Paper Bag Writer: TV Lunches

16 Sep

When I was wee, I usually spent my early autumn evenings getting kicked out of the various rooms in my home for various annoying-little-sister atrocities like singing, whining, “I’m telling”, etc. I’d be exiled from both bedrooms where my three older sisters were practicing their marching band instruments, talking on the phone, or dying each other’s hair. Banned from the back porch where my brother constructed intricate Lego metropolises. And shooed out of the dining room so that my father could pay bills without being serenaded with a Patti LaBelle medley or a scene from Gypsy (because it’s weird to have your daughter sing to you in the voice of a vaudeville stripper).

In a mobile home, that only left two rooms I was allowed in. Luckily, both rooms were favorites of mine and in each, there was a show to see.

The living room promised all matters of wonder to me through the glorious glowing boob tube and it’s three or more channels, depending on how tight the budget was that year. I was, perhaps, a little too emotionally invested in network sitcoms for a nine-year-old. I wept at the final episode of Cheers and The Cosby Show. I rolled my eyes on the school bus when explaining again, the difference between a season finale and a series finale to my schoolmates. And the caterpillar I was assigned to look after in the third grade was named Kramer. Needless to say, each year’s new fall TV lineup was a big deal for me.

The other room was the kitchen and the show always playing between 7 and 8, right after the riveting Kids Fight Over Who’s Turn it is to Dry Dishes, was Mom Packs Lunches for 6 People. During commercials breaks I stood at the counter and watched my mother dole out bologna and mustard to almost an entire loaf of bread, then empty half a sleeve of Duplex Sandwich Crème cookies along with fruit and (please, please, please!) a juicebox into a row of open and eager brown paper lunch bags. The next morning, all five kids and my dad had a paper sack in hand as they headed off to perform whatever tasks the day had in store for them. For me, these tasks included avoiding jump rope, annoying my brother, and trying to find an elementary school classmate to rehash the latest episode of The Commish with me.

These fond memories are why I decided to combine the gift of canned laughter and bagged lunch into one with these TV-themed packed lunches. Packing a lunch for someone is an especially thoughtful gift of service. For one, it saves time for your loved one. For two, sandwiches taste better when someone else makes them. Here are a few ideas for some low on cost, high on care, paper bag lunches.

For young kids or grown-up kids, make a theme out of a classic children’s TV show. I made a Popeye lunch, decorated with his tattoo and packed with, of course, spinach. Try packing up a Popeye’s spinach salad, veggies sauteed in Olive Oyl, and a Sweet as Swee’ Pea cupcake. Muscle milk and steroids are also options. The lunch on the top right is a Charlie Brown lunch, decorated with a construction paper design of Charlie’s shirt. For this lunch, you could add a Sorry Charlie sandwich (tunafish), some It’s The Great Pumpkin…Seeds, a football shaped cookie or some Peppermint Patties, and, for goodness sakes, a valentine.

One of my favorite kid’s shows was The Adventures of Pete and Pete so I made this lunch up and decorated it with Little Pete’s hat. I don’t remember many food references from these episodes;but both Big Pete and Little Pete were of the ginger children, so I thought a red-head themed lunch would be appropriate (and when I say red, I mean orange). I stuffed this lunch with mac n’ cheese, carrot sticks, an orange, and some BBQ Better Made potat-er chips.

Other TV Lunches might be the MacGyver (throw a crust of bread, a pickle, and a taco seasoning packet into a wrinkled paper bag and write “make a lunch out of this” on the front), a Magnum P.I. (draw a mustache on every food item you pack) or a Roseanne (donuts). Get creative with it.

If your loved one only watches PBS World War II documentaries and you can’t find any old ration stamps to decorate with, have no fear. You can still pack a thoughtful lunch for them using a non-TV theme. How about the Last Night Was Great lunch:

Pack leftovers from yesterday’s date-night dinner and a lipstick stained note. If you’re a mistress, you could also decorate the bag with a bright scarlet A. Another cute theme is the TGIF lunch. Everything in the paper bag has to start with a T, G, I, or F. Think Tuna salad, Grapes, Iced tea, Funyuns. Or Terayaki chicken, Goat cheese and Italian bread…and Funyuns.

Stuffing your sweetie/kid/BFF’s lunch with thoughtful and/or funny foods could be just the thing to brighten up their school or work day. And the best part? You can do it all during commercial breaks.

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2 Responses to “Paper Bag Writer: TV Lunches”

  1. SPomranky September 17, 2010 at 12:54 pm #

    How fun!!! Bag lunches can get boring so fast throughout the school year – What a great way to keep it interesting 🙂

  2. Amy September 17, 2010 at 2:24 pm #

    Love, LOVE this idea. Looking forward to more of your posts with the fall and holidays on their way!!!

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