I make kick arse school lunches for my kids. Lunches that humiliate the efforts of lesser parents. They're exciting, delicious and served in the coolest multi compartment clip top boxes on the planet.
I used to think getting excited about school lunch preparation wasn't macho. But nowadays, like thousands of other Kiwi men, I'm crafting powerful lunches for my children. Lunches that blow their tiny little minds. Most importantly, my lunch boxes return empty.
There are three key secrets to creating outstanding packed lunches but first some history.
I suffer from terrible school lunch guilt. Like little Bruce Wayne watching his parents' get murdered in a Gotham City alleyway, I have a lunch-related superhero origin story.
My lovely mum made me a packed lunch everyday. But I'd never eat them. Id leave them in my backpack till it was full. Lovingly prepared lunches ignored and left to rot. When there was no more room in my bag I'd hiff all those unopened lunches down a bank near our house.
My mate Andy was given money to buy a mince pie, sauce and Zap everyday because his parents didn't love him. He craved the wholesome home-made lunches my mum made. Someone who cared. I craved the opposite. I wanted a cold heartless hot lunch from the dairy. Every now and then I'd swap my lunch for Andy's. But mostly I'd just hiff mine down the bank.
Looking back, not eating my Mum's lunches is my life's greatest shame. She spent so much of her time making them for me and I just threw them away. Repaid her love by heaving them over the hedge and down the bank into Donaldson's Nursery, halfway up Tanner Road. Glenleith, Dunedin. I wish I could tell her how sorry I am, but it would only hurt her feelings. Also she died.
Mum was a great Mum. Possibly the greatest ever. But her lunches were weird. Peanut butter sandwiches with lettuce. Cold pumpkin pizza. Raw mushrooms in gladwrap. Uphill eating.
So my first secret to great school lunches is eatability. Feel free to make your lunches healthy if you want. That's not important. But they absolutely must be palatable or they'll end up down a bank.
My mum would pack me a whole giant carrot to eat at playtime. As a 5 year old I'd sit alone day after day working my way through these massive orange root vegetables. It was stressful. I was missing out on all the Maori Hill Primary good times. One day I gave up and threw my giant carrot on the staff room roof. I would never eat a homemade lunch again.
Don't let this happen to you. Make your lunches quick to eat so your kids can play with their mates. That's what's school is for. It's not a carrot eating competition. Time consuming lunches end up down banks.
Looking back, not eating my Mum's lunches is my life's greatest shame.
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Mornings are a punishingly busy time. So make your lunches the night before. Don't rush the prep. Enjoy it. Get in the zone. Have some beers. Put on some tunes. Invite some mates over. Here's a tip. Use frozen bread. It will keep things fresh overnight and thaw just at the right time.
Everyone agrees that making amazing school lunches is a manly thing to do. That's why so many Kiwi males are stepping up to the breadboard. But you've got to get it right. You'll need the coolest snap lock lunch boxes you can get, some delicious easily consumed ingredients, time to enjoy the process and most importantly you'll need to check your local grass banks. If the bastards are dumping your creations you need to know.
Mike from Mike and the Mechanics once sang 'Say it loud, say it clear (oh say it clear), You can listen as well as you hear, Because it's too late, it's too late (it's too late) when we die (oh when we die). To admit we don't see eye to eye'. He was right. I can't go back and eat all those lunches my Mum made. I can't climb down Mr Donaldson's bank and get them back. I just wish I could say to her 'Sorry Mum, I love you. I make my kids the greatest school lunches I can. Lunches that honour your memory'.
Having said that I've only made two so far. Lani their Mum has made the other 3000 odd and to be honest the boys prefer hers but still I make some pretty bloody good lunches.