The School Lunch Disconnect

16 Apr
Frances sets out her school lunch. This image from

Bread and Jam for Frances is the ultimate School Lunch book.

With the girls headed back to school for Term 2, my thoughts once again are turning to freedom staying in bed all day cleaning their bedrooms school lunches. And all that that entails.

In our family, Fraser makes the school lunches and I criticise provide the constructive support and advice. Or try.

I am, of course, guided by the example of the mother in one of my all-time favourite books, Bread and Jam for Frances. In it, Frances discovers that although bread and jam is her favourite, sometimes it is nice to eat spaghetti and meatballs or a soft-boiled egg or even a string bean.

The next day when the bell rang for lunch, Albert said, “What do you have today?”

“Well,” said Frances, laying a paper doily on her desk and setting a tiny vase of violets in the middle of it, “let me see.” She arranged her lunch on the doily.

“I have a thermos bottle with cream of tomato soup,” she said.

“And a lobster-salad sandwich on thin slices of white bread.

I have celery, carrot sticks, and black olives, and a little cardboard shaker of salt for the celery.

And two plums and a tiny basket of cherries.

And vanilla pudding with chocolate sprinkles and a spoon to eat it with.”

“That’s a good lunch,” said Albert. “I think it’s nice that there are all different kinds of lunches and breakfasts and dinners and snacks. I think eating is nice.”

Suspecting that Fraser is not quite as keen on doilies and tiny vases of violets, although he probably agrees with Albert that eating is nice, I made him a ready reckoner lunch template. In my fantasies of competence, school lunches look like this. But with doilies and little vases of violets. And possibly in Bento boxes.

Main meal
(pick 1)
(pick 2)
(pick 1 or 2)
(pick 1)




Sandwich on multi-grain bread (eg avocado, chicken, lettuce, carrot OR spread, cheese, ham)


Mmm! Vegetable soup!

 Corn on the cob


Carrot & cucumber sticks





Fresh salad of seasonal fruits





 Rice crackers






Delicious home-baked Mini-muffin


Cake for special occasions.


In practice, when I make school lunches, it’s most likely to look like this:

Main meal Veggies Fruit Snack


Vegemite sandwich on whatever bread is neither stale nor moldy

Carrot & cucumber sticks (Monday to Wednesday)

Corn on the cob (Thursday)

Bit of lettuce in the sandwich if it is not too limp (Friday)

Fresh salad of seasonal fruits as long as they are oranges and strawberries (Monday to Wednesday)

Apple or orange (Thursday)

Peach in juice in a tetra-pack (Friday)

Little container of hummus to go with the veggie sticks (Monday to Wednesday)

Rice crackers in a little bag (Thursday)

Whatever biscuits or cake we have in the house (Friday)

And when Fraser makes school lunches, it looks like this:

Main meal Veggies Fruit Snack
Salami sandwich on white bread. No spread.


Cheese sandwich. By request.

no Apple or mandarine (Monday)

Yesterday’s uneaten apple or mandarine (Tuesday to Friday)

bag of biscuits (sweet or savoury)

Biggie would like school lunches to look like this

Main meal Veggies Fruit Snack
Chicken sandwich, 1 bite. But it has to be THE RIGHT CHICKEN and FRESH AVOCADO NOT FROZEN. Best on multigrain bread or a wrap.

Or a foccaccia from the school canteen, which will be TOO DISGUSTING TO EAT.

Snow pea sprouts

And maybe lettuce in the sandwich

Orange, cherries & strawberries. Except they go squishy so that is OMG TOO DISGUSTING. Better leave them out.

Or maybe watermelon.

A jelly snake please.

In fairness, she does generally eat her lunch … when she gets home! So there’s a 4pm snack of soggy sandwich which has been in her warm locker all day, often with a chaser of instant mashed potato and/or cup-a-noodle soup. Mmm!

Otto likes adventurous lunches, because there is a microwave in her classroom and a sandwich press in the kitchen at school. Sort of likes them, anyway.

Main meal Veggies Fruit Snack
Pasta. No sauce, just pasta. Cheese is allowed.


Cheese sandwich with melty melty cheese. For toasting. White bread preferred, multigrain acceptable


Fairy Bread


A sausage roll with sauce, bought warm at the 7-11 and saved for lunchtime

Carrot & cucumber sticks. I won’t eat them, but I like them in my lunch.


Fairy Bread

A mandarine.

No, I don’t like mandarines any more.

An apple. Must be a pink lady.

No, I don’t like apples any more.

Strawberries. Yeah I don’t actually eat them, but I like having them in my lunch.


Fairy Bread









Fairy Bread


I think bread and jam was easier.

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Posted by on April 16, 2012 in children, food


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