When Miss C started school this year, so did the school lunch box requirements. Her previous day-care supplied meals, and pre-school only required limited packed food, but starting kindergarten meant that she had to take a full packed lunch everyday. Actually – it is more like morning tea, lunch and afternoon tea – with pretty strict school requirements on what can and cannot be sent. Anything with nuts is banned, (although I think that is pretty usual these days), pre-packaged food should be avoided and there must be a piece of fresh fruit for the appropriately named ‘fruit break’ in the morning.*
Needless to say I am slowly but surely figuring our what works, and what doesn’t, and am always on the lookout for ideas to keep her lunchbox selections varied. Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of days when a vegemite sandwich and whatever fruit I can find lurking in the bottom of the fridge make an appearance, but for the most part I’m lucky that Miss C will generally eat most of what I pack – whatever that might be.
For example, here are Miss C’s lunches from last week:
Day 1: Apple for morning tea, ham and cheese sandwich, cucumber, carrots and sultanas for lunch, and some homemade muesli bars for afternoon tea.
Day 2: Grapes for morning tea, rice crackers with jam, berries and lamington balls for lunch, banana for afternoon tea.
Day 3: Sliced oranges for morning tea, pasta (leftover from dinner the night before), grapes, dried apricots and a few pretzels for lunch, popcorn for afternoon tea.
Day 4: Banana for morning tea, ham, cheese and lettuce roll ups, cucumber, homemade muesli bar and blueberries for lunch, cheese and crackers for afternoon tea.
Day 5: Sliced apple for morning tea, a “monster” cheese sandwich, carrots, cucumber and lamington balls for lunch, and popcorn for afternoon tea.
So there you have it – a week of school lunches!
So what generally works for us?
- Fresh fruit – generally apples, grapes, pears, bananas, oranges, mandarins, berries, watermelon and stone fruit (when in season).
- Vegetables such as carrots and cucumbers (cherry tomatoes will be sent home uneaten)
- Plain popcorn, dried fruit, pretzels, muesli bars, home-baked goods for snacks
- Leftover pasta
- Cheese and crackers and homemade biscuits
What I try to send but comes back uneaten (accompanied with a look of disgust from Miss C)?
(ps. While I’m all for healthy foods for all, I must say, the ‘rules’ and ‘restrictions’ were quite confronting when we first started packing lunches**, particularly as we are a household that tries to practice the ‘everything in moderation’ mantra. I can only imagine what would be said if I sent Miss C with the sort of lunch that I took to school as a kid. For I suspect that a squashed vegemite sandwich (flattened by the apple that was put in the same brown paper bag), an OJ prima and a mini bag of crisps would probably not cut it. And let’s not even mention the sneaky Big M and chocolate jam donut from the canteen….)
* I had the ‘audacity’ to send tinned fruit for morning tea a while back – and received a ‘friendly reminder’ of this fact. Yes the school lunch mafia is reaI, people!
** ie. the tinned fruit school lunch mafia….
What about you? Got any lunchbox tips?