Nothing nutritious: A look back at how school lunchboxes have changed over time

Jun 30, 2024
Remember the good old days when a meat pie and a bag of Twisties were the epitome of a school lunch? Source: Getty Images.

Yes, sister and fellow grey tsunamis, we are all survivors. While I was reading the daily news, I noted that good old party pies and sausage rolls are now regarded as toxic lunch choices for our current Australian students. These days, tuck shop supervisors have drawn up a battle plan for eliminating preservatives and salt, any additive has been given the heave-ho.

Worse than this, yummy mummies can be lunch shamed and labelled for providing unidentified food sources of that ancient treat, pork Strasburg, otherwise known as Devon slices in sandwiches. Even ham slices are being cancelled, full of banned substances. Is this making anyone any healthier? Way back when, I was teaching in a classroom of pupils who are now Gen X, probably forgotten the whole concept of nutrition. Their Fridays were a popular day, for very convenient lunch orders. My lads and lassies would bring along a brown paper bag, clearly labelled, with a couple of dollars. Their favourite lunch order consisted of two or three party pies, plus a bag of Twisties, or one whole meat pie, plus a jam donut.

Yes, grey tsunami, they survived this lifestyle of nothing nutritious for eating lunch. I do relate, I used to love hot dogs, pork Strasburg for sandwiches, toasted ham plus any no low- fat cheese slices, or the unique mystery bags of great Australian sausages. They were all composed of largely nothing nutritious, compared to today’s food. Delicious, I am sure. I wonder if you have heard us older generation refer to spinach as ‘rabbit food’, only eaten under duress. Or there was that culturally incompetent label of tabbouleh as ‘lawn clippings’. Bit enlightening, we were dining in a Lebanese restaurant, the waitress looked totally unimpressed. Tasted all right to me, but I did also develop a hankering for fried Dim Sims and deep fried Chiko rolls, full of unidentified substances, nothing nutritious .

Here I sit, nearly winter here, in the modern century. It is getting colder each morning. In old Melbourne town, the footy season is in full sway. Excellent weather for the great Australian meat pie. If I chose, I could order some frozen pies from my supermarket, or pop into the milk bar, right round the corner of my old home town, and purchase a piping hot pie from the proprietor. Yes, a proud Australian dish, the meat pie. Full of trans-fat, short crust pastry. In the good old days, that was made of lard, for a unique trimming effect. The interior of a pie is still largely a total puzzle, indeterminate protein and gristle, with an exceedingly tasty gravy. Hmmmm, top with tomato source. Good pie weather today, drive away those winter chills.

Yep, nothing nutritious, but delectable. Amazing, but we survived years of such an upbringing. The grey tsunami are on the whole still here, barracking for young people to do well and hold their own. Some foods are nice for a treat, hot dogs are still in for once per week, if no one tells the parent police, or the yummy mummy’s lunch patrol. Indeed, the modern lunch box and food choices are a work of art, depends on what is practical and affordable. Did that make us survive so long? Nothing nutritious for lunch, balanced by mystery bags and a mountain of mashed spuds for our evening meal. We can still have “a little of what you fancy”, as my old grandma used to tell us.

Okay, okay, we have to live for today, in the current life and times. If the grandkids visit, it is time for a little treat, bonding across the age gaps. Shhhh, don’t tell the parent police!!!! No indeed, we do all hope the young ones last as long as the grey tsunamis. We boomers are the great survivors of ‘nothing nutritious!’ Life’s great mysteries, what is in a pie or a hot dog?

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