Monday, January 24, 2011


Most of the time, without a list, I would be lost!  I am a perpetual keeper-of-lists...and loser of lists!  I write them, they go into my pocket and then I forget where I put them.  Or, I make up a fabulous grocery list and pull out of the driveway, get halfway up the street and realise I have left it sitting on the kitchen counter....and I go back for it.  Why go back?  Well, afterall, I spent all that time making it in the first place!
Over and over again, you will hear (or read!) that you need to make a list before going to the grocery store!  You will be more efficient, you will save money, you will make fewer trips to the store...Of course you will, but first you have to figure out a system that works for you and your family (of 2 or 4 or 8 or whatever!)...Do you need one list with EVERYTHING on it?  For some, that is the way they do it...Our neighbours do it all on Wednesdays...this even includes the trip to the hardware store, or going out to get a new pair of pants, or taking an old pair of pants to the cleaners.  For them, it is all about Wednesdays, and if it isn't on the list, it doesn't get done or it doesn't get bought (get bought?  can I say that?  Where is my English teacher husband when I need a proof-reader?).  In our house, there are three lists that refer to groceries...One that includes what we already have (on a week to week basis), this is not an all inclusive list of everything we have, but rather a list of what we have that we will be eating this week...For example, we have tomatoes and a cucumber left from last week that we will eat on Sunday (In other words, DON'T buy more tomatoes!).  Our second list is the Costco list, and this one is a bit of a running list as we try not to go to Costco more than once a month (heck, we can't afford to go to Costco more than once a month!).  The third list is the grocery list...I divide it into four sections: Breakfast, Lunches, dinners and Daycare.  Before I make up a menu for the week (yes, I do this every week, as I have learned that it just all ends in chaos and too much take-out pizza if I don't),  I hit the grocery store flyer.  Based loosely on what I learned at a young age from my father (a man who made, and still makes! many more lists than I will ever make!), we eat what is on special...and what is local (or as local as I can get...Yes, we eat bananas, but no, they don't grow on Vancouver Island, or even near it!)...So, if pork roast and cottage cheese is on special, then that is what we will be eating.  (although, not usually together).
Lunches are a combination of what will be eaten, what is on special and what is healthy...A big thing about lunches though, is always making sure that you are buying (and therefore packing) what is going to be eaten...And with kids, what was eaten (and liked) last week, sometimes isn't what is going to be eaten this week!  Go figure...Today, for example, I packed Kate a turkey wrap with mayonnaise and lettuce (she ate a whole plate of lettuce last night at supper!).  Half of the wrap came home, because she "didn't have time"...however, there was time to eat the mandarins and the popcorn and the piece of applesauce cake...but not enough time for the wrap...Huh, I am that blonde, I suppose!  Don't you?  Lesson learned, don't put lettuce in the turkey wrap...But do put chocolate chips in the peanut butter and banana roll-up!  (mmm, melted ones!  Yummy!).
If I take the time to ask them (since I try very hard not to take anyone with me to the grocery store!) for suggestions for their lunches, generally, we have some success.  This week's request (for next week), Bagels...Please, we haven't had them is soooo long!
Okay, bagels are on the list for next week...the big question is, of course, will they still be in demand when next week gets here?

Under pressure!

