Thursday, December 2, 2010

Two quick lunches and some Thursday thoughts

-- Colby jack cheese cubes with mouse pick; one letter M cookie,
-- Strawberries,
-- Broccoli with ranch dressing,
-- PB and J half, on wheat.

-- Grape tomatoes; sharp cheddar cheese and crackers,
-- Strawberries (grown locally in solar tunnels, the package says!),
-- Broccoli with ranch dressing,
-- Ham sandwich on wheat.

Will Toddlebug eat the broccoli? Maybe, maybe not. I know it is less attractive than the other options in there; that's why I put in only one cookie and two strawberries. But as little as I like the thought of wasting food, I know that it's possible that T will eat the broccoli if I put it in there. If I don't, that means there's a 0% chance.
And beyond the value of lunch as nutrition--calories, vitamins, protein, fat, carbohydrates--what I serve also indicates what I think is good food. When I put in vegetables, even if they're not actually eaten, I've nonetheless made a point: "This is what we eat. If you happen not to eat it on this particular occasion, that's up to you, but this is the kind of food we normally eat."
The flip side of this is that serving kids "kid food" on a regular basis on the assumption that that's all they'll want to eat must cause them to think, "This is the food for me. This is what my parents/restaurants/school give me all the time." And over time, they will then reject other, more nutritious foods that don't fit that norm. It's a self-fulfilling prophecy (see school lunch reformers like Mrs. Q and Jamie Oliver).
For me, that means I have to be careful about how often I'm serving PB and J, which is easy to overdo because it's cheap, fast, not that unhealthy (I read the labels and go for the all-natural stuff), and well received. But obviously, I don't want it to take the place of better things (organic vegetable soup with brown rice would be much better, but of course that's harder to pack and likely to make a mess of the school clothes). Nor do I want it to decrease the variety in the lunches I make, especially since our breakfasts don't vary much and T may or may not choose to eat the good stuff at dinnertime on any given night. It helps that Toddlebug simply isn't interested in mac and cheese, hot dogs, or chicken nuggets--at least so far!--but I have to be careful not to get lazy.

Anybody want to weigh in on how often is too often for PB and J, or other foods you've found yourself serving more often that you'd intended? Post your thoughts in a comment!