little miss picky eater: kindergarten's lunch

Bee doesn't like to eat lunch.  She would rather be outside in the playground with her peers than sitting inside and eatting her lunch alone.  It seems no one is eating lunch in kindergarten.

I spoke with other moms and they told me, on a good day their kid finished half, but generally, most day lunch is 75% untouched.  One mom told me, her son takes 1, yes 1, bite of the sandwich and he's done.  For many of us parents, we are patience and persistent :) and a little afraid our little bigger will starve :) so we consistently make and pack snacks and lunch for our kid (s) each day.  We pray and hope to see those lunch bag come home empty.

C & I were a bit stressed that Bee's not eating her lunch but upon hearing from other parents, we feel so so much better about lunch time.  Vince's mom told me that around grade 2 is when they will finish their lunch and snacks !  Speaking from her own experience with her elder kid.  Here's to hoping and praying it will be earlier or same for us.

Bee wants to be with other kids at the 1st lunch warning bell (we're on the West Coast lunch schedule, there are 2 bells, first one is 15 min. into lunch, if you're done you can go outside, the 2nd one is at 30 min into lunch, and this one is where EVERYONE has to be outside, whether you finish your lunch or not, you have to be outside).  Most kids are out at the 1st bell, Bee said.  She wants to be with all her friends so she packs up after 15.  Being a slow eater, she often finished only 1/3 or 1/4 of her lunch.

2 months now into kindergarten, I learned a bit about Bee's habit, she doesn't want to be last out and too much food overwhelms her (too many choices).  I also learned not to fuss over it, the more attention I gave the more apprehensive she gets, and then our walk home isn't fun anymore.  Instead I ask her, if she enjoys the lunch C or I packed her, and often she would tell me what she likes and don't like and the occasions "you packed too much!".  We decided to give her a smaller lunch and play around with what's convenience to pack and what she can finish in short time so she can be out with other kids at 1st bell !

While I like to exchange ideas and seek advices from other parents, I take them all in stride.  Reasons are our kids are different and our parenting style are different.  I prefer talking things out rather than force.  I know parents who forced their kids to eat, it's not for me or hubby.  We also don't tell our kids "eat or be hungry" and we avoid hand feeding them most of the time.  Instead we would play food stealing games to get Bee to eat while we eat our meal.  We are not the most patience people either so if by the time we're done our meal, if she's not done, she can choose to stay and eat or clean up with us.  We are lucky that generally there's something on the table that she wants to eat.  She has her off day 1 or 2 times a week but she makes it up by eating cucumbers or broccoli or fruits and drinking more milk.

I've read articles on picky eaters and none of it really applies to Bee or our personalities so I walk away with the overall knowledge:  get to know your kid !  and then use that knowledge and find solutions that works for both of you.  Bee is a selective eater and also a slow eater too.  She generally likes most fruits and for veggies, she prefers cucumber and broccoli most.  She used to love mixed food but now prefers them separate, not touching each other.  Maybe it's just a phrase but while she's going through it, it's good to be considerate of that and let her be.

To make our life easy, for lunch, we pack all the tried and true food we know she would eat.  I wouldn't start introducing new food at lunch, that's more like a dinner thing.   Right now, I pack mostly her favorite fruits for snacks, and she doesn't like sandwiches (because we don't normally eat them) or anything with sauce (pasta, etc) or anything mixed (like mixed noodled or fried rice) so I try to pack her something that is filling.  This probably is the most challenging and trying part for me !!!

For this week and last week, lunch menu is home made breakfast sausage (recipe here), or mini pancakes (1 egg, 2 table spoons of flour, bit of cane sugar, bit of mashed up banana or grated sweet potato mixed with water), or croissants with turkey ham, or mini chicken wieners with rice balls.  The ham and wieners are either free range or made with organic meat and are locally made.  Even so, I don't want her to start liking processed meat products so I try to limit it to 1 a week or 1 every 2 weeks.

One mom told me her boy likes cereal so she packed cereal and milk for lunch.  Another packed pancakes for the whole week.  I think it's great that they do whatever works for them and the kid !!!  It makes it less stressful for everyone.  

I found baby cubes are great for packing small snacks.
They are just the right size, take little space and easy to open and clean.

Bee doesn't like cold food so with a recommendation from another mom, I bought a kid thermos at London Drugs.  So far it's a great investment ! we use it everyday !  It keeps food warm for 5 hours and cold food for 7 hours.  We don't tighten it too tight, just enough so Bee can open by herself.  Price is around $15 so it's not so bad.

There's no candy or juice or milk in Bee's lunch bag.  She has a bottle of water!  We also pack her a 4-5 ritz crackers or 15 gold fish crackers (because her friends are eating them and she asked me if she can have it too).  I don't like crackers as I feel they are loaded with salt and are just filler food.  But they are easy to pack and easy to eat when hungry or just need something to tie over.  The crackers come home most day though, untouched, but we continue to pack them just in case she's still hungry after lunch.

We're getting the hang of making lunch for Bee.  It just takes some time to figure out what works and what doesn't and takes a bit of effort in prepping.  Now a few times a week (2 or 3) we get "I finished my lunch" and it's encouraging for us.  It seems food is forever a battle for us parents !!!  We don't spoil our kids, but we do compromise with them on some things, mostly with Bee, as she's vocal enough to let us know her preferences.  If something is a struggle for us then we sit down and discuss as family and negotiate !!!  At the end of the day, while we listen and hear the kids out, we make sure they know we are the king and queen and we rule this place called home :-)  we get to have the last word !  for now anyways !

Bee loves grapes and cantaloupe cubes !  She like croissants and the mini hot dog (organic all meat with no preservatives)

First time packing this for Bee and she ate everything but the corned beef slices.  We don't eat cold cuts at home so it doesn't surprise me that she didn't eat it.  I remember liking corned beef so I bought it, hoping she likes it.  Oh well !

Mini chicken wiener bites (organic all meat with no preservatives) !  Bee likes to eat it with rice :-)  we're so asian :-)

Everything was eaten except the beans and chicken  :-(  She likes beans at home but not at school, she told me !  We will forego cold cuts as she doesn't like it at all.