Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Meal Planning Adventures with Toddlers

Seriously, this is really a post more for me than for you.  Things always seem better once you talk (write) about them, right?  Well that's what I'm banking on anyway.

So somewhere in our multiple conversations this weekend, my loving and possibly slightly demented husband mentioned that perhaps our small children did not need to eat cheese sandwiches or pizza or mac and cheese for lunch every day.  In fact, I think he said they didn't need to eat cheese every day.

I know...he's cute...

You know, now that I think about it, this must have been Sunday, when he fixed lunches while I nursed Caleb and the girls threw a fit over a lack of cheese and chose taking hungry naps over eating the very Paleo-friendly spread their daddy had put out for them.

I've told you that we've decided to undertake this eating lifestyle which is basically high on fruits and vegetables and meat and low to void of grains and dairy.  We haven't been fanatical about it, but are amazed at how much we feel better.  Even small, nagging health issues with the girls have cleared up once I got them off cow's milk.  

But the whole cheese factor has been their hard limit. 

So through this journey, I honestly haven't been as strict with the girls and normally fix them a kid-friendly lunch with a fruit and vegetable side, which they normally reject.  I figure I make it up with fruit or something healthy for the afternoon snack and give myself a C for the day. 

One day last week, I foolishly thought a fun activity would be to peel our own hard boiled eggs.  After I had cleaned floors.
So after getting this recent challenge to further apply the Paleo diet to our children, I thought it over and decided if I was really going to make this work, I had to extend my meal planning to breakfast and lunch - not just dinner.  I think I've told you that my mom was possibly brilliant by having a different breakfast every day of the week and keeping the same schedule through my entire childhood.  In fact, I'm sure if you popped in on my parents on a Saturday morning, you could still snake some waffles.

So I've decided to try the same thing in my house with the following schedule:

Monday - pancakes
Tuesday - scrambled eggs and toast
Wednesday - sprinkle oatmeal
Thursday - hard boiled eggs and muffins
Friday - waffles
Saturday - eggs ala daddy
Sunday - whatever we can stuff in our face before church

Now, I'm not going Paleo yet for breakfasts simply because I'm not mentally ready to think that hard for three meals a day and also, with my kids opting out of most dinners, I feel better if I fix a breakfast that they like and will eat.  So all of these apply.

I splurged and bought a dry erase weekly meal magnet planner thing at Staples off the new Martha Stewart line and LOVE it.  So far, I've been using it to plan my dinners, but I'm going to start planning lunches too.  The reason for this is two-fold.  One, I need to make sure I have enough food in the house (a big problem for me when we started eating more fruits and veggies...I ran out a lot!) and two, the less I have to think during the day, the better.  I can whip up a cheese sandwich in 2.0 seconds flat, which is one of the reasons we have them a lot.  

Well, and they are darn tasty.  

But anyway...

Today, we ventured home from the Y and I was racking my brain about what to fix for lunch and got an idea to do a best friends lunch.  So I got out their little trays with the dividers and put "best friends" in each one.  Carrots and ranch dressing.  Apples and peanut butter (which is not Paleo, but I have a huge tub that I refuse to throw away).  Sliced hard boiled egg and just small slivers of cheese (because we really can't quit cold turkey).  I also gave them each a handful of Craisins, just because I had one little space left on the tray.

As my leg-huggers marched around the island chanting Mac and cheese!  Mac and cheese!  I announced that we were having a new best friends lunch and it was going to be SO MUCH FUN!  The chant stopped and they skeptically climbed into their chairs and surveyed their trays.  I demonstrated how each food was grouped and you eat them together so they don't get lonely...blah, blah, blah.

They listened.  They nodded.  They smiled.

Then they dive-bombed the cheese.  

Once it was gone and they were sufficiently convinced that I wasn't giving up any more, they moved on to the rest of their tray.  I was actually pretty pleased that Elizabeth ate all her eggs, 2 carrot sticks and a piece of apple.  Rachel, on the other hand, was a mess.  After screaming for more cheese, she took to sticking her finger and licking ranch off.  Upon getting fussed at, she then began dipping her apple in ranch.  Once my dry heaves eased up, I talked her into trying the carrot.   And so she did...and proceeded to spit little orange, carrot, chewed up pieces all over.  Eventually, she ate all the apples and peanut butter off her and her sister's tray and that was about all she wrote for the fussy two-year-old.  


And so begins my journey in improving my children's diets.   

Not me yet!  I still eat at Mom's!

Got ideas??  Let me know!  Here are a couple great resources I've found, in case you are on the same road as me...

Super Healthy Kids - This blog has great ideas and yummy looking recipes. 

Paleo Parents - I love the recipes on this blog and we recently purchased their book, Eat Like A Dinosaur.  It is fun to read, the recipes are easy to follow and are kid approved!

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