Okay, so it is Sunday afternoon, and I am heading home from Victoria after being away since Thursday, and I have no idea what might be in the fridge.  All I know is that I just want to get home and not have to go out again.  Three days of volunteering at Skate Canada Nationals was fantastic!  But I am exhausted, and there is a week of lunches and dinners (and crazy activity schedules!) ahead of us...I can't help wondering if my dear hubby has made a trip to Costco while I was away...
As I said, I have no idea what might be left in the fridge and when I called home, no one picked up, so I am on my own as far as groceries go, and what to buy.  So, I take a chance that there is milk at home and stop in at one of the big farmer's markets just outside of Duncan.  We are very fortunate here on the Island, or certainly the central island, to have such great farmer's markets.  Typically, my husband stops at Russell's, which is on his way home from work.  Today, I choose to stop at the other big one, which is just south of Duncan and called The red rooster (or the Red barn, at this point I cannot remember...if someone can help me with the correct name, please do!).  I head in WITHOUT a list!  Typically, not a good idea, however, today I am in a time crunch too, so I am using a mental list that goes something like: "Bananas, apples, salad, stir fry, and lunches."  I come away with bread, cheese, two heads of lettuce, a bunch of celery (the only surplus purchase, it turns out), two bags of apples (these days, who can resist 0.39c/lb for apples!), bananas, green onion, mushrooms (including portabellos as a treat because they were local), broccoli, a 5 lb bag of onions and a 15 lb bag of potatoes, bacon, two packs of lunch meat and a loaf of garlic bread (to go with dinner tonight, because it will make people more happy to see me!).  The plus to this kind of shopping, is that there are none of those center aisle items (like oreos and pudding cups) and we will just have to make it through the week without them...A tip?  Make a big batch of pudding (either homemade or the package kind) and spoon the fresh pudding into smaller containers with lids and, voila, your own pudding cups!  These also make great homemade frozen treats although they don't go quite so well into the lunchbox!)...a label note: if you make the cooked pudding version of the packaged pudding, you get less saturated fat per serving, and it is almost as convenient.
And, what did I learn after almost a week of mixing with high level athletes?  Bananas!  Wow, there were a lot of those...As a parent, of course I know that bananas are good for you...but how good...
To answer that question, I did a little searching and what I found came from (this info also matched what I had in my nutrition chart available from Health Canada).
A banana is a large berry (didn't know that!).
1 medium banana contains 100 calories, a large one, 125.  Bananas are low in calories, fat and sodium and packed full of nutrients... (making them a good choice for athletes)
452 mg of potassium, 33 mg of magnesium and 1/3 RDA of vitamin B6.  They contain 2g of fibre.
And, they taste good!  Another tip, the more ripe the banana, the higher the sugar content.  And there are lots and lots of great baking recipes that use bananas.
Happy Packing!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

How many of what?

Don't you love it when your kids start to take an interest in something that you enjoy?  My daughter has loved skating since we put her on the ice (at 2), but this year her love of skating seems to have taken off.  Not only the skating but everything about working hard at a sport, including what she eats.  This interest seems to have peaked in the last couple of weeks, in part due to her class at school, where they have been focussing on the Canada Food guide (or, "Guide alimentaire canadien" if you are in French immersion!) especially how many servings of Fruit and Veggies they are eating.  They have a class challenge running and they are trying to get to 800 servings of F & V.
Now, the general CFG suggests "we" should be getting 5-10 servings of F & V each day...But who should be eating how much?  Well, a really great tool came home in the backpack last week that includes all that.
"Boys and Girls, Ages 2-3: 4 servings (serving = 1 piece or 1/2 cup); Ages 4-8: 5 servings; Ages 9-13: 6 servings", at the teenage years it separates boys and girls: Ages 14-18: Girls: 7, Boys: 8"...So we can relax and stop trying to get 8 or 9 servings into our 7 or 8 year olds.  The onlys ones who need 10 servings are Men between 19 and 50.
It's always a challenge getting "enough" of those two things into our kids, isn't it?  I try and stack the earlier part of the day: a piece of fruit and a glass of juice with breakfast (there's two), some raw veggies and dip in the lunchbox as well as some lettuce or spinach or vegetable soup (that could be one more, if they get eaten...Raw veggies that don't get eaten at school are good for filling the hole they seem to get into the car with everyday)...A piece of fruit right after school, there is another serving and then two veggies (one hot, one salad) with dinner...and there is 5.  Your 4-8 year old has the required servings...For Duncan, I have been sending him with three pieces of fruit in his lunch this year, and he has been eating them, so there is a way to get that extra serving into those 9-13 year olds.
Given that this week is so crazy (with me in Victoria for most of the week), we have set things up so that there is a big box of raw veggies ready to go for lunches or snacks, and those also make for a really easy stir fry supper, since they are already cut up.  Toss those with some chopped baby bok choy (packed with nutritrion and easy on the younger taste buds) and some chicken breast or some lean beef strips (or left over roast either beef or pork is great), and your stir fry is ready to go.

Lots more info about the Canada food guide and feeding your family on the Health Canada website .

Happy Eating everyone!

