Family life

Lazy about school lunches

Tracy has fallen into a packed-lunch rut and is looking for fresh ideas to shake things up.

By Tracy Chappell
Lazy about school lunches

Photo by via Flickr.

Forty-four. That’s how many lunches I still have to pack, more or less, until the end of the school year. There would be 11 more, except I fully subscribe to pizza Fridays, which means I only have to pack snacks on those days.

Every evening, Anna’s lunch pack stares me down. It’s just a lunch and two snacks, not so hard, but when it’s day after day, a lunch and two snacks can become a daunting task.

You’re probably expecting me to say that Anna’s picky about what she eats, but that’s not exactly true. In some ways, she can be particular. She doesn’t want to take anything messy, for example, because she doesn’t like to get food on her face. So that leaves little in the way of leftovers, no soup or stew, definitely no spaghetti. She doesn’t want anything cold that should be hot, like pizza. She doesn’t want cheese in any way, shape or form.

The truth is, she likes the same handful of main lunch options, over and over again: Turkey sandwiches with lettuce, tuna sandwiches (but don’t let her know they have mayo in them), or a bagel with cream cheese — sometimes with cream cheese and jam, but no flavoured cream cheese, please. A couple of times, she’s been OK with a mini hamburger (in a thermos) with a mini bun, as long as we include ketchup and something to spread it neatly. Alongside, she likes some combination of baby carrots or mini cucumbers, fruit (though she’s suddenly off grapes), yogurt or yogurt tubes, crackers, pretzels, granola bars and the occasional “junky” treat. Once, I took advantage of her new love of salsa and chips and sent them to surprise her. But she told me that evening that they were too messy for school. She rarely comes home with any food left in her pack, except for the occasional sandwich crust.

I sound ridiculous — I’m essentially whining that my daughter doesn’t complain about her lunch, and eats what I send her. I’m just bored! I feel like school lunches are a great opportunity to try out new things and expand her horizons, but whenever I offer up something different she replies with a polite, yet definitive, “No thank you.”

So today, it’s turkey with lettuce, yogurt, mandarin oranges (drained, so they’re not too messy), crackers and a couple of Girl Guide cookies.

I just realized I’ll only have a short reprieve after these 44 lunches because camp will come quickly on its heels. Ugh. And then, come September, I’ll have lunches x2 when Avery joins her sister for full-day school. Will she have her own preferences? Of course she will.

How do you shake up your kids’ lunches, or do you stick with the usual? I’d love some new ideas that might meet Miss Anna’s strict standards. Comment here or tweet me: @T_Chappell

This article was originally published on Apr 15, 2013

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