Hunger Games: Packing A Lunch My Kid Won’t Eat


You know that happy, warm feeling of maternal satisfaction when your child comes home from school, tosses his empty lunchbox on the counter and then gushes about how yummy his lunch was? Yeah, me neither.

Please tell me I’m not the only mom who instantly goes into a state of panic and frustration each night when it’s time to think about packing my kid’s lunch. I wish I didn’t get so worked up about it, after all it’s basically just a fake lunch anyway- like a prop. Like when you are trying to sell your house but all your furniture has either been shredded by your cats or destroyed by your kids, (or in my case, both), and no one in their right minds would want to buy it. So someone brings in all this nice, staged furniture that looks great but never actually gets used. It’s like that. But with food. That I bought. With my money.

My husband and I have had countless 9 p.m. lunchbox conversations that always go something like this:

ME, STARING AT THE FRIDGE: “I have NO idea what I’m even going to put in his lunch tomorrow! We have NOTHING!”  *shoots invisible laser beams of resentment from my eyes aimed directly at him across the room*

HIM, FROM COUCH: “We JUST went grocery shopping!”  *looks at me like he’s giving me a mental welfare check*

ME: “He won’t eat any of that!”

HIM: “That’s insane!”

ME: “I know it’s insane but WHAT AM I GOING TO PUT IN THERE!?”  *help me*

HIM: “Nothing! Send him with an empty lunchbox. That’ll teach him. I’m not worried about it.”  *mentally checks out*

ME: “I don’t want to deal with Child Protective Services. We need to lay low.”

HIM: *asleep on the couch*

You see,  I’m sure I’m already on their radar after the well-meaning principal and counselor of my son’s school randomly chose students to eat lunch with them recently and picked our son. On the day that I packed him just Oreos and potato chips for lunch. And forgot his drink. I’m on borrowed time here….

Now you might be thinking, why don’t I just send him with money and let him buy lunch? Easy peasy, right?


If I decided to let him buy lunch, the food and my money would be wasted anyway. Even if he decided to break pattern and actually consume his lunch, they have about 4 minutes to stuff their little faces before they are booted out of the cafeteria. That’s just 3 minutes longer than a Ronda Rousey fight. There’s no time to stand in line AND eat. They have to choose one or the other. I can’t even imagine being that rushed to eat. You don’t want to know what happens when somebody tells me it’s time to stop eating. It makes the Hunger Games look like an Easter egg hunt. It’s not pretty.

Also, I’ve seen the school lunches and frankly, they look like something even a prison inmate would refuse. I mean, would I eat it? Yeah. But that’s not saying much; I can’t remember ever passing up food. Shocking, I know.

If I relied on the school to feed him, how am I going to know what he did or didn’t eat? Without the remains of his lunchbox coming back to me each day, how would I have the solid, irrefutable evidence that my son didn’t eat his lunch? Which is important because us helicopter moms revolve around that kind of information. It’s 2018, people. If my only-child even farts off schedule I’m going to know about it.

Which brings me to another observation. Maybe my kid isn’t eating his lunch because he gets two frigging snacks every day. That’s right; as if packing a pretend lunch wasn’t hard enough, we have to send TWO separate snacks every day. Every. Day. Maybe if we scaled back a bit on the extra feedings, these kids might actually eat the dang lunches us moms are packing, instead of holding out for the Funyuns they know they’re getting after pre-calculus, or whatever it is they teach kindergartners now. For the love of God!

And yes, Betty Crocker, I know that I could simply throw on my apron and pack healthy snacks like yogurt parfait, kale chips, and maple-glazed-honey-roasted chickpeas into my sweet angel’s backpack each day. But lemme tell you a little story about the time my kid begged for apples….

It was a Tuesday night. Grocery shopping. With my kid. After 8 hours of working. There’s no hotter hell on Earth. But then he said the words every mother wants to hear but only the good moms get to: “Can I have some apples?” My eyes lit up. My heart sang. Imagine what the cafeteria staff will think of me if my child eats an apple! This is exactly the stuff mom dreams are made of. So I bought some. Not one. Not two. In my excitement I bought like 16 apples. The expensive organic ones too, because if we are set to impress we are gonna go all out, baby! CPS are you reading this- I buy apples!

But then, much to my surprise the apple kept coming back day after day untouched and uneaten until I threatened to send the same [censored] apple in his lunch until high school graduation if I had to. And then when it finally came home with one microscopic tooth mark barely breaking the skin, you’re gosh darn right I just cut that spot off and sent the same [censored] apple the next day. Two can play this game, I thought. So we went back and forth, him taking a tiny bite or two, me cutting the bites off and putting it back in his lunch the next day; solid parenting at it’s finest. If you’re wondering how long it takes for a mutilated organic apple to rot, it’s 13 days. Or so I’ve heard. It’s about principles, people. He ASKED for apples!

The point of all this is, I don’t even remember anymore. I’m 33. Did you read my last article? I forget things.

All I know is there are too many snacks at school, my kid hates fruit, and I’m one uneaten lunch away from my husband checking me into the looney bin.

How old before kids pack their own lunches?




Lindsay is a full-time working wife, mom, and blogger. She once held a wand while car shopping and got a fantastic deal on a car.



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