Friday, November 19, 2004

Kiss the Food Preparation Specialist

I have blogged before about food issues, but I've never touched directly on the subject of getting Jake's meals. Back in the first part of this year, I used to live for Friday morning, not only because I got to sleep in, but also because I didn't have to deal with the issue of getting Jacob's breakfast and lunch ready.

It had developed into a hassle on a day-in, day-out basis. This time around, it's not so much, because of our effort to plan ahead. When I was a kid, I ate cold cereal for breakfast pretty much every day of the school week. Usually, it was Cap'n Crunch. We don't want to go that route with Jacob, but it does make our job a bit more complicated.

Here are the factors we need to consider. Breakfast should be ready quickly, to give him the maximum amount of time to get through it. Ideally, it would have protein in it (my wife's side of the family has this weird "morning slows" thing that protein seems to help) and complement his lunch and dinner in terms of stuff (your food groups). Lunch has to be something that will be okay to eat cold, can be put together fairly quickly, will fit into a lunchbox, and it also needs to complement his other meals. Both need to have plenty of variety, so he doesn't get sick of eating the same thing every single day (this was always a killer for me the first time around -- how to keep from repeating meals too often). We also like to avoid overdoing it on pre-packaged food. And last but certainly not least, both need to be meals a mom or dad who have just gotten out of bed and have not had any caffeine can make without violating any FDA or EPA requirements (I'm dead certain our kitchen is not OSHA-compliant, but fortunately I can only sue myself).

Like dinner meals, planning ahead and artful use of leftovers can work wonders (save some bacon from a weekend breakfast for a Tuesday breakfast or sandwich). Fruit is always good, keeps well, and is easy to mix up (banana one day, apple another, grapes another, etc.). Add condiments to the lunch (ranch dressing with the carrots, or maybe ketchup).

For Jacob at least, repeating the same things on a weekly basis is okay. We are kinda stuck with meat sandwich one day, cheese the next, PB&J after that, etc. etc. every week. That business of stuff that will be okay cold is a killer. I do try to vary the bread types, and toss in a bagel or a breakfast biscuit (Trish's excellent idea) from time to time.

One day a week, we let him take in a lunchable-type thing. But only one. For the most part, those things are just crap in a fancy package. Our local Whole Foods used to carry something called "The Good Lunch" which was mostly organic. It was still too high in fat, but at least the total calories were not indicative of a meal better suited for a company of US Marines than sub-teenagers. Unfortunately, they quit carrying it a while back.

So there you have it. A short look at the things we try to do to keep our son fed in a healthy and tasty manner. I'm happy to hear any suggestions from the gallery, and if you need any, I hope this entry sparked an idea or two.

By the way, here's a little trick to keep your PB&J sandwiches from getting all mushy (from the jelly soaking into the bread). Put the peanut butter on both slices of bread, and the jelly in the middle. The PB will serve as a lining to prevent the jelly from turning the bread into mush. Slick huh? Able to cook with Argon or not, Trish had never thought of that one.

1 comment:

Justa Dad said...

Good info!
It doesn't matter how balanced a school lunch I pack, my seven year olds will generally trade out for the chocolate ding-dong. (In addition to whatever desert they may already have.)

Can you hear me banging my head on the food pyramid?