Images and words by Jodi of themotherboards.ca
I know I’ve gone on ad nauseam about what a picky eater my son is, but I’m not sure if I’ve conveyed quite HOW picky he is. He doesn’t like dip. He doesn’t like soup. He doesn’t like pasta sauce. The kid is impossible to please when it comes to mealtime. And now we’re back in school. Argh! Back to that frustration of having to think of something new and interesting that will actually get eaten in his school lunch.
One thing that we’ve done to alleviate some of the pressure is to have him make his own lunch. I know some parents look at me in horror when I say this, likening me to a whip-wielding slave driver. Yes, he’s only five. Yes, he started last year when he was only almost 5. But it did make life quite a bit easier. He could no longer come home and complain that he hated what I packed for his lunch because, hey, he packed it himself! So I was off the hook. Of course, I still help with sandwich making and container closing, but he chooses the meal himself. Unfortunately, this does tend to make for a pretty uniform lunch. Almost every day it’s yogurt, cheese string, applesauce and perhaps another fruit or a Wow Butter sandwich. Not a lot of veggies, especially greens, in there. Of course, it doesn’t help that my son seems to attend The School in the Plastic Bubble. Because of various allergies at the school, we’re not permitted to pack lunches that include any of the following ingredients; peanuts, nuts, eggs, shellfish, and fish. I definitely understand the dangers of anaphylactic shock, but it adds to the challenges when it comes to packing a tasty, healthy school lunch (although allergies are crazy these days, aren’t they? No-one had any sort of life-threatening food allergy when I was in school. A few people were lactose intolerant, but that was about it. What’s going on, world?)
Wanting to expand my son’s limited menu, as well as inject some veggies into his diet, I’ve been on the search for lunch options for the uber-picky eater. There’s a whole school of thought on pureeing vegetables and sneaking them into “more delicious” foods. The problem with this is that they’re either hidden in sugary cookies and cakes, or they’re hidden in food that he STILL DOESN’T LIKE. Can’t hide broccoli in pasta sauce because he won’t even eat pasta sauce. Calls for another “argh.” So I’ve cast my net far and wide – talking to family and friends, scouring the internet – and this is what I’ve come up with so far.
I know there’s sugar and butter in this, but I’ve taken an eggless recipe and made a few changes for a healthier snack.
- 4 very ripe bananas, mashed
- 1 ½ cups whole wheat flour
- 1/2 cup milk
- ½ cup butter, melted
- ½ cup brown sugar
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1 pinch salt
- Preheat oven to 350°F. In a bowl, combine mashed bananas with butter.
- Add milk and vanilla and mix.
- Add sugar, baking soda and salt, and mix.
- Add flour and mix until just combined.
- Pour mixture into greased and floured bread loaf pan and bake until a wooden toothpick comes out clean (about 50 minutes for me). Allow to cool before removing from pan.
Fruit/Veggies on a Stick
Anything that resembles a sword is a thrill for this kid. And fruit like cantaloupe, mango, peaches, and strawberries have vitamins that kids need.
Crustless Mini Quiche
It looks like a muffin, so I hope that will do the trick.
- 1 cup of veggies (I used crushed tomatoes and [mea culpa] pureed broccoli)
- 1 cup shredded cheese
- 1 cup milk
- 6 eggs
- spice or herb of your choice
- salt and pepper
- Preheat oven to 350F. Mix eggs, milk and any spices in a bowl.
- Place veggies and cheese in muffin tin cups.
- Pour egg/milk mixture over veggies and cheese.
- Cook until toothpick comes out clean (took me about 35 minutes).
Swiss Chard Chips
Chips! For lunch! Mommy never gives me chips. I do feel a bit evil for that one, but they’re reaaaaalllly good. And the kid’s into salt. You can also use kale or spinach for these healthy treats.
- Swiss Chard leaves, with stems cut off (can substitute for kale)
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- ½ tsp kosher salt
- ¼ tsp garlic powder
- (add ⅛ tsp chili powder if your kid is more adventurous than mine)
- Heat oven to 275°F. Cut (or rip) chard leaves into 2-inch pieces.
- Toss leaves in olive oil, and then add salt and garlic powder, shaking the leaves up to make sure they all get a bit.
- Place leaves in one layer on a baking sheet and shake for about 20 minutes. Lift them off the sheet before they cool so that they don’t stick to the baking sheet. Enjoy!
Sure, he won’t eat pasta sauce, but my kid really loves green smoothies (?). I won’t question why because I don’t want to jinx it. But I’ve never thought about trying to add them to his lunch. A suggestion I came across was to freeze the smoothie overnight so that it would still be cold by lunchtime and would keep other items in his lunch (like the ubiquitous yogurt) cold, as well. I didn’t think I need a thermos for my anti-soup kid, but I’m running out to buy one now.
A green smoothie can be made many different ways, according to your desire. In our house we make them with kale, celery, apple juice, lemon, and banana. So delicious (and – shhhh – nutritious).
Now, that’s a pretty great, substantial (easy to pack!) lunch. And along the way I garnered a ton of ideas for the future (if he relaxes a bit, or when my littlest one gets a bit older). Veggies and dip, homemade soups, creative bento boxes, cheese and homemade crackers, from-scratch pizza pockets – they’re all there, waiting to take their turn on the menu.
So, the question remains, what are YOU packing in your child’s school lunch?
Post your creative solutions in a comment below.Add to favorites