Children’s Lunch Boxes – a cheap lunch option for the grown-ups as well

There was a pear but we eated it

Sometimes when I’ve been out shopping, I need to have lunch, I don’t want very much, I don’t need sophisticated but I need to stop feeling hungry.

The Wartime Housewife presents The Children’s Lunchbox.

This is not nearly as ghastly as you might think and many shops have caught on to the healthy options thing for children as well.  The children’s lunch box usually allows you to choose five or six items from quite a wide selection so you can be as healthy as you like.

Choices are usually a simple sandwich (often on wholemeal bread), crisps, fruit, cheese, raisins, yoghurt or fromage frais, a drink which is often fruit juice and a small chocolate bar.  The smarter the shop, the smarter the choices; for example John Lewis has a huge range which includes Pomme Bears (hurrah!), yoghurt or chocolate covered raisins and slightly more interesting fruit.

I have sampled the lunch boxes in cafes at supermarkets, department stores and garden centres for the purposes of this article and have found most of them to be of a high standard and very reasonably priced.  A lunch box rarely breaks the £4.00 barrier (and is usually much less) so is excellent value.

Unsurprisingly perhaps, John Lewis was easily the best, using quality ingredients, wholemeal bread with a generous amount of filling, and appealing choices.  ASDA was the worst, insisting on using white bread, cheap sugary drinks and boring fruit.  The rest were pretty good, with independent garden centres nearing the top.

And the best thing is that you always, always get a little packet of crayons and a colouring-in sheet.  How therapeutic.

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14 Comments

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14 responses to “Children’s Lunch Boxes – a cheap lunch option for the grown-ups as well

  1. Sue

    Crayons and colouring you say. It’s tempting. I must Say I never want to stay out shopping long enough to include lunch, but I will bear this option in mind if I ever do.

    • wartimehousewife

      The lunch boxes come in particularly handy when out with The Aged Parent who feels obliged to look at evey single item on display and offer an individual comment on every item. We have been known to spend the entire day in John Lewis alone. Let me tell you, you really need the therapeutic crayons.

  2. It’s one of the things I miss over here, the supermarket cafe, even for the sandwiches alone. Although, there was nothing quite so reassuring as an Asda brekkie. One local supermarket here has recently brought out a range of sandwiches, but they’re overpriced, unappealing and oddly squished since they’re only cling-wrapped. I’d do unspeakable things for an Asda chicken caesar baguette right now….

    • wartimehousewife

      Gosh, is the sandwich not a universal comestible then, Claire? I know you’re cursed with the wretched vegemite, but enough is enough. Vinogirl has frequently mentioned foodstuffs that she can’t get in California such as Golden Syrup and decent marmalade and her family take her food parcels.

      You must all come home at once;the grey sky today is touching the ground and the air is full of appealing drizzle that isn’t quite rain and not quite enough to keep your windscreen wipers on. Come on, you know you want to….

      • As tempting as you make it sound, I fear I am resigned to making my own butties. Over here the sandwich exists, but sadly not good prepacked supermarket food. Of course, being a frugal girl I should delight in making my own and shun the prepackaged nonsense, but sometimes life needs to be a bit easier and something needs to be grabbed.

        But here it’s been feeling like summer already, the sun has been bright, the sky clear blue and the birds are nesting…. I think I’ll “settle” for that!

  3. as someone who has to make luchboxes for a 41 year old every day…. thank you!

    • wartimehousewife

      But remember, John, no fizzy drinks and no sweets or you’ll be acting up all afternoon.

      • Apparently – according to the QI-master, Saint Stephen – that is not true! It’s all a myth. But when they put that out on the QI website, they had hundreds of mothers writing to tell them they were talking nonsense. I can’t say my children are affected by sugar.

      • wartimehousewife

        I saw that one too, Morag. I reckon that some children tolerate sugar better than others and that it depends on their regular intake. Boy the Younger used to go a bit bonkers if he had Coca Cola or sweets on an empty stomach but he gets a bit hypoglycaemic anyway. I knew someone whose parents claimed he had ADHD and he was regularly topped up with Ritalin. I observed said boy’s behaviour at a party and, after spending the entire evening drinking vast a mounts of Coke and eating nothing but sweets, he started to get hyper. “His Ritalin’s worn off” said the father mournfully. Oh really.

  4. I’m sorry, I loathe the way sandwiches have become standard lunch box fare. No wonder we have such a rise in diabetes and obesity!

    I remember Alfred Molina (I think it was) complaining about his own lunch boxes at school, because they were always full of healthy Italian food, and trying to trade them for stodgy old sandwiches. I don’t have to think about my boys’ food, because they get fed at boarding school and matron always checks every plate for nutritional balance! To the get extent that when I put food on their plates at home, I usually get the “and where is the protein, Mum?” question. I then have to wrack my brains thinking Protein? What counts as protein??!

    • wartimehousewife

      Oh I like a sandwich but, as I’m sure Jeanette Winterson would say, sandwiches are not the only lunch option. Making a decent sandwich requires a little thought though. The butter must be spread right to the edges so that it creates a waterproof seal between the filling and the bread so it doesn’t get soggy and I would always put salad items on next with the main filling in the middle. A sandwich has the potential to include all the food groups into one handy sized portion, although you’d have to go a long way to beat egg and cress. Sue at the Quince Tree seems to put really interesting things in her children’s lunchboxes.

      However the lunch boxes I’m talking about are the ones you buy when you’re out and you need to stop feeling hungry and you only have ten bob in your purse.

  5. My 4 year old just started school and is full of joy at the start of a new stage in her life. She is not forthcoming however on just what she eats, according to her she gets and eats beetroot five days a week, perhaps the school knows something I don’t.

    • wartimehousewife

      What an exciting time, Thud. How soppy did you get when you saw her in her uniform on the first day? Beetroot – what an odd choice. I still get the lunchtime secrecy from Boy the Younger. What did you have for lunch today? We-e-e-ell there was meat …um … and… oh for PUDDING I had…and there follows huge detail about how chocolatey or custardy it was and whether he managed to get seconds.

      • Ah, so this lunchtime secrecy is not particular to my beetroot muncher, interesting hey?. As a cliched hairy arsed builder I was of course not bothered in the least when taking my little girl into big school for the first time….honest! truthfuly I hated every painful second of it.

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