Got a fussy child, one who has a very small appetite or one who will refuse healthy food yet devour junk food? Maybe you could try to ‘fancy’ things up a bit to entice them in the right direction…..
Now, I’m a normal busy Mum who doesn’t want to spend too long on lunches just like everyone else. I also have a moderately fussy 6 year old (my 4 year old on the other hand will eat anything!). Yes I could be packing savoury muffins, chicken salads, last nights leftovers, cous cous and soup BUT that’s not really the way we do it in our house. I don’t see anything wrong with a sandwich, serve of fruit and dairy in a lunch box – just like I grew up on. However, I do try to choose healthier options, we don’t eat white bread and her recess snacks are full of fruit, healthy muesli bars, homemade slices, dried fruit and scroggin mixes.
I hope that my ‘normal’ take on Fancy Food will help others take a small step to make food that’s a little bit more interesting for kids and hopefully tempt some fussy eaters to eat more and try new foods. You can fancy up any meal or snack, we do it for school lunches and the occasional dinner also. I hope you can see that wide smile and hear that ‘WOW!’ as they see their creative food and eagerly devour it.
For anyone new to ‘fancy’ing up food I thought I’d include some general information and a few tips for creating fun food quickly and options for using things you already have in your home.
Sandwich shapes – you can use special sandwich cutters, playdough cutters, or cut by hand with a knife or kitchen scissors. Playdough cutters are good but are often not tall enough for a whole sandwich so you would need to cut each piece of bread first then apply fillings which can make it a little fiddly. Sandwich cutters are simple and don’t have to be wasteful of the crusts – cut the bread and leave the crusts there!
Cutters are also good for cheese and lunch meats, carrot, cucumber, fruit etc.
Sandwiches can also be presented rolled up in a pinwheel style or cut in cubes on a kebab stick!
Sandwich decoration – you can simply leave shaped sandwiches plain or you can use food colouring textas to draw on them or even use gel icing pens for a little bit of colour. I sometimes imbed a couple of small M&M type chocolates in a shape like a butterfly for a small treat.
Food Picks – you can buy all sorts of fancy food picks and little forks which add fun and colour easily. My daughter has been using these since she was 4 in kindergarten and hasn’t lost even 1 yet! If you are worried about your child losing them from a lunch box then try making your own with a toothpick and some fancy stickers. Cocktail umbrellas can also add a bit of fun. Bamboo kebab type skewers are great for fruit or sandwiches, add a sticker to the end to fancy it up!
Food holders – a rotation of cute lunch boxes will keep it interesting for lunches. Use paper or silicone muffin cups to separate foods and add colour.
You can get many different segmented plates for children for something different or try using a 6 hole silicone muffin tray to serve dinner or lunch in – my kids love these!
Notes – something so easy is to add a little ‘I love you’ or ‘have a great day’ note in with a lunch box to bring a smile to their face at lunch time. In one of my lunchboxes I sometimes use a small blackboard stuck to the inside lid which I can draw or write a little message on. Bananas are also great to write and draw on with a normal ball point pen!
Get them involved – I like to keep lunch boxes a surprise until lunch time so my daughter doesn’t normally know what her lunch is until then. But you may like to have your child help with preparing it, my son often brings his stool up to the bench to help when he knows I’m about to start making lunch. Or you could bake some slice, muesli bars, savoury scrolls etc together that could then be used in lunch boxes during the week. I have a few of my favourite recipes in my recipe section on Fancy Food.
You can see more lunches and ideas at www.facebook.com/myfancyfood