The headache of packing two school lunches

As the first week of school comes to a close, Ian Mendes realizes that packing lunches for his daughters is tougher than he thought.

The headache of packing two school lunches

Follow along as Ottawa-based Sportsnet host/reporter Ian Mendes writes about the joys of raising daughters Elissa and Lily. And with all those away-games, his wife, Sonia, deserves her own version of the Stanley Cup.

There is no question this has been an emotional week in our house.

Our youngest daughter, Lily, entered grade one on Tuesday morning. When your youngest child starts going to school full-time, it’s certainly a bittersweet day.

As Sonia and I walked home after dropping the kids off at school on Tuesday, the reality set in for both of us.

We were starting a brand new era in our house.

And if there were any tears shed, it was for this simple reason: We now have to pack two school lunches every day.

A few weeks ago, we were actually naively excited about this situation. We even bought them each a brand new lunch kit for the start of the school year. (Apparently, I’m supposed to refer to these Tupperware lunch kits as "bento boxes" — but unless there is chicken teriyaki and a California roll inside, I refuse to do so).

And on the surface, this doesn’t appear to be such a big task. Instead of making one sandwich, you just make two. Double-up on the snacks and voila — you have two lunches, right?


Sadly, as we’re now onto Day 3 of the school year, we’re realizing this is a bigger challenge than we realized. Our two daughters are the ying and yang of the lunch world.

Lily likes mayonnaise on her sandwich, but Elissa does not.

Elissa likes a touch of mustard on hers, but Lily would scream for hours if she got a dab of the yellow stuff on her bread.

Right now, Lily loves eating cucumbers, but that seems to change on an hourly basis. They both like eating carrots — although one of them prefers to have their carrots cooked. And for the life of me, I can’t remember which child that is right now.

These two can’t even agree on which treat to put in their lunch, which is absolutely mind-blowing.


Lily loves Bear Paws, but for some reason, Elissa is the only child in the western hemisphere who does not. And of course, Elissa enjoys having little fruit gummy snacks — but Lily finds them repulsive.

This morning they both actually agreed to have leftover broccoli cheddar soup put in their lunch. But I’m a little concerned because this is Lily’s first time using a Thermos. I’m not an advocate of having video cameras in classrooms, but I would tune in with great interest to watch Lily use a Thermos for the first time. When you send a five-year-old off to school with a Thermos, you have so many questions.

Will she be able to open the lid by herself?

Will she spill the lukewarm soup all over the place?

Will she get her knuckles dirty by trying to get the soup at the bottom of the Thermos? And then will she wipe those dirty knuckles on the thighs of her pants?


And for the love of God, will she remember to bring home the spoon?

I suppose we will have the answers to these questions at the end of the day today. (And possibly an extra load of laundry).

When the kids came home from school on Wednesday, they had the order forms for pizza lunches. Every Tuesday, they have the option of having a slice of pizza delivered to their classroom. For parents who have to pack lunches every day, this is like a lifesaver sent from above. In fact, if it wasn’t for the social stigma associated with it, I would have pizza delivered to our kids’ classrooms four times a week.

Our conversation about ordering pizza for the kids this year went something like this:

Me: “Sonia, should we order the kids piz...”


Sonia (interrupting and signing a cheque): “Hell yes!”

So the way I see it, we’ve got 148 days of lunch packing ahead of us, which means a total of 296 lunches left to go. I subtracted the PD days (six), the Christmas holidays (10), March break (five) and pizza days (35).

Not that I’m counting.

This article was originally published on Sep 05, 2013

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