African food lunchbox ideas

(At the Alex Haley statue in Annapolis, MD | Summer 2016)

The girls started school for the first time this year and they’re loving it…as am I. But sending children off to school comes with it’s own set of challenges, namely, waking up early, having things organized and set up, homework and…LUNCH.

Who knew, trying to figure out what to put in their lunch boxes each evening could be so nerve racking?

I consulted the oracle—google and Pinterest—to ease my frustration and figure things out. “One fruit or veggie, one side, a drink, the main entree, and a small treat to get them through the day…” That’s the general consensus for a lunchbox packing system.

So I went out to Costco and got the things they like; raisins, Oreo cookies, fruit snacks, pretzels (and M&Ms for a quick trail mix treat), popcorn and juice boxes. I got the sides and treats taken care of. I even bought a 2-pack of peanut butter for those inevitable go-to peanut butter and jelly days ahead. But what’s a mama to do when sandwiches start to fail and by the third day of school your child requests fufu and peanut butter soup in her lunch pail?

‘Dis na case ooo.’

lunch box ideas for african children

(I got these Aladdin lunch thermos‘s for $10 each at Target)

My girls eat differently from each other. While one is perfectly fine with a good ol’ sandwich, the other, who’s name starts with an ‘O’, prefers African food. Sandwiches leave her tank half empty. I can’t even try to act like I don’t understand because when I was in elementary school my long days in class were made right by the secret knowledge that cassava leaf and rice would be waiting for me at home.

Back then, the thought of taking African food to school repulsed me! “Mom, I can’t take cassava leaf to school?! No way!” (My mom wanted to, but I ABSOLUTELY refused) African wasn’t cool back then, but times have changed and so have the ways we do things as a new generation of African moms. 

So what are some yummy, portable African options for kids and brave AfriGen moms out there? I don’t hesitate to pack Jollof rice, rice and spinach, ‘red red’ (plantain and beans), and I have warm soup and yam / rice balls planned for when it’s cold outside (canned soup be damned!). These are obviously all Ghanaian dishes…I would love to learn about some dishes from where you come from…perhaps we can start a lunch idea exchange… Ooh! maybe we can takeover Pinterest with #AfricanLunchBoxes…follow me and tag your favorite go-to African lunch ideas on instagram and Pinterest⎯or just leave it in the comments below…

What are some African favorites you would pack in your kid’s lunch boxes? Would you even pack African favorites for your kids? 

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