Reader’s Letter: Is packing lunch boxes really supposed to be so stressful?


Hanneli van Vuuren writes:

Too much knowledge tires the soul, says the Ecclesiastes.

Yes, indeed. Just take a simple thing like a lunch box for school. Ever since the world decided that eating any carbohydrate (carb), is a mortal sin, school lunch boxes are a complicated thing.

I long for my childhood days when a school lunchbox consisted of a kitten butter and syrup sandwich and an apple. There was no drinking involved. You stood wide-legged over the mud puddle next to the little fountain and drank lukewarm water.

If the peanut butter was out, the sandwich sometimes had last night’s leftovers on it. Green beans were not uncommon. Or Bovril. Right after the end of the month, the sandwich sometimes had pink polony and cheese on it. Or jam and cheese.

Lunch was the same – brown collard was the main ingredient. On the table was a wide selection of spreads, most of which contained sugar: peanut butter (again), golden syrup (again), home-cooked jam, Bovril and cheese. Later years we have a snack sandwich-got machine and the most delicious
made grilled cheese sandwiches.

Now sugar and bread have been banned and I’m struggling to make plans to keep my teenage sons’ bellies full. The lunchbox must tick so many health boxes: “Low in carbohydrates”, “high in protein”, sugar-free, preservative-free, and preferably so-called “whole foods” (whole foods).

But woe oh woe if you put a fruit in! “Do you know how much sugar is in fruit?”. Or worse, fruit juice. Tap water cannot be trusted under any circumstances and if anyone sees that your distractible child is drinking Oros, eyes will be rolled deep in the cupboards and you can simply
feeling condemnation from a distance.

The vegans post a new recipe on YouTube every day that tells you your kids will love the air fryer roasted chickpeas and the avocado chocolate pudding.

Is packing lunch really supposed to be so stressful?