The Tiffin Tin

What\’s in your lunchbox?

A Tale of Two Lunches

with 3 comments

Today I conducted — entirely by accident — a side by side comparison of the lunch Tiniest Tiffin brought from home and the lunch he could have had at the cafeteria at school under the Berkeley School Lunch Initiative. Tiniest Tiffin brought one of those end of the week lunches: the end of the week’s salami tucked into the rest of the Semifreddi baguette we bought yesterday. He had the last of the Straus Family Creamery nonfat vanilla yogurt and an organic valencia orange. And he had a capri sun sport drink, which is lower in sugar and calories than other drinks, but still not water. I’m getting there.

I dropped by the cafeteria, curious to see how things are going there. When I came in, his class was stuffed around one of those picnic style lunch tables. I wonder why they don’t spread out: the tables around them weren’t full. The adult supervision consisted of a loose band of grown-ups who seemed to be happy letting the children fend for themselves, which they seemed to be doing very nicely.

Tiniest Tiffin seemed to like what he was eating, particularly since it included a weird green finger puppet that my husband said looked like the Mold that Ate the School Lunch. (You can see it peering over the yogurt above.) I was advised not to include it in the lunch, but I did anyway. We know what mold looks like around here, and it does not yet seem to feature eyes and a mouth.

I was sort of smug about that lunch, but that ended when I got a look at what everyone else had from the Lunch Initiative. It looked and smelled so… well… plausible. Like food you’d buy for your own lunch, except in a portion size that’s actually reasonable. It’s shocking really how much food they give you when you eat lunch out. I bought one, dear reader. It was $4 and included a drink (milk, but organic milk). Plus, you get to go to the salad bar and it’s a nicer salad bar than the one in the building where I work. I was so happy with this lunch that I forgot to take a picture until I was well into the meal and had messed up the perfection of its exterior. Here it is:

This is not a lovely picture. The food is not beautifully presented. It’s hard to know how they could do a lot better though. It was hot, fresh and not slopped around. You’ll notice the salad (those little tomatoes were really, really good), in addition to the broccoli and cauliflower. Here’s something of note: the veggies were not overcooked, tasted only of themselves and the sauce from the black beans just made them even better. The chicken enchilada was really good. It was not terribly cheesy and I have the feeling that its caloric impact was pretty low, not something you can say about the chicken enchilada you might buy at work. The black beans were remarkable, with a lot of flavor.

I cannot say enough about the portion size. There was not too much. And the salad bar is really great, with all kinds of vegetable offerings. And it’s easy to use.

I opened my package and began eating. I looked up and noticed that several children who’d been reluctant to try it had opened theirs too. They seemed to like it.  I’d give today’s school lunch initiative an A.

As for Tiniest Tiffin’s home lunch: well, that capri sun sport drink took a few points off. But the green mold man brought them back up. It gets an A too.

This weekend, I’m in pursuit of some kind of whole grain thing that tastes good. Tune in tomorrow for an update.

Written by bloglily

September 15, 2006 at 2:05 pm

3 Responses

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  1. That lunch looks great. I’d it it.

    BTW: Here’s a link for you:

    Sue Crocker

    September 15, 2006 at 6:24 pm

  2. Hi Lily!

    I’ve just had a look over this blog — I love the posts and pictures! I’m glad you’ve had some luck with the white whole wheat flour. Try it (or a mix of it w/ white flour) for pancakes or waffles. Of course, we eat the pancakes with maple syrup, so I can’t say they are terribly healthy from a sugar perspective but at least they have some fiber!

    Take care, J


    September 15, 2006 at 6:46 pm

  3. Hi Sue — Thanks for the link; I’m off to see what’s there!  Love, L

    Hey Julie — I’m so glad you checked it out. I’m having a huge amount of fun writing it. And it makes the whole lunch preparation task a lot more interesting. Not that I plan to devote a blog to paying bills…

    I’m becoming a huge fan of white whole wheat flour. I think it’s a good thing to use with scones and you’re right, fabulous with pancakes.

    xxoo, Lily


    September 17, 2006 at 4:59 pm

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