I’m bringing low-key lunches back

A sponsored post for Woolworths

Much like a new Mum who gets COMPLETELY overwhelmed by ALL OF THE THINGS/INFORMATION/ADVICE when they have a new baby, I think the next big time that this kind of overwhelm can kick in is when the kids start school.

Of course besides all the ADMIN and routines, there’s the dreaded school lunchbox that needs to be made every day, and don’t get me started that I have been doing them for almost 9 years and have another 12 billion to go. In the age of social media, there’s so many ideas and tips and Pinterest boards and stainless steel Bento boxes to give you inspiration but GOODNESS, when did it all get so complicated?

Or is that just me?

Remember back in the 80’s when your Mum made you the same lunch for 14 years in a row with the occasional lunch order scribbled on the back of a brown paper bag and a couple of silver coins thrown in? I do, it was my childhood and it was very low key. And I turned out alright?

Maybe?

There was that delicious smell of the ink from the photocopies (but it was before photocopies) remember that? Perkins paste was the go-to and if you were really lucky you might have a themed lunchbox. Ah plastic cheese sticks that were IMPOSSIBLE to open!

Me? Well we had brown paper bags and then maybe later a Décor lunch box with a fancy divider for your popper that may have been frozen if it was summer. I think I had a vegemite sambo every day, maybe left over lamb roast (if there was any left over), the occasional ham and cheese and definitely that Kraft cheese that came in a blue box that sat on the SHELF. How did that work?! I’ll tell you what though? There wasn’t a cold pack in sight to keep my lunch cool. There was a piece of fruit that was definitely NOT cut up, maybe a poppa, a packet of chips or a biscuit.

It looked a little like this (praise be the blessed honey jumble):

And if we were REALLY lucky Mum might have thrown in one of those cake rolls. OH MY GOD THEY WERE THE BEST. So fake. SO GOOD.

Interestingly enough, I find it funny now that as an adult I crave all these things when I am feeling emotional or stressed or just over being an adult. Is that just me? And ESPECIALLY when I was pregnant they were my main cravings. I mainlined Pine Orange poppas, those cake rolls, anything with pink icing. It wasn’t pretty. And I BET there is a correlation between the comforts of home and childhood at these times of stress in our lives.

It was all very low-key and basic and no fuss and no one had a choice otherwise did they? Well, I didn’t at least.

I approach my own kids lunches in much the same way: low key. It’s not that I don’t care, it’s just that it actually doesn’t MATTER. My kids don’t seem to care and would sooner eat a plain bread roll rather than a cold mini quiche or homemade sushi roll. They just don’t seem to care! If I have time I will bake, other times it’s a dodgy biscuit thrown in which I can pretend I was trying to go for a naked/plastic free thing but in all honesty it’s just that I am not bothered and did I mention, IT DOESN’T MATTER? And the bits I mean don’t matter isn’t the quality of what they are eating, I mean more the pressure parents put on themselves to be better! Create fancy! You know? But all means if you want to do go…hats off girlfriend I wish I could be bothered!

So even now in 2018, my girl’s school lunches look the same as mine:

A sandwich
1-2 pieces of fruit (I do cut them up though in the hope of getting them eaten)
A biscuit (sometimes homemade, sometimes not) or packet of chips
Water (I can’t have a pine orange in sight or I will neck it!)

I search the shelves at Woolies when I am there for bargains to fill the lunchbox too. Whether it’s the Woolworths Cheese and Crackers or a Macro chip they have a great selection of school lunchbox items I can mix with homemade stuff which suit our family.

Some of my favourites are these:

And then anything from the Macro aisle that makes me feel like I am making an effort. When clearly, I’m not. These are like crack.

And because my kids love it – anything antipasto and cheese and olives and ALL THE THINGS. These olives are a go-to as well.

Sometimes a piece of fruit will come back, and I will return it, sometimes it will all be eaten, other times the whole thing will be full and I make them eat it before they get any afternoon tea.

It’s low-key. And we are all for it. I’m sure we are not the only ones!

I’d love to hear from you guys!
What did your school lunch look like back in the day?
Did you ever survive without having your lunchbox insulated?
Got any good shortcuts to share with us?
Do we all need to chill out when it comes to this stuff?

Comments

  1. Yes to all the above. What were those copy machines with the blue ink called again? I’d forgotten all about them.

    One thing I always had and now my kids have are Vita-Weets (with vegemite worms) and SAOs!

    • The prints were called a stencil I think so maybe a stencil-er??

    • We called it ‘the duplicator’ I can still smell the smell the ink…oh dear that explains everything…

    • Gestetner? Even more low key was a Banda. So speaks a teacher with nasty memories of the difficulty of cutting a gestetner stencil or needing methylated spirits to get Banda ink off fingers.

