Time for lunch

26 Sep

I have a huge backlog of days out to share — as always — and — as always — I’m so busy running to the next thing I don’t seem to have time to sit down and write about any of it.  One thing I do have time for — every school night, every week, all year long — is packing school lunches.  We opted out of the school’s hot lunch this year and so five nights a week I pack three lunches and four snacks.  I turn on the mp3 player, line up the boxes, pull out the ingredients, and go to war.  Work, I mean: go to work.

I start with this:

 (No editing for lighting or tone.  Feel the raw force of late night lunch packing.)

And end with variations on this:

Lots and lots of this.

It’s fun, kind of like being on Top Chef: My Kitchen, but without the celebrity guests or 30 minute shopping sprees at Whole Foods.

I didn’t have any real objection to the lunches provided at the school, but I didn’t have any real attachment to them, either.  When the kids asked for packed lunches this term, I didn’t need much convincing.   I was getting a bit worried about the stories of the too-long lines and the all-I-ate-was-a-roll lunches and there-was-no-time-to-eat-anything-but-pudding tales.  I know I’m denying them a bit of cultural integration by packing their lunches.  I mean, they can now successfully navigate beans on toast, sausage and mash, jacket potatoes as a main course, and calling absolutely everything served after the main a ‘pudding’ — all new things they brought home and shared with me, to our overall enrichment.  (I say “overall”, because: Beans on toast?  Meh.)

Anyway, for lunch inspiration I check out Happy Little Bento or Laptop Lunches.  And then I cry, because I’m not that creative and I don’t have that much patience.  But I try to stock up on a variety of portable of fresh ingredients and keep the cupboards full of dry goods that I find acceptably nutritious and easy to toss in to round out the lunches.  It’s a work in progress.  Every night, every week, a work in progress.

How about you?  Do you pack lunches for school or work?  How do you keep it interesting?

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8 Responses to “Time for lunch”

  1. Jeanne September 26, 2012 at 11:10 am #

    I’ve packed lunches for my kids throughout middle and high school because the school lunches weren’t very good or very good for them, and the lines were too long. Mine aren’t half as pretty as your bento box ones, and I’m not sure we keep it that interesting, but we ask the kid for input every now and then and try to vary the offerings with the seasons, to some extent. At least with my kids, it’s something we’ve kept doing for them after they were old enough to do it themselves, because it’s more fun to eat something someone else prepared.

    • Monique September 27, 2012 at 8:45 pm #

      So true about eating something prepared by someone else! I hope the kids feel a little warmth from home when they open their lunches in the middle of the day. I wonder if I can encourage them to pack lunches for each other, sometime? Sweet sibling gesture, or opportunity for pranks, hmmmm

  2. Helen September 26, 2012 at 1:09 pm #

    We’ve had various school lunch arrangements at different schools, but most often packed lunches. Now that K is 14, she wants to do her own lunch and she makes lovely nutritious gourmet couscous salads or bakes batches of cupcakes. Unfortunately our old stand-by PBJ is now banned from most schools! Cute little boxes do go a long way towards making carrot sticks and grapes more interesting too!

    • Monique September 27, 2012 at 8:40 pm #

      Yes, it is another creative exercise to find something to replace peanut butter for my PBJ monster. It’s good to hear about kids who like to make their own lunches (eventually). 😉 I completely agree that the little containers and tubs and bins and boxes make it more fun and interesting.

  3. Cynthia September 26, 2012 at 7:08 pm #

    I had one who always wanted something different, and mostly didn’t like the hot food available; so as soon as she could pack her own, I encouraged it. My second settled on one particular lunch over 6 years ago, and as it’s pretty healthy, it’s what she’s had every chance she gets (even days off school). The routine made it really easy to prepare, too, so I learned to prep. the entire week ahead of time. Last year she started making it herself, most of the time, and pretty much all the time this year – she’s a senior in HS now! My third is somewhere in between, but I’m back to looking for ideas for him because he’s not a huge fan of sandwiches. So I love seeing what you make!

    • Monique September 27, 2012 at 8:38 pm #

      I’m not a huge fan of sandwiches, either, I really like doing lots of smaller snacks, but it’s hard to stay creative. It’s interesting that your second has a preferred fixed lunch — I think one of mine may like that kind of repetition, too, but I keep trying to mix it up. Maybe I should just go with it.

  4. Living Life as an Expat Parent September 26, 2012 at 9:09 pm #

    Wow! The Duchess’s lunches will never look that beautiful. I am impressed.

    I’m sorry I’ve fallen off of the radar. Blog/life balance and all of that. It’s good to have a quick look through what you’ve been up to. Sounds like you are feeling more settled, which is wonderful news.

    • Monique September 27, 2012 at 8:35 pm #

      Never say never! I would never have thought I’d be packing 3 lunches a day at all, much less doing the odd thing of taking endless photos of lunches and posting them 😉 Thanks for stopping by! It’s a good thing when life is busier than the blog.

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