The Curse of School Lunches

A not-viral lunch hack

At this time of year, there is always one article in the national newspaper that tells mums across the land, of easy life hacks to make school-lunch choices a breeze.

The ladies in these articles are food bloggers, which in plain English means a human being who writes down what food they bought at the shops (like a reverse shopping list) with photos from their iPhone.

They then flatlay the food out, and, without being too brazen about sponsorship, advise their readers to put the food together into compartments in a plastic container.

Top tip! Prepare these the night before for ease of morning routine. By the way, after I have made the lunches I use Countdown’s own brand of Night Cream and then simply rinse it off in the morning with Watercare Auckland’s lovely tap water.

Preparing a lunchbox shouldn’t be this hard, and the fact that there are articles and how-tos about it is an indication of the levels of guilt out of which we as a human race now operate.

Even the lunchbox displays in Countdown overwhelm with their promises, not of air-tightness, but of the mums trying not to get cancelled on day one of school.

Muuum, my lunchbox suuuuuuuucks

There are options for every step on the political continuum, or food proclivity, such as the Bamboo Lunchbox, at $25 a hit that little Tarquin will lose on the first day of school, not before he stares at the amorphous mass that his sandwich and cut fruit has become.

There’s the Bento box, made very popular (to me personally) by Molly Ringwald in The Breakfast Club. It makes shit food look awesome. It’s a shame though that Tarquin’s bag nook is outside his classroom in the bright sunshine from 8:30 until exactly lunchtime, by which stage the Bento box is sweating and around 55 degrees Celsius inside; the yoghurt pouch itself is hot enough to heat up the cheese and crackers, which lie in a sorry thick paste to the side.

The coolie bag is a great idea, but only until Year 5. After that, kids are looking for lunch scenarios such as daily sushi delivered to their classrooms on the backs of servants.

It’s 1:30pm and the school rubbish bins are fair overflowing with the turkey and cos croissants lovingly made at 4:30am by the food blog mums, who, none the wiser about the wastage, keep ever-searching for new ideas to keep little Tarquin fed at school.

Then there’s me, a mum who once or maybe fifteen times couldn’t find a spare lunchbox so I wrapped the cheese sandwich up and put it with a gala apple and a packet of Eta Ripples into the bag which I bought the gala apples in.

Moral of the story is you’re all awesome. Keep doing your lunches and stop flagellating yourselves with beeswax and dried figs. Unless that’s your thing, obviously.

And finally. As mentioned in the article by one savvy mum: if you give them a good breakfast and dinner (plus the other 800 snacks they have after school), who cares, really.




  1. Hi, long time reader first time commenter. I really love you writing style, and the way you find poetry in the banal. I appreciate your school lunch guide, and would appreciate any wisdom you could offer on the vexed topic of the stationery list. Thanks in advance

    • Hi there
      Thank you for the fandom. Please stay connected because I can advise that the work stationery cupboard is a pretty useful storehouse for your needs.

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