What was in Your School Lunch?

I’m currently reading Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life In one chapter she talks about – in essence – breaking writer’s block by writing about school lunches.

Now while this is an interesting exercise for her, for food-obsessed people like us, the topic of school lunches is a bit more fascinating. Lamott talks about the three kinds of acceptable sandwiches – bologna, salami with “unaggressive cheese” and PB&J – the required uniformity of carrot sticks, the all important wrapping of the sandwich and what your lunch said about how your family was doing.

I’ve never once thought about what my school lunch said about my family, but now that the question has been posed I’m fascinated and a bit frightened. You see, while I know that PB&J must have been in my lunch at some time, the lunch my Mom packed for me most often in elementary school was this:

  • 1 stick of beef jerky (the flat rectangular kind that came in a huge plastic jar);
  • 1 box of Sunmaid Raisins;
  • Goldfish crackers (in a plastic sandwich bag);
  • A Halloween Size candy bar or package of not-homemade cookies; and
  • A Capri Sun.

    That’s right, the type of lunch thrown together in 5 mins by your older teenage brother. I’m not sure this says positive things about my family but I did have the most envied lunch in school.

    So, I’m curious – what was in your school lunch? Did you brown bag it or buy hot lunch? Were there unwritten rules among your classmates about what could or could not be in your lunch? What food was considered too eccentric for school?

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    9 Responses

    1. I had blocked out our lunches. This explains why I was nicknamed “junk food Jennifer”‘ That said, I now crave brussel sprouts so perhaps that was moms plot. Most schools have banned PBandJ’s due to nut allergies so if you have a kid who dislikes every food but PB&j it is challenging to say the least. Jack now gets
      1) yougurt
      2) capri sun or water
      3) apple slices or fuit of season
      4) fruit rabbits (organie gummies basically)
      5) cheese and crackers
      No dessert is allowed at his school either unless it lacks sugar which is ironic since the yougurt has more sugar than a cookie.

    2. Smile. I love that book. My mom always packed me a simple school lunch: PB &J sandwich, sliced apples, a Capri Sun juicebox, carrots, and crackers. Thank you for sharing, sweet friend. May the middle of your week be full of joy and laughter.

    3. intriguing exercise! i’m embarrassed to say it, but i had carte blanche on groceries from 6th grade on since parents were too busy/mia, so I’d always just buy myself giant candy bars and cans of ensure. is that strange? 🙂

      • The ensure does raise an eyebrow – we’re you trying to make sure you got all your vitamins in? That said, when I took over packing my lunch in junior high it consisted of one yogurt 😉

    4. Pulled pork sandwich, immunity drink, string cheese, cole slaw, activia, and water. For school, I make my son his lunch every day, usually a turkey sandwich.

    5. PB&J, Milk, fruit – brown paper bag.

      • AH, the brown paper bag. I started brown-baggin it around 5th grade. Before that the lunchbox was in full effect – including an Empire Strikes Back lunchbox;)

    6. After 7th grade, we ate in a dining hall, so no brining lunch from home. In elementary school, though, the one thing that stands out more than anything were these pastrami and Munster cheese rolls.

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