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by Phoebe Schilla
Building the perfect lunch box starts with letting go of any preconceived notion of what you would like for lunch and what you think your child should have for lunch.
I know what I like for lunch and you can be sure that my daughter will not eat it unless it involves chicken, pasta or mushrooms.
As a private chef, I have worked with families whose diets range from oil-free veganism to carnivores who don’t eat any veggies (parents included).
There are the people (and not just kids) who want a set menu every week. They expect meatloaf on Tuesday and veggie stir-fry on Thursday. For them, the consistency of meals gives a feeling of stability.
Others want to be surprised – as long as it’s in season and locally sourced.
Children aren’t much different, and a picky childhood eater does not equate to a picky adult eater. For years, my husband ate only sausage and wheat toast for breakfast. As a little boy, my brother loved peas in Worcestershire sauce and sandwiches that consisted solely of bread, mustard and ketchup.
Hard as it may be to believe, your child will evolve into a good eater and making a “darn close to perfect” lunch box will help him on his way.
Here are some tips to building your own, unique lunch for your child.
Involve her! Go to the farmer’s market to select seasonal fruit. Take her on a field trip to a pick-your-own berry farm or vegetable farm.
Accept the fact that he may want to eat peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for the next six years.
My daughter loves the bento box lunch concept and I know a lot of adults who do, too. If that sounds intimidating and complicated, remember your leftovers.
Remember that sweets and treats have a place in a child’s lunch box. I’ve seen too many people, and not just kids, deprive themselves, but then secretly binge on chocolate or other snacks.
If your child enjoys a diverse lunch, create a menu plan where Monday means noodles, Tuesday means tortillas, Wednesday is wrap day and so forth.
If your child enjoys “food as art” (cutouts of cheese, sandwiches or a silly snake pizza), have them do the work while you supervise.
So put down the biodegradable sandwich bags, the coconut milk smoothie and the raw kale chips. Have a little fun and keep a log of the really weird combinations your kids crave. Years later, you can tease them when they become the foodies they are meant to be.
Phoebe Schilla, a graduate of the Cordon Bleu in Paris, lives and works in San Francisco, where she is the founder of the Studio of Good Living, the “place for all things culinary.” Find it at www.studioofgoodliving.com or call 415-640-6086.
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