Friday, January 14, 2011

There is something to be said for the homemade lunch

My son's class has just one an all expense paid trip to a "local" ski hill, in a contest (that involved writing essays and drawing pictures) sponsored by the Canadian Ski Council.  10 classes in the country wide contest were chosen.  The prize includes tansportation to/from the hill, ski rentals and lessons and lift tickets and a box lunch for 45 people.  They are thrilled, to say the least!  So, when the forms came home this week, we diligently filled them out, called Grandma and Grandpa (who are both avid skiers) to see if they would like to go along in place of Mom and Dad who both have to work that day (the joy of being in the education business...the general population doesn't take kindly to one booking a day off to enjoy a field trip with one's children).  And one of the forms includes your choices for your box lunch...Duncan looked them over (they were very basic: turkey, ham and cheese or vegetarian)..."Mum, can we just leave it blank and I can bring my own lunch?  I usually like your sandwiches better."  I explained that we could choose something from the list, and then he could bring some snacks from home in case he didn't like the sandwich.  "But Mum, I know I will like what you pack me.  And if I don't like their sandwich, it'll have to go in the garbage and that is a waste"...We worked out a compromise, that he could share his "box lunch" with one of his friends (not everyone comes with extras, and we know this) and he could bring his from home.  So, he set about choosing the sandwich he thought one of his friends would like most, and then announced that he would like a "ham and cheese roll-up from  home" and that he thought that I should also pack an extra one for the friend whom he had chosen the sandwich for..."And maybe one for Grandpa too, he always likes my lunches"...Maybe I should have offered to the Canadian Ski Council to provide the box lunches!
Happy Friday!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

to pack or not to pack?

That is the question parents are asking all over the place tonight...Will it be a snow day tomorrow...In some places (Foxboro, Mass), they have already called it for tomorrow!  Around here, it is falling fast and furious, but...the big question on Vancouver Island always long till it turns to rain?  How long will it last?  And , personally, I am packing lunches for tomorrow because I am very hopeful that tomorrow will not be a snow day!  (I do not relish the idea of a house full of children home from school, wishing it would stop raining so they can go out and play in the snow before it all melts!)...I love snow days, don't get me wrong.  But I mean real snow days, when we have 14 inches of beautiful snowman building snow and some bright sunshine and the kids can go out and build snowmen and forts and have snowball fights, and then head down to the school yard and slide and slide and slide, until their legs are burning from climbing back up the hill so many times, and their hats and mitts are soaked through.  Then they come home and eat all the cookies in the house and drink mugs full of hot chocolate with marshmallows and leave chocolate rings on all the tables and the empty cookie packages on the counter.  And then, because they are still starving, they eat the lunch that was packed the night before (for school!), on the floor in front of the television like they are having a picnic.
So now, what do I pack?  Well, if it is a school day, but they get to go out and play, it will be good to have something hot in their, some chicken gnocchi soup (new recipe from Eating Well magazine: chicken breast cut up, onions, carrots, celery, all cooked till soft, add 4 cups chicken broth and heat medium high till boiling, add the gnocchi and cook for another 10 minutes) to use up some of that Gnocchi that was in the pasta basket I won in the school raffle at Christmas.  And we have some pita bread, so that and some cheese cut up and carrot sticks...There is a loaf of banana bread in the freezer that will be ready to cut up in the morning, and then of course, two mandarins for Kate, and applesauce, an apple, a pear and a mandarin for Duncan.

I hope if you get a snow day, that you get a chance to play too!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

what did we eat?

