I read a few family food blogs. I read them for inspiration but more for admiration. I love looking at the perfect little lunches they serve their small people. They use shapes to create cute sandwiches and add little notes and flags and smoothie pouches and turn them into crazy scenes and wild animals. I love that stuff. I don’t do that, though. What I do is put together foods I know my little person loves. It looks similar every time, but she doesn’t seem to mind.
When reading these blogs I have noticed that they get a lot of criticism around the ingredients they use (organic is too expensive, non-organic is unhealthy), or the quantities (too much food or not enough food), or not covering all the food groups. I’m not a nutritionist. I’m just Mama Fearse, setting out to feed Little Fearse food she loves that is mostly healthy and nutritious. Every one of these lunches also comes with a bottle of water and a smoothie (usually banana or mango if it’s in season).
Our last post, 30 days of Day Care Lunches for a 12 Month Old has been our most popular by about 1000 views. Parents out there are looking for ideas for food to feed their kids. I hope our new list gives you some new inspiration.
TOP ROW: 1. Popcorn & cheese, cherry coulis & plain yoghurt, veggies & home made hummus, summer fruit salad, 2. Pumpkin muffin, veggie & cheese salad, pikelets with strawberries, nectarine, 3. Boiled egg, tuna and butter bean salad, yoghurt apricot balls, blueberries & plain yoghurt, twirly apple, frozen peas & steamed carrots.
MIDDLE ROW: 1. Chicken & bacon casserole, apricot, whole meal wrap, steamed carrots, 2. Apricot and kiwi fruit salad, berries in plain yoghurt, pop corn, papadams, 3. Close up of the twirly apple.
BOTTOM ROW: 1. Steamed asparagus, home made chicken nuggets, 2. Frozen peas and fresh tomatoes, egg and bacon pie, papadums and summer fruit salad, 3. Guacamole with capsicum, organic corn chips, pumpkin muffin, blueberry and sweet lemon salad.
- Biscuits with vegemite and cheese (a good back up if you’re not sure if your wee one will eat the other foods you’ve offered – Little Fearse is a little fussier now she’s getting older and more determined)
- Celery and peanut butter sandwiches
- Lemon risotto
- Home made Baked beans
- Oatcakes (Little Fearse likes these plain as much as she likes them with vegemite or peanut butter and they are pretty easy to make at home.)
- Twirly slinky apples (after some debate on our Facebook page we bought one of these gadgets second hand…we have used it several times a day since purchased.)
- Mini apple pies (stew apple with cinnamon, no sugar needed – puff pastry again)
- One eye (bread with the centre cut out (BP uses cute animal cookie cutters) and fried with an egg in the middle -better warm, but still fun cold)
- Sultanas, the ultimate sweet snack (or other dried fruits)
- Fried rice
- Kidney beans, diced capsicum and corn with guacamole and lime juice [to keep it fresh] – add some plain corn chips for the full nacho experience
- Banana salad with yoghurt and honey
- Mini lasagne pin-rolls (thank you Pinterest)
- Eggplant Pizza
- Cheese and grated apple sandwiches (the apple goes brown, but it still tastes good and she doesn’t seem to mind)
- Vegemite and cheese OR spinach and cheese triangles (puff pastry…easy!)
- Flatbread roll ups with chicken, cheese and spinach leaves (or whatever combination you like…she tends to dissemble these anyway!)
- Mini cheese and vege pizzas on English muffins
- Rice and tuna casserole
- Home made cheese twists (use puff pastry for this, too) and hummus
- Home made chicken nuggets and wedges with guacamole
- Plain yoghurt topped with stewed fruit / berries / berry coulis (if you find some cheap overripe berries)
- Chicken drumstick with peas (be sure to check for small bones, there is at least one sharp bone in a drumstick that we like to remove first – of course you may like to remove the chicken from the bone yourself)
- Left over roast meat and veggies in a wrap.
- Banana bread (or zucchini bread, or bread made from whatever you have a lot of at the time)
- Tuna or salmon patties (made with mashed potato, bread crumbs, herbs and lemon juice)
- Pikelets with a little jam or peanut butter
- Jacket potatoes (topped with veggies and cheese and tomato salsa)
- Fruit crumble (made with whatever is in season – we do a lot of apple and rhubarb crumble over the winter and peach in the summer)
- Pop corn (unseasoned)
- Egg and bacon pies
- Fruit and yoghurt balls (I buy these at the market and will occasionally give Little Fearse one or two in her lunch as a special treat)
- Home made dips with broken up wraps or veggie sticks (or papadams or biscuits or whatever) – one of the big changes since our last entry is that LF now has the motor control to manage a spoon or dipping foods into other foods.
I’d love to hear from you, too. What do your kids love in their lunches? What have we forgotten, or not thought of yet?
This is a question I ask myself a lot lately. Is this simple? Really? Sometimes I get a little stuck on the answer.
Recently I was asked to work an extra day a fortnight at school. My initial reaction was a very Little Fearsian ‘nononono’, but it’s never that simple, right? Could we do with a little extra pay coming in? Yes. Would the extra child care costs make it worth while? Just, yes. The thing that was troubling me the most was how Little Fearse may react. On my three day working weeks she is much clingier. For the rest of the week I’m not allowed out of her sight – not to pee, not to shower, not to hang out the washing. On my two day working weeks this doesn’t happen.
