's lunch was salmon california rolls, a couple of Trader Joe's veggie nests, cucumber slices, and some of those huge lovely red Holiday grapes. Today's is tomato vegetable soup with chicken tortellini, a homemade, whole-grain pumpkin roll (frozen leftover from Thanksgiving), and a banana.

  15. I totally understand the stomach issue. Last week, I had them 3 times in one week. I couldn't figure out what I had ate that bothered my stomach. I had eaten all the foods before. I don't know if it was a slight stomach bug or not. Either way, I do get upset stomach from certain foods, and I hate the unexpected UGH.

  16. I can't believe how gross school lunches are. I've been following your blog all year and while I'll miss your posts about those lunches, I'll be happy for you when you can get back to healthier eating. Also hope you will continue blogging!

    Am enjoying the variety of healthy lunches you've been showing us that you make for your son. They look so good. Very inspiring.

  17. Looking at your son's lunches reminds me of the lunches I used to pack for my son in preschool when he was allergic to wheat, nuts, eggs, and shellfish. (He has since outgrown the wheat and egg allergies, but his reaction to eating either was to swell up like a prizefighter around the eyes, turn eight shades of red and itch like crazy.) He's nine now, but when he was 3 and 4 I remember it was a real challenge to pack appetizing lunches that were wheat free and easy. I remember the wheat-free breads I came across were gross, so we didn't really do sandwiches. Often the lunches were rice or potato based. One day I might do rice balls with nori and avocado or cubes of cooked potato, diced ham or diced cooked chicken and steamed broccoli florets. Rice pasta with red sauce. For snacks, rice crackers, cheerios, raisins, grape tomatoes or peeled sliced apples with cinnamon. He was not allergic to dairy, but he did NOT like cheese, and he is still allergic to nuts, so there was never any easy PBJ option at all, especially with the wheat thing. Sigh. As labor intensive as those days were, he loves all kinds of foods now and I credit those allergy lunches for broadening his food horizons.

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