When I was in elementary school, we ate lunch in a large cafeteria (okay, well, it seemed large back then!).  I remember when the school bought new tables, and we had the ones that had benches attached to the table (before that, it was all wooden tables and chairs)...I guess those would be old now!
There was a kitchen too, but no real hot lunch to speak of.  Well, there were hot dog days and pizza days...Oh what pizza we had!  It was just flatbread and tomato sauce (and I saw it at the grocery store last time I was in Quebec, not sure you can get it outside Quebec tho'), and we thought that it was soooo good!  And I do recall that there was the odd time when you could get soup, and there were always drinks you could buy...chocolate or white milk and then fruit drinks in cartons too: grape or orange (colour)...
So, I guess when it came to packing lunches, our parents were really "on their own" lunch usually consisted of a sandwich (pb and j or bologna and mustard with cheese), an apple or an orange and cookies or a granola bar.  We always had Nature Valley Granola bars, that came in the two pack.  And we would get money to buy a drink, or on hot dog days or pizza days we could have that.  Really quite of my best friends hated sandwiches, except for pb and j, and her dad almost never packed her that.  He packed amazing sandwiches!  Egg salad or tuna or ham and cheese with lettuce and tomato.  Or cream cheese with grape jelly!  Yum!  It was my good fortune that when my lunch was pb and j, she would happily trade with me.  So, I started making pb and j all the time just so she would trade with me.  Unless there was meatloaf...My dad made amazing meatloaf (he still does!) and a meatloaf sandwich with some chili sauce and lettuce was my all time favourite lunch!  Just recently, I made meatloaf for supper...I'm not afraid to say that I was disappointed there were no leftovers to make just one meatloaf sandwich.
So maybe ask your family what they like and then keep a little list on the fridge to use as inspiration...Tonight, Duncan asked me if I was making muffins for breakfast (must have seen me bring the blueberries up from the big freezer).  When I asked him why, he said he really likes it when he gets muffins with butter in his lunch instead of a sandwich.  I said, "better than ham and cheese?" and he said, "Well, it makes for a nice change"...
Guess I am getting up a little early tomorrow to make muffins!

Friday, January 7, 2011

ah...the weekend!

Yay!  Two whole days of no lunches to pack!  Er, wait a sec...I think I said that too fast...We are off to a basketball tournament tomorrow, so...Yes, there are sandwiches or something to be made in the morning.  We will have tuna salad and cream cheese, on some funny little buns that I found at the grocery store tonight when I went for those wonderful rotisserie chickens!  Of course with six of us, we need two chickens, and salad and bread (or is that my 70's upbringing showing through, impressed upon me by my Paternal Grandmother who raised three children in the 40's and 50's, when bread was its own food group...).  That is where those funny little buns came from, my need for there to be bread with this spread of food for supper.  No one ate any bread, so they are left for lunches tomorrow.  (or croutons for salad next week, as they likely will be stale by Sunday afternoon!...Mmmm, homemade croutons are better, in my book, than chips!  All soaked in garlic and olive oil and then baked in the oven...Not too many will make it to the salad, I'm afraid!)
However, the weekend still remains the domain of the "make your own lunch" for some, or the "grilled cheese sandwich and tomato soup"...Altho, I have a feeling the half of my family that is not going to the basketball tournament, but rather staying home and going to the standing Saturday "Soccer Date", will also be dining on hot dogs at Costco for lunch (ew!  Sorry, but for me,  hot dogs, no, not really, altho I do enjoy some french fries...And a good Quebec poutine!  Mmmmm, now there is a healthy skating competition lunch for you!  Oh the memories!), while they do the monthly run of goods at Costco (including a bag of Quinoa, since we have both soup and quinoa salad on our menu for this coming week). 
And I will be enjoying my "time off" as I take in some senior girls high school basketball in Courtney, since Sunday will be a day of cooking to prepare for the nutsy month that is ahead for us this January...And help to avoid too many Costco hot dog dinners while I am away in Victoria!  (altho I think that Grandma will also be helping to avoid those as well!)
Happy Weekend everyone!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

the most important ingredient...

 Put a little love in those lunch boxes...

...Packing lunches is just another chore on the list of never-ending chores, not necessarily one of the most liked chores either.  So rarely do we get positve feedback for the lunches we pack...At the end of the day, when you are tired, and you open that lunch box and there it is: half a sandwich still left, an apple somebody "didn't have time" to eat, and the wrapper from the granola bar...The whines of "why did you pack me that?  You know I hate that !"  Or "Why can't you just pack me licorice and jelly beans and a bunch of oreos, like so-and-so's Mum does?"
Why?  That answer is easy.  Because we are parents.  And when these small humans were placed in our care, we swore that we would give this parenting the best of everything that we have in us, that we would raise this little person to be the best big person we could.  And a big part of making sure that they grow into big people, is providing them with good nutrition, the best nutrition we can.  And for those hours in the day when they are away from us, that is the one connection we have with them, the lunch box.  So, we labour over our decisions...lots of fibre, plenty of protein, dairy for strong bones, more veggies!  Eat more veggies!  And fruit for Vitamin C, especially right now, with all those germs around.  No pop or candy, not good for those little teeth!  We want to make sure they can keep their teeth until they are 90!  However, just like everything else in our world, we only have so much control over things.  And sometimes you can do all the right things, say all the right things, make all the right things, and have them eat all the right things, and still life throws you a curve ball.  Something that no amount of carrot sticks and sprouted grain bread can fix.
...So make sure you are putting in that one special ingredient...Make sure there is love in there too...And not the kind that the grown ups understand, but the kind that your child gets...A little heart shaped piece of paper that says, "There are chocolate chip cookies for us to share when you get home!" or "I chose this apple just for you"...Or throw in an oreo or a hershey's kiss  (Kate'll tell you, "just stick it in your pocket and eat it outside!")...Remind them that you are thinking of them even when they are away from you, that your love for them is never far away.

