Bologna, Spam, or Skippy?

Peanut butter and jam sandwich
Peanut butter and jam sandwich

I grew up in a home that had the normal ‘blue and pink’ chore divisions, for the most part. Mom, aside from working outside the home, took care of the majority of the laundry and cleaning. I helped with the indoor stuff. Dad took care of the cars and shovelling the snow in the winter. He was always up early and made sure the walks were clear before we started going in and out. The boys did the yard work and shovelled the walks in the afternoon if they needed it again.

Cooking was a shared job – sort of. I remember Mom mostly cooking suppers. Dad had his full-time job and was often taking more university classes and working part-time in the evenings. Since he was an early riser he made breakfast and packed our lunches for school.

Back then – yes, in the good old days – we didn’t use plastic food containers. Tupperware was the only choice and it was too expensive to risk a lid not coming home. We didn’t have ziplock bags, nor did we have little thermoses. Everything was packed in ‘fold-lock-top’ baggies or baggies with twist-ties.

The lunches Dad packed for me pretty much stayed the same for the 6 years I needed them. There was always one sandwich on 100% whole wheat bread, a few carrot sticks or maybe a few pickles, a piece of fruit, a couple of cookies, and a 5-cent chocolate bar. A couple of times each week he’d give me a quarter to buy a can of pop and a bag of chips.

Everything was pretty predictable – except the sandwich. On a good day it was Skippy peanut butter and strawberry jam. On a mediocre day it was bologna with ketchup making the bread a little gooey. On a not-so-good day it was Spam with mustard or relish that soaked the bread or peanut butter with Welch’s grape jelly that also soaked the bread, making the sandwich inedible. I didn’t dare say anything about soggy bread or my not-so-favorite fillings. Doing so would hurt Dad’s feelings and he’d go on strike for a few days. Honestly, I liked his lunches more than I wanted to pack my own. So I ate what I could, glad that he was facing the difficult job of trying to come up with interesting ideas for packable and palatable lunches. With all the sugar and junk food he put into my little brown paper lunch bags, it’s no wonder I had acne, and it is a wonder I didn’t end up horribly overweight.

Still, I didn’t understand fully the challenge of packing lunches until I had to pack them for hubby and 4 kids. Yikes! The “I don’t likes” and “I wants” were hard enough to work around and were further complicated by schools being ‘nut-free zones.’

I hope my article Nutrition for Learning will give you a few ideas to make feeding your children more healthfully, especially during the school year, a little easier.

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