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Hype of today's kids lunchboxes

Today, 7 out of 10 videos on social media are related to food, out of which half a bunch are on lunchbox recipes. Every thing that gets packed into the lunch bag, isn't prepared straight-forward. If you accidentally click some random video mesmerized by the aesthetics, your social media accounts will be flooded with tons of such videos/ reels. I recently came across someone preparing peppa pig idlis, flower dosas, all nuts (cashew, almond, walnut etc.) chutney (instead of the regular idli, dosa and chutney). Someone packed colourful pooris (as part of their holi-lunch series). Another person made variety rice, dal, roti, egg curry and amrakand - all from scratch for the lunch box. And there are millions of similar videos on internet from all over the world. 

After watching few of my food videos, even my friends ask how I make those varieties daily. I politely respond and move on. I post videos (under the name Manu's Menu, on my youtube channel) only whenever I think it might help someone with a recipe/ idea or when I cook for any special occasion. The food video you watched on Raksha bandhan or any elaborate meal on my channel, doesn't necessarily have to be my everyday meal. 

Many droll over food videos wishing they had a mom/ wife to treat them with such delicacies!! I too would love to have such delicious meals, as long as someone else cooks for me😋Caught up in this media madness, cooking simple food is now-a-days looked up to as a crime. Surveys say kids and partners in many households, often end up in arguments to eat something new and fancy.

Let's be realistic here. As full time house wives/moms, working women, do you find this achievable? Does watching these food reels make you self-doubt whether you are doing your best as a mom/ as a wife? Then, I would say please take a pause. For content creators, it is a full time job to prepare and present new delicacies to their audience. Many a times, when I tried to recreate the recipes I saw online, they turned out to be bummers. With all due respect, they are the recipes of highly popular food bloggers. Not only the food, many people display a pantry full of lunch boxes, bags, water bottles and of course a bunch of accessories like fork, spoon, dividers, food picks etc. in their videos, just raising the bar for ordinary people like us.

I feel life was much simpler during my childhood. I had one oval shaped steel box with 2 tier. Most of my primary school, I carried only 1 rack, exception being occasions I have to carry any side dish (like chutney, appalam, cut mango etc.) I used the 2nd tier as well. When I went to the secondary school, I upgraded to a bigger size steel box, round in shape. My oval one was passed down to my brother. This was pretty much the usual scenario in all house holds. Most of my classmates had a single lunch box that they used diligently, every single day. Needless to say all the boxes were made of stainless steel, mostly brought at Saravana or Ratna Stores in T.Nagar (Chennai, India).

As days passed, plastic containers got introduced into the market. All credits go to the Western countries who started selling plastic, citing that steel containers could be used as weapons at school. As the loyals to western civilization, we followed suit. Then tupperware came in, followed by BPA free boxes and now Bentgo leads. 

When it came to food, curd rice with cut mango cubes (summer special), idlis soaked in sambar, the soggy dosas with molagapodi (gun powder), upma with sugar sprinkled on top of it, bread-omelet, chapathi-omelet, lemon rice, puliyodharai (tamarind rice) with sundal/ potato/ lady's finger fry. Yummm... This takes me back to the sound of mid-day bells, the eagerness to grab our lunch bags, the clanking sounds of the steel boxes, aroma of the food, the lively lunch break conversations. If you could relate, I am sure you have had a wonderful and memorable childhood - undoubtedly, lot easy on our parents!!

Aren't these the usuals we eat everyday at home? Of course, the menu would have been different based on our region, culture and food habits. If you are from Northern India, you may have had rotis instead of rice, paneer instead of sundal; west you would have eaten bhakri roti-sabji or dhokla; east might have been litti chokha, momos or jhaal muris. If you are from other side of the globe, you may have had burgers, croissants, crepes, quesadillas, tortilla wraps, noodles etc. But in a nut shell, all of us carried everyday staples to school. 

When my kid started school last fall, I was absolutely clueless about what to make and how to pack his food. If we were at India, it would have been considerably easy, as I had first hand experience growing up there. But here at Canada, I have to learn many things before I teach my son, as it is very different from India, in many aspects. So I consulted few friends here (whose kids were already going to school) to know what they pack for their kids. Sandwiches, chicken nuggets, chicken wraps, eggs, french fries, crackers and fruits were their regulars. With a vague idea, I planned my kid's menu for a week. I bought 3 different types of boxes for sending him snacks and lunch. And guess what? He brought his food back untouched for weeks together. It took time for me to learn what works best for him and us. After trying different food combinations and containers, we are at where we are now. 

One of my acquaintances was so intrigued about new age lunch ideas. She was constantly in a mental fix, uncertain what to feed her two kids and family that is healthy, not time consuming and at par with what other kids are bringing. From her conversation, I understood the impact those food reels/ shorts are having on us. Whether we accept or not, not everyone is immune to them or can just take what is good, what works for them and leave the rest. These conversations made me think and reach out to few of my friends/ relatives at India and North America, to understand what my fellow new age moms are following. Surprisingly, everybody is packing healthy and everyday food for their children in stainless steel/ glass ware containers (based on their age). So if we look outside the glare of social media, life is still the same - simple and unpretentious!!

Many ask me for suggestions on how to plan and pack kid's food. My response always is, of course what I give him and also a humble suggestion to take mine as an idea and build on it. Pack whatever is comfortable for your kid and yourselves. Food is so culturally diverse. It also depends on your region, personal choices, taste, health, time you can devout to prepare and your affordability. One size never fits all!!!

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  1. So nice article. Now_a_days Moms' thoughts r very high , they will think rich n healthy food items to prepare for the kids. Many varieties of food items in their minds. Hats off to the moms 👌👌👏🥰🥰.


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