Tuesday, February 26, 2013

In short order

You know how in parenting magazine they always say you should resist the urge to cater to each child's culinary whims at dinner time lest you become a short order cook? I don't. At dinner. But lunches are another story.

And I guess some people would say that's silly. I remember having a conversation with a group of moms and one said that when her kids brought stuff home at the end of the day, uneaten, she would make them eat it after school. I pictured myself as a kid, picky little pick that I was, gagging down some sweaty cheese or a soggy sandwich. Yuck. I'm not that hard core.

My kids really aren't that picky; they mostly eat everything that I send them. But they each have their things, you know? The boy doesn't like egg salad sandwiches, for example. And tomorrow that's on the menu. So am I going to send him an egg salad sandwich knowing he won't eat it? No, I am not.

I'm one of those people who believes in simple pleasures. With my own lunch, for example, I look forward to that little break in my busy work day. If I know I have an awesome salad like the one I made for lunch last week, that makes me happy. But you probably need to know that I pack my salad in a particular way. I put the lettuce, cut up veggies and goat's cheese together in one container. If there is chicken or nuts to add they are in a separate container to sprinkle on right before I eat it. Same goes for the dressing. That's the way I like it.

My husband, on the other hand, will mix all the dressing with his salad the night before and then happily eat that soggy mess the next day. To which I, again, say 'yuck'. That would not make my day.

So I guess what I'm saying is, I'm open to indulging my kid's culinary idiosyncracies, just a little bit. I'm not going to take custom orders for their lunches each day, but if I know that one kid likes their apple whole and another prefers it cut up with a little cinnamon sprinkled on top well, hey, I'm game.

Kids have crappy days, too. School can feel tedious sometimes. So if what I pack in my kids' lunches gives them something to look forward to, then bring on the customization! And if they really don't like something I pack, they are welcome to bring it back home: As God is my witness, I will never force feed them sweaty cheese.

What's for lunch today?

- Egg salad sandwiches - except for the boy. Probably soup in a thermos or something for him
- Tangerines
- Apples
- Graham cracker fishies
- Popcorn
- Juice/water


  1. I've never even thought of this before, but I am the same way - I cook one thing for dinner and you either eat it or don't, bub, but in the lunches I try to stick to each child's preferences.

    I used to hate opening my lunchbox and finding something I really didn't want to eat. On the flipside, opening it and finding something I liked was always a nice surprise.

  2. Ah, this is beautiful, Janet. The idea that a little love - in making different lunches - is a really wonderful one. As a child I hated any salad sandwiches - egg, tuna, salmon, chicken (well, I still do. Well, part of it is my vegetarianism, but eggs...ew...) and so I would have died of lunchtime sadness if my mom ever made me those for lunch.

  3. I am such a SUCKER when it comes to school lunches, really, because I know that school can be awfully cold and long and it's very, very hard to deny the the comfort of that one little thing that you know that only that one kid loves. I think that it's seperate from family dinner rules, really.
    Lovely post, Janet!
    - Beck