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When I went to school my mom packed .....for lunch. Happy/Sad school lunch stories.

Mom made a sandwich I loved but was embarrassed for the other kids to see because it was so unusual in our Middle class Queens, N.Y. school. It was cream cheese and jelly with chopped walnuts on raisin bread. The bad one was when she packed an American cheese sandwich with tomato and I didn't know she had put waxed paper between the tomato slice and the cheese. It's hard to look cool in front of your table friends when you're pulling a sheet of waxed paper out of your mouth.

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  1. When I was around 5 or 6 I got toasted bologna sandwiches which I absolutely loved.

    Later in my school years we moved so it wasn't available but I'd get the middle eastern flat bread with lebnah (which is a lebanese style tangy cream cheese made of salted and strained yogurt - making some right now actually)
    I also had cinnamon sugar sprinkled on a bit of butter or oil on a flatbread. Kids found this VERY strange because everytime I got asked "what do you got there" I'd say cinnamon and they wrinkled their noses, pretty unusual in that country. I guess it could be pretty funny because everyone knew my family were there to do relief work, and the kids I went to school with were very poor in these war torn countries, and they brought egg or kebab or flavourful meat sandwhiches to school and there I was with a sprinkling of cinnamon sugar on some oil on bread. lol. They always asked about it just to bother me.

    Later in the west I had cheese whiz (can't tolerate the stuff now, so salty!)

    1. How 'bout lunch notes? Did anybody's mom (or dad) write real killers, good or bad?

      1. Wow wax paper - My story involves a thermos - my mom used to put a hot dog tied on a string and added boiling water to thermos along with hotdog, with string hanging out - closed jar - sent in lunch box with bun and with a homemade package of ketchup made from wax paper and staples - lol..... but I can tell you this, the kids went nuts seeing that I was eating an actual hot hot dog versus their p&j sandwiches!

        The worst was the plain american cheese with miracle whip - on homemade bread no less...(the bread was awesome made by her own mother) - this happened all in the 70's.

        Good post idea too!

        10 Replies
        1. re: Divaliscious

          A hot dog cooked in a thermos! Cooool concept.

          My story would involve peanut butter and pickle sandwiches. Evidently that was an alien concept in Massachusetts. Chins up girls!

          1. re: Divaliscious

            OMG! I thought only my immigrant Hungarian Jewish mother put hot dogs in a thermos. But, mine was really special because she used to fill the thermos with beef vegetable soup. The soup was excellent since it was perfumed with the tasty hot dog. She packed a hot dog bun and condiments too. I must say I was the envy of all the kids in my class as it smelled terrific and tasted wonderful!

            1. re: Diane in Bexley

              Your mom was a true gourmet. Regard it as beef sausage simmered in beef/vegetable stock from which you could extract the meat and enjoy it on a fresh roll with condiments to the envy of your school lunch table. And you had a soup course as well. Brilliant!


              1. re: Chefpaulo

                Thanks! Your comment really made her day! She smiled when I shared this with her. We were NOT allowed to have Wonder Bread in the house, only bakery or homemade bread. We didn't appreciate the difference at the time. It made my brother & I feel like we didn't fit in with all the "American" children. Funny how sometimes it takes YEARS to appreciate your parents. Hope someday my 18 & 21 yo kids will realize how good they had it too!

                1. re: Diane in Bexley

                  That is so interesting, because my seven year old absolutely refuses to eat any grocery store sliced rectangular bread - Wonder, Orowheat, anything. He only eats artisanal bakery bread. I would give anything to just slap a bologna between two slices of wheat for him sometimes, but no. He is a gourmet. It makes making lunch daily a pretty exhausting chore.

                  1. re: sasha1

                    At least you know that he eats it! I used to drop parts of my lunch off on the leave it/take it tray in grade school. This were much better when I could buy my lunch starting in 6th grade!

                    I hated lunch time!

                    My mom used to pack christmas cookies - cut out decorated kind - way into February. People in my class decided that they were old cookies, like the way some people walk by holiday candy a few weeks later proclaiming it too old to eat? I was absolutly tortured and my mother refused to stop telling me how they were perfectly good cookies and I had to eat it. I sometimes went into the bathroom to cry!

                    1. re: Allice98

                      I'm not convinced he does eat it.

                      He's not only picky but mercurial, in that he will suddently not like something he has liked forever. It doesn't go the other way. If you've heard people say - if he's hungry enough he'll eat it, they haven't met my kid. Probably why some of his 5T clothes are still too loose to wear.

                      Occasionally he really packs it in at breakfast and dinner if we're having something he likes, and my momentary worry about stomachaches is replaced by relief that he's getting some calories that day!

