With school back in session everywhere in America but the large portion that officially gave up giving the slightest whiff about science and expertise (and hello again to our West Virginia readers), it’s time for parents to revisit one of the worst parts of parenting, something more obnoxious than birthday parties and the third Despicable Me movie combined: figuring out what the hell to do with school lunches.
Generally speaking, we parents have two choices: Pay $4,000/month so our children can obtain a hot balanced lunch from which they will remove and consume two pieces of ham and a brownie, or wake up 15 minutes earlier to pack a thoughtfully appointed balanced sack lunch, from which they will remove and consume two pieces of ham and a brownie. (Why every cafeteria doesn’t just contain a pile of Cliff Bars and those especially fat Gatorade bottles is beyond me, THANKS A LOT, MICHELLE OBAMA.)
Anyway, if you’re in the first camp, God bless you and your extra snoozing; if you’re in the second, we helpfully submit this guide to packing lunch for children who aren’t so much with the eating of food:
1. OBTAIN THE PROPER FOOD CONTAINMENT UNIT. Food isn’t appealing unless it travels in branded merchandise made by the very finest sweatshop labor, so you’ll first need to slump into Target with other defeated souls to purchase a themed cartoon lunchbox (85% of them contain Minions, sorry). If your child is older, you will need something more like a hermetically sealed climate-controlled portable Yeti Lunch Containment Device ($69.95). Pack lunch in a brown bag only if you want your child dangling from a monkeybar by his underpants by 1 p.m.
2. ALL LUNCHES BEGIN WITH THE SANDWICH, largely because it’s super-easy to ignore. I like to outfit my son’s sandwiches with a lunch meat, cheese and usually lettuce, which is radically stupid because he only eats the meat, so honestly I could just send him with a plain baggie of ham slices and get the same net effect. Anyway, start with sandwiches, until you inevitably give up in early October and resort to PBJs for the rest of the year, unless your kids don’t eat PBJs, in which case go with a pudding cup.
3. INCLUDE FRUIT. Kids love fruit! And by that I mean they love fruit-flavored synthetic blobs of factory-produced goo that occasionally include the word “gushers.” (They loathe real fruit, because, and I’m quoting here, “Sometimes it’s pulpy.” My son will negate consumption of an entire banana because of “sweet spots,” before happily snarfing down 30 consecutive Fruit Roll-Ups, which are sliced-up garbage bags sold in the food section. I’m honestly not sure how his heart works.)
4. DON’T FORGET VEGGIES because sometimes your children will need to throw something at a bully. Otherwise, carrots are pointless. I have often thought about placing a $5 bill in the Vegetable Section of my kids’ lunches and betting on how long it would take them to notice. (If I put a $5 bill in a Fruit Roll-Up, they would eat it.)
5. INCLUDE A HEALTHY BEVERAGE, SUCH AS WATER OR MILK or you could be actually helpful and just include an oil-barrel sized bottle of Mountain Dew, because the afternoons drag on and on and on, and social studies is damn sure not going to stay awake to pay attention to itself.
6. MONEY. Obviously your child will ditch all these other naturally occurring plants and vitamins in his Minions lunchbox and sprint to the snack line to drop an extra $3 on Little Debbie brownies and a Snapple. If you want to get on their good size, add another buck for a backup Mountain Dew.
7. A LOVINGLY PHRASED HAND-DRAWN NOTE Ha, just kidding people only do this if they want to look like hot s**t on their Parenting Blog. If you’re a human parent who actually does this and don’t tell anyone about it, you’re an actual god among parents and I am writing you into the next presidential election.