Love or Hate: Packing School Lunches?


I had a dream last night. It involved lunches of the school variety and the thought of making three of them each day before my children head off to school. It was more a sign of the things to come. The lunchroom envy, the daily discussions about what type of fruit or flavor of applesauce is the proper one to pack when accompanying tomato soup leftovers or chicken salad sandwiches. (Cherries with tomato soup is not the right choice, but they pair wonderfully with the sandwiches, in case you were wondering.)

The lunchtime ritual. I actually find that the process of discussing food with my kids is good for both of us. As I learn how their tastes work, what gets them excited and what bores them, I see them develop into food eaters, enjoying and appreciating nuances in their food, disliking others, knowing good quality from poor. These are things I wanted to instill in them, to teach them as their mother, and obviously, knowing where the food is coming from is one for the “I love packing lunches” side.

Instead, it’s the pressure I put on myself as the mother packing the lunch that I dread. Somehow, this lunch I’m schlepping had better be the best one, the one that makes all the other kids envious of my children’s culinary masterpiece tucked inside their reusable containers in a pretty pattern and wrapped with a bit of twine and a handwritten note professing my undying love for their dirty, paint-smeared faces and making them feel as if I’m with them at school, right there in their lunch box, which never really happens.

I know another person who isn’t thrilled to be packing lunches. How do you feel about school lunches? Are you the lunch-sack-loving mom who cuts cute shapes for the bento, or do you just toss it together and say it’s good enough?

Personally, I’m somewhere in the middle, packing lunches that I find appealing, but not taking the time usually to make them cutesy or over the top. This year, however, my kids have a full 30 minutes to enjoy their lunch, so I’m excited to see how that changes the lunch dynamic at school, as well as their eating habits.

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