PARENTS

Packed Lunches - Artwork Or Food?

14/08/2014 17:01 | Updated 20 May 2015

Children eating packed lunch

Is the highlight of your day making packed lunches for your children? No, me neither. But then perhaps we're doing it wrong...

Grace Hall, from Winchester, is showing us all the way forward (and showing us all up) – transforming the ordinary lunchbox into a work of art.

Faced with a picky child, she now serves him up Spiderman sandwiches, hard-boiled egg cars and melon chicks. And that's just for starters – she's created more than 300 different lunches, with Gruffalo, Thomas the Tank Engine and Angry Birds themes among many others.

Seriously. This food looks too good to eat. Wonder how good it looks after her six-year-old son has run to school with it though? And drop-kicked it in the playground... or is that just wishful thinking?

It's fair to say that Grace Hall's blog has not met with resounding appreciation from my circle of friends. I can only imagine how the other mothers at her school feel about it.

"Has she no life?!" says Sally, a working mother of two. "It'll all be jumbled up by the time the kid gets to school. Then I bet he swaps them for Quavers..."

Another friend points out: "He will also get beaten up for being a mummy's boy."

It's certainly a far cry from the classic experience of making packed lunches in our house, which begins with the plea: "Can't you have school dinners today?" Followed by "No!"

"But it's chicken fajitas today. You LIKE chicken fajitas."

"I don't like chicken and I don't like fajitas. I WANT PACKED LUNCH."

Deep sigh, and rush to make tuna sandwiches in the 10 seconds before we have to leave the house.

So how does Mrs Hall find the time? And the energy? And the creative juices at this time in the morning? And more to the point, WHY?

Apparently she has a picky child. Well, don't we all.

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But is faffing about with his sandwiches and turning his fruit into a work of art really going to help with fussy eating? Or is it just going to lead to a life of raised expectations and crushing disappointment?

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Is she not just raising a boy who will grow into a man who refuses to eat sandwiches that haven't had their crusts cut off and been moulded into the shape of a superhero? Think about his poor wife, for the love of God. Where will it all end?

Apparently she only spends a few minutes on every lunchbox. Well, I find it hard to believe that her definition of "a few minutes" is the same as mine. She says these lunches 'suit mums in a hurry' as she never spends more than 15 minutes on them. Apart from the really fancy ones, obviously. Hmm. Wouldn't it be nice to have 15 minutes to spare in a morning? And the rest...

But then these lunches are clearly a big part of her life. Mrs Hall has her own blog with thousands of followers, which is obviously a major motivation for what she's doing.

"I could see years of endless lunch-packing stretching ahead of me," she told the Daily Mail.

"But I soon found they were a great outlet for my own creativity - as a full-time mum I get very little time for myself.

"So making lunches is a way for me to turn an everyday chore into an opportunity to get creative."

There's something about this that sounds a bit sad – turning chores into creative opportunities because you have no other outlet. Song and dance routines while doing the washing up, anyone? Artistic ways of hanging out the washing? There's a judgemental part of me inside that's screaming "Get. A. Job."

What do you think? Are Mrs Hall's creations a joy to behold, something to be celebrated?

Or is she two sandwiches short of a picnic?

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