Packing up?

packing up

We read today the very sad report by The Children’s Food Trust in the news saying that children are being sent to school with cold chips or just packets of biscuits in their lunch boxes. Now this makes us very sad, as all children (and adults for that matter) deserve healthy, nutritious food in their pack ups!

We have heard that the Government’s advisors have recommended that schools ban packed lunches in favour of healthier school dinners, which thanks to Mr O. are in a much better state than they used to be. …..but there seems to be some way still to go! As it is at the moment we would be firmly in camp packed lunch if Lizzie was at school! And…….. you can bet your bottom dollar if it is ‘illegal’ to send your child to school with a nutritious homemade packed lunch when Lizzie is a school girl Becksie will be outside the gates with some kind of poster!

Now we know a lot of people struggle as wages stay still and the costs of everything rise, however if our experiment has shown one thing it is that shopping locally and carefully can save you money, help you eat healthier and fill your food with colour. When Lizzie does hit school age we will make sure her packed lunch is a) nutritious b) looks beautiful c) tastes beautiful and d) has a little homemade sweet treat in, either a little cake or pastry!

brownies 20

Now packed lunches are not just for kids, and Ian being a money saver has always believed in packed lunches, far preferring to save money and eat what food we have as opposed to splurging money on food each lunchtime. That was until Ian got his current job, however, where for most of the year he gets a free meal every lunchtime – a nice little perk to his job! There are 8 weeks of the year however where the kitchen is shut and he is back to heading off in the morning with his lunch in his little bag, and far from being upset by this he loves the chance to enjoy a little pack up!!

Whether it is sandwiches, fruit, last night’s leftovers or a salad, for Team Pugh packed lunches are a world of possibilities. Frozen batch cooked ready meals also make a great packed lunch, defrosted by lunch time and a tasty, hearty meal!

batch cook 6

Ian read a great article a few weeks ago (he can’t remember where) about how to make the most of your packed lunch, and borrowing a few of these and some of our own here are our top five packed lunch tips for children and adults!

Make it look pretty and appealing and colourful

Throw in a tasty treat for the end

Always decant the food onto a plate and eat it with proper cutlery!

packing up 1

Try and vary the contents every day

Don’t be afraid to take a little bit more food, afternoon snacks are great for the 3 o’clock dip (and

maybe take a little morning snack so you are not tempted to start eating your lunch at 10 am)!

bday 1


20 thoughts on “Packing up?

  1. Good on you being in the pack lunch briggade 😀 We only send our mini-me to “dinners” on special theme days, other than that it is pack lunch all the way! It’s the only way we know for sure what she has eatten was healthy.

  2. School meals and packed lunches is a bit of a soap box of mine.
    My 3 have always had packed lunches- I knew I could provide a better meal for less money that the school meal (which when the eldest started was of the Turkey Twizzler variety and served on manky old plastic airline type trays).I helped campaign for better meals as no child should have to eat that glop, especially those on free lunches who had no choice. The meals at the primary school are now much better, with locally produced meat and very little Brakes Bros stuff, and the children have proper plates and cutlery.
    But most of the packed lunches weren’t/aren’t any better. I was a ‘Dinner Lady’ for a couple of years, and the lunches…This is a school in a very affluent area (London commuters ) with maybe 5% of children being entitled to free meals. I used to go and get the head teacher to look at one child’s lunch- 2 packets of crisps, a chocolate biscuit and a cereal bar once. Or 3 Frubes, and apple and a stringy cheese. I think his mum would just scoop in whatever was closest. Most children have a box full of prepacked junk- many have no fresh fruit or veg at all (the opposite end of the spectrum is those who my daughter reports in a shocked voice have “strawberries in *December*” and they have prepacked organic everything)
    I’d agree with all your tips. Decanting isn’t practical for children, but I always make sure it looks nice, without being all Bento-box about it. I recently bought 3 stainless steel tins on Amazon (sorry Jen) which stops my son squashing his lunch when he sits on his bag (don’t ask!) and means less plastic. I also bought 3 stainless steel thermos flasks years ago, which are still going strong. Soup is a bit messy, but hot pasta/beany lunches are popular when it’s cold.
    I do quite a lot of baking and freezing suitable lunches (pies in muffin tins, scones for last minute lunches- they defrost fast and scone pizzas look good- and flapjack for if someone’s eaten the last of the cake without telling me…)
    I’d add; start as you mean to go on. Mine have never had a packet of crisps with their lunch. If we have some left after a special occasion they might get a small tub as a treat, but it’s never been the norm.
    And as an ex-dinner lady, opening 29 ‘child-friendly’ yogurt tubes gets irritating (especially when it ends up on your skirt), so please send them with stuff they can eat largely independently!!!

