Thursday, 4 June 2009

Lunch Box Lessons

Lunch Box Necessities

I would dare say that most Australian children take their lunch to school. If not all the time, at least some of the time. In Our School we have the opportunity to buy lunch one day a fortnight, so taking your own lunch to school is a must. For everyone. For us, buying lunch is quite an expensive exercise, so even though we could do it regularly we don't. It's a once-a-term kind of treat in our home.

Above is a picture of our lunch box necessities. The kids all have heavy duty soft sided, insulated lunch boxes. They each have a sandwich box, a snack box and there are enough freezer bricks to rotate them in case we forget to put them back in the freezer straight after school. Well...not 'in case', but 'because'! I also have little rectangles of fabric to wrap around the freezer bricks so they don't spread their condensation over whatever else is in the box.

Each evening I put a set my bread machine to make a loaf of wholemeal bread. It cools overnight and slices perfectly with an electric knife first thing in the morning. This always as a good alarm system for the children ~ they know it's time to get going when I'm slicing bread!

I know there is a lot advice to suggest that making your sandwiches the night before is a great organisation tool. I really don't like sandwiches made that far ahead, so I happily get up 15 minutes earlier to do it in the morning...and besides...the bread is still cooking at night! I also make the lunches myself, unless I'm not well or I'm away, both of which have happened in the past couple of weeks. I just get it done so much faster, before the kids come out to make their breakfasts. You know, it really doesn't bother me to do it and the kids aren't fussy or difficult to get an answer out of if there is some choice to be had. By the time they're up and dressed their lunches are ready to be packed into their bags.

Our lunches are very routine. Sandwiches, snack, fresh fruit. At the moment the kids are having cheese, mayonnaise and lettuce on their sandwiches. And Mr Busy has a half one with jam as well. Growing boys, and all that. Last week I got four avocados for 50c, so they have avocado, cheese and lettuce. Some of them like leftover roast meat, one likes vegemite. There's not a lot of variety, really...but there's usually something more than peanut butter or jam. If I buy ham, the kids think they've hit the lunch box jackpot!

What we have for snacks depends on what is around, obviously! If I've baked, they take a muffin, a couple of biscuits or a piece of cake. If we've leftover pikelets they might take two of those. If no baking has been done, there is always the standby of flavoured rice crackers or Salada crackers.

We always have a basket of fresh fruit on the bench. A big basket! Right now we're enjoying royal gala apples, packham pears and mandarins. Miss Mischief, of course, would prefer apricots and grapes....but we can't have everything we want all year long when your Mum refuses to buy grapes that come from overseas. If we get really stuck and run out of fruit, sometimes they'll take a little container of sultanas or some dried apricots, along with the admonishment of "make sure you have a drink straight after to rinse your teeth off". Dried fruit is a sticky sweet substance!

Miss Mischief also informed me this morning, with a woebegone look upon her face, that she doesn't like bread. Eeesh. It told her "this is it til you finish year 12, get used to it and stop your moaning". She then proceeded to have toast for breakfast! Terribly sympathetic I know....but I'm not running a restaurant and she has no access to microwaves etc. Actually, when she gets to Year 12, they do have access to things like that so she can fight her Dad for the leftovers!

We've recently switched to using plastic containers for our lunches instead of plastic wrap. My bread slices only *just* fit into the tupperware sandwich boxes...with a bit of poking and tucking. It's a very snug fit....but it works. I'm really happy with this little switch. Not only does it save money by not having to buy the plastic wrap, but it also saves the environment from having petro-chemical products going into landfill.


Cathy said...

Hello Tracy
Oh I remember well the packed lunch routine - if ever there was a quick way to make Mum grumpy in the morning that was it.
To see half the contents returning in the aftenoon was another quick way to bring that mood on again lol
Take care

Tracy said...

That is one problem I never have Cathy. My kids have good solid appetites and I don't pack things I know they won't enjoy. It's a rare day if something does come home...and then they get that for afternoon tea.

RunningBetty said...

2 yrs ago I had surgery. Daddy told the kids to pack their own lunches for 2 days while I recovered. They were in grades 4 & 5 (about 9 & 10 yrs old). Once they did that - we never turned back. It is now their responsibility to pack lunch. It is my responsibility to buy the stuff on Saturday to go in the lunch. We also stopped using plastic bags. Have you tried these for sandwiches? I haven't yet but plan to this year. There is also a set here: I have their book about foods and recipes to pack in lunchboxes. Last year my 5th grader used a cute purse as her lunch box. She can put it in a fridge at school or in her locker, so on days when she had yogurt or cheese she used the fridge.

Tracy said...

I haven't tried those bags RunningBetty. I guess we all do what works the best for each of us. I kinda like my tupperware boxes.