Packing a balanced meal in a lunch box requires a bit of imagination and a bit of planning. I remember when I was in school my mother packed 2 dabbas (boxes) for me. One contained some dry snacks which I gobbled in the short break at 10.30 and the other was a more elaborate affair with chapatis and vegetables, sometimes even curd rice with some mango pickle which was the lunch eaten at 12.30 . My mother being the kind of person she is always managed to make the lunch box interesting so much so that I was always a bit reluctant to share my lunch with any of my friends and neither was I ever interested in what they had brought.
I did my schooling in the 80s and there were no pre-packed attractive yogurt pots, or cheese strings or cute mini boxes of raisins that could easily be packed as an accompaniment to the main meal . Yet my lunch box with its simple but imaginatively packed food was something that always caught my friend's attention.
Now that I am a mother and have to pack a lunch for my 5 year old I try to come up with different ideas that will appeal to him. I have an additional aspect to consider (that did not exist when I was a school kid in India) and that is that my little boy is an Indian attending a British school where he eats his lunch with English children. Although at home he eats up all the traditional Marathi lunches and dinners that make in school he prefers to have something like everybody else. For a 5 year old I think it is very important not to be the odd one out. So the lunch box has to be such that it does not require him to eat chapati and vegetables with his hands (like we do at home) but at the same time provide him with all the essential nutrition.
So we both have compromised and decided that out of the 5 days in a week he can have different kinds of sandwiches on 3 days and some kind of parathas or stuffed chapati rolls on the remaining two. And we both are happy.
In the pic above I have photographed his lunch box. It contains egg and cheese sandwiches with a tiny amount of tomato ketchup , a mini box of raisins and a cubed peach. This is accompanied by a bottle of water . The egg I have fried lightly but kept the centres semi soft, so it does not taste very dry when he eats it. The bread is Best of Both which means it is white bread with wheatgerm in it. The healthiest option is complete wholewheat bread but it's important to give them some variety.
This is a filling and balanced meal with the fruit lending a nice freshness to it. Believe me ,the lunch box always comes back completely empty.
In the next few days I will share with you my other ideas for a lunch box which I pack for my little guy but can be carried even by an adult to work .