Spring Lunch Boxes + Random “Thoughts for Food”

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Shockingly, 3.5-year-old Mark still can’t make his own lunch, so every day, between 6 and 7 p.m., you can find me in the kitchen, cutting, prepping, cooking, boiling or grilling. Mark does like to cook with me once in a while so what used to take 30 minutes now takes an hour. His favourite part is cutting stuff. The making of a serial killer or, best option, a true French chef (although arguably, there is a thin line between both careers…). I pick the dullest blade I can find—easy, we have chopstick with tips sharper than our knives—and together, we slice tofu, ham, bread, carrots… “no, mommy do it, carrots is haaaard…”

When I look at the pictures, I realize that the contents of his lunch boxed are always pretty much the same. Rice or pasta because semolina is hard to eat without making a mess and Mark isn’t fond of potatoes. Some veggies, not so much these days because during these cold months we had less choice and Mark begged me to stop giving him broccoli. He loves proteins, though—fish sticks, eggs, chicken and even tofu or bean curd after he saw me eating some. Sandwiches can be savoury (usually ham, cream cheese, cucumber, etc.) or sweet (jam only, since nutty spreads are banned). Pieces of awful processed cheese, a few crackers, a cookie. Yogurt and a pouch of apple sauce.

The box usually comes back much lighter. Sometime Mark licks the jam off the bread or leaves out the crust and there are always a few veggies left. Occasionally, the cookie is untouched and I suspect the daycare staff hid it because it’s not politically correct to give your kid a cookie—SUGAR KILLS!

But all in all, I’ve got this North American tradition under control.

And on the topic of food, please, allow me to rant.

The out-of-control cost of cauliflower: Back in December, cauliflower became a luxury item as prices rose up to $8 a head. The very standard vegetable was in shortage because of a drought in California, and the weak Canadian dollar didn’t help. Now it’s back to normal price, between $2 and $3. Phew. What? I like cauliflower!

Higher food prices: The cauliflower story was a bit extreme and anecdotal but grocery bills are much higher in Canada this year. Food prices soar and the Canadian dollar is collapsing—yes, troubles ahead.  According to StatsCan, overall food prices were up 3.6% year over year in March, after rising 3.9% in February. Fresh vegetables were up 14.9% over the past year, while fresh fruit was up 11.3%.

Empty shelves: Not only food is expensive but it’s gone missing! I’m not sure whether it’s just in my area or if this is a city-wide or province-wide issue, but the major supermarkets I shop at are often out of basic items. Carrots? Nope, bin is empty. Bread? Not today. Soup? One brand available, shelve otherwise empty. This is not Venezuela, it only lasts for a day or two, but it’s really annoying to go to several supermarkets to fill up the fridge. I’m used to items being sold out when they are on special (i.e. discounted) but this is not the case, and we can’t blame winter weather for delivery issues either.

Expiry dates: Sometime, the shelves are full. Unfortunately, they are full of items super close to the expiry date, as in, the following day. I’m a reasonable person, I know that I won’t die if I eat a yogurt at 1 a.m. the day it expires. But what are the chances we can finish a pack of 16 yogurts with a best-by date so close? Loblaws is awful for that, I have to triple check the date on all fresh products and I always find expired items that aren’t even discounted. Bruised veggies? Sure. A banana with brown spots? No problem. Outdated butter? No, thanks.

Starbucks betrayal: Starbucks changed its awesome reward system for a true “yeah, good luck getting free stuff” scheme. It used to be one star earned per purchase and after collecting 12 stars, you’d get a free item, drink or food. Now you get two stars per dollars spent. Smart people did the math: you have to spend $62.50 to get a free coffee. Worst deal ever and yes, I’m aware that it’s a first-world problem (but I’m not the only one ranting…)

 

How about you? Any food rant lately?

Pasta and tofu in pesto sauce, mini-quiches // Strawberry jam sandwhich // Cheese // Asiago cheese crackers // Mini-Oreos // Apple sauce and yogurt

Pasta and tofu in pesto sauce, mini-quiches // Strawberry jam sandwhich // Cheese // Asiago cheese crackers // Mini-Oreos // Apple sauce and yogurt

White rice, fish sticks, carrots and boiled egg // Ham sandwich on buttered Italian bread // Apple and grapes // Mini-Oreos // Apple sauce and yogurt

White rice, fish sticks, carrots and boiled egg // Ham sandwich on buttered Italian bread // Apple and grapes // Mini-Oreos // Apple sauce and yogurt

Jasmin rice with soya sauce, chicken breast and green beans // Marbled cheese and crackers // Ham on buttered roll // Jam sandwich // Apple sauce and yogurt

Jasmin rice with soya sauce, chicken breast and green beans // Marbled cheese and crackers // Ham on buttered roll // Jam sandwich // Apple sauce and yogurt

White rice with fish stick, pan-fried tofu and carrots // Jam sandwich //Shrimp crackers // Cookie // Apple sauce and yogurt

White rice with fish stick, pan-fried tofu and carrots // Jam sandwich //Shrimp crackers // Cookie // Apple sauce and yogurt

Pasta, ham and carrot with pesto sauce // Apricot jam sandwich // Shrimp crackers // Cheddar // Cookies // Apple sauce and yogurt

Pasta, ham and carrot with pesto sauce // Apricot jam sandwich // Shrimp crackers // Cheddar // Cookies // Apple sauce and yogurt

Fried rice with eggs, chicken cutlets // Ham sandwich // Marbled cheese and veggie crackers // Cookie // Apple sauce and yogurt

