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Saturday, March 12, 2011

School lunches : The apple has lost its shine

Recently, I ranted about Miss5’s extended introduction to full time school.

She is FINALLY at the end of her second week of FULL TIME schooling.

[Insert thunderous applause, whooping, and champagne cork popping]

Now if I could only convince the Education Department to commence schooling at a slightly younger age (say, 2 and 2 months…) then I could be child-free exactly 24 days from now.  Missing my kids, but spending my days doing grown up stuff and not spot checks for spit and snot.

I’ve been excited about preparing school lunches for Miss5.  No, really – I’ve been excited.  Yes, my world is that small.  No, I haven’t been drinking as I type this (but I totally get that you would feel the need to question that).

After 14 days of lunchbox packing bliss - I’m done.  I’m tapped of all culinary creativity that may appeal to a fussy 5yr old.


I stand in front of my bulging pantry in the wee hours of the morning (about 8am) and find it void of options.  Nothing jumps out at me.

Sandwiches : Miss5 doesn’t do foliage.  There are only so many consecutive days I can pack a cheese or Vegemite sandwich without fear of a teacher dobbing me in to Welfare for parental lunchbox preparations lacking in care, creativity or nutritional value.  Or, you know, give me a fail on my parental report card at the end of the year.  This is what goes through my head, anyway.

Yoghurt : I panicked that the good bacteria were being overthrown by the bad bacteria, in a mass uprising that occurs because of the current summer heat (the lunchbox sits in Miss5’s backpack outside in the sun, with nothing but a teeny tiny ice block thingy to keep it cool).

Dried fruit : That lasted two days, last year when Miss5 was a mere part timer at the school thing, and Kindy snacks and lunches were never required more than a couple of days a week.  That is when I learnt the true meaning of dried fruit, by finding it at the bottom of her backpack, even more gnarled up and plasticized than when it went in there...approximately 2 – 3 months prior.

Bananas : A staple favourite with my kids.  Now that the price has skyrocketed and it’s costing me around $1.10 - $1.30 per bloody banana, all 3 kids always want them.  This is a lunchbox fail thanks to the current Summer heat, because what goes into the lunchbox perfectly unblemished and yellow, often comes out at recess time with a teeny tiny black spot on the skin, and therefore won’t be eaten – thanks to Miss5’s latest food colour discrimination being against all things black.

Apples : A begrudgingly accepted option at home, also out.  Miss5 won’t eat them unless they’re cored and cut into segments (she’s all hard core about the core).  And you know how apples start to discolour at the speed of light once they’ve been cut.

My only successes to date….

Wraps : The kiddy kind that are beefed up with extra Omega 3.  I’m a huge fan of anything Omega 3, and would blindly buy in good faith any product that touted super charged Omega 3 goodness.  Especially since Omega 3 is critical to brain development – which is vital for learning the tough lessons of Pre Primary, like how to make a Playdoh snake of even thickness; how to use the kiddy glue and resist the urge to eat it; and mastering the monkey bars and skipping.

Carrot : The only single veg my Miss5 will happily eat in unlimited quantities.  If I could just purchase a packaging machine and some Dora The Explorer labeling, I could make the ultimate pre-packaged school snack.  Because snacks are only cool when they come in unnecessary packaging covered in cartoon Characters.

Every morning when I’m packing Miss5’s lunchbox, I am stressing about the lack of variety, the nutritional value of the contents, the comparisons that will be made to other lunches around the school yard.

And that last one is not only in my neurotic head.  I’ll finish off this post by recounting the tale, and quite possibly going a ways to explaining my neurosis when it comes to Miss5’s school lunches.

I did my one and only day of parental class assistance last year, and while Miss5 pretty much ignored me, I was deemed cool by the older “in” crowd of Pre Primary kids in the class.  So we hung out at lunch around the tiny table, and I wedged myself into a tiny plastic chair, chanting in my head the whole time “please don’t break…please don’t break…please don’t break”.

We all opened our lunch boxes (me included), and there was much murmuring and comparing of sandwich bags - who had the one with Diego, who had Hannah Montana, and who had the lame plain one (that was me).  Looks of disdain and sympathy from the cool kids around me.  Then there was a bit of discussion about who had what for lunch, with some admissions that they’d been eating the same thing every day for a week (not just me that time).

Followed by comparisons of the coveted snack item.  And this is where I lost my new cool group of peeps.  This is where I learnt the valuable lesson that if it’s not in a package, it’s not cool.  I had a homemade muesli bar slice.  It looked identical to the girl who had the brand name item of the same nature.  It looked the same as the kid next to me who pulled his out of the flashy, showy wrapper emblazoned with confirmation of its organic free range corn fed farm bred goodness.  And, finally, it looked the same as the kids across from me whose was in a wrapper bearing the face of a beloved cartoon character.  But they looked at my little old homemade muesli bar as if it was radioactive – because it was wrapped in mere Glad Wrap.  Oh the shame of it.

I had lost them.  It is at this point that I was deemed too uncool for school.  By a group of 5 year olds.  All because I had made my own snack, and it wasn’t toting a fancy shmancy wrapper or package with a recognisable character on it.


  1. You lost me at cork popping...

  2. Ahhh bless...I'd expect nothing less from you!

  3. LOL, Seagull only goes to childcare twice a week, but he gets a jam sandwich and a piece of fruit in his lunchbox. I've tried sending him with other stuff, but I get sick of half-eaten food being sent home. At least I know that he's going to eat the jam sandwich and piece of fruit.

    Seagull has been going great guns on grapes lately, but I discovered through the week that he really likes nectarines. I bought some for myself and grabbed a couple out of the fruit bowl on the way out of the house when we were heading to the park on Monday as I hadn't had a chance to have breakfast. I ended up having to share with Seagull and he was happy as a pig in mud sitting there eating his nectarine.

  4. Nectarines? Nice work - mine won't touch anything that doesn't look like a boring apple, banana or grape.

  5. SOO FUNNY!!!

    Going through the same thing here - 5 year old in full day kindergarten and just switched 3 and half year old to new preschool so that in the fall she will be 5 half days.

    I finally let Eldest buy lunch because her friends were doing it and she wanted to be like them (?!? future ?!?). But I have the menu posted on the pantry door and love the mornings when I realize, "YAY, it's pizza AGAIN! She loooves Pizza"

    Anyway - love your blog and now a new follower.
    (reviewed it too on link referral)


  6. Pizza is a favourite here too. I can't help myself though, I make my own, with spinach in the dough, pureed brocolli in the sauce, and teeny tiny bits of veg scattered in amongst the usual toppings. I'm obssessed with vegetables!

    Thanks so much for the follow and the feedback - your site is gorgeous. Lots of lovely stuff in there!

  7. Ahhh bless...I'd expect nothing less from you!

  8. Having taught junior kids for over 20 years (now I feel ancient!) I can tell you that we don't really care what's in the sandwich and won't remember what they had yesterday. I have been at schools where I'm just grateful they have a sandwich and something vaguely healthy! I have had kids bring boxes of cereal (large ones!), bags of crisps, sandwiches containing chocolate spread AND sprinkles (one or the other is quite common but both left me a bit gob-smacked) , the list is endless! Then there's the lack of anything situation (for which I keep a stash in the classroom freezer) and the time one little munchkin was sent with butter on mouldy bread. Give yourself points for effort and send her with whatever healthy bits she will eat without driving you completely mad :)
    PS I have 2 of my own and gave up trying to be intersesting when the oldest didn't eat his lovingly prepared salad coz he didn't have a fork! Vegemite has lots of vitamins, doesn't it???


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