The fourth and final week of the GO KIDS! Food Challenge focused on meal planning – more specifically, involving kids in meal planning to demonstrate what they’ve learned over the three previous weeks.
Keep in mind, my oldest is 4 and this challenge is designed for kids who are slightly older. My daughter isn’t really concerned with what’s healthy – she just wants what she wants. We definitely compromised throughout the week.
Monday: I woke up in a panic. We returned home from Thanksgiving travel late on Sunday and I hadn’t been to the store. For breakfast, my 4-year-old had a cereal bar and banana in the car on the way to school. For lunch, she had a leftover quesadilla that she didn’t finish from lunch on the road the day before, plus sugar snap peas, carrots, yogurt and a small cookie she’d decorated for Thanksgiving. After school, we went grocery shopping and she asked for an avocado for dinner. I added store-bought roast chicken to the menu.
Tuesday: For breakfast, we had scrambled eggs, avocado and whole wheat toast. For lunch, I packed a turkey and cheese sandwich on pita bread, carrots, and apple slices with almond butter. She often has apples, but I don’t usually pack almond butter, so she was excited about this. She ate everything but the turkey and cheese. I left work later than usual and my husband was working that night. As a result, my youngest ate dinner at daycare, and my oldest ate her leftover turkey and cheese from lunch, plus sugar snap peas and a banana when we got home.
Wednesday: I wanted to get to the office earlier this day, so I packed my oldest a banana and a slice of cranberry loaf leftover from Thanksgiving to eat at school before class started. For lunch she had turkey and cheese rolled up in a whole wheat tortilla, sugar snap peas and raisins. For dinner, I was going to be out with friends celebrating a birthday. I put salmon in the oven and sweet potatoes in the microwave before I left. At the restaurant, my husband called.
Him: Am I supposed to give the girls this fish?
Him: What’s the back-up plan?
Suffice it to say, they did not eat the salmon. Or the sweet potatoes. I am not sure what they did end up eating.
Thursday: My mother-in-law sent us home with a ton of croissants after Thanksgiving, and my oldest asked for one all week, so on this day I made us breakfast sandwiches with eggs and cheese on croissants to go. (Again, she ate breakfast in her classroom before school started.) She was so full, she barely ate any of the lunch I packed (turkey, cheese, whole wheat crackers, carrots and an apple). I had a PTA meeting and my husband wasn’t home that night, so my little one ate dinner at daycare while my oldest snacked through the PTA meeting at her school. For dinner, she ate some of her leftover lunch.
Friday: Cereal for breakfast. Turkey, cheese, crackers, carrots, yogurt and an apple for lunch. Dinner out.
Saturday: Cereal for breakfast. Lunch out. For dinner, the girls had scrambled eggs and avocado – this is our quick, go-to meal that we know they will eat.
Sunday: I suggested oatmeal, but my oldest wanted cereal and the little one is in a mimicking phase. After several rounds of them both wailing, “Cereal!” I relented. Lunch was turkey, sugar snap peas and whole wheat crackers. For dinner, I served pitas with grilled chicken, tomatoes, lettuce and a mint-yogurt-cucumber sauce. (Bonus: the mint was picked fresh from our garden.) My little one ate pita, chicken, tomatoes and cucumber sauce. My oldest tried the pita only with chicken and the sauce, but said she didn’t like it.
I’m glad I did this challenge. Writing down what we’ve been eating lets me see where we struggle. And it’s made me realize a few things:
- We eat much better when I have time to prep on the weekends. Typically, I will choose three or four meals for the week before I do my weekly shopping, with the idea of each meal lasting at least two nights. I will also usually make hard-boiled eggs or something else extra so that my daughter has something other than deli meat in her lunches, otherwise she grows bored of it. When I don’t have that prep day, we don’t eat as well.
- We are busy! It’s challenging when my husband and I aren’t both home every night, which makes planning ahead all the more important. (Check out some tips for planning ahead from the GO MOM! Blog.)
- We are lucky to have a daycare that serves three well-rounded meals a day. This allows us so much more flexibility in the mornings and evenings.
Sign up to be a GO KID! and receive tips for healthy families, plus information about the Family Challenge, which starts on March 16. While I didn’t ace this Food Challenge, I learned a lot that I can apply to my meal-planning moving into the New Year.