                    2. re: sasha1

                      I use either store-bought whole wheat bread or home-baked bread and all my daugher wants is squishy white bread. It's not that she doesn't like the home-made bread. She looks forward to my baking and happily eats it as long as it isn't seeded rye. I think it's mostly a case of wanting what the other kids have.

                      (Sasha - 5T clothes? My 7-year-old went to school this AM in size 7 jeans that look like they were painted on her. I think I'm going shopping at lunch time. I wish her clothes could last that long. :-) )

                      1. re: rockycat

                        Hey rockycat - our clothes don't last any longer than yours, I'm sure. It just takes him longer to get to his "appropriate" size. The confusing thing is that some of his pants are 5s, some are 6s. My pet peeve is the fake drawstring, which makes you think you can cinch it around him, but then it doesn't actually cinch.

                        Anyhow, yea, mine isn't super affected by wonder bread envy. Like I said, I wish he was a little more, because then making lunch wouldn't be such an ordeal. But he does suffer from peer pressure, further limiting what he'll agree to eat. Thought I made a breakthrough with hard boiled eggs last year, but after a couple of months of happily eating them at lunch, he asked me not to send them in anymore because they were stinky. Ditto frozen potstickers. Funny, because the child cannot pass up a good hunk of stinky blue cheese, at school or elsewhere.

                    3. re: Diane in Bexley

                      When I was seven my family moved to Belgium, and one of the American things I craved was Wonder Bread. Then we came back for a summer vacation and they gave me some Wonder Bread and I was totally shocked and appalled to find that it tasted like styrofoam. Never could eat it again after that.

              2. My mom would put a little brandy in my sister and my hot chocolate thermos during the winter months so we wouldn't catch cold. She told us we could share anything in our lunch that we wanted EXCEPT our hot chocolate. I didn't know why until later. You know how cold those Southern California winters can be...

                3 Replies
                1. re: LA Buckeye Fan

                  Wow that sounds great. I wish I had thought of that extra flavoring when I was a classroom teacher. It sure would have made the long afternoon more pleasant.

                  1. re: lucyis

                    My grandmother told me that when she was in kindergarten, she almost got expelled for bringing alcohol to school. Her grandfather packed her lunches, and he was an "old-world frencheman" as grandma put it. He sent her with really really watered down wine. Teacher called him in, he told her what was what, and grandma continued drinking her watered down wine at school lol

                    Apparently when asked why he never drank water (always seemed to be wine or some such thing), he would answer "don't you know water will make your insides rust?"

                    1. re: Popkin

                      Tres interresant! Historically, the practice of mixing red wine with water (usually a 50/50 mix) went back to Roman times when it was a standing order (under penalty of death) to Roman soldiers to purifiy their water before drinking. This is because so many became ill from the foreign flora of tainted water in Gaul and other conquered areas that hydration was severely regulated. It was found that red wine was the best water purifier (even better than pure grain alcohol, as it has cleansing tannins) and all had to obey.

                      Jumping ahead 2K years, your great-grandpapa probably knew this water purification method from his ancestry. It works! When he was a garcon, tap water or well water probably wasn't the best so they did the vin rouge treatment.

                      If ever in doubt with your water, forget iodine pills and mix half red wine with it. My dad was a food chemist and confirmed this for me decades ago.


                2. Cold pork chops from the night before on Wonder Bread with peanut butter. Took a lot of milk to wash that down.

                  1. The mom of my fourth grade classmate would fill up his lunchbox at the White Castle drive through on the way to school. We would then enjoy the "fragrance" wafting thru the classroom until lunch time.

                    1. +1 for the hot dog in the thermos. My other favorite was scrambled eggs on toast with a sliced tomato. Yum.

                      1. My mom (or me) would grabbed some fresh veggies out of the garden and make some sort of chopped veggie "salad".

                        My favorite was PB&J, but never got it much OH and fried bologna sandwiches...but mostly the veggie salads...When I it was a good day I would pork belly with it (lived on a pig farm until I was 13...I love pork!)

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: bermudagourmetgoddess

                          salami sandwiches with hand sliced dill pickles on white wonder bread. Mmm, Mmm!

                        2. I have a not-so-fond memory of peanut butter and orange marmalade on seeded rye...

                          1. Best memories: Zoodles or homemade macaroni and cheese in a thermos; and that my mom never forgot to send dessert.

                            No bad memories, really. I ate a lot of peanut butter and honey on white bread and everything was always wrapped in wax paper; I think I pre-date ziplocs.

