The trouble with lunch: school lunches, mom lunches

The time of year is approaching where making lunches is starting to wear on us parents. Here in Canada the school year starts in September right after Labour Day, and continues until the end of June. It’s a long year to be making lunches every single weekday…

I’m lucky in some sense because my older kid gets served a hot lunch at his school 3x per week…I only have to pack his lunch twice a week. The other kid has a similar option, but opted out. She’s pickier and it would be a waste of money to pay for something she won’t eat. For her, I have to come up with something she’ll actually eat every single day.


I think most parents have staples around for the kids who have particular preferences. Some kids will eat the same exact lunch every day for the year…I remember a child I used to babysit back in the day who ate nothing but bologna sandwiches on white bread. That’s it. And her dad was a chef! But she would have none of it so they prepared her what they knew she would eat.

Mine, for example, refuse to eat raw vegetables at school. I used to pack a variety of them, added ice packs to keep them fresh, but no. The environmentally correct containers always came home, contents uneaten.  So what can I do? I’m not up for the fight, the lecture, or the food waste every day. I simply let them eat that stuff at home.

And they do. I have to shop for fresh veg practically 3x per week.

It’s tricky, isn’t it, this school lunch packing every morning. Choices have to be made, thermoses have to be pre-warmed, portion cooking for left-overs to function as lunches has to be mentally calculated every single day…

My daughter would live on white carbs and sugar if I let her. But, too many carbs all day will just leave her feeling lethargic. She’s incredibly active (and was just labeled the fastest 5th grader in her grade in her school based on track and field try-outs these past weeks!). My tiny girl came in neck to neck with the fastest boy in her grade as well, so when I hear stories like this, I think to myself: what did she eat for lunch? I hope she didn’t just eat the cookie…

When they come home, they’re always starving. Both of them. The rule is to finish their lunches first if they have any leftovers. This doesn’t always work…they’re sneaky, and I’m…

I don’t know. Tired? Fed up? Whatever.

It has been known that I have been at my wits end a few times during their elementary school years…

And I will be again, no doubt. 🙄

So over the  past couple of months, I started to run out of ideas and the return of uneaten lunches began to increase.

One day, my 10yo had a request:

“Can I have yogurt for lunch?”

I thought…why don’t I give her yogurt? Other people do this no doubt…

We like the plain kind better than the sweetened flavoured stuff. They also get the full fat one, not the 0% fat stuff which is full of additives and other undesirable chemicals. Or the greek one, which is thicker, but also higher in protein.

So I bought her the Balkan style plain yogurt in a big tub, and spooned it into her thermos. Added a few frozen berries straight from the freezer on top of that for flavour. And it a separate container, I placed some higher quality, protein rich cereal (Kashi, or something with seeds in it) which she can pour on her yogurt herself.

She eats this 3x per week. Win!

As far as I’m concerned, I suck at lunch. Unless I prepare myself something ahead of time (soup, salads) I tend to graze all day, and often not on desirable foods. My lunches should be low or no carb, high protein, and lots of veg.

My excuse has been the weather. I am Canadian, after all, we love nothing more than to hate the weather and complain about it! However, the yellow ball in the sky has made an appearance yesterday, seems out in full swing again today, so no more excuses! Salads are back, for me. I will post about this another day, and hopefully include some photos.

Wish me luck!

Further reading: The case for the bento box style school lunch


11 thoughts on “The trouble with lunch: school lunches, mom lunches

  1. Good idea with the yoghurt – good stuff, especially full fat, keeps ‘em full for ages. SO glad I don’t have to make them anymore – luckily my two have a full, lovely three course meal for lunch! Trouble is it means over the holiday boy child was RAVENOUS all the time as he was used to loads more food than I was giving him for lunch. Well done your racing, speedy girl!!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I feel your pain. At our school in the UK tradition is to have hot school meals till Easter then a packed lunch till we break up (in July). This is non-negotiable as the two groups sit separately and the packed lunches people get to eat outside. So far we’ve had three days of packed lunches and I’ve already had enough. My daughter offers to make them but it’s the meal planning that’s the issue as she basically wants cheese in some form every day.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. We started having our oldest pack her lunch herself at age 10. She would complain her ‘sandwich was soggy’ all the time (excuse for carb loading and avoiding protein), so we had her start making her own….and now she actually eats it. Go figure….

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I am many years past packing lunches for my children but there were definitely funny stories during those years. My kids weren’t picky eaters but there was no lunch served except the PTA fundraisers twice a month featuring pizza or local fast food so I made 3 lunches almost every school day. My lunches were often based on budget so I would stock up on individually wrapped desserts when they were on sale. I discovered one year my son was trading his 10 cent desserts for the biggest bag of grapes from children with moms who were willing to pay $8 per pound for them. 😂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. So funny! lol….

      Some schools have so many restrictions, but we’re pretty lucky with our schools. They try to encourage us to use nothing that ends up in a garbage, but as far as food choices are concerned, they’re pretty lax. Most people do what they can, right?

      Food is not cheap, and fresh food ironically is more expensive than packaged stuff. We try to balance it out as much as we can…we all do our best. 🙂

      Thank you for your comment!

      Liked by 1 person

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