A Single Mom’s Late Night Lunchbox Labors of Love

So the other day I’m dragging my kids through the grocery store purchasing lunch items and for the gazillionth time they asked for those pre-packaged lunch thingies.  As a former teacher, I have to admit I thought only lazy parents who didn’t care about the nutritional value of their children’s lunches bought Lunchables.   But I succumbed – call it exhaustion, call it weakness, call it desperation, but I bought them all one.  And oh!  I am a changed woman!!!

Last night, completely exhausted (as always), I slouched toward my kitchen at 11 pm, but then, Oh glorious thought! – I remembered that I had bought Lunchables that afternoon.  No need to think about lunches, make lunches, pack lunches or nothin’!!!  I was done!  WooHoo!!  Any single parent should be allowed to do Lunchables every day!

Does anyone else just simply want to weep about school lunches?  Man, I hate making ‘em.  It is such a trial trying to think of things that will make my children’s lunchboxes the envy of all others.  I want them to find everything yummy.  I want their teachers to look in their lunchboxes and think, “My, what a wonderful mother this child has!  Look at that lunch – nutritious, delicious and just simply perfect.”   I doubt that happens.  I don’t think it’s possible at this point in my life to impress anyone – much less do anything perfectly.

Each night after I complete the one hundred… no one thousand little tasks associated with being a single mom and feeding, helping, encouraging, bathing, brushing, reading to, loving on and kissing good night  5 children -  it’s time to trudge down the stairs and head to my kitchen to start the nightly process of lunch making.

I’m getting good at making it in a flash – provided I actually have the necessary ingredients.  It’s a bitter night when I realize I have no bread except the hard outer slab, or the only piece of fruit left is a shriveled lemon, or there is one juice box for 5 lunch boxes.   AHHHH!!!!  And being a single parent means that you can’t run to Walmart at 11 pm.  Necessity is the mother of ingenuity (well invention but I’m not that smart).  I have discovered many ways to make lunches out of pantry staples and cans of various things — plastic storage containers of multiple sizes have become some of my dearest friends.

The Lunchable day ended and I picked my cuties up from school.  Their lunchboxes were empty EXCEPT for a little cup of chocolate pudding which my 3-year old opened and proceeded to smear everywhere in the backseat.   Not sure I like Lunchables anymore.

I guess I am destined to be a peanut butter and jelly fixing, canned fruit giving, apple juice thermos pouring Momma who doesn’t worry so much about what other people think about my children’s lunchboxes, but rather focuses on making sure my sweeties know that their Mom considers every late night lunchbox prep a labor of love.


What is your best tip for back-to-school lunches?

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4 thoughts on “A Single Mom’s Late Night Lunchbox Labors of Love

  1. I have to say that it's totally worth if for me to pay the school to feed my 17 year old son so that I don't have to make lunch. Because, if I didn't make his lunch, he would forget. So, it's pizza, Taco Bell, Chick-fil-a, Subway, and Panda Express for my son. And for his mother, not one lick of guilt!

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  2. Lunches from our kitchen weren't so much about WHAT was in them but presentation. A sharpie works great on a napkin. Messages from mom or dad, a Bible verse, a note we were praying for that test at 2, a simple "I know you can treat that girl who called you names yesterday with kindness, Jesus will help you". The list goes on for the 3 children we had and now the notes that our grandchildren get from thier parents in their school lunches.

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  3. You have nailed it! Making that packed lunch is right up there with putting away laundry and cleaning the bathroom. But hiring a maid and paying for school lunches are in the same category of expenses. Thank you for bringing a smile to my face today!

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  4. Maybe this story will make you feel better. When my oldest was a 2.5-year-old in a parent's day out program one morning a week, I packed him ultra-healthy snacks: carrots, apple slices, peas. It never When the healthy snacks came home only half-eaten, I assumed I had packed too much and reduced the quantity. Finally the preschool teacher hesitantly said, "Could you please pack him some chips or something like that? We've been sharing the other kids' snacks with him."

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