We’ve had that talk. You know, the one between mother and son. I guess it was time. After school one day last week, before his sisters got home. We sat down at the table, with a drink and snack. I have to admire his maturity. He is growing up. My nine year old son.
“Would it be OK, please, if you stopped putting cheese sandwiches in my packed lunch? I don’t like them. Also those little yoghurts. K says his baby sister is fed those, and he laughed at me.”
Yes, that talk. Obviously time to review my packed lunch menu then. Only one of my children have packed lunches now. The two older girls are at secondary, and apparently the school food is “lush” (feel free to say it with a Bristolian accent).
Youngest likes the school dinners, but I mostly send him in with packed lunches. That way, I know he has eaten, what he has eaten and also that he’s had enough time to eat. No time wasted queuing up.
(I also encounter too many mistakes in school admin, where they overcharged me. Puts me off ordering school dinners)
So packed lunches it is.
I should have known it was time to change the menu. Too much food coming back uneaten. We sat down and designed a new menu.
Here are my top 5 tips for packed lunches for a Tween:
1. Involve your child. Let him decide on the general flavours he likes. Cheese is out, but he’d like more pepperoni. This gives me enough room to choose how I present it – sandwich, wrap, etc.
2. Let him make it. My son loves salad dressing. He loves making his own. So he makes up a big batch and takes a little pot of it to put over his salad when it’s lunchtime. Also he helps make cakes or biscuits. He’ll cut up peppers ready for the next day.
3. Make it easy to eat. I use scissors to cut the pepperoni and herbs into little pieces. Nothing worse than negotiating long stringy food coming out of a sandwich, when you are eating with your friends.
4. Make it fun. Sometimes I write jokes on the paper napkins or paper roll I send in. Sometimes it is a puzzle to solve. For example, puzzles like 2yyur2yyubicur2yy4me. (answer at end) Other times, I get creative with food.
5. Warn him. If I am putting in anything unusual, I’ll let him know. Once had an older child almost rugby tackle my eldest when she was in reception class. All because they had never eaten a nasturtium flower and were convinced it was poisonous.
Today I sent my Tween in with a Frankenstein themed lunch for a change.
The wrap is coated in cream cheese and chives, with sliced pepper, a little pepperoni, chopped up parsley, land cress and lettuce. It has just enough pepperoni without giving him too much processed meat, and the pepper adds the crunch.
It is wrapped up and held together by the cheese and a toothpick. We call them sushi wraps, which adds a bit of sophistication to the food that a Tween needs.
On one of the wraps, I added a cranberry on the points, cut up a pepper into zig zag for the hair, pumpkin seeds for the eyes and a slip of tomato for the mouth. I used a touch of Flora to keep the facial features in place.
According to research this year, conducted by Flora, only 1 in 5 lunch boxes contain any vegetables or salad, which surprises me. I find it easier to prepare vegetables and salads the night before and have them ready in the fridge to assemble the next day. Effortlessly crossing off another of his five a day, or three.
Also in his lunch box today is a healthy, homemade granola bar made with seeds, nuts, oats, Flora and wheat germ.
Tomatoes and nasturtium flowers fresh from the greenhouse. A carton of apple juice to finish it off. I hope he enjoys it.
“Just one last thing. Em. I’m a bit old for a lunch box with dinosaurs on it. Also can I have a plain freezer pack? Not the one with the whale on it.”
“Oh Ok. I guess so. I’ll transfer it into your usual lunch box then.”
They grow up so quickly. (Hurriedly squirrels cute box away to be used by me, because not everyone is in a scramble to grow up.)
If you are looking for more packed lunch ideas take a look at Flora’s website. They have a great guide to the different types of food that we should be including, and also lots of suggestions of tempting recipes to try.
It is presented in a child friendly format, making it easy for children to read and be involved with. My children liked the way it was set out and it inspired them to think about what they are eating each lunch. Including the older two.
This post is an entry for the #FloraLunchbox Linky Challenge, sponsored by Flora. Check out their lunch planner and recipe ideas here
*answer to puzzle – Too wise you are, too wise you be, I see you are too wise for me.