When I was in second grade, my father made my lunch for me. Because he was a European immigrant, I generally had a roll (my favorite were onion rolls), a hunk of cheese or sliced carrots and a piece of fruit, often an orange that he would score for me for easy peeling. All in an old plastic bread-bag. People made fun of me for not having a peanut butter and jelly or bologna sandwich. They made fun of the scores on the orange. They especially made fun of the plastic bag. In third and fourth grade, my father had bouts of employment that took him away from the family for months at a time and I ended up mostly eating hot lunches at school.
In fifth grade, the teasing about every aspect of my life got worse and nobody ate hot lunch (possibly because they were more expensive). It was time for me to start making my own lunch because my mother simply did not have time on top of everything else. So each week she’d get me whatever I wanted at the grocery store that I could throw together (within reason– we couldn’t afford lunchables). A standard lunch for me would be one of those neon orange soft cheese and cracker packets (store-brand handi-snacks), a bag of doritos, a juice box, and maybe a piece of fruit all in a nice brown lunch bag that we’d buy by the pack.
Possibly in seventh grade I started making more wholesome lunches because my father was back and no way were we wasting money on junk food with him around. I also started making my sister’s lunch at the same time I made mine– sandwiches with two slices of bread and standard things in the middle, a piece of fruit, and maybe a homemade cookie (as I had learned to bake). When I left for high school, I’m not sure if she started making her own or just got hot lunch.
Today we make our toddler’s lunch (alternating dinner from the night before in a metal thermos with random healthy stuff in a bento-box) and DC1 makes hir own lunch (usually a nut-butter/cookie-butter and jelly sandwich) and a bag of gummies. We hope that DC2’s wheat allergy is gone before ze starts demanding nut butter and jelly sandwiches like DC2 did in preschool.
#2 says, I remember my mom making lunches for me when I was little, because I remember the little notes she’d write on the napkin. Stuff like “Have a great day, [my nickname [ed guess: Pookie-pie] [nope] ]! XOXO Mom”.
When it came time for me to make my own lunches, I do remember using stuff like Lunchables (which had just come out and were nowhere near as fancy and varied as they are now). I also made sandwiches– I have a certain opinion about making PBJ so that the jelly doesn’t soak the bread (put peanut butter on it first [#1 notes: this is correct]) and the correct peanut butter (crunchy [also correct]). Also, I ate a lot of cold cuts in sandwiches that I mostly made myself. Lots of granola bars. We were not allowed to have doritos or any bagged chips/crisps in our house, and no cookies either. I remember having an insulated lunch bag. I have no idea what my sister had for lunch, she’s so much younger than me.
This was all in, say, 4th or 5th grade through 9th grade. In 4th-6th grade there were also some times where I went home for lunch, mostly with my one friend to her house, and ate whatever stuff they had there. By 6th grade we were trusted to walk to her house, unlock it, eat, and get back to school on time by ourselves, but we didn’t do it every day, because it was a little bit far to walk in the time we had. I think the Lunchables in the school lunchroom were 7th and 8th grade. I never got a hot lunch at school, except for very occasional treats that were pizza days. [#1 notes: whoa, I completely forgot that in 4th grade I lived close enough to the school to walk home for lunch, which I would do on a pretty regular basis. That probably isn’t allowed anymore unless a parent actually shows up at school to do the escorting.]
Tell us about your school lunches, Grumpeteers. It brings back surprisingly detailed memories, just like Anne Lamott predicted in her book Bird by Bird.