Can we take a minute to talk about about the horrendous nature of having to pack school lunches? They are terrible. They are frightening. They keep me up awake at night; tossing and turning in bed murmuring, “What can I make her? What will she eat?” over and over again.
There are a plethora of reasons why school lunches suck the soul straight out of your body, none of which you realize until you’re ten minutes late for school on the first day and it dawns on you that your child will be gone for 7 hours. It sounds like such a simple, mundane task but it will make you cry in your coffee. Consistently.
For those of you who don’t know what I’m talking about, let me explain. For those of you who can relate– I hope that I can cohesively encompass the atrocity of what it entails to make a school lunch for a child.
It Has To Be Affordable
If you’re anything like me, then coughing up the $4 a day for a school lunch is not feasible. That is way to expensive– what the deuce are they feeding her? Caviar? Sushi?
But if I am skipping school lunch then I need to be making her lunch for significantly cheaper than that–or what’s the point?
But things add up, and they add up real quick. Organic fruits and veggies come in very small bins for very expensive amounts. Healthy sandwich makings like nitrate-free turkey and avocados are reaching record breaking prices. So you have to be thrifty with your content, always changing it up for what is in season or Costco is currently carrying.
It Needs To Be Filling
Lunch is an important meal for a kid, especially when they are in school all day long. It keeps them going. The meal has to be big enough, and full of enough protein, to last the day. Otherwise, when you pick up your child they will be a puddle of hangry on the ground. This means that little snacks won’t do; you gotta get something with substance. That they will also eat.
It Has To Be Good Cold
There are plenty of good, easy ideas for lunch out there but they all require heating the food up. This is fine for an office, but with a Kindergartner they don’t got no microwave. They have a lunchbox, a fork if you remember to pack one. Finding a food that is good chilled is much harder than you would think. (I have a friend who packs hot things like soup in her daughter’s lunch, by placing it into a thermos to keep it warm. I LOVE this idea. Except my little monster hates soup. That’s right, folks. Every. Kind. Of. Soup.)
It Has To Be Easy
Pizza is great but no matter how many vegetables I hide in the sauce, I don’t feel good about her eating it every single day. Nor do I have the energy to make it. For the time that it takes prepping a lunch is one of the worst parts about it. The mornings are a hectic rush of shoving everyone out of the front door while I run around like a chicken with its head cut off. I have heard other moms say that they prep it the night before and no offense, but f*&# that. As soon as the kids go to bed then that officially becomes ME time. Well, me and WINE time. Oh and occasionally I work at night. And maybe do some dishes. And vacuuming. And sometimes laundry. BUT NEVER LUNCHES. You have to draw the line somewhere.
It Has To Be Nutritious
Obviously we all want to feed our kids decent food that has actual nutrition in it rather than empty calories and corn syrup. BUT. But that is a really challenging thing to find! Moreover, my daughter told me that they compare lunches at lunch time. So every kid is going home at night and telling their parents what their friends are eating. I feel bad enough when I send my five-year-old to school with a spaghetti sandwich (yes, this has happened)– now I know some judgmental mom is going to be asking her kid, “So what did P’s mom pack in her lunch today? Was it salami on white bread? A raw potato?”
Moreover, my daughter’s school actually has requirement of what you can and cannot pack in their lunches. This doesn’t include normal things like peanut butter, but instead “all processed foods”. Again, LOVE THIS IDEA. America’s kids are eating a ton of over-processed shit and I am a-ok curbing their intake. I get that the school doesn’t want all the kids on a sugar high from their Lunchables, but holy moly are they making this lunch thing so much hairier.
You Can Never Get Too Comfortable
I thought I had it figured out for a while there. I discovered on a Monday that avocado on sourdough does not get mushy, and my daughter came home from school and said, “That was the best lunch EVER!” And so I gave myself a little pat on the back. I bought a giant bag of avocados from Costco and the biggest loaf of bread I could find.
But then Wednesday happened, on which I was informed by my precocious little Kindergartner that, “I don’t like avocado anymore. Or sandwiches.”
And so I am screwed yet again.