This blog was written in memory of a wonderful little girl, a little girl I never had the chance to meet.  I am sure that her Mum often wishes she could have packed her many many more lunches, filled with oreos and carrot sticks and lovely froggy pictures to share with her friends.

Keep an eye on those lunch boxes, Cassidy!  Help us make sure they are filled with love!

Cassidy Leigh Briggs, who left this world too soon on January 11th, 2010, after a brave battle with liver cancer.
 Cassidy's family has set up a foundation to raise funds to provide art supplies for children to allow them to continue to foster their creativity and express themselves creatively while they battle cancer.  Please check out the website below for more information:
Cassidy Briggs foundation

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

grains...Fads are funny.

The new Costco magazine came in the mail today...There is an article in it about Healthy new foods to find at Costco...Quinoa, Acai Berries...and among others, Spelt...Been using Spelt flour and the grains in our house for about 8 years now...And what is funny is that article makes me want to run out to Costco and see for myself...Not because we need any (Goodness knows we sure don't, there are three big bags of spelt flour in the freezer downstairs!), just because I am curious to see what "Mainstream" Spelt looks like. Mine is in a plain brown paper bag, labelled : Whole Grain Spelt Flour, 10kg.
For anyone who has never tried Spelt flour, may I recommend using it in your muffin recipe first?  I use a basic muffin recipe from the Joy of Cooking (the one that uses sour cream, or buttermilk, or, in our house, plain yogurt), and I sub it in straight on (cup for cup).  It makes amazing blueberry muffins.  Albeit, they don't keep as well as the ones made with regular all purpose flour, but was anybody really making them to "keep"?  Around here, they are usually gone in a day.  From there, you can use it in cookies easily...I have used it in banana bread and in regular bread.  The grains are an excellent addition to almost any soup recipe or stew, and they make a good salad grain too.  I once had a delicious Spelt Brownie at a bakery on Salt Spring Island...Got home and tried to replicate the recipe...Well, apparently, Salt Spring Island is a bit like Vegas, what happens on Salt Spring, stays on Salt Spring (and for those of you reading this who know anything about Salt Spring Island, you are nodding your head, I am sure, for this applies to much more than just brownies)....All the chocolate in Nanaimo couldn't help me make those brownies.
So for the third day in a row, my son would like a ham and cheese sandwich for lunch...Tonight, I hosted a "make-your-own-lunch" workshop at the Island in our kitchen (not really much like Salt Spring)...We came away with "bits and pieces" for Kate (a little bit of this and a little bit of that: a few veggies, some stoned wheat thin crackers, a chicken tender and some yogurt dip), Duncan got his Ham and Cheese, and we made Daddy a ham sandwich with some leftover lentil soup (love, Kate)...And everyone thinks that I should have made chocolate chip cookies, but I am going to bed instead!
Happy Packing!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Another trip to the grocery store?

