With five children, I can tell you a lot about school packed lunches; in fact, I could probably write a book on the experience I have gathered on this subject over the years! I like to encourage my children to choose a balance of hot school meals and packed lunches, just to mix it up a bit each term. However, if they had a choice they would all choose to remain on packed lunches throughout their school life – I suppose who can blame them when you can pick and choose your food from day to day?
The Health Issue When Packing Your Child’s Lunch Box
Scroll through Facebook and I’m sure you’ll spot many photos with letters that have been sent home from school, some with angry red emoji faces, bemoaning at the parent’s incorrect choice of specific food items in their child’s lunchbox!
I have had a giggle at those eager schools who note items, such as raisins, as unhealthy and therefore an unwise parental choice! The point is, there’s a fine line between encouraging and physically humiliating a parent, especially one who is trying their best by adding a pack of dried fruit to their child’s lunch box most days.
Lunch Box Decisions Aren’t Always Easy
I understand that schools feel a sense of duty to encourage parents, but as a parent myself, but when it comes to packing a good quality meal which sits in a plastic container for half of the day, it can often be a minefield to battle through every morning.
This is a brief insight into how we attempt this task with our children:
- Each child has a stacked lunch box with two compartments. In between these compartments sits a removeable ice pack, which can be put back into the freezer each night, and holds a plastic spoon and fork.
- The top container of their box is further sectioned off with ¾ used for salads and pasta, and the remaining ¼ for fresh fruit such as grapes.
- The bottom compartment holds a wholemeal bap or sandwich with a filling, plus a home-made pizza and a cheese item of their choice.
- They also take a metal drinks container filled with fresh juice each day, and this, alongside the lunch box, is packed into a cool bag.
This lunch box design has worked well for us for many school years now, and means we don’t have to use plastic bags every time we pack the boxes. Also, with the reusable ice pack, their lunches stay fresh right up until lunch time.