There aren’t many grown-ups that fondly remember school-dinners and who can blame them?
School-dinners are universally reviled amongst British adults who shudder when they think about the seemingly endless days of wet, bitter vegetables that they were forced to eat under the watchful eye of a dinner lady, whilst struggling through a pile of ‘creamed potato‘ that would forever haunt their dreams.
Those lunch hours somehow felt even longer than some of the most tortuous lessons. Unfortunately, these lunchtime woes were often not saved by our parents intervening.
Lunch boxes prepared by parents were just as susceptible to ruining our appetites as much as the school-provided food. Whereas our lunchboxes would tend to be mercilessly free from the kind of hot messes that would be provided in canteens, our Mums and Dads would often struggle to put together a meal that would get us truly amped for lunch. Squashed sandwiches made with bleached white bread and ham, or jam (what crazy person thought a jam sandwich was a good idea?!) would inevitably end up dry and inedible. In fact, many people despised their school sandwiches so much that they would actively avoid eating them in adult life. Can you imagine such a thing?
Were they too cheap? Did they lack any kind of empathy? Or did they simply lack the resources and experience to provide us with a nutritional, tasty lunch? Although it might be fun to raise a backward fist against the governments and dinner ladies of the past, it feels somewhat unfair to reproach our parents for their lunchtime efforts. The one thing that we can actually do in response to this is ensure that we can provide our own kids with the kinds of lunches that we wish we had.
Whilst there have been many attempts at recreating ‘classic’ school dinner recipes in a modern style, we thought we’d focus on the basics of lunchbox sandwich making. Follow these simple tips and tricks to avoid scarring your children with the same memories that still haunt you today:
Start with good bread…
Did you eat your crusts when you were a kid? Children pick up all sorts of strange habits and ticks whilst they grow up, most of the time they are related less to their actual taste than their experience whilst eating them. The crusts of bread are by no means difficult to eat, but they do require more patience to chew, which is something that many children are particularly short on. Give in to your kids’ demands for softer bread and you’ll be compromising the quality of their lunches. Freshly baked bread always offers the best depth of flavour and will also provide a better base for your sandwich.
What’s going on inside them?
How you choose to fill your sandwiches will depend on your budget and on the tastes of your kids. You might be tempted to stuff them with salad, to trick your kids into eating more greens but this won’t guarantee that they’ll eat them! If you’re making your sandwiches the night before then you’ll need to consider how they’ll be to eat 12-16 hours later. Tomatoes should be layered within the sandwich and not allowed to touch the bread to avoid sogginess, likewise, excessive mayonnaise will lead to similar issues. Try and use ingredients that your child enjoys, mixed with new things that they haven’t tried yet.
How are you going to store them?
Lastly, it’s wise to consider how you’re planning on storing your sandwiches before you send your tyke of to school with them. Don’t follow in your father’s footsteps, by crushing down each one into oblivion – take care when assembling and packing your creation so that your kids are able to enjoy them as much as possible! If your sandwiches are being packed into a box with other items then you should wrap them carefully in cling film, leaving them loose in a box will lead to them being squashed or worse still, susceptible to falling apart.