Boy, do we go through a lot of milk in this house!  And why is it that a trip to the grocery store for what should amount to $9 worth of milk, ends up costing me $30?  Nevermind, I managed to pick up three bags of goldfish crackers (for $2.00 a bag)!  What?  I know, they are full of salt, and really worthless as far as nutrition goes (altho I do buy the whole grain ones)...But, if you pop a bowl full of air popped popcorn (and then add a big dollop of butter and a whole whack of salt, you have completely undone the healthy aspects of popcorn as a snack!), and toss in a half a bag of goldfish crackers, you have taken a good chunk of the sodium down to a manageable level, and (in our house at least) there is less demand for the added salt and butter.  And it is fun to search for the goldfish swimming in the big bowl of popcorn.  It also packs nicely into a lunch box as a nice little treat that the teachers don't frown at (okay, well, don't send the whole bowl, unless of course it is for some sort of class celebration!).
I also grabbed some of those ready made smoothies from the yogurt section, but those are for weekend lunches!  Yes, those days when its not a school day, but you still need to pack somebody a good healthy bag of food to take to some gynnastics competition or extra long basketball practice or skating competition...Uh huh, all of which we have coming up this month...I know that the kids will want to purchase food as well, and that is fine, but a big day of competing means that they need to be eating healthy foods (and then pigging out at Micky Dees on the way home from the tournament!  Go figure!)...I plan for the food from home before the action and then it is always good to have a sandwich or wrap from home ready to grab first thing afterwards (remember how good things taste when we are starving!)...This way at least, you can get in there before they hit the concession line or the drive thru on the way home.  With our little kids, we give them $5.00 to spend when we are at a competition, and always tell them that they can keep the change...Amazing how good that lunch from home is when you want to keep as much change as possible!  Kate usually ends up with a box of smarties and then eats the lunch I have packed her...(by the way, smarties tossed into a bowl of hot popcorn, mmmmm!  Just remember the napkins, and maybe don't send that bowl to school).
...So, what is going into the lunches tomorrow?  Chocolate chip cocoa banana bread, mandarins, carrots and celelry with hummus for dipping, and then some turkey chili in the thermoses  (okay, well, Duncan has half turkey chili and half meatballs, child still doesn't do beans...The deal is he gets the meatballs if he promises to also eat the beans)...
Welcome, first hump day of 2011...I am so ready for the weekend~

Monday, January 3, 2011

To quote a friend, "Back-to-school Eve"!

They are going back!  At least here on the Island, they are going back in the morning!  Altho I have to admit, I like having everyone off and home, and hanging out together (and yes, we actually did that more than once!).  It is the trying to work and tripping over everyone that gets tiresome!
And what are they eating for lunch tomorrow?  The big girls can choose between Spicy Hummus and veggie wraps or tuna salad and cream cheese on whole wheat...Kate is having her rice cakes and cheese (and her trusty thermos of soup!)...the big boy?  Left over salad and a tuna salad sandwich (hold the cream cheese please)...The little boy has asked for a  ham and cheese wrap, with no veggies and no lettuce (but I will have my veggies on the side, okay Mum?)...Interestingly enough, the girls have packed (or will pack) their own lunches...The boys seem to be quite content to eat whatever I pack them...
The snacks?  Carrots and tomatoes, apples and clementines, yogurt, date newtons (for the Man), and almonds...And muffins, if I don't sleep in too late!
Supper for tomorrow (one of our fright nights!) is going into the slowcooker in the morning...beef stew with root vegetables, and I have promised that there will be enough leftovers for at least five lunches!

Happy Packing!

Rice cakes and Jam?

Time to get down to it...The kids go back tomorrow...When I asked what they wanted to take for their lunches, Kate said, "Rice cakes!"...I said, "rice cakes and what?"  She said cheese, but Duncan said, "Jam"...That to me just sounds messy!  Pretty sure that Jam all over a desk on the first day back to school isn't what the grade four teacher had in mind.  "How about we save the Jam for at home, hmm?"  So, rice cakes and cheese it is.  But we will put a little left over lentil soup in the thermos just to make sure that I am not picking up a 45 lb grizzly bear at 2:30 tomorrow afternoon.
That is my biggest challenge when it comes to packing lunches...packing enough of what they like to keep them going all day.  Our kids have snack at 9:45am and then lunch at 12pm...By the time school's out at 2:30, they are starving!  And most days, I have to get them somewhere else for dance or skating or karate...That means a second lunch most days.  However, I have learned how to balance that one...When I make the noon meal for the small humans (read toddlers and preschoolers who inhabit my house between 8:30 and 4:30), I make extra!  (Just to let you know, I always make extra!  Could be why our grocery bills are so high! But there always seems to be someone around to eat most of it...hungry teenagers with friends, former roommates dropping by to pick up mail, nice neighbours who don't bake for themselves, but enjoy banana bread and peanut butter cookies!)...By far the favourite lunch is Hamburger Soup and cheese toasts.  (makes a great supper too btw).  The cheese toasts don't travel too well, but the hamburger soup really hits the spot as it gets gulped down in the back of the van on the way to the arena.  If you don't already have a recipe for hamburger soup, check out an old copy of Best of Bridge (yes, that one) or go to their website and search "Hamburger soup"...while you are there, you may want to look up "Santa Fe salad", as it goes well with almost anything! (great in wraps with leftover chicken or salmon)...the salad recipe is from their book "That's trump"...If you want to lighten up the soup's sodium content, just double the veggies in it, and increase the water to cover whatever you have in the pot.  A great idea for a saturday morning cook, and then leave it in the slowcooker for the day if you have to go out.  This soup freezes so well.
That is the trick tho', get them when they are starving!  My dad always said, "Everything tastes better when you are hungry", and too often I find that when the kids are not hungry enough, they will turn up their noses at something new.  But if they try it when they are hungry, I hear, "why did you never make this before?  It is so good!"

