Michelle Martin

Brown-bagging it

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

I have never been among the ladies who lunch.

Not that I don’t go out for lunch from time to time. I do, and I enjoy it. But most of the time, I pack my own sandwich and yogurt, carrots and apple.

If the weather is bad or I’m pressed for time, I eat at my desk, the better to finish up in time to pick up Teresa at school. If weather and time permit, I take myself to a nearby park bench to enjoy the fresh air and the people walking by.

The thing is, making my lunch is no hardship. I’m already making Teresa’s lunch every schoolnight, so it isn’t really any more work to throw my own meal together at the same time. While she has the option of buying school lunch, they have to be ordered the month before, and the cost adds up. Quickly.

I’d still be willing to buy them, at least some days, if she liked them, but she doesn’t usually. She’d rather have a PBJ from home — something I can make for literally pennies a serving — than a hot lunch that comes the way it comes, with no chance to modify ingredients or presentation.

After all, I’m willing to cut crusts off if requested. Or cut it into four pieces instead of two. Or use a cookie cutter to stamp a shape out of the middle. Or use strawberry jelly instead of grape.

That doesn’t even touch other options, such as leftover spaghetti (no meatballs please) or chicken, rice and broccoli in her thermos. Leftover pizza is also a hit. It’s a bit more complicated when she goes to a nut-free summer day camp. At least she likes pasta salad.

Or the side dish options, from chips to fruit to carrots and cucumbers.

I complain about having to make her lunch every night, and have suggested more than once that Teresa could make it herself. The truth is, I’m not really ready for that. I like knowing what I’ve sent with her to eat, and I like that when I send her lunch with her, the lunchbox comes back home at the end of the day, so I get to see what she ate and what she left.

Oddly enough, the thing that comes back most often is dessert. Apparently, there’s just not time to get to it, what with all the important things she and her friends have to discuss. Also, apples come back unless I take the time the night before to cut them into slices. I don’t know why.

I think the best of both worlds is when she helps me make her lunch, or, I suppose, when she makes it and I help. That way she can choose food she likes and wants to eat and I can make sure that it’s reasonably nutritious.

Sharing food has always been a way for people to come together. Sometimes that bond can happen even if you spend mealtime apart. That’s worth the time it takes to make a sandwich.


  • family life