Every year, kids go back to school in September and every year, the dietitian/nutritionist guest appears on morning tv to help moms and dads with the onerous task of packing lunches for kids. And to create even more angst they turn it into a search for the new super foods that boost the immune system, that kids, gasp, like and most importantly are convenient. Before anyone clicks this off in disgust, I did work full-time and I did pack school lunches; that is, I packed them until the special orders got too “special.” The kind where ‘I want mustard, no lettuce. I want a little mustard and lettuce and mayo. Don’t cut the meat too thick. I don’t want an apple (insert fruit).’
In one of my many parenting fails, I said, “Fine. You pack your own lunches. THEN you positively will get exactly the food you want.”
My son was in grade two but turned out to be great at making a lunch and does it for his own kids now. My daughter was older and although she didn’t like making her lunch, she liked eating. Her lunches were pretty good, too.
The thing is lunches included a sandwich, a fruit, a snack of some kind (maybe another fruit), a cookie, etc. Nothing fancy. Every Sunday we had a “nice” meal of some kind, a roast beef, a pork roast, a roasted chicken. Then there was a healthy protein for sandwich filling. I confess to allowing little pudding cups and some other packaged “treats.” But the main course was the sandwich.
Another closely related parenting fail. I sent roasted or fried chicken drumsticks to be eaten with nicely buttered bread. NO. The rule was that sandwiches were eaten first and so my poor kids had to eat the bread before they got to the chicken. I mention this so that no one thinks I’m preaching.
But lunches do not have to have dragon fruit, yogurt squishy tubes, or so many of the prepackaged things kids get. Some of the packaging is a challenge for me to open when a child asks for help. I’m encouraged when I see some lunches that feature tupperware containers packed with grapes, cherry tomatoes, or cucumber slices.
I cringe when I see that the choices are gummies, packaged cookies, Lunchables (or their copy-cats.) The “pizza” you make yourself is horrifying. Once the package is opened, a grim, red sauce can be spread over a cracker-like bottom and cheese swept from the factory floor can be sprinkled on top. Kids like them ’cause they’re doing it themselves. Kids like doing stuff. Make them responsible for their own lunches. Let them learn to make a sandwich, wash and apple or some grapes. Let them take milk in a thermos and forget the chocolate choice.