Today, though, for me it is back to the picky eaters and no hamburger soup for daycare lunch...We do have however an abundance of cheese in the house...And some pita breads, so it will be ham and cheese mini pizzas and some lentil soup.  (you are right, the picky eaters won't touch the soup, too much stuff floating on top, but there are some little rounds of turkey pepperoni visible to the three year old eye...Not much, but enough to get someone to try it and then quietly finish the bowl....after we see it a few times, everyone will eat some)...We shall see!

Sunday, January 2, 2011

The lunchbox...

...That time again...the holidays have been packed away and we are left with just the memories of Christmas, New Year's and all that food...All that food and its time to head to the grocery store again?...Time to make lunches again...How many times have I heard people say they hate making lunches...What can you make that everyone likes?  The end of the day when you open that Litterless lunchbox and half of it is still there..."I didn't like it..." or "I wasn't really hungry"...
On any given day, I get to make lunch for at least one adult, two tweens, and at least two toddlers and two preschoolers.  I used to make lunch for two teenages too, but they have taken over that task...I am however, still responsible for providing the potential contents for those lunchboxes as well.  And we live in a world where PB and J no longer cut it, although, not too bad nutrition wise (especially if made on whole grain bread, with natural peanut butter and some delicious homemade jam), Peanut butter has become something of (as my husband calls it) Toxic Waste.  So, what do you pack?  How do you spice things up a little and still make sure they will eat it?
Start with your food groups...In our house, we shoot for two fruits/veggies...In go the carrot sticks and cherry tomatoes, and then an apple or an orange or a banana, or some homemade apple sauce (all those bags of little apples this fall?  My freezer is full of homemade applesauce, it was either that or start throwing them out...My grandmothers would turn over in their graves!)...Next?  What is your protein?  And your dairy?  A little cottage cheese, or some yogurt...I know, this is the easy part, isn't it?  It is the "main dish" that gets us everytime...My Dear Husband is the easy one...a dish of leftovers from supper (Hint always make enough for at least one left-over lunch)...Next? Two teenagers: ham and cheese or cheese and tomato, and a little bit of lettuce and some homemade dressing and all is well (sometimes mix it up with a bagel or a wrap but otherwise nothing changes)...
Then there are the fussy ones...Solution?  Chicken tenders ...On sale this week at the grocery store to boot!...Season them with whatever the kids might like (around here, a little homemade taco seasoning is a hit), bake them in the oven at 425F for about 6 or 8 minutes...From here, you can choose: a wrap with some lettuce, veggies and a favourite dressing, or just the tenders with some veggies and dip...or for the Thermos crew (my 7 year old thinks the best lunches are always in her thermos), dice the tenders and toss with some left over rice or noodles and put the lid on nice and tight.  Now you just need something sweet?  Or maybe not...We try and keep the sweets (other than fruit and yogurt) out of the lunchbox on a regular basis...Altho there are some yummy homemade oatmeal cookies that will probably make an appearance sometime this week!
One last tip...make enough chicken tenders for two or three days...They won't likely make it that far tho'...Folks have been known to eat them as afterschool snacks!
Happy Back to School New Year!