Watching Jamie Oliver made me want to strive for better school lunches for my kids - even though they're not in school. We eat pretty healthy anyway, make all of our own bread, etc., but I wanted to do better.
I've never been a lunch person and am not a huge fan of sandwiches. I have picky eaters. Well, mostly (for the record, while Monkey hates most things dinner-related, he will eat nearly anything out of our garden). But I decided that enough was enough.
I broke out the carrot peeler. For lunch. One of my kids loves carrots, one hates them, and one hasn't tried them (one of the lovely benefits of sensory issues for my spectrum kiddo is that he has no desire to try anything new - and we pick our battles).
But Try Something New became our new mantra. And they ALL had at least a couple of carrot sticks with their lunch.
And then we all cheered and called Aaron at work to tell him the big news Because seriously? Thomas ate CARROTS (plural!) - that was really big news!
You might remember they got new plates in their Easter baskets. I found these cool divided plates at Target (can't find them now - but they were with the summer-themed BBQ type stuff) and got two for the bigger kids and a little monkey plate for the monkey.
I almost got these lunch trays - but they're kinda big.(ham + cheese quesadillas, apple slices, walnuts, and a mini salad with homemade poppy seed dressing - the gluten-free kiddo had an almond butter sandwich with apple, ham slice, and salad)
I don't know if it's because I'm such a visual person or what, but having the divided plates makes it way easier for me to make a healthy/varied lunch. It's like packing bentos. On each plate are 4 spaces to fill. I just make sure that each plate at least one 'growing' thing on it and some protein.(homemade whole-wheat pita (made by my mom) with cheese, carrots (with ranch to dip), and applesauce)
It's a great way to use up leftovers, too - my kids can each get a little bit of the leftover pasta, or rice, curry, whatever. And since it's divided, they know that if it's something they don't like - at least it's just a small bit, it's not like I gave them a HUGE bowl of it. And they have to eat that small bit in it's entirety.(left: rice crackers, tortilla chips, hummus, salsa, carrot sticks. right: homemade muffins, cashews, carrots, hard-boiled egg)
It's totally working for Thomas - so glad! The first week of pushing veggies (he's a fruit guy) + trying new stuff he tried: salad (with two different dressings and he now accepts it with no complaints!!!), carrots, peas, and bok choy. Yeah, baby.
The new plates distracted Princess for a while - she would be excited to have a 'muffin-tin lunch' again. Until she realized that they usually included a green thing - she's not fond of green things. But for the most part this has worked brilliantly for her, too.
We've been doing this for a few weeks now and I'm very happy with the results. Some lunches are better than others, some are more interesting than others, and this doesn't happen every day (today all of their plates were in the dishwasher at lunch time). But most days it does! And just getting to a point where I could just put my foot down about trying new things (for a while we just weren't there) has made a huge difference.
If you watched Jamie Oliver too, you know that in the last episode he was very unhappy with the brown-baggers. But if I packed my kids lunches every day, I think I'd do okay. At least we're not in a sandwich rut anymore.
And a note to my children: Yes, your nerdy mother will no longer be photographing your lunches before you eat them.