I hit the wall this week. Not the “running out of glycogen during a marathon” type of hitting the wall, the “cooking and preparing food for other people” hitting the wall.
Oh you didn’t know such a wall existed? Really? Because I ran this concept past some friends who are also mothers of small children and the responses went something like this….
“Oh I know!!!!!! Why do they have to eat All. The. Time?”
“They call out ‘what’s for dinner?” and I think ‘the next words out of your mouth better be ‘oh awesome, thanks mum’ they never are”
“Sometimes, when I’m scraping the dinner plates, I think I should just go get the groceries and bring them home and chuck them straight in the bin, cut out the middle man”
“School lunches drive me mad, and all the pressure, food shaming and judgement about what is and what isn’t a good lunch”
These women all love their families deeply and are committed to keeping them healthy and well (I know dads are too, it’s just I spoke to my female friends about this particular issue). They’re (I’m) exhausted by the day in day out grind of food prep. My youngest child is 5, so I’ve hit the wall at least a decade early! Don’t worry, I get the irony of being a Dietitian and having had a gutful of food prep, it’s embarrassing!
So is this just a grumpy rant? Well yes and no, after I had a wee dummy spit at home it cleared my mind and I wrote down a list of dinners for the week, and a shopping list. This is my go to solution for making sure we have variety, keeping our grocery bill under control and making sure I shop only once a week.
Next I reminded myself that just because I am bored out of my mind by my children’s lunches, they aren’t. Repetition is familiar and can be helpful in a busy overwhelming school day. My children’s needs are quite simple when it comes to the food in their lunch boxes. It needs to hold together and taste good.
My needs are a bit more complex, I want there to be some protein and fats in there for satiety and extra nutrition, I want there to be enough food so they aren’t feeling hungry during class, I also want it to stay fresh and not cause food poisoning!
So what does that look like? It certainly isn’t fancy, there’s no shape cutters involved! I’ll admit the lunchbox in the picture belongs to my middle child, she loves veggies. She is the only one, her sisters would die of fright.
The sandwich has smooshed up chicken mixed with avocado and cream cheese, sticky so the bread stays together and a good source of protein. There’s also a frozen milk popper, doubles as a safe protein source and keeps the sandwich cool. There are vegies and cheese for crunch and sip and fruit for recess. It’s never going to get on Pinterest for it’s creativity but it works for my child. School lunches in our house always include
- a sandwich – I try to include a protein filling eg cold meat or cheese but it doesn’t always happen
- fruit – whole or cut up
- veggies – cut up as sticks
- dairy – either frozen yohurt, UHT milk popper or sliced cheese
- a snack – cake or slice, popcorn or custard (this doubles as my dairy – winning)
- a thermos bottle of cold water
Occasionally they get money for the canteen and they can buy whatever they like. And then they come home from school and I get to make dinner, fun times! Anyone for Bolognese, again?