So - what are you doing for lunch? The cows are tucking into a bale of haylage, and they seem to be enjoying it. I love the smell - its like opening a bottle of summer meadow - a blast of sunshine in the depths of Winter. I am having a quick bowl of leftover sausage and tomato pasta as I write.
If you follow me on Instagram, Twitter or facebook, you will be familiar with my #lunchboxoftheday posts. Each morning, I take a photograph of James's school lunch-box, and post it via Instagram. I started doing this when J entered school, mainly to inspire myself to provide him with healthy homemade packed lunches. I thought that if I did this, it would encourage me to keep up my standards, and also be a source of ideas. It's become quite popular, and people are very kind in their comments, but sometimes I feel a bit uncomfortable about it. A couple of folk have joked that I was putting them to shame with my lunch box photos. It is lovely that people are so interested, but I really don't want to make anyone feel inferior at all - no no no! You see - I don't have to get myself out to work by a certain time in the morning, I only have one child at school now, and I have access to a fair amount of home produce, so it is relatively easy for me to put these together, but I thought I would talk a bit more about what goes into them.
First of all, J doesn't like sandwiches. He will eat the contents, and leave the bread, although he happily eats bread on its own. Also, I plan as many meals as I can with leftovers in mind, so we can have pizza slices, pasta, tortilla, pie, or roast lamb kebabs turning up in the lunch-box next day (things on skewers always go down well). Tonight I am planning to make a chard and feta pie for dinner, so I will save a bit of that for tomorrow. I do try to think ahead - if I bake, for instance, then I will freeze some specifically for the packed lunch, or I will freeze slices of meat or sausage rolls - no need to defrost, just pop a slice of cake or scone into the box and it will be perfect by lunchtime - you can see some caramel shortcake making a couple of appearances above. I always have a main course, some fruit and a sweet treat. The portions are quite small, mainly because eating interferes with playing outside, but he has a good breakfast, and dinner at 5pm. I try to vary the meals as much as I can -there is nothing worse that seeing the same boring thing day after day. (My dad still can't eat bananas, after my Gran, excited by their re-introduction after wartime rationing, included one in his packed lunch every day - for several years.) That said, J does like satsumas and kiwi fruit, so they make very regular appearances, and when the cherry tomatoes were ripe, they had to feature every day. I do tend to spend a bit more on some items - for example we are very fond of the cheeses and charcuterie which we can buy in our local delicatessens, but I feel I balance that out by using leftovers. It works well, cuts down waste, keeps me out of the supermarket, and saves money. I don't think it takes anymore time to pop a piece of pie, or serving of pasta into the lunchbox than it does to make up a sandwich, and I enjoy the challenge of coming up with different ideas - and, most importantly, I know exactly what is going into the food.
The boxes are called Lunchbots, and are available in various styles. Ours is the Naked Lunchbot Trio. I like them because they are stainless steel, rather than plastic. The partitions are not totally leak proof though, so the food has to be reasonably solid - I wouldn't send yoghurt for instance, but the banana sponge pudding with mascarpone was fine. (bottom right, mosaic)
Goodness - that was a long lunch. I hope you enjoyed it - but you really must stay for dessert! xx