Wednesday, September 26, 2007

A Packed Lunch for a Food Loving Kid Part 1

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 .


Padma said...

this is such a healthy option for Kids when they go to schools.... You are so creative!

lakshmi said...

When I was young, I used to find all kinds of ways to get rid of lunch - not because it wasn't tasty but I was kid who just dint like to eat. 90% of all vegetables were my enemies. The only thing I liked was Rasam - I gave amma loads of trouble before I began to eat properly.

Such a beautiful lunch box - I am sure your kiddo must be very happy :).

Padmaja said...

I can clearly understand when u say your kid shouldn't feel the odd one out in the school, same here i have a 6 yr old and we have a deal at home as well,
he has 2 days school dinners, 2 day noodles and 2 days any filling sandhwiches, its so nice that way!!!I have seen my friends kids getting back their unopened packed lunches just b'coz they couldn't eat chapthis at home. Its so hard to see them that way. But as long as the child is happy with what he takes, then its wonderful!!
Great post!!!

Siri said...

Hey Anu, You reminded me of my school days.. where I used to be a brat and would never ever like my lunch box. Poor mom, she dealed with me for years.. and I agree that the lunch box should be fun-filled and the kid must look forward to it. Thanks..:D

Ketki Gadre said...

Very wonder it comes back ekdum empty..!!This could be an adults tiffin as well..!

Suganya said...

Though it may seem easy, packing lunch is a mammoth task. 5 year olds are hard to please.

meeso said...

What a nice lunch...It can be very hard to pack lunches for kids, and they really do pay attention to what the other kids are eating, they don't want to be different...It's great you have taken this into consideration and compromised with him :) Last year it drove me crazy sometimes trying to fix good lunches AND make my daughter happy!

timepass said...

Lovely and very creative

Anupama said...

Thanks Padma, I owe it all to my Mother,who's always been my role model

Looks like you were quite a handful Padma.

Thanks Padmaja ,I do believe that good eating habits solve so many problems

Siri, I think my post is making quite a few of us reflect back on what kind of eaters we were as children and to imagine that we are such avid food bloggers now !

Yes Ketki, with a few changes like maybe a fresh green salad it could be a office goers lunch box too

Yes suganya, but once kids know that mom will put something interesting in the box everyday they stop being suspicious and start enjoying the food

Yes Meeso they particularly notice the not so healthy items. For e.g my son always tells me when someone has got sweeties or crisps in their lunch box.

Thanks Timepass. See the next lunch box very soon.

Latha Narasimhan said...

I loved the way you entered into a pact with your kid!:)) We should discuss every detail with our children! Thats my policy. Once they agree they will be our best friends. I feel sorry when people tell lies like I am going to the doctor or hide them away, If they need to leave the child and go out!
Other than interesting lunches you have pointed at a very important issue of handling kids! I like the innovative ideas you put in your kids lunch box!:))

Anupama said...

Thanks Latha. I do think it important to be honest with kids even at the cost of disappointing them sometimes. Trust is something that is built slowly but once you have that its lifelong.