I knew that working that extra day would mean a lot to my team at school and also to my students. As a teacher whether you go to work or not is never as cut and dry as doing what suits you as an employee, the less impact your own decisions have on the students the better. It takes time for children to build trust and relationships – for some kids half a year. Being there, standing in front of your students in the morning, is sometimes all they need to reassure them that today is okay, they can learn today. Of course there are also plenty of kids who couldn’t give a hoot if you showed up or not…and later in schooling those that would prefer you didn’t.
Big Poppa and I discussed all the pros and cons. We discussed options with our parents. Eventually a plan emerged that we could be okay with. Little Fearse would spend the same amount of time in day care, but would have an extra day with my parents. This was still not simple. It was more complicated than I really preferred, but as Big Poppa sagely pointed out, it didn’t mean one less day with me, it meant one more day with her grandparents. That was something to be celebrated, not something to make me sad.
Armed with this knowledge we spoke to Little Fearse’s day carer and asked to exchange one of her days in care for a Wednesday to accommodate my parents volunteering commitments. She had filled her last Wednesday place a day earlier! Was this simple? Yep! We were not going to outsource Little Fearse’s care to a third person, so there was no way I could (with good conscience) take on an extra day.
The point I’m making here, is that while not everything will be simple, it’s important to us to view decisions with the lens of simplicity. It won’t always work out for us, but ensuring that we keep simplicity at the forefront will help us to maintain this ideal as much as is possible in a world that is often very complex.
[Don’t forget to check out our follow up entry: 30 (+4 bonus) MORE day care lunches]
One of the surprisingly creative things about parenting that I have really enjoyed over the past six months is finding new and exciting foods to feed Little Fearse. Initially we started off on mashed veggies, as probably most people do. When Little Fearse was six months old, encouraged by the experiences of others we started to offer her finger foods. She took to it immediately. Once she’d been gradually introduced to most foods we started to share family meals. Little Fearse is so far a fabulous eater and will enjoy a curry, casserole or risotto as much as she will a plain ol’ banana.
In Family Day Care we have to provide Little Fearse with lunch each day. Big Poppa and I take it in turns to create her lunchbox each week. This is a new challenge for us and we’ve found there are precious few resources on the web offering lunch ideas for a 12 month old. Ruth, Little Fearse’s lovely carer, changes her nappies and strokes her to sleep and teaches her to say “brum brum” when she plays with cars. Her job is not cleaning up yoghurt tornadoes from the world’s messiest eater. This means we need to send foods that Little Fearse can easily eat with her hands and that won’t create a world of mess to clean up. The foods also cannot be things that need to be prepared in any way, though they can be refrigerated or heated. Hopefully this list will serve other parents in our position as a reference point or at least offer a few good ideas for a twelve month old baby’s lunchbox.
Clockwise from top right: zucchini balls, cucumber and cherry tomato salad, kiwi fruit, red grape and madarin salad.
- Boiled eggs* with chunks of cheese and peas (frozen peas defrosted overnight but not heated).
- Tiny sandwiches – vegemite, peanut butter, cheese, squashed fly (honey + saltana)**, ham.
- Tomato, cucumber, pickle and cheese salad. (Of course you can do this with any of your baby’s favourite finger foods.)
- Apple oat muffins.
- Smoothies in a straw cup – banana, strawberry + cinnamon is her favourite so far.
- Mini frittata* – pumpkin and leak is yummy, but you can pretty much add anything.
- Fruit, of course – my favourite lunches are those that include an array of colours. Grapes, berries, mandarin, orange, kiwi fruit, pear etc. These can be popped in individually or as a fruit salad.
- Soda bread rolls with cheese, ham and tomato. These are easy to make up if you’re out of bread.
- Left-overs from dinner.
- Quinoa bars.
- Zucchini balls (we have a recipe for these, but you could make something similar with any veggies).
- Mini onion and beef burgers.
- Potato wedges with slices of avocado.
- Corn fritters.
- Berry pikelets.
- Zucchini chips (using one of those oversized zucchini’s cut slices into strips and crumb with egg and breadcrumbs before frying).
- French toast*.
- Smashed swede, carrot and pumpkin (add wholeseed mustard and ricotta before lightly mashing, leaving chunks for baby to pick up).
- Homemade chicken nuggets.
- Corn on the cob in slices (if your baby is lucky enough to have teeth – Little Fearse has only just popped one through).
- Homemade biscuits and slices.
- Risotto with chunky veggies.
- Bread soup (I make thick veggie soup and load it up with chunks of bread so they get soaked with soup but she can still pick them up).
- Homemade sausage rolls.
- Honey, banana and peanut butter toastie (pre-cooked)**.
- Lasagne – veggie, lentil, meat.
- Dahl with big pieces of veggies.
- Scones – Little Fearse likes pumpkin or cheese and chive the best. Or maybe they’re just the ones I like the best…
- Homemade dumplings.
- Sushi – I wouldn’t give Little Fearse raw fish, but wouldn’t hesitate with other types of sushi. Other people say raw fish is fine. I’m not a paediatrician or a dietician, so go with your gut or seek advice from a professional if you’re not sure. You’re probably smart enough to have worked that out for yourself without me saying though, right?
We’d love to hear your ideas. If you have something to add to the list please leave a comment. We love comments! I am also happy to post recipes for anything in our list that you are curious about.
I hope that this is useful to someone out there.
*NB: Little Fearse attends a day care where there are no allergies amongst the other children. This means she is allowed to have meals including nuts and eggs. I would suggest you check with your day care worker before sending any of the astrixed meals.
**Also note that honey is usually not recommended for children under 12 months and we only included this in her meals after she turned one.