At my primary school there were two options for lunch orders – fish and chips, or hot dog and chips. Then they bought in a healthy option, a whole Sally Lunn bun. Fortunately, much has changed in the lunchbox world since the 1970s. Not only were the bought options not the best fuel, but I remember one of my best friends having jelly crystals in her sandwiches, different colours on different days of course. My mother was a lunchbox whizz. She used to call them ‘love boxes’. Her theory was she could fill them with good food – and good thoughts – that would keep us sustained throughout the day.
Now though my own children are becoming more independent and doing an increasing number of chores about the home, I’m holding on to making their lunchboxes myself. Like my mother, I like the thought they are getting a little bit of my TLC throughout their busy day. To be fair our lunchboxes tend to be far better stocked at the beginning of the week, after the shopping has been done, than they do on Friday. But I try to work on the principle of always including protein, whole grains, fruit and vegetables. After having a child at school for four years I have learned that a chopped apple is far more likely to get eaten than a whole one, and food needs to be divided up into portions for brain snack, morning tea and lunch. Chewy bread and anything that takes too long to eat is rejected because it cuts into valuable playing time.
The love part varies. It might be a message written on a banana, a sweet treat for a special occasion, or a note hidden under a sandwich. They’ll make your children feel special.