Day 21 – #SOL2021: The Lunch Box Series #4 -The picky eater

Do you remember what was in your lunch when you were little?

It was the late 50’s and we were a one parent family. Mom had no choice but to work and so I would be eating at school each day. No walking home like many kids. There was no hot lunch program only milk in cartons that we could not afford.

There were three of us kids in the family – each with our lunch box, a thermos for milk and a small handle to carry it. (My brother being older switched quickly to a paper bag – it was not cool to have a tin box to carry back and forth each day.) 

The lunch box and thermos had its own issue for a kid who did not walk quietly to school and home each day but that is a different story. This one is about what was inside that box. 

I was little and picky. I would have been just as happy to skip lunch and head out to play but that was not in the cards. Each of us in school lunch kids would sit at the long tables in the gym pull out our lunch and eat for 30 minutes. Thirty minutes was a long time for those of us who had small lunches and ate quickly. 

Inside my box it looked the same all the way through high school – although by junior high I also had switched to the paper bag, no thermos. We finally were able to afford a milk card to get a carton of milk each day at school. 

There was always: 

  • a peanut butter sandwich on white bread (no jelly) 
  • fruit – 1/2 an apple or 1/2 a banana 
  • a small bag of chips if I was lucky (always eaten first by me)
  • one small homemade cookie ( if we baked on the weekend)
  • thermos with milk – often times leaked leaving the lunch soggy
  • every once in awhile there would be a small bag of three carrot sticks (which I hated but would eat)
Note this sandwich has jelly – a no, no for me and water – nope just milk!

This meal was not my mothers choice but my own. I would not eat egg salad or tuna salad or pieces of chicken left over from dinner. I would not eat any fruit other apples or bananas. I would gladly eat the sweets and salty items – chips, or cookies.

We were each in charge of making our own lunch each night before going to bed. This routine was usually done with a small fight between my mother and I. Her trying to make me expand my diet and my making my lunch smaller and smaller the more she fought with me. Some days I had a very tiny lunch. She would pull the cookie and chips to be sure I would eat the other foods that she thought might be a healthier choice. We did not talk about healthy choices. It was just this is what you need to eat. 

I am not sure how I managed to survive on the small amount of food I ate or the lack of variety but somehow I made it through. It is why now as I make lunch for my Grandson, “Little Man”, I am not worried about his picky eating at 21 months. He is healthy, growing like a weed and will change his eating habits as he get older. 

His current lunch love is:

  • pasta (Mac and Cheese)
  • a hot dog (he gets chicken dogs or chicken Brats with veggies mixed in – don’t tell him that!)
  • fruit (a wide variety – he will eat almost any fruit put in front of him) 
  • no cookie – (that is a treat every once in awhile in the afternoon) 

I am like my mother in that I keep putting new food in front of him as does his parents but I am not willing to walk into the fight with a little one over food. I loved my mother but I do wish we had not had battles over food.

Without the battles it will be fun to see how “Little Man” changes his eating habits as he grows and what he will have for lunch once he goes to school.  Will he have a home lunch or hot lunch? What will he be taking to school – mac and cheese in a thermos or will he have moved on to sandwiches? 

What was your lunch when you were little? 

About Joanne Toft

I am a retired Minneapolis Public School teacher. I walk, garden, care for my Grandson and write. Life is good!
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7 Responses to Day 21 – #SOL2021: The Lunch Box Series #4 -The picky eater

  1. arjeha says:

    I don’t know how many of those thermos liners I broke. Lunch fo rme was usually a mince bologna sandwich.

  2. chuizar says:

    Your title caught my eye and I quickly clicked on it. My son, now 17, was and is a picky eater. We have fought, cajoled, ignored on a loop for the last 10+ years. I appreciated you sharing how the more you argued, the smaller your meals got. I currently try and ignore and offer fruits, vegetable and protein to balance it somewhat. I have no idea if he will grow out, but I remain hopeful. Now, I know there is always the future grand children I can nourish with love.

  3. WOWilkinson says:

    Thanks for sharing. I like the connection you made between past and present.

  4. kvanhorn1966 says:

    Oh, my sister and I just had a conversation about this! We always had half a ham sandwich, carrot or celery sticks, and a piece of fruit. IF we were lucky, we’d get ONE cookie! No hot lunch program, but we did get “Hot Dog Day” every now and then. Talk about a treat!

  5. That was my lunch box! I don’t remember what was inside although I do remember the warm milk in the thermos-ugh! But- I do remember my plaid lunchbox! Thank you for this wonderful trip down memory lane 🙂

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