Let's get something out of the way right now.
I have Opinions(TM) about food.
Specifically, the food that people feed their kids. I cringe over too much sugar, too much white flour, too much processing. I wince at people who cater to their childrens' whims, making them special separate meals of chicken fingers every night to avoid the dinner table battle. I wonder why you'd buy heavily-sweetened yoghurt with lots of additives & preservatives. I look at shopping carts when I'm in line at the grocery store and silently congratulate myself for having not once bought a Lunchable.
Really, I can be kind of a jerk about preparing food from scratch, using the best ingredients you can afford.
However, I do have a confession to make, and if in the weeks and months to come I wander into sanctimonious-land you may remind me of this. Perhaps with the judicious and pointed use of a smirking emoticon.
My kids have a love affair with string cheese. AND SO DO I.
You know the stuff. It's made out of rubber, probably. It doesn't taste anything like cheese. It's got lots of protein but an odd dearth of any other nutrients, vitamins, or substance.
It keeps perfectly well in a lunchbag. It's so easy to just grab them and toss them in - not only when packing school lunches, but when going on a day trip or a long car ride. From my kids' perspective, you can peel down the tops to make hair, and the wrappers on the brand we buy has pictures of little cartoonish characters made of string cheese that you can recreate for merriment.
They fill the hunger gap, especially during morning snack, and as my kids are early risers that's pretty important. Without a protein at that morning break, they'd be going from 6:30 or 7 until noon - that's a long time when you're an active kid.
Sadly I've become so dependent on them that all three of my kids now notice if they somehow get a lunch without one. Yes, even the baby. If he sees someone else getting string cheese, he will immediately start yelling like he has a diaper full of bees, pointing angrily in the direction of the wayward milk-ish stick and wondering why in hell he doesn't have one.
My kids like all types of cheese. I could easily cut up a more 'authentic' cheese into cubes, for their lunches. I could go broke buying them B*bybel. I could put my foot down and say NO MORE CHEESE.
But I already don't pack chips for them, or chocolate. The closest thing they get to a treat in their lunch is usually a homemade muffin or maybe a granola bar with a chocolate drizzle, if it's Friday and I'm feeling generous. I am not one of those moms that includes a note every day telling them that they are super and that I love them.
So, every day, three string cheeses. (I run a dayhome, and it's easier if all the lunches are ready to go when the time comes to feed five at once, so I pack lunchbags for all three of my kids every day, even though two of them eat at home.)
3 strings/day x 5 days per week + I even pack lunches during the summer = IS THERE A DISEASE CAUSED BY STRING CHEESE? IF SO, NAME IT AFTER ME.
Today's lunch: Big Kid and Middle Kid has ham & cheese wraps. (I don't buy pre-sliced ham; instead I get one of those 'pre-cooked country hams and shred/slice it myself. Much cheaper.) Little Kid has leftovers; salmon, wild rice, and peas. Snacks are bananas, dried cranberries, apples - and string cheese.