I tried getting ideas from magazines and books on interesting lunchboxes. I spent more time laughing than preparing lunchboxes. Have the authors ever eaten a tuna roll with onion in a classroom? I wonder what that smell does for a 10-year-old's popularity? A baked potato in a flask? Anyone try that one before suggesting it? Is the flask usable for coffee ever again, or even after a thousand washes is there always a faint floury odour?
For a few years I’d do a boiled egg and draw Humpty Dumpty onto it, until I was accused of drawing underpants on because I’d put stripes on the pants (just trying to be creative – the articles recommend it).
At the moment I’m sticking to two fruits – grapes and a plum, apple or pear, peach or orange – that type of thing, a dairy item like a yogi sip or I cut up some cheese (Gouda only apparently), a sandwich or a roll – with boring old peanut butter on it because that’s what my children will eat, a container of nuts or biltong or pretzels and if the fancy takes me, some banana bread or a cereal bar or a boiled egg (without underpants), or some carrot sticks or cucumber triangles or a halved mielie on the cob or rice cakes. Occasionally I pop in a chicken drum stick or some left over ribs or chops or wors.
Things I have been banned from putting into lunch boxes: bread cut into shapes, raisins, yoghurt, containers of corn, mini corn, mange tout, anything with a dip and cherry tomatoes. Apparently these are foods for babies. Can’t remember times tables but can remember pre-primary school lunchboxes. The mind is an amazing thing.
Oh how I’d love to put in little wraps and mini pita pockets with salad and chicken or mince, but all that effort and it will come home hot and sweaty and uneaten or nibbled on the side and discarded.
To top it all, each day I worry that the teacher will see my offering of nourishment for my child and deem it unhealthy. Oh the shame.
I try to subtly ask my children what other children have in their lunch boxes – apparently chips, sweets, muffins and Vienna sausages. Judging by the toned looking mothers and bright eyed bushy tailed and rosy checked children – I suspect I’m being spun a yarn. These are treat foods in our house, and I strongly suspect they’re treat foods in other houses too.
Anyway, back to sniggering about sending onion dip and egg mayonnaise with chick-pea salad in a flask, all wrapped up in tuna. I wouldn’t want to breathe that onto my colleagues. I’d imagine the teacher is grateful not to have more than 20 little mouths breathing that onto her too.
What do you put in your kids lunchboxes?