Nicole MacPherson: Meatless Mummy Con Carne


Boring Back-to-School Lunches


In fall, a mom’s fancy lightly turns to thoughts of lunches. School lunches, that is. Some of us eagerly look forward to the challenge of providing lovely, photo-worthy lunches with a wide variety of items every day, and others of us feel like Anne Boleyn on her way to the chopping block, knowing that our attempts to make pretend sushi rolls out of tortillas, cream cheese, and red pepper are only going to end in tears for everyone involved.

I love cooking, and I love making fun things for the children to eat, but I fail spectacularly at cute lunch ideas. I want to be a person who cuts sandwiches into shapes of owls or bunny rabbits — complete with carrot sticks to munch on — or even just plain hearts or stars, but I am not. I want to be the sort of person who creatively skewers fruit to make rocket shaped kebobs, who puts grapes into baggies and then seals them with a clothespin painted to look like a butterfly, or who makes roses out of ham slices, but I am not.

Here’s the thing, though: I am the only one who cares. I hurt my own feelings by looking longingly at photos of bento boxed lunches and other crafty ideas, stark contrasts to the nutritionally-solid-but-dull lunches that I actually do pack in the battered lunch bags that are emblazoned with a Batman motif. My children, most emphatically, do not care. In fact, they are at the age now that a teddy bear-shaped sandwich would likely be the cause of much embarrassment, rather than delight at their mother's lunchtime joie de vivre.

There’s another consideration, though, and that is that variety is not the spice of life, as far as my children are concerned. Certainly I provide them with a wide variety of flavours and textures at dinnertime, especially when I’m trying out new recipes. Certainly I purchase a wide variety of fruits and vegetables based on seasonal availability and local production. Certainly I create any number of home-baked goods made with different grains and ingredients for them to snack on. However, when it comes to lunches, the tried-and-true is always my children’s preference. If my children were given free rein to choose anything they wanted for lunch, there would be a zero deviation from the mean.

Sometimes school days can be long and tiring; if I can provide a little bit of happiness in the form of a favourite lunch, then why wouldn’t I do just that? If what my children desire is the same lunch, over and over again, why would I fight it? What I’m saying is this: let’s embrace the monotony! Let freedom from high lunchtime expectations reign! Who’s with me?

You can learn even more ways to get organized and transition from summer to school on our Back-To-School 2014 page.