Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Food blues

“I don’t want to be hot lunch!”

I should be thrilled: My second-grader actually wants me to pack his lunch every day. Really? After all the whining last year about having to bring his lunch three days out of five?

Instead, I feel desperate. I have no idea what to send to school with him.

I should be full of ideas. That’s my job here—to have good ideas about feeding our kids. This blog boasts more than three dozen creative ideas for stuffing a lunch sack, and that's in addition to traditional sandwiches, meat-and-cheese skewers, and the usual fare.

But my kid isn’t eating much of anything these days. His list of acceptable foods has grown pitifully short. The only chicken he’ll eat is in nugget form (only fast food, not frozen and certainly not homemade). He balks at beef except in tacos, satay, and sometimes Trader Joe’s Bool Kogi. Beans, pork, and fish are out. So are vegetables except romaine lettuce. Cheese pizza is OK hot, but not packed cold. Pasta must be hot, plain, and only in certain shapes.

Peanut butter, Nutella, and fluff sandwiches are good, except when they aren’t. Quesadillas, hot dogs, macaroni and cheese, pot stickers, eggs, yogurt that isn’t in a tube, cheese, nuts, and most fruits—fresh and dried—are all on the reject list.

I’m burned out. Fed up. Seriously annoyed.

It was a relief and surprise when he recently asked to make sourdough bread, using a starter recipe from a cooking class he took two years ago. He didn't need to ask me twice. That afternoon, we got our starter going. Five days later, we baked two huge, gorgeous loaves of bread. A few days after that, he sold homemade sourdough baguettes at a lemonade stand to benefit his school. An extra cup of starter yielded the tastiest, laziest waffles I've ever enjoyed in my kitchen.

His starter, nicknamed "Cutie," is now almost a month old. He's feeding it regularly and cheers to see it bubble and rise.

It's just white bread—plain, simple, bad carbs and all. But it's nourishing, in so many ways.

What do you do when you have the lunch box blues? If you have any ideas, please share in the comments!


Anna said...

Yes, we've all been there. Sometimes here, after preparing a whole menu for a whole week of lunch box meals, I just have my son asking for white bread, and maybe a slice of cheese, and nothing else. Go figure. I suppose - coincidentally our first grader also eats lots of Bool Kogi, and it might be because of the lots of sugar in the marinade. But Darienne, I also see the bright side of this: it's just a phase!

Helene S. said...

Maybe he can take some of that yummy bread dough and roll something in it before baking - peanut butter, cheese, seasoned meat or meat substitute. If he's actually baking his lunches, maybe he'll be more inclined to eat them, and be creative in the process!

Darienne said...

Helene, that's a brilliant idea! I'll have to give that a try this weekend. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

My school just banned anything with peanuts, so a fave of my kids, PB&J, is out for school lunches. So now what?

Darienne said...

That's really hard. If you haven't tried sunflower butter yet, that might be an option (be sure to check that it's allowed!). My kids never took to the taste.

One of my sons is at a nut-free school. We make jam or cream cheese-and-jam sandwiches, and I try to get in protein in other ways: turkey meatballs and edamame usually get eaten here, and every so often I pack a hard-cooked egg or beans but they usually come home untouched.

Cindy Rowland said...

I think you need to get out a copy of Bread and Jam for Francis for some inspiration. And maybe feed him a light breakfast. I kind of have one kid that could be labeled a selective eater. But I try my best to ignore it. She eats a lot of bread.


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