      • Yes, the teachers always had blue hands from the ink!

        I also have memories of collection the He-Man and She-ra stickers off the poppers, which was difficult if they’d been frozen. Saving the chip packets so we could shrink them in the oven when I got home.

    • Mimeograph. My proudest moment was in Yr 6 at a very small school, when the office lady let me roll that baby!

    • Loved those worms so much!

  2. Oh the school lunch…… I am the youngest of 7 kids with 6 years between the oldest and youngest (Combined family). We had a huge freezer at the back door and it would be stocked with packs of sandwiches all made in bulk on a Sunday night for the week ahead. You had to grab one on the way out the door and make a detour past the apple tree on the walk to the bus stop. That was school lunch and we all survived. LOL…

  3. Oh Beth, I am LOVING this post so much!
    But I’ve got school lunches to make for the monkeys….but I’ll be back later to fill you in on my 80’s school lunch.
    Off to pop a poppa in a lunch bag….with a freezie-brick and all 😆

  4. Oh Beth, I am LOVING this post so much!
    But I’ve got school lunches to make for the monkeys….but I’ll be back later to fill you in on my 80’s school lunch.
    Off to pop a poppa in a lunch bag….with a freebrick and all 😆

  5. I was just talking to my sister about this the other night. My boys have bento boxes for preschool and I feel we (my husband and I – now that I’m back at work full time) go above and beyond.

    The other day the boys had; cheese and biscuits, carrot sticks, cucumber sticks and hommus, strawberries and blueberries and they wanted a croissant. My husband said they couldn’t have a croissant – deemed breakfast food – in their lunchbox. And I was like – if it’s going to be eaten, I’m okay with you having it.

    I said, ‘I grew up with a Vegemite sandwich, which I throw over the fence to the horses on my walk home and an apple that I left to go mouldy in my bag – and I survived’.

  6. So many memories in those photos ! My school lunch was usually a cheese sandwich, if the white bread ran out occassionally Mum would give me Dad’s German rye bread with leberwurst (basically liver pate) on. There was never a cold pack in sight, were they even a thing back then ? I don’t remember what else was sent with it. I do remember though that the senior years of highschool I would give my cheese sandwich to a friend & go to the canteen for a bag of twisties, a chocolate yogo & a can of coke. I can’t imagine any of those at a canteen now. I am at the end of my school lunch making journey. My 15 year old is not a fan of school lunch at all & I provide snacks but she basically organises what she is taking.

  7. Love this! I bought the expensive bento lunch boxes and did the items in each section until my son said he just wanted sandwich and fruit. So, decor lunchbox, vegemite and cheese sambo, piece of fruit and usually a bikkie (often honey jumbles if I haven’t raided them) or chips. And it gets eaten, unlike the bento!

  8. Love this! I bought the expensive bento lunch boxes and did the items in each section until my son said he just wanted sandwich and fruit. So, decor lunchbox, vegemite and cheese sambo, piece of fruit and usually a bikkie (often honey jumbles if I haven’t raided them) or chips. And it gets eaten, unlike the bento!

  9. Gestener machines!

    Lunches were always topped up with tuckshop purchases – eta chips on a roll, finger buns, lollies!

  10. mrshanksy says:

    If they are in high school, they make it themselves and if they don’t, they go hungry! I am quite often making scrambled eggs for arvo tea though and I’m okay with that. Son, usually makes a smoothie and drinks it on his way to the bus-stop in a keep-cup type situation – he’s just got to remember to rinse the bugger out when he gets to school!!!! I also had vegemite Vita-Weets and I carried them in the pocket of my school dresss!! But I gotta say – the worms are almost non existent these days???

  11. Vegemite sambo, packet of chips, fruit and a poppa. Every. Single. Day.
    And I always ate it. Loved it.
    One day Mum got fancy and put lettuce on my Vegemite sandwich. I didn’t eat it and it never happened again 😁

  12. I have a lovely memory. Our younger son hated–HATED–to stand in the lunch line to buy the school lunch. Since he was busy into everything sports and music, I comped him a bag lunch every day from grammar school on. I hated–HATED–doing that, but he was such a great kid and so busy. So whatever, I made his lunch. I can’t remember what–meat sandwich, chips (you might call them crisps, I don’t know), and some cookie or something. Not particularly healthy.

    But here’s the thing I remember. On the last day of classes of his senior year of high school, he gives me a gigantic hug. Really big hug. This is LARGE for a 17-year-old boy to do for his mom. “Thank you for all those years of making me lunch!”
    He’s just turned 40. I’ll never forget that hug.

