The Tiffin Tin

What\’s in your lunchbox?

Back to School With the Tiffin Tin

with 3 comments

I have three sons, only one of whom starts school today. Poor thing — he didn’t see this as a matter of getting there first, but as a sign that being the third child will always be a drag. But at least we let him put a Rice Krispie treat in his lunch.

(I’m going to have to work on my picture taking and presentation, I see. Those turkey rollups are looking awfully lonely. It’s just like the first day of school — we’re a bit wobbly in our new school shoes.)

Now, before you condemn me as a mother with no nutritional sense, I’d like to say in my defense, that the occasional Rice Krispie treat is not going to kill your child. In fact, that is Principle Number One of Tiffin Tinning — there will be no nutritional purity on this site. We try for whole grains, fruits and veggies, a de-emphasis on sugar, protein that’s not terribly high in fat and a bit of calcium. But on the first day of school, and on other special days, out come the Rice Krispie Treats.

Now, here’s Principle 2 of Tiffin Tinning. It is a good thing if you involve your child in making lunch. They’re more likely to eat it, for one thing. And after a while, you will have more time to laze around in your bathrobe, drinking tea before rushing off to work and school. And that, to my mind, is an important goal for a parent to have: the children should help. The parent should occasionally demonstrate how adults can relax for a few moments in the morning.

Here’s what the youngest TiffinTin boy (age 7, grade 2) made for his lunch today.

  1. Protein and calcium: We didn’t have any decent whole grain bread in the house for a sandwich (which is what he wanted) and besides, I was trying to balance out the Rice Krispie Treat. So, we made turkey and havarti roll-ups. This is not hard. You lay out one slice of turkey. You use a little round cookie cutter (or a jar top) and cut the Havarti into a circle. You don’t have to do this, but it’s fun and children like to cut things into shapes. It’s easy to roll them up. We made three because that’s how many he wanted.
  2. Fruit: He carefully plucked individual grapes off the bunch of grapes that were in the fridge. They went in a little container he’s had since he was small.  Again, he decided how many he wanted.
  3. Drink: Not shown in the picture. Ice cold water from a pitcher of water in the fridge. The school year is just beginning. It’s time to break the habit of juice in the lunch. He’s been drinking cold water all summer, so I went with it today.  The water goes in a cool thermos that attaches to his lunch box. I had him practice opening the thermos. (Another Tiffin Tin Principle: food should be independently accessible by the child.)
  4. Containers: I try to stay away from stuff he has to throw away. I put a cloth napkin in the bottom of his lunchbox. You can buy an expensive lunchbox container with a lot of little modular containers, which are very cool, or you can go to ebay and buy some tupperware. I love tupperware and I am very fond of ebay. So that’s the way I’ve gone today.  I have other containers I love, especially insulated ones, and I’ll be showing those to you soon.  They tend to be used by the middle school boys, who start school next week.
  5. Cooling system. An ice pack goes in the slot in the lunchbox that’s designed for that sort of thing.  It’s hot here these first few weeks of school.  I don’t want the cheese and grapes to get icky.
  6. Portion sizes: You can see there’s not a ton of food in here. School is just beginning. The best way to gauge how much to pack is by seeing how much comes home with your child. Adjust accordingly.

Time expended on making lunch: About ten minutes. A lot less than writing this post.

Oh, and then, of course, a lunchbox note. Sticker on piece of paper. A loving thought for a day he’s not sure will be happy:

Tomorrow: Another lunch, possibly an easier day.   Beginnings can be hard. And whole wheat banana muffins. Maybe not a rice crispie treat, but good nevertheless.

Written by bloglily

August 30, 2006 at 10:54 am

3 Responses

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  1. hello bloglily! I’m new to this, I’ve been reading blogs compulsively for the last week (not yet found the courage and inspiration to write mine…),and I have to tell you, I love yours!

    and I also love how you involve your children in the kitchen: I’m 25, started helping my mom when I was around 9 and now I love cooking as much as her, sometimes even being the chef while she helps me -I think those are very nice moments to share with one’s family

    that lunch bag looks lovely, I’m sure your son will feel reassured when he opens it and finds that cute note! 🙂


    August 30, 2006 at 2:18 pm

  2. Hi Marta — How smart you are to look around and see what’s out there. Do let me know when you get going. I think you’re going to be great at this. Your mother sounds like she knew how to raise kids who like to eat well. My own sons have a lot of opinions about food, not always the same as mine, but it’s fun to have energetic, opinionated sous chefs. Best, BL


    August 30, 2006 at 2:22 pm

  3. thank you, bloglily, for your words of courage! right now, I’m stuck at level 0: I’d like my friends (who are spread a bit around the world) to know how I’m doing, but don’t know how to start, or even if I’ll be able to tell them without boring them to sleep… I hope to overcome my natural shyness soon, so thank you again!

    and yes, my mom did a great job, although my ‘unenthusiastic-for-new-flavors’ brother gives us some trouble when trying to find new dishes! 🙂


    August 30, 2006 at 2:31 pm

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