A Tale of Two School Lunches: The Practical School Lunch


Why I prefer to pack a practical school lunch for my kids…a tale of two school lunches

We head back to school in a just a few days’ time, so our lazy summer mornings will soon become a distant memory. We’ll be back to early starts, rushing around trying to get out on time and making endless school lunches. Every second counts here in the morning, so my kid’s packed lunches are very practical and easy to put together.

Our Practical School Lunches usually comprise from the following:

  • Simple sandwiches or crackers with cheese, ham, tuna, or chicken.
  • Pitta Pizzas.
  • Left over pasta salad.
  • Home-made frittata.
  • Mini Scones.
  • Popcorn.
  •  Crisps.
  • Nuts.
  • Raisins.
  • Fruit.

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Perfect Pinterest Back to School Lunches

You probably won’t be seeing many of our school lunches over on Pinterest though right now. Type in “Back to School Lunch Ideas” and you are greeted with brightly coloured platters of fruit and vegetables, sandwiches cut into little shapes, models of animals made from 10 different foods, cocktail sticks full of treats and cute little printable notes to go with them.

Whilst I love looking at (and pinning) these ideas the vast majority of them will be staying on my Pinterest feed and will never make it into any of my children’s school lunches. This isn’t because I don’t admire the ideas, I do, BUT…

  • I don’t have the time to model my kid’s sandwiches into their current favourite animal or cartoon character and what about all of the wasted food this creates?
  • Then even if I did find the time to construct a snail out of their 5-a-day, what state would it be in when they came to eat it at school? I think it would look more like one of the poor snails who has been eating my mother—in-laws flowers!
  • And imagine your grocery bill if you went out and bought all the ingredients for a different school lunch for every day of the week?
  • I do quite like the little notes though and some of these may make it into some of their lunches.

Like my kids arts and crafts projects, I like to keep it real with our school lunches and make them practical, affordable and enjoyable. My children are all given a healthy, balanced lunch with the odd treat thrown in, to help replenish their reserves at lunchtime and help get them through the rest of their day at school. My children are only given around 8 minutes to eat their lunch as well (I know this is pretty scandalous!) before being sent out into the yard to play for the remaining 20 minutes, so there lunches also need to be quick and easy for them to eat.

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I will also be enlisting the help of my children in the making of some of their lunches. We have had a few practise runs during the holidays and they all loved making their own sandwiches. My children love to learn new skills and making a sandwich is a very important skill to learn. It also provides an ideal opportunity to discuss healthy eating with them and for them to put their own ideas into their school lunches. I am very much for giving my children a few extra responsibilities to help lighten my own load, as well as to improve their confidence and experience.

My friend Jennifer over at Study at Home Mama though has a very different view point on Back to School lunches. She is very much in favour of the super cute Pinterest inspired lunch and you can read why here.

What kind of lunch do you prepare for your children? Let the debate begin…


3 thoughts on “A Tale of Two School Lunches: The Practical School Lunch”

  1. What wasted food? It’s only wasted if you throw it out. I eat my scraps, or save them for bigger dishes later. I cut bread before adding fillings, and save them in the freezer to make croutons, bread crumbs, or french toast casserole. Veggie scraps go into soups or stir-fry, and fruit scraps go into smoothies. It’s far MORE waste for my kid to pick away and leave her crust behind. My way, I use that crust to make a yummy breakfast the whole family enjoys!

    My lunches arrive fairly intact. I make sure to use lunch bags that carry the boxes flat, and my kids don’t ride the bus, so the bags don’t get banged around much on the way from the car to the classroom. There are lots of tricks to use to keep stuff snug and in place, like adding lettuce filler, packing to the lid, or using uncooked spaghetti noodles or peanut butter to “secure” details. My kid likes seeing her lunch in the morning, and doesn’t mind if it isn’t perfect at lunchtime. SHE knows what it is supposed to be, and appreciates the effort.

    Who buys ingredients for 5 different lunches? Where did that idea come from? Most people I know incorporate dinner leftovers and use cute silicone cups or reusable food picks to make it cute or fit a theme. And the Japanese-style ones with rice and mashed potatoes and steamed veggies and meat are almost all dinner leftovers, plus a few added details cut from ham or cheese or nori that gets saved and reused over several days.! You can pack a PBJ, carrots, cheese stick, and apples every single day, and make it look different each time too!

    The time aspect though is an issue. If making lunch cute isn’t worth finding time for, it isn’t worth finding time for! I personally can’t stand same-old same-old, and like the challenge and creative outlet of arranging things attractively and making sandwiches into shapes. It does take some extra time, true. But so does knitting, sewing, watching Survivor, homeschool curriculum planning, blogging, following a sports team, building Lego models, etc. We all find time for the things that we value; things that fulfill us.
    But just because something isn’t worth YOUR time, doesn’t mean it isn’t a valuable outlet for someone else! 🙂

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