  13. That picture of the green phone 😍!
    We were suuuuuuper basic with lunches. My favourite would always be when Mum saved enough spaghetti bol to throw on my sambo for school the next day. It’s one of my best childhood memories. That and ordering yummy drummies from the canteen- yuuuuuum.
    At the start of the year I wrote all the things my kids will eat in their lunchboxes on list & it’s pinned to the wall. It’s all VERY basic & much the same day in day out. I’m not sure when we all decided that our kids wanted or needed more 🤷🏻‍♀️ But I know my kids will eat some variation of the same thing each & every day without complaint & for that I am very happy.

  14. Remember on hot days your ham and cheese sambo would be a bit warm?

  15. Great post! I have five kids, ranging from 5 to 19 and I work full time (go me). I timed it SO well that I will have a child in school for 26 years straight (I can’t even). How many school lunches will that be dear God? Hence it is vegemite sandwiches on repeat and yay for Wednesdays which is tuckshop day…even if it costs like $30…

  16. I am all done with school lunches thank goodness but did them from 1996-2016 for my kids. On high rotation for my childhood was vegemite or vegemite and cheese sandwiches, maybe something homemade like a biscuit or slice, a snack pack of twisties for 5 c – sometimes made into a twistie roll and water from the drinking fountains at school. Mum was always pretty good on the afternoon tea though when we would come home ravenous !

  17. Devon and tomato sauce sandwich always (with no ice brick or insulated lunchbox) The height of sophistication by the fourth year of eating these was Mum started purchasing the individual sauce squeezie things so I could apply my sauce at lunch time so my sauce wasn’t all absorbed into the bread. A fair few waffer cream biscuits were consumed too.

  18. The good old meat paste!

    My kids school did the best thing this year – 2 lunches. No elaborate snacks required just a couple of pieces of fruit and 2 sambos. Genius. So much cheaper and Mum doesn’t have to think!

  19. The good old meat paste!

    My kids school did the best thing this year – 2 lunches. No elaborate snacks required just a couple of pieces of fruit and 2 sambos. Genius. So much cheaper and and Mum doesn’t have to think!

  20. ha ha ha the piece of fruit or vegetable comes home i send it back possibly goes on for 3 days then yep i too say eat that before you get anything else. i had pretty much every day hame cheese and pineapple out of a tin on white bread wrapped in grease proof paper. soggy as shit? don’t remember it being soggy. ill still eat that but toasted. PS I still have my Holly Hobby sewing kit…. Keep it Simple. Always Sim x

  21. Melanie Smith says:

    Omg you speak my language… I am confronted by just how much all those pics jolted me back 30 odd years … even the holly hobbie!!!

  22. oh and a water bottle frozen the night before and wrapped in a flannel with an elastic band. What is a popper?

  23. Oh I’m so glad to read this! Amongst the overpriced bento boxes in kindy my girls have plastic container bought on sale at the local supermarket. And the last time I tried to be fancy and include sushi in their lunch box I gave them a weeks worth of food poisoning. So all hail the vegemite sambo!

  24. If my grandkids visit and I do not have cheese sticks then I have failed as Grandma. They adore them because I always had them when they were little. Our kids had the same old same old Lunches which I made & froze (bread rolls) and there was a box of snacks – savoury & sweet one of each – in the cupboard. Drink bottles weren’t even around. A popper for an excursion maybe. But Fridays were always brown paper bag & lunch order often in the kids handwriting. 2 party pies & sauce and a chocolate milk. As a teacher I ruled the day we could no longer get half a buttered finger bun for recess. Bloody healthy canteens.

  25. I say yes to old school lunches but please with some kind of icebrick/insulation situation. How I survived warm luncheon meat sandwiches (YUK), I’ll never know!

  26. I say yes to old school lunches but please with some kind of ice brick/insulation situation. How I survived warm luncheon meat sandwiches (YUK), I’ll never know!

  27. I remember lunch being a basic sandwich (vegemite & lettuce – yum!), a piece of fruit, a bottle of cordial, and 3 biscuits for recess. Cakes were non-existent. Canteen orders, I remember sometimes being allowed to have a pie in winter. Vitaweets with vegemite. I remember being blown away and oh so jealous when I met a girl in Yr 7 who had CHOCOLATE DONUTS every day for recess – I never knew you could buy frozen ones! Also the boy who had the same sambo every day through high school – grated Kraft cheese (blue box), grated carrot and shredded lettuce on multigrain bread. Every. Day.

    My kids had a few more treats – bags of chips or bikkies. My son was easy, he was happy with a basic sanga plus whatever else went into his lunch bag. My daughter is…. not fond of sandwiches. I’m so pleased she’s now in Senior High and deals with her own damn lunch bag!

    I need to dig out the Tupperware divided lunch boxes they rejected and start taking my own lunch to work!

Speak Your Mind

*