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From PB&J to Roasted Red Peppers

A little encouragement to all the moms and dads who are frustrated and disgruntled with lunch packing….

It’s so borrrrring and time consuming to pack lunches. When my oldest was in Kindergarten, I think I packed 180 peanut butter sandwich/baby carrot/applesauce lunches for this child. She simply refused to eat much of anything, period. Packing the same bland box of blah every day about made me crazy. The harder I pushed, the harder she dug those little feet into the ground. Lunches would come back half eaten. I would toss away the food and could hear the echo of my parents voices. They were raised by farmers of the post-Depression era, and food waste was a Sin of Sorts. If you didn’t eat it, someone else probably ate it for you. Sometimes comments were made of the cost of said food, and food waste being equivalent to tossing money in the garbage.

On a few occasions I would threaten to make her eat school lunch if she didn’t try new foods. I was making it a BIG DEAL, and I wasn’t winning. Everyone was crying… about food.

Ahhh food, and all of the good and bad and weird emotional baggage it can haunt us with.

I didn’t coach her in this video.(I don’t even know how to roast a red pepper. Hopefully she turned the stove of, now that I am thinking of it.) I share this video because food is an evolution, if you let it be one, and want it to be one. It’s time consuming, yes. It can be a hobby or a joy, if you choose simple recipes and decide to not take your kid’s palate personally. Sometimes our lunches look way less impressive because we are tired or bored or lazy. Our family has to commit (and re-commit) to food, to the prep and planning it takes.

Make them help with food, even if they don’t want to. Food is a life skill, and if that is the chore you make your child commit to, the benefit of responsibility is one simple win. Maren makes a comment in the video of when/why she learned to enjoy different foods.

Take them grocery shopping with you. Let them choose a new vegetable or fruit and accept their positive or negative reaction to the food without a lot of fanfare on your end.

Help them learn to Eat the Rainbow. I open the boxes and if they hear me say “50 Shades of Beige” then they know a bright colored fruit or veggie needs to be added.

Invest in easy to pack lunch boxes. Our Bento Boxes (We have a few kinds, Maren’s is a Planetbox) make lunch packing waste-free and simple. A fruit here, a veggie there, a protein in this spot…. bam. Done. Empty, and it goes right into the dishwasher.

Get over the idea of needing to eat it all. How do we bless and release this mentality? I am still working on it myself. If you are really listening to your body and paying attention, you’ll stop eating when you should. Kids are often better at this then adults, yet we make it into a waste issue. They have smaller stomachs yo. Don’t force food. It will get ugly.

Just. Keep. Trying. I put a red pepper in front of Maren no less than 32 times before she tried it. Seriously.

Let them have a treat. I don’t freak out about sugar in moderation.

Be patient. Be flexible. Be forgiving when your eating habits need fixing, and find the fun in food. Everybody can get behind fun.

Got any school lunch recipes to share? Maren would LOVE to hear from you!

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