You can do it just right too!

Friday, September 12, 2008

Gone Are the Days...

Many of us grew up in the day where every dinner was a, "sit down dinner". Ah! those were the days. However, since then, things have changed, but there is no need to despair.

These days, evenings are full of hassles. Kids have more homework than ever. Dads work later than ever, moms work too. No one is around the kitchen at the same time, seven nights a week.
When did we go from evening dinners around the table to, dining in a mess hall?

Our kitchen turned into a messhall when I gave birth to five babies in four years (yes, two toddlers, twins, a baby) and then a sixth baby in the fifth year. I had four babies in diapers for two years straight. Planned? sort of; but not really. No more than when a mom who chooses a nice career that works with the family, then soon finds herself working overtime six nights a week to keep the career. No one says, "Why did you work in the first place?", but everyone asks, "Why did you have so many kids?".

Things change.

Don't feel like you are failing your family just because it is 'each man for himself' at dinner time. Just make sure dinner is nourishing and don't serve junk.

Instead of getting frustrated because you had other plans for family dinners when you first started a family, try to make a dining experience of the mess, instead of forcing the mess into a dinning experience! I'll tell you how...

Sunday, August 31, 2008

When Mess Hall Becomes Mobile

Home-bagged nutrition is a treasure, and many times will earn the envy of friends and co-workers. I have packed thousands of lunches in the 27 years that I have been bringing up children.

If you cringe at the thought of putting time into a nutritional meal only to find out later that it was dumped into a trash can, take heart. There are some solutions.

Keep in mind, that packed lunches are not just for school. We take a cooler with meals lots of places, while running errands (to avoid fast-food because surely everyone is "starving" before we make it home); when visiting friends; to the parks; and even out into our own back yard for family-fun times.

I always pack a couple of extra things to share, as strays usually show up, wide-eyed and "starving".

***I Always keep 5-6 frozen ice-packs (small and large blocks) in the freezer at all times.

Twenty years ago, trial and error was my mentor-but these days, we have so many ways to get great ideas. From cooking shows to the internet.

***It is important to schedule yourself a few hours a month to sit down and write some lists. The most frustrating part of any meal is, the lack of a good plan. Keep a single notebook JUST for meal planning. Make special notes when a particular meal or item is a disaster. Get a notebook today and make notes beginning with this article.

I won't list recipe ideas here, as there are just too many, but my favorite sites are:;;; Just type in their search bars, "lunch box ideas".

For the single dad or bachelor, check out: sy_recipes_for_the_lunch_box.html

And if you avoid meat:

When you do an internet search using a tool such as, use the 'cached' link (located just under on each option title); this will highlight the exact words that you typed in the original search bar and make it easier to find what you are looking for within blogs. Do not forget to scroll down the options and click 10, 20, and 100 or more articles into your search. Many times great ideas come from a little deeper digging than just front-page news.

Whether it is for just you, or everyone else, a packed-with-love lunch will surely be something to really look forward to during the work or school day. Nutrition will just be the highlight, because while you are at it, don't forget to add some love by dropping in an encouraging note, a small token, or a special treat every now and then. Kids love to find a dollar bill tucked inside a lunch box, and I love to find an affirmation or scripture that I forgot about during the morning rush. If you use brown bags, stick them in every 3-5 bags and then forget about them-until you find one. I write on the front of the brown bag for my children-or draw smiley faces and hearts.

Pack your lunches at night; or pack everything but the sandwich if you are using soggy ingredients. Sometimes, I spread the meat with mayo or mustard, and put it in a separate baggy with the tomato, lettuce, cheese; the bread goes alone until it is assembled. These days, you can purchase sandwich boxes with separators for the soggies. Tupperware is a good place to find them.

Over time, you will find sandwiches that can be frozen, only to become perfectly thawed and delicious by lunch time. Make your spreads, dips, salads on Sunday afternoon or evening.

Since unhealthy chemical-laden foods are all the rage these days I don't fret to much about using mayo or sandwich spreads; skipping the Twinkies and soda-more than make room for the use of them.

If your family is used to unhealthy meals for every meal, then you probably will not be able to start with a healthy and nutritional packed-lunch. Although I would not suggest using the 'brown bag' to attempt to correct over-all poor eating habits, it could be possible to use sack lunches to introduce one good thing at a time. The whole lunch doesn't have to be healthy at first. The fact that you are even reading this far down this post means that you have it in you to be creative and try new things. I would suggest that you first revise your entire meal planning outside of "the box"; and in the meantime, add healthy snacks and meals right along side the food that needs to go. Sliced apples and cheese can be packed right beside chips. How about serving some new 'lunch-box' foods as after-school snacks? Ask for feedback. Let your family know that you want to know what NOT to pack.
A great place to get ideas about changing unhealthy eating habits is:
OR: le8.html

Home-bagged nutrition truly is a treasure, especially when we take time to make it the best it can be.


Mess hall dining dates back to the beginning of time- when everyone gathered around a fire to eat the latest kill.