In my dreams, I pack my kids off to school with nutritious lunches and snacks - whole wheat pitas they can fill with individually wrapped (to keep the pitas from getting soggy) turkey couscous; fruit kabobs with honey dip; layered sandwiches with lean chicken, lettuce and tomato – perhaps cut into shapes to enhance that coolness factor.
I gaze at glossy magazines featuring Back To School recipes – all of which feature snazzily dressed kids in coordinating outfits happily spooning up such fare as three-bean soup and looking ecstatic about the chickpea salad that awaits them.
Here in the real world, where I am sad to say life is not colour coordinated, things are a little bit different. We started out last year with the best of intentions, but somehow by October this had degenerated, and by Christmas, I was sending ham sandwiches, yogurt, fruit and a cookie every day because that’s all we could agree on.
This year, knowing the parameters for the kids (nothing that looks like, contains, or has the word beans or chickpeas in the title can be served), and my own parameters (no, you can’t have potato chips for your snack), I thought we’d try for some acceptable lunch box compromises. And after a little chat around the kitchen table we came up with the following.
Cheese, tuna and ham sandwiches – on bread, or in wraps are all okay.
They want yogurt. Every day.
Carrot sticks are acceptable. They agree to try celery sticks again.
All fruit is acceptable. Cherries and green grapes top the list as something all three enjoy.
Homemade muffins or cookies are nice – especially if they’re made with oatmeal – the perennial favourite around our house.
And the big coup – they agree to try something new (not beans or chickpeas) every week as long as I remember to put Friday jokes in their lunch boxes.
I can live with that.