Fried rice with eggs, chicken cutlets // Ham sandwich // Marbled cheese and veggie crackers // Cookie // Apple sauce and yogurt

Pasta, chicken and tomato sauce // Ham sandwich // Crackers and cheese // Yogurt // Cookie // Apple Sauce

Pasta, chicken and tomato sauce // Ham sandwich // Crackers and cheese // Yogurt // Cookie // Apple Sauce

Fried rice with corn, carrots and eggs, spring roll // Cream cheese and cucumber sandwich // Marbled cheese // Shrimp crackers // Mini-Oreos // Apple sauce and yogurt

Fried rice with corn, carrots and eggs, spring roll // Cream cheese and cucumber sandwich // Marbled cheese // Shrimp crackers // Mini-Oreos // Apple sauce and yogurt

Spring rolls, fried tofu, eggs and white rice // Cream cheese and ham sandwich on Italian bread // Shrimp crackers // Babybel cheese // Mini-Oreos // Apple sauce and yogurt

Spring rolls, fried tofu, eggs and white rice // Cream cheese and ham sandwich on Italian bread // Shrimp crackers // Babybel cheese // Mini-Oreos // Apple sauce and yogurt

White rice, eggs and chicken cutlets // Ham sandwich on buttered bread // Shrimp crackers // Cheese // Dark chocolate cookie // Apple sauce and yogurt

White rice, eggs and chicken cutlets // Ham sandwich on buttered bread // Shrimp crackers // Cheese // Dark chocolate cookie // Apple sauce and yogurt

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About Author

French woman in English Canada. World citizen, new mom, traveler, translator, writer and photographer. Looking for comrades to start a new revolution.

20 Comments

  1. How cute that he wants to make his lunch with you 🙂
    And here, while we don’t seem to have a food shortage, I agree, what is up with those close to the sale by date products?
    There is a bin with “older” fruits and veggies at one (of the two) supermarkets here where they have everything for 99cts or 49cts. And they mostly have expensive stuff like artichokes (I ate them everyday or close to for a month before they stopped), mangoes, organic grapefruit etc.

    • Older fruits and veggies, I like that, I make soup with them. Just bought cauliflower for cheap lat week! But dairy products… nope.

  2. Over here there is a truck that passes in front of the house every Wednesday to sell fruits and veggies. I could be very practical except that it never comes at the same time. Sometimes it stays at the street corner a good five minutes with the speakers blasting the specials, but other days it comes by so fast that I don’t have the time to pick up my money and get out of the house!!!

  3. This reminded me of my time in Japan. There is the Japanese lunch box, the bento, and Japan is known for very fancy ones. I had some classmates in high school which had very creative mothers, and they would always have the cutest bento boxes. Filipino mothers couldn’t be bothered with food art, so my box was the most boring ever, with white rice and the typical Southeast Asian dish paired with it (think Chinese food styles). So most of the time, to reduce curiosity received from classmates, I would just buy lunch from the convenience store which I passed on my way to school from the train station.

      • I love the concept of the bento box, i.e. a bit of everything. Variety… I like variety! I find in North America, food is often served as a giant portion of something.

  4. Do you really think the staff hides the cookie? Ha ha. And then do you keep putting the cookie back in every day until it disappears?

    Ham and butter is so French! 🙂 My mom used to pack me ham with mayonnaise. My sister doesn’t like mayo, so she must have packed her just ham.

    Oatmeal was frequently out of stock at my local Carrefour in Paris… it drove me crazy. They must just not keep many boxes in stock because I find it hard to believe that the Parisians were snapping them up.

    • You found oatmeal in France? I love it and I always try to explain to my mum what it is, but they don’t have it in Nantes and I don’t recall ever seeing it in France.

      I think the staff “selectively” gives food, they probably tell Mark cookie is for dessert or just hand him one of the Tupperware without the cookie. I’m not sure… but I find it very strange when the box comes back empty minus the cookie. Mark isn’t exactly the virtuous kind 😆

  5. I think fruit and vegetable prices in North America are generally shocking. Last year in New Mexico (if I remember correctly) I saw “2 peaches $3”. In Toulouse they’re 3€50 a KILO in town, and 2€50 a kilo if you find a road-side vendor towards an area with orchards. Also, I just roasted some cauliflower (just olive oil, salt and pepper), and was reminded of how nice a veggie it is.

    And if you like nut spreads and staff tell you it’s important to never expose kids in case they’re allergic, the scientists have finally realized non-exposure is a dumb idea: http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2015/02/23/feeding-infants-peanut-products-could-prevent-allergies-study-suggests/

    • I find it hard to compare prices with France when it comes to produce. Fruits and veggies in Nantes can be way more expensive than in Canada (bananas and avocados, for instance), but a few things are much cheaper, like endives.

      As for allergies… nuts are 100% banned, no argument to be had here! This is the case in most child-friendly places.

  6. Chiruza Canadiense on

    I think the shortage is an Ottawa issue !

    Here in Montréal I find everything I need ! Yeap, even carrots and non-expired butter xD

    Last week I went to Provigo and a small fruits and veggies market place in Côte-des-neiges neighbourhood and they were both pretty well stocked ! 🙂

    BTW, I’m so jealous of Mark ! Wanna come back to my childhood and have you as my mom !

      • Chiruza Canadiense on

        Nop, I don’t like it ! I’ve been there last year but found nothing special about it…besides I live downtown, so it’s a little bit far away just to buy a kilo of bananas, if you know what I mean…..

  7. Good job on the lunches !!!
    My son is going to preschool next year and I am dreading it.
    Sigh Starbucks….they poss me.off but I can’t stop being obsessed with them !

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