School lunch time was for me, back in the olden days, an awful time. Freezer blocks hadn’t been invented. I grappled with the nausea from rancid butter and bread curled up at the corners for a long time and used to feed my lunch to the chooks when I got home. But then my mother had a bright idea and would pack a frozen drink bottle in my lunch box. She then could make me something more delicious (salad sandwiches and so on) instead of the hardy fillings.
Undoubtedly, taking a bagged lunch (in a recyclable box or space-blanket mylar bag) has massive cost benefits and also you can control the contents to halt this epidemic of childhood obesity.
My ex-secretary, Helen, began the trend in our office of mountain bread wraps. She was so amazing that I wish I could have stayed working on jobs where I could have her by my side. Our lunches were then a designated ‘chat in the kitchen’ break where we had to leave our desks, phones and computers, get off the chair and stand in the kitchen to create today’s interesting filling combo. She was trying to pay off her mortgage fast and was very frugal and would bring dips from home (homemade) and every penny saved went towards her house.
Making lunch on the run like that is not possible in the playground. But you can make up chunky salads (carrot sticks, cabbage wedges, slices of apples tossed on lemon so that they don’t go icky and brown, baby tomatoes, chicken drumsticks etc. and pack with a home-made hoummus or light cream cheese based dip) At school, teachers should have some responsibility for keeping kids’ lunches cool and hygienic. I propose that in each form-room, teachers should provide a large Esky with freezer blocks. They could distribute the lunches at the beginning of that break. It would prevent early nibbling as well! Parents could get together, sew some freezer bags from space blankets, make it a school fund raiser and set up the system.
But if this can’t be done, mothers/fathers/carers need to add a drinkable freezer block to the lunchbox. Choose a non-leaky bottle in a small size to fit the box or bag and only fill to ¾ allowing for the expansion of the ice. If you fill it with something that is not harmful to the teeth (acid wear IS a reality) that’s a double bonus. See our homemade cordial recipes which can be watered down very well.
These soft-sided bags and boxes are pretty good and are made from non toxic plastics!
The Food Danger Zone is 45° to 140°F (7° – 60° C).
Gastric upsets are common in schools and many of them may be from food poisoning.
Keep lunches cool.
Keep lunches healthy – add washed fruits (something that has to be peeled is good – it is great for kids to learn to work for their meals!).
Keep lunches inexpensive – the school canteen should be a treat for once a term. The occasional hot dog, pie or sausage roll can change a child’s taste buds. When they are young it is time to indoctrinate them with no-low sugar, no-low salt cooking!!
Send us your ideas for your children’s favourite lunches and we will add them to the site! (Food AND low/no sugar drinks). Keep reading for our top school lunch ideas.