                            1. I'm the biggest kid in our family. For Halloween lunch, I always hallowed out hot dogs for "Happy Hallow Wienie". I baked green bread & added green food coloring to egg salad for St Patrick's sandwiches. Whenever someone was sad, they got their sandwiches on blue bread (with blue mayo!) and it usually jollied them out of "the blahs". We would celebrate any wacky holiday we could find -- national pickle week, Simon Bolivar's birthday, Sauerkraut Sunday, eat-a-beet-week........ and so on.

                              I always put notes in their lunches. This backfired when my Naval Officer husband shared his meal with his flight crew. "I didn't know you cared, sir" replied an air crewman when he received the hardcooked egg with "I Love You" penned all over it.

                              For the last day of school, we had the class over to the house for watermelon. I would buy cases of spray whipped cream and all the kids ran around the yard squirting each other. Ice blocks on the lawn and hoses provided additional entertainment.
                              My childhood school lunch memories revolve around food the school provided as well as bag lunches from home. In the primary grades, I took lunch and was delighted to find cookies as they did not always appear. Store-bought cookies were a huge plus, especially if they were Van de Kamps molasses cookies. In high school, I was at boarding school for some of the time and we were so caught up in table etiquette that I don't remember very much about the actual lunches EXCEPT for my year in France. Tuesdays we had steak and mushrooms; and I looked forward to this meal above all others. It was only at the end of the year that I learned I had been eating horsemeat the whole time. Yes the food was delicious but, as a horse owner/lover, I was saddened to learn what I had been eating.

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: Sherri

                                I loved the mental pictures you drew, Sherri, I think you have a screenplay here.

                                1. re: Sherri

                                  I was about dying to read about the egg. That is absolutely hilarious!

                                  I just love the thought of the blue sandwiches though. I would be giggling so hard!

                                2. As a child who was allergic to peanut butter (I have since grown out of the allergy...thank god, cause it's now my fave food!), mom made up for the fact that I was the ONLY kid without a PB&J by giving me 3 Shake n Bake chicken wings every day from first grade to 5th. Other kids were SO jealous, when I all I wanted was a PB&J on Wonder Bread!!!!

                                  1. I rarely got sandwiches for lunch, usually it was something packed in a container. Lentil salad, wild rice salad, bean salad, leftover spaghetti with sauce, some type of casserole leftover. It's funny b/c my brother almost always got a margarine or cream cheese sandwich.

                                    My school didn't have school lunch- they had a program where you order thru the PTA for the month and they get restaurant food. They had about 6 options per day, but you had to order in advance. Mon was deli day, Tues was pasta/fish day, Wed and Fri pizza day, Thurs was sushi/salad/veggie burger day. I was allowed to order lunch for one day each month. I always chose the pasta day and ordered pasta primavera-- I felt so special.

                                    2 Replies
                                    1. re: cheesecake17

                                      This intrigues me. Where did you go to school? The restaurant option is a fantastic idea! I so would have loved the deli day.

                                      1. re: lucyis

                                        I went to a private Hebrew school in NYC. It was a good idea.. but expensive. $4-6 per day, depending on what you ordered- and you had to order for the month in advance. Also kept a lot of local places in business....

                                    2. My mom knew I liked variety so she would make me half peanut butter (no jelly) and the other half salami and cheese. One day grandma made lunch and I got peanut butter and salami with cheese all on one sandwich....blech! It wouldn't do to remove the salami and cheese and just eat the peanut butter because it tasted of salami too...
                                      I went hungry that day. I think mom made up for it by making me a really yummy lunch the next day.

                                      1. I didn't (and still don't) eat sandwiches, so I had thermoses. And definitely was the envy..
                                        Chicken Drummettes and Mashed Potatoes
                                        Macaroni and Cheese
                                        Leftover Chinese Food
                                        Chicken and Parmesan Noodles and Broccoli

                                        generally got some fruit and some chips or fruit roll up or cookies or something else sweet to finish

                                        my elementary school had pizza mondays that you would pre-order for the year, one slice or two, and that came with a drink and chips. friday was subway and you could get ham, turkey, or veggie. this also came with chips and drink. the school also offered for you to order milk with lunch everyday. never did that. didn't drink milk with meals. ever.

                                        1. Chicken paprikash, goulash.cream cheese and jelly on white (how did she ever spread the cream cheese?), liverwurst sandwiches. At least she never gave me blood and tongue sausage like one of my friends would have.

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: jnk

                                            Hey, cold pickled tongue with spicy brown mustard was a favorite sandwich in my house during the summer months with homemade cole slaw and potato salad. However, I couldn't bear to watch my mother or Grandma skin the cooked the tongue and slice it after boiling, way too dramatic for a kid. Tongue was much preferred over corned beef, which was more expensive anyway. Took lots of tongue sandwiches to day camp, but I guess that's another thread. Don't knock it till you have tasted it!