I don’t quite know what it is about lunch boxes that I hate, but I hate them, with a passion. It’s not like they take a long time to prepare. Even for 3 kids, it doesn’t take more than 15 minutes as long as you have the contents in the kitchen cupboards.
Nonetheless, each evening, I try to fill my kids’ lunch boxes with healthy, non-chocolate, peanut butter, salt, sugar tainted snacks. Not an easy task. And, I think most Mums would agree!
I, for one, do not send in dairy products. We live in the desert. It’s too hot, even with cooler packs, I am not willing to risk food poisoning, or have uneaten, curdled milk products returned to sender.
I also do not send in fruit. Quite early on in my children’s academic careers, I learned that sending in fruit, contrary to nurseries’ and schools’ opinion of healthy eating is, more often than not, a waste of time and money. Nine times out of ten when I have sent in fruit with my children, it has come back as untouched, brown mush which is instantly binned. A waste of good, healthy food.
In the last lunchbox swoop by the school Nurse, my daughter reported that the school Nurse said she didn’t have enough food in her snack box…..hmmmm. Even though DD would probably not eat more than the contents of her snack box on that day, she was upset at being, as she saw it, ‘told off’ by the Nurse.
My observations are that no matter how varied I try to be, DD does not like about 80% of what I put in her snack box. It’s too healthy, not enough sugar, chocolate etc., so she eats her sandwich and picks at the snack box. In an attempt to get her to eat more, I sometimes allow her (under strict supervision) to make up her own snack for school. Given she is not allowed the ‘unhealthy’ stuff, she packs what she likes from the ‘healthy’ or, as DD calls it, the ‘boring’ stuff. Invariably the amount she packs is far less than what I would stuff in there! Unfortunately, for DD and me, the day the Nurse launched her on-the-spot-inspection was the day,DD had packed her snack!
That same week, DS1’s snackbox came in for closer inspection by and comment from the school Nurse!
‘Not as healthy as it could be’, DS1 bemoaned. ‘Why do you put crisps in my snack box, Mummy????!!!! Nurse says they are unhealthy.’
DS1 is my best and most diverse ‘eater’. If any of the 3 will eat most of their packed lunches, it will be DS1. He would never normally object to the crisps I give him for snacks. Afterall, they are from the Organix range, no fat, salt, sugar, E numbers – just dry, sawdusty rings with an ever so slight flavour of something indectable. Hardly a relative of Walkers’ crisps.
At this stage, I was thinking my kids were being victimised, singled out in front of their classmates for inadequate and unhealthy school time fare! Ultimately, it was me who was in the firing line, and I half expected a call from the Nurse to discuss (read ‘receive a lecture on’) what constitutes a healthy snack box.
The call didn’t come (thankfully!), and I have not changed my ways regarding filling lunch boxes. Too often my kids come home with untouched snack boxes and uneaten sandwiches/spaghetti etc. The look of obvious dismay on my face is met with a barrage of mini moans: ‘I didn’t have time to eat snacks’, ‘Miss So and So didn’t let us have a break’, ‘Miss So and So didn’t let us back into the classroom because she had a meeting with the other Miss So and So’, ‘Why can’t I have Oreos for lunch like So and So does’!
I have learned to accept that this is the way it is always going to be. In truth, I am actually OK with that as I would prefer to monitor my children’s healthy food intake. When we get home, there are instant requests for fruit, rice cakes, yoghurts and digestive biccies (my boys love their digestive biccies!). They are already making healthy choices and of that I am proud. I get to see them eat it, and not furtively throw it in the bin (I know of a child who used to throw his strawberries in the bin every day, and it was weeks before the Mum realised what was going on!) or let it degenerate to goo which belongs on the compost heap. The school Nurse thinks she is a bad ass food monitor??? She has no idea!