I've struggled over the years to carve out solo time for each of my three kids on a regular basis. Who doesn't love the idea of a weekly mom-kid date? But somehow life gets in the way and I can't seem to make it happen with the kind of regularity that I'd like. Ugh. So when I had the opportunity to dine with my youngest (soon to be 4), I changed my plans and made it happen.
We decided to go out to a neighborhood restaurant and when I got home, my little gal was all dressed and ready to go. I spent ten minutes packing the lunch that she had planned for tomorrow and we headed out the door.
This kid is an adventurous eater. Let me qualify that though: she can't eat dairy, and I'm allergic to fish and nuts, so we don't have that in our home and she's never tried either, but beyond that, she eats with gusto most of the time and doesn't shy away from new foods. I'm not sure if that's because of her taste buds, or whether this is a phase and before I can blink, she'll only eat four foods. I try to just go with the flow and not question it.
We went to a little Italian spot and ordered vegetable antipasto and two pastas: one with veal bolognese and one with zucchini (her current favorite veggie) and shallots. This kid *loved* the antipasto! She gobbled the zucchini. She tried the roasted eggplant and gave it a thumbs up. She tasted the baby artichoke hearts and gave them a thumbs down. She tried the cipollini onions and said "Mama, can I have this for my lunch tomorrow?" She flashed her big dimpled smile and I knew I had to say yes.
That's where plan B comes in. Look, you can plan from night to day, but whether we're talking about solo time with kids or a packed lunch, sometimes life happens and you need a plan B. Sure, I made lunch for her already. She chose something already. I put it in the lunchbox already and the thought of wasting food makes me cringe. And let's be honest, I had my eye on those leftovers for my own lunch! But seriously, how can you say no when your kid - your delightful dining companion - asks earnestly for leftovers of food that you're both genuinely enjoying?
So here's the secret to a delicious lunch: pack your kids lunches that you also find delicious! Her lunch became my lunch, and I quickly packed the leftovers for her when we got home from dinner. Everyone wins. Of course there are foods that my kids eat that I don't love. But generally speaking, the foods that I pack for my kids are foods that I also enjoy. Her veggie burger with edamame, watermelon and granola became mine. I threw some plum into her box of leftovers and called it a day. So for those days when I have to be a little flexible with lunches and leftovers, I take comfort in knowing that food isn't going to waste.