Weekly Meal Plan: Monday December 10th

by Maryann Tomovich Jacobsen, MS, RD on December 10, 2012

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The holidays are in full force. We finally got our tree up, our cards are being printed and we went to our first (no kid) party.

This week I’m trying a new twist on Macaroni and Cheese from the book Cooking Light sent me (The New Way to Cook Light) that I’ll post if it turns out. Little D loves mac and cheese so we’ll see if it passes his test. I’m also making fried rice, which is kind of new for me.

For more menu plan ideas, see Org Junkie.

What’s cooking this week?

Monday: Black bean and chicken quesadillas with all the toppings

Tuesday: Butternut squash macaroni and cheese and a big green salad

Wednesday: Kids’ choice

Thursday: Breaded chicken with fried rice and fruit

Friday: Slow cooker lentil and ham soup with french bread and a salad.

More from Cooking Light…

Holiday Entertaining and Menus

Superfast Honey Glazed Almonds

100 Appetizer Ideas

The uneaten lunch

I make a point not to comment on what or how much Big A eats of her lunch. But lately it has been coming home barely touched. So I asked her if she had something else to eat which happens sometimes. She said no.

Me: Just not hungry?

Her: Yes

Me: Is there something else going on? Another reason you’re not eating much of your lunch?

Her: Yeah…

Me: What is it sweety?

Her: You always make me the same things.

(insert knife into heart and turn)

But I sensed something else was going on. I do try to I rotate a variety of meals and 2 days a week she gets hot lunch.

Me: What happens at lunch? Anything else?

Her: Well, there is some forcing to eat and I don’t like it

Big A was referring to the pushing that occurs at lunch to get the kids to eat, which I witnessed one time I visited. We talked more about this — and she admitted that this added pressure made lunch less appetizing (not those exact words).

I think the feeding environment is influencing her as well as her tiring of the options and her likely going through one of those anti-growth spurts where she’s just not that hungry.

So I talked with the aid at school who supervises lunch and let her know that I want Big A to be the one to decide when she done eating. I also offered to come in and help out with lunch when I can. And lastly, I asked that any outside food be put in her backpack so that it doesn’t interfere with her appetite (except for the monthly birthday celebrations that occur at snack time). Big A understands that we will find a time for her to eat it at home — either at snack or at another meal.

Big A and I went through my Trader Joe’s cookbook for some new ideas. Kids tire of even their favorite foods so it’s always beneficial to change things up, even if it’s just buying granny smith apples instead of red delicious or opting for Clementines instead of oranges.

Other reasons kids don’t eat their lunch include not enough time, filling up on juice or milk first, outside food given right before mealtime, eating a snack that is too close to lunch and socializing with friends. We need to help kids come to mealtime with an appetite, make the atmosphere pleasant and encourage them to focus on food.

Anyone else dealing with a child’s lunch coming back barely touched?

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{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

Andrea December 10, 2012 at 11:56 am

It’s not that I have the uneaten lunch-which used to occasionally make an appearance, but I worry that my son will toss his lunch if he doesn’t eat it so that I’ll quit questioning him as to why he didn’t eat. He is a notoriously very selective eater and going to counseling for it. I do pack him the same things every day because he doesn’t like anything else. I usually will not pack only his favorite, junkier items but I’ll add a few only moderately preferred, healthier items that I know he’ll eat at home. I have no idea if he eats it or not.

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Maryann Tomovich Jacobsen, MS, RD December 11, 2012 at 8:24 am

Andrea — does he come home really hungry? At my daughter’s school htey have a no waste policy, meaning kids have to put what they don’t eat back in their backpack.

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Katja Rowell December 10, 2012 at 12:18 pm

Sad! Some kids eat in their snowsuits! I can’t imagine trying to eat with that bulk and heat. Great post about the pressure to eat not helping. All too common with “healthy food coaches” etc. in the schools increasingly. I’ve been hearing so many different stories with the new rules: kids forced to take fruits that are often unappetizing (unripe, overly ripe) and pressured to eat them, kids shamed over foods from home, told to eat more, or less…Have you seen the Montana comfortable cafeterias video? I want to live there! It’s amazing, and I’d love to see you share it with your audience if you like it. I imagine if you haven’t already seen it, you’ll love it! http://vimeo.com/35343727 Schools could do such amazing work supporting eating. M’s menu said, “Enjoy food, just eat less of it” recently. I had to cut that part of the school menu off, since she reads it every day. Kids need to learn to trust their bodies and self-regulate, not comply with orders to eat more or less…

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Maryann Tomovich Jacobsen, MS, RD December 11, 2012 at 8:25 am

Thanks for the video Katja. That’s great! It will help as I get started on teh health and wellness policy at my daughter’s school. She goes to a new, small catholic school and I want to help shape the food, feeding and nutrition environment!

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Stacy @School-Bites.com December 10, 2012 at 12:59 pm

At my son’s school, I’ve also noticed the problem of well-meaning school staff pushing kids to eat or telling them to eat their healthy foods first. They are trying to help but maybe not going about it the best way? The other day, my son told me that one kid was in tears because a teacher had told him he needed to eat something healthy, and his lunchbox was filled with processed sugary junk. I do feel like having more staff wellness education would be helpful.

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Maryann Tomovich Jacobsen, MS, RD December 11, 2012 at 8:27 am

Good point Stacy. Schools also need to look at how they are feeding kids, not just what. We risk turning kids off to healthy eating by pushing too much.

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Tricia December 11, 2012 at 6:52 am

I taped a note to the inside lid of my kindergartener’s lunchbox: please do not encourage this child to eat. It seemed to do the trick. Now she doesnt eat snack as they decided just to eat snack outside at recess (in 30 degree weather). Why didn’t you eat these crackers? I was wearing my mittens…I always have a banana for her at the bus stop…

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Maryann Tomovich Jacobsen, MS, RD December 11, 2012 at 8:28 am

That’s a great idea Tricia. A good idea to do other places too, like summer camps and other planned kid activities.

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Jen December 11, 2012 at 11:15 am

Maryann~
I love your suggestions, and am lucky that we discovered Baby Led Weaning before we ever started our daughter on solid foods. She’s an amazing 2 year old eater now, and voluntarily picks vegetables over sweets and pasta regularly, though she definitely likes bread!
I do have one question for you though- you write about the importance of structuring three main meals a day with a couple of snacks. What’s the harm in doing 6 small meals throughout the day, if they’re consistently healthy choices? I’m just curious, because we regularly hear that consistent, small meals can be healthier for adults than three large meals. Is there a reason that kids should strive for three main meals? Maybe something we haven’t come across since our little one isn’t in school yet?

Thank you for your advice and resources!

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Maryann Tomovich Jacobsen, MS, RD December 11, 2012 at 3:24 pm

Jen — this post summarizes the research on kids and eating frequency http://www.raisehealthyeaters.com/2012/06/how-many-times-a-day-should-kids-eat/

Generally, young children, like yours, should be offered food every 2-3 hours. As they get older they can go longer as summarized in the post. I like to think of main meals as by simply offering more food groups (4-5) and in between meals are more like “mini-meals” offering 2-3 food groups. Make sense?

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