I’m not what you’d call an expert in preparing school lunches (my Tupperware drawer looks like it’s been burgled, and my fire alarm goes off when I make toast), but as a multi-tasking comedian/mom, I am professionally trained to find the humour in family hurdles: aka “fhurdles”.
Personally, I like making lunches – probably for the same reasons some gals like shopping. It’s “therapeutic” (to borrow a first-world term from Candi Spelling). Some people like massages and pedis; I like food prep. Just me and the ingredients, enjoying some introvert time in the kitchen while I sip my morning coffee, before the chaos of getting teeth brushed and boots on kicks in. It wasn’t always like this though (cue flashback effect). Last year I was rushed and getting some veiled insults from the kids “mom, the other kids get stuff that’s not gross for lunch”. I was forced to get serious about packing lunches.
Even though my lunches are nothing to laugh at lately, I can still learn a thing or two about what makes for happy lunch makers and eaters alike. So, I teamed up with Mr. Christie’s Fruit Krisps to interview parents on how they cope with “fhurdles” relating to packing lunches. While some kids, who may or may not be robots, were happy with the same sandwich and apple five days a week, the bulk of parents I chatted with found that lunch making can be drudgery. Here are their lunchbox lulls, and some fun alternatives:
I grew up on (sigh) a brown bread sandwich and an apple. Every day. From kindergarten to high school. To this day I yawn automatically when I pass the bread aisle. I had to move out of the house before I had the option of midday culinary variety. To help your child avoid this problem, shake it up:
Make the bland sandwich into something more exciting by substituting bread with a colorful wrap, bagel, cracker, croissant, or rice cake.
Start Thermos Thursdays. A thermos can be used for more than just soup or hot chocolate. Try still-warm leftovers, pasta, pizza, grilled cheese, chicken or basically anything that can be folded into a spherical tube.
My kids love any food that looks like it belongs in a Christmas stocking. Cue Mr. Christie's Snak Paks: I like Fruit Krisps cookies because they’re made with fruit, a source of fibre and baked with whole grains disguised as a treat. (I actually gave them out for a guilt-free Halloween!)
If you’ve heard your kids saying “you never make what I like” one too many times, open the fridge in the morning and say – “pick any three ingredients, and I will work it into your lunch”. If it’s my kids, they’ll choose pickles, soy sauce, and egg noodles. Hopefully your kids have better taste!
My substitute for peanut butter is cream cheese. That’s become our lunch staple – tofu cream cheese on a challah bun or whole-wheat croissant. I’ve actually never had it boomerang (the cool parent’s term for lunch returning home unopened). If your kids like garlic, try a hummus sandwich!
Science has brought us a computer that can play chess but no one’s perfected a container with a leak proof lid. (I’ll give you a moment to tweet that). While we wait for science to make lunchtime advances, avoid anything red, like ketchup or tomato sauce, which your child will have to wear on them from noon ‘til pick up. For a warm lunch that’s sauce-free, try perogies with a little canola oil and salt; they’re my kids’ favourite! For healthy & ambitious folk; make your own with whole wheat dough and spinach & ricotta filling!
Once my mom called the fire department to get our cat down from a tree. The fireman replied “we’ve never found cat bones in a tree. Eventually, the cat will figure out how to get down.” Call it tough love, or wisdom, or a glass of wine too many, but I applied that same logic when my son told me he didn’t have time to eat his snack during his 15 minute recess: “you’ll figure it out”. After a week of tummy rumblings, his caveman instincts kicked in and he solved his problem by lowering his joke-telling-to-eating ratio and finding time to munch his lunch.
This familiar term was a favourite of kids growing up in the 70's and 80's: "but Jimmy always has candy in his lunch!" Today we're hearing that from our kids - but with names like "Montana" and "Clayton" instead of plain ol’ Jimmy. As an adult, I like to give the cliche answer I grew up on, for which I have still not found a retort: "if Parker/Orlando/Fisher/Sutton ate a bag of worms, would you?”
Another cool thing we discovered was that the moms making lunches for three or more kids (OMG!!!) had systems in place – assembly lines, older kids helping out, and prepping everything Sunday night then freezing it all. It actually seemed like they had turned the mundane into a fun family sitcom montage. And that’s always the best way to take on fhurdles: with a sense of fun and adventure!
So there you have it folks, all your #LunchboxLulls addressed in one fell swoop! Hope you find this helpful, and/or funny, or at least validating for the “brown bread sandwich and an apple” gang. One less "fhurdle" for all of us busy moms.
Check out How to Beat the Lunchbox Lull for more stories by moms confessing their amusing, and sometimes embarrassing, lunchbox moments. Plus you’ll find some fresh ideas for fun lunches and tips to get your kids to eat their lunch.