I never knew how hard a simple lunchbox would be.
Times 5. 5 days in a week. 5 lunches. At least one serving from each food group. Are they kidding me? Don't I give Little Nabi her daily vitamin every night? Isn't that enough?
Okay, I kid. I do not endorse substituting healthy food with a regimen of vitamins... really, I don't.
When LN's preschool director skimmed over the lunch details, I gasped and asked him to go over the rules again. One serving from each food group? Um... what food groups? Edamame beans are NOT vegetables? They're protein group? Dang.
I thought back to the brief few years of my mom's lunchboxes, or dosirak.
Hmm, I think she just put a dollop of rice, a few selections of banchan... on good days, I got fried sausage (or Spam!), bulgogi, or kimbop. Well, we don't have a selection of banchan at home... LN and I eat one meal a day together, if that. I feed her breakfast, usually skipping that important meal for myself. And I 'make' dinner. Pasta. Dubu doenjang chigae. With spinach banchan. With gim. I broil store-bought marinated salmon filet. I make naeng-myun.
For some reason, I don't want to send her to school with sandwiches every day. 2 pieces of bread, a slice of ham or turkey, a slice of cheese, slap it together with some mayo acting as glue. I could. And I do - but I usually add the sandwiches as a side dish.
I wake up early in the morning just to fry up some eggs. Or set the rice-cooker on timer so I can sneak downstairs first thing in the morning to cool the already-cooked rice - then, after my shower, I sneak back down to roll up some plain kimbop with sheets of seasoned seaweed/gim. I warm up chunks of salmon. I scoop up her tofu soup into a thermos container. I make macaroni and cheese - not the microwave kind. I heat up edamame beans. I fry up some mandu.
From where is this obsession for the most perfect lunchbox coming?
At first, I worried that the doenjang chigae would be a bit too stinky for her classmates. So far, no complaints. Besides, that's one item LN eats up.
Part of me worries that LN will end up being that one kid with 'funky' lunch... and part of me couldn't care less because, right now, LN likes that 'funky' stuff. I'm sure, she'll ask me to remove the doenjang chigae from the menu soon.
Her teacher, Asian herself, confides in me that the kids with at least one Asian parent bring the best lunch with most variety. Damn... now that the bar has been set high... I'll have to try harder.
So. What's in your kid's (or your) lunchbox?