  3. I love that you call it pack up. I do too but get ridiculed for it. I always thought pack up was just a suffolk thing and I’ve not heard anyone use it since I left Ipswich.

  4. DH takes his lunch with him every day and has more or less the same thing but he just doesn’t mind. It started when everything was standardised when we were paying off our debts but now he just goes with it – it’s easy and he doesn’t have to think about it. He has a tub of dates and nuts a bit of fruit and a houmous sandwich every day. The sandwich varies a little as he likes different breads and has it with olives, beetroot, salad, some kind of slaw or whatever. But he says he just wants to eat it and it doesn’t really matter what it is, apparently variety is over-rated. Fair enough!

  5. Grandson had to take packed lunches as he was allergic to peanuts. Over the years the latter has improved to the extent from last week (after a whole day of testing in hospital ) he can go without his epi pen and eat “normally”. Over the years schools have become a peanut-free zone, which is excellent news..
    Daughter has always been careful to send along nutritious, “attractive” lunches.

    (Apologies for digressing but have you any ideas for quick and easy, but nutritious, “cheap” meals for the elderly? We read a lot about deprived children but an article in the paper the other day pointed out that many of our elderly population are also deprived.)

  6. Personally, I don’t think that the school meals at our school are very healthy, especially as we are vegetarian. It’s full of carbohydrates and not much else. I have always made her a packed lunch and she has a wide variety of things, a sandwich, a handful of olives, some raisins and a banana. Or some pasta salad, grapes and a yogurt pot (that she can open herself). Going on school trips with the kids was a bit of an eye opener for me. For one there is the amount of food some kids take for lunch, there were a lot of bags that contained more than I could eat for lunch, let alone a 6 year old. The chocolates and crisps were plentiful and often the first thing the kids ate.

    • “and a yogurt pot (that she can open herself)”

      Sorry, said it would be a bit of a rant! I know my children have come home sometimes and said they needed the teacher to open something. I know too, that actually TeamPugh are not going to be big on yogurt tubes! It was just a bit ironic how all this convenience food meant I spent the whole time opening things that invariably covered me in food! I got fed up with the little tubs of fruit in juice as well- they’re so full it’s impossible not to spill them. Tinned fruit in a tub, anyone?!

      Anyway, sorry, rant over…

  7. I grew up in a household with two parents working full-time and, as we had a lot of animals too, not much time to devote to stuff like fiddly special lunch boxes. Having said that, I virtually never had a school dinner- always a lunchbox, and my mum made sure my sister and I got a healthy lunch one simple way- left overs. She put all her energy into a healthy dinner, cooked plenty extra and what we didn’t eat in the evening got re-vamped as lunch in the next couple of days. We’d frankenstein leftovers into new lunches so Sunday’s roast chicken and Monday’s tagine would become Tuesday lunch’s chickeny couscous salad and Wednesdays lamby stew with chunky bread. I certainly never went hungry or got bored with my food and I never ever had to put up with disappointing flimsy cheese sandwiches like my friends did!

  8. I really like your post, I’ve enjoyed reading some of the comments on here as well. You’ve opened up a can of worms on this particular topic. And I concur with your points, pack up is the way forward and a better alternative in my mind. I make the pack up for the worker of the house, but he is one fussy bee. While I try to make it healthy, (With fruit) this one just does not seem to appreciate it. He only likes: White Grapes, Red Apples and Oranges. In terms of vegetables, it is a case of sneaking them in with other things, so in a sandwich he knows. I put a yoghurt in most days. So I do try and make it healthy but its a bit of a struggle, when I’m not his parents and can’t demand he eats all his greens or he wont get any pudding. Something I have tried doing recently is making my own version of ‘Muller Corners’ , with natural (Vanilla) flavoured yoghurt and chocolate cereal. I bought a container half and half, pour the yoghurt in the bottom, cereal in top, and then he can mix them in when he gets to lunch time. This works out cheaper, and in some ways healthier in my mind than the muller ones, as I can give him low fat, or reduced x.

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