Monday, October 12, 2009

"Iron Chef" As A Feeding Strategy?

Weekend lunches are my least favorite meals to make. I can easily tune into how some people must feel about making dinner because I have very little interest in making lunch, especially on the weekends. I use lots of strategies (sign up for my newsletter at for monthly tips and strategies) to get dinner on the table (e.g., planning ahead, preparing ahead, etc.) and to get us all together to sit down for dinner together as often as possible. But my attitude about lunch on the weekend is much less impressive. I only plan lunch if we're having company and we rarely sit down together as a family to eat lunch. My advice to my kids at lunchtime is often something like, "See what we have and get yourself something."

So this Saturday, my youngest daughter made me smile with her response to my unimpressive directions to her about getting herself something for lunch. She asked me, "What's the secret ingredient?" I had no idea what she was talking about at first. She then clarified that she was going to pretend "Iron Chef," a show she's watched several times on the Food Network. So I said, "The secret ingredient is cheese." She set the kitchen timer (for 68 minutes!) and set off in a frenzy creating her lunch. She made herself a cream cheese sandwich, cut a few pieces of brie, and some Italian bread. When she asked me about how her "plating" looked, I told her I thought it needed some fruits or vegetables. She then set off to peel herself a carrot and cut it into chunks. She was very pleased with herself that she beat the clock with over 50 minutes to spare. She then sat and ate her lunch.

I don't generally recommend making games out of feeding, but this was a game that I really embraced. She took responsibility for her own eating. I probably violated the division of responsibility of feeding by neglecting to provide the "what" of my daughter's lunch. But I know that sometimes I need a break, and I bet I share that sentiment with a bunch of other moms. Since I take the job of figuring out the "what" of what my kids eat for the majority of their weekly meals, I don't feel too much guilt for my weekend lapses. Also, my daughter is almost 8 years old, and I'm happy to see her comfortable, happy, and a little independent in the kitchen. I also felt happy seeing her creativity expressing itself.

Have your kids ever surprised you in the kitchen? I'd love to hear any successes you've had in helping your kids find creativity and joy with food.

1 comment:

  1. I think you did great, and as kids get older, aren't they supposed to start taking on more of the what, when and where? This sounds like a perfect example of how to give growing kids a little more freedom, with the right amount of structure.


Please be sure to include your email address or email me at if you'd like to be considered for any giveaways.