There is a lot – A LOT! – of talk and discussion about variety in kids school lunch boxes.
Variety is the spice of life and change is as good as a holiday and all that jazz.
I have nothing against Variety, per se, except when it comes to Googling the concept for school lunch boxes and it appears that ‘variety’ is something along the lines of smoked salmon sushi-sandwich-rolls one day, goats cheese and leek tart (home made) the next, chicken and mushroom filo (also home made) the following day, roast beef, mustard and rocket salad sandwiches the next, and finishing off with fish, olive and sun dried tomato frittata on Friday.
Now, I want to make this extremely clear that there is nothing wrong with the above.
So long as you have the time, inclination, resources and/or desire to do it, and you are not overwhelmed, stressed or wanting to stab your offspring.
Just as there is nothing wrong with this, there is just as much nothing wrong with a Vegemite sandwich either. And it makes me somewhat stabby when I hear phrases like “if your child refuses to move on from Vegemite sandwiches” …
With all you’ve been given so far, and all the tips and ideas you’ll find in the Real Mums Handy Guide to School Lunches and Real Mums Mini Guide to School Lunches, there is heaps of extremely simple variety, which is really all you need.
Particularly if you are of the busy, don’t have time to create such fare kind of mum.
I do want to talk a bit more about variety though, if that’s ok with you?
As mentioned, variety is pretty simple.
It is not necessarily always the best option to take the variety to the level mentioned above (unless it is for you).
Having a standard lunch box each day frees up your time and brain power every morning. It means you can move along through your routine, with little to no hassle and everyone goes to school with something edible, healthy and covering most of the major food groups and nutritional RDI.
It prevents such traps as I have fallen into a number of times, whereby one child went to school with two sandwiches, and the other went with none, but had quite a few snacks. Or where I’ve put the “wrong” snack in the “wrong” lunchbox. Or just forgotten to make it at all.
It is perfectly ok to keep it similar each day, or to not stick to a Lunch Box Menu Plan.
However, there are some very easy ways to add variety, many of which you’ll probably be forced to do over the length of your School Lunch Making Career for one reason or another. Variety can be achieved by:
- changing the bread, spread or filling you use on your sandwiches
- using a different fruit and or vegetable
- changing up the other snacks you put in
- cutting your vegies into different shapes – not rabbits or roses, but rounds instead of sticks
- ditto the cheese
If your child “won’t move on” well, I ask you, what kind of child are you raising? You heathen, woman!
Seriously though, what is the problem?
If they’re happy with it, first and foremost, why would you go out of your way to make more work for yourself?
If they are happy with it, it is probably an indication that it makes them feel safe and comforted at school.
Or, that they have bigger and better things to be worried about and stuffing an easy, relatively mess free lunch into their faces means they can get out and play with their friends.
(Assuming the school hasn’t cut back on play, running, cartwheels, friends and hugs.)
Sending kids to school with something similar in their lunch box each day, particularly in the first year, means there are no surprises, and that there is some stability, familiarity and consistency in their lives.
Starting school is a big step, with lots and lots of changes … keep this one their constant, and they will feel more comfortable, more settled and more relaxed.
Which means you will, too.
Besides, with all the tips and ideas you’ve received so far, you can add variety without adding to much stress to your and your morning, and without the kids wondering what the hell they’re getting for lunch that day.
On a final note, school lunches are not a pissing competition, with the aim of putting something different in every single day.
School lunches are merely to provide the kids with the energy and nutrients they need to:
- grow and develop
- concentrate and learn
Whether this is in the form of a Vegemite sandwich, a smoked salmon sushi-sandwich-roll, or antelope shaped sandwich is irrelevant and probably not even appreciated.
For more extremely handy resources to help make your mornings smoother, check out Real Mums School Lunches