School Lunches – words and pictures

When I was little I went to a nice school in a leafy suburb in Adelaide. It was the 1970s so we wore roman sandals and my uniform was pink with a zip down the front. What a crazy uniform. I think they have changed it to something far more conservative now. Roman sandals? The toe-jam was insane in Summer. And that zip? Gawd. There was always the risk that some boy would grab the round ring at the top of the zipper and whip it down, right there in the playground. Honestly, whoever designed that uniform was not thinking. 

I had a 1970s Mum – she wore very nice a-line skirts with big floral prints and cute t-shirts and roman sandals. She did 1970s things like, she worked at the university for a while, and she did batik and she had dinner parties. She was pretty cool. She also helped out at our school from time to time  – she came and ran a batik session for the grade ones (all that hot wax and small children – wow – the 70s were out of hand!), and she helped with “Healthy Lunches” scheme.

Healthy Lunches were the bain of my existence. Healthy Lunches were the 1970s conchy Mum’s answer to tuck shop lunch orders. I know whole families of kids who got tuck shop orders with glee at least once a week and I would look on with enormous amounts of envy at their sausage rolls and cartons of milk. But a gaggle of 70s Mum’s came up with the funky alternative – Healthy Lunches. Hey kids! It’s fun because you can buy it at school! You could bring along a dollar (or maybe it was only 50 cents) and you could get a brown wholemeal role with thick butter and vegemite, a chunk of cheese and a plastic mug of Nippy’s orange juice. Nippy’s 1970s orange juice was really just pulp with a little bit of juice in the bottom. You know, I can still remember the taste of that plastic mug full of that foul pulpy, sugar free juice. Put me off pulp for life.

But now I am a mum and I appreciate what my Mum was trying to do. I appreciate her conchy 70s ways and I am proud to be following in her footsteps. Get those sweets OUT of the school canteen! Haven’t they seen anything Jamie Oliver has had on TV in the last five years? Geesh. That being said, I’m getting a bit … relaxed… about some things.

When I was a very new mum, food was my big thing. All organic, all home made, no McDonalds, not ever, no frozen food in a box from the supermarket, no sugar and so on. I bought enormous amounts of cookbooks chocablock full of nutritional meals especially designed for the wee kiddies. We ate well all the time. In the last couple of years I have become a lot more slack about it. We still eat well, and I still enjoy making yummy nutritious stuff, but there are days at a time when we might not make a salad, and there are times when we dash out for fish and chips, or whack a handful of potato smiles in the oven to go with the chops. I figure we are still going to be ok, because that’s all still an exception to the rule. I look back on my earlier (slightly uptight – or massively uptight if you ask some of my friends) ways and realise that food was the only thing I felt I could control. I didn’t have a clue if I was doing anything else right in the parenting department, and spent a lot of the time being completely freaked out about it; but at least the freshly stewed and pureed organic apple baby food that I was putting into my baby’s mouth was exactly the right thing to be doing. I was defining myself as a good mother by the food I made.

These days I’m a slightly shabby mum, with maybe a slightly better sense of humour and a box of frozen “fairy shapes” in the freezer.

The hugely healthy roll in the photo is one that I have in the cupboard for Amelia’s lunchbox tomorrow. Old habits die hard.


Thanks to Pip for hosting Words and Pictures! Why not join in too? We’ll make Anne Lamott proud!