Nov 14, 201110:30 AMChina Mom

Let's do lunch

Nov 14, 2011 - 10:30 AM

When did packing my child’s lunch become a craft project? It all started with those dang giant cookie cutters. Sandwiches started showing up at her school shaped like big hearts or flowers or butterflies. Which made my child’s little triangle sandwiches look sad. And she was sad. Well...there were comments.

So I caved. I bought a butterfly cookie cutter. And then a flower. But that’s not enough anymore. Now, websites are popping up with “easy” ways to make my child’s lunch “fun.” Most of them are based on Japanese Bento boxes. And most of them do not look easy to me.  Three Little Pigsbunniesfruit kabobs. Aren't those lunches gorgeous? And overwhelming? This is not my idea of “fun.” Or “easy.” It’s my idea of catering, which is my idea of work.

Look. I’m all about fun. But mostly, I’m all about my daughter eating her lunch. That’s my primary objective. And I honestly don’t think sandwiches shaped like the Three Little Pigs are going to make “the difference.” She’s going to eat what she likes, not what looks fun. In fact, I’d wager that if it’s too cute, she’s going to spend her lunchtime looking at or playing with her Little Pig sandwiches instead of eating them.

When I look at those lunches, I always wonder: do those perfectly assembled lunches actually make it to school – and lunch – looking like that? And do their kids actually eat that food? And how does a child go about eating a “sandwich ball” anyway?

I know my daughter skips and runs to class, her backpack bouncing along the way. I don't know if a garden of cucumber and cauliflower florets arranged “just so” could endure all that jostling. Speaking of which, I would love it if my daughter would eat cucumbers or raw cauliflower. She’s not super picky, but I can’t pack things just because they look pretty, I have to pack food she’ll eat.

I truly admire these moms who have the talent, energy and time to create these amazing lunches. I couldn't do it. The most I've been able to muster are these ham and cheese kabobs that I read about. My daughter loves what we call “ham & cheese rollups” - which are just that: ham and cheese rolled up, kinda like a cigar. She doesn't really like bread, except with pb&j or grilled cheese. These kabobs are a cute twist on an old stand by - and she loved them! She thought they were fun! And they only took twice as long to make as regular roll ups! That's right - twice as long!

Again, I’m not against a little fun with lunch...just...tell me again why I can’t just cut a sandwich on the diagonal and call it a fancy day?

Nov 14, 2011 07:33 pm
 Posted by  Ludicrous Mama

You can. If your child is happy with her food, then you should be too. I however DO notice a difference in the choices my child makes and how much of her food she eats when I jazz it up. And it's worked wonders with my VERY picky nieces as well (until my sister comes home. Then they revert back to their super picky selves. Since they know SHE'LL cater to them.) And while my daughter does enjoy playing with her shaped food and/or picks, she's also enchanted so much by her lunch that she pops broccoli in her mouth without a second thought. And tries any new food or vegetable that I put in there, because she's USED TO a variety and having each lunch be a novelty of some sort (whether a new food or a new shape or a new cupcake liner or whatever.)

A very easy way to make your lunches more exciting, that takes little to no effort is to add a pick. Either one of those cupcake flags, or just stickers on a toothpick (or a bento pick.) But my child (and my nieces) love stabbing and eating their food with a pick, they eat WAY more than if I just toss some grapes on a plate for them.

For me, the trade-off of my time in exchange for her eating more and being EXCITED about her food is worth it. I don't expect everyone else to feel the same. I'm sure something else slips through the cracks because I take the time to make fancy lunches (but not EVERY day.) But when I can get the same look of gratitude and excitement over a Unicorn-shaped sandwich as a new Polly Pocket doll, it's SO worth it, for me!

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Sarah Roe discovered the art of couponing in 2005 when her son was diagnosed with life threatening food allergies and the rising cost of medications and food made it difficult to feed her own family. By 2007, Sarah began teaching coupon workshops in Tulsa, Oklahoma and founded Tulsa's Coupon Queen, LLC

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