Tag Archives: lunch menu

Then and Now

Spring break is over and our schedule is back to ‘normal’.  One of the parents asked if I’m happy that the older children have gone back to school.  I’ll admit that sometimes I find some of the older children to be a little ‘needy’ – unable or unwilling to make activity choices and demanding ‘entertainment’.  Mostly though, I much prefer the larger group and the no-school schedule.

So, here are just a few random highlights of the last day of spring break and the first day back to school.

Friday’s favourite activity was the ‘log slide’;

For some the logs were almost the same size as they were;

Over the weekend there was a population explosion of some type of moth in my back yard.  I don’t know what they are but they were covering most of the surfaces and I am a little concerned they may be some type of garden pest that will wreak havoc on our garden this year;

Then Monday morning I realized I didn’t have the vermicelli that I needed for the Turkey Tetrazzini.  I used couscous instead and it was an instant hit – I may modify the recipe permanently.

Now, let’s see what else develops this week….

Ham & Mozza Biscuit Bake

Of all the recipes currently on our lunch menu this is one of my personal favorites.  Most of the children really enjoy it and of course there is one doesn’t.  That one refuses to eat anything except the ham depending on what type of ham I use — sometimes it is deli meat ham other times I use pieces of baked ham depending on what I have available.

It is on the menu for lunch today — I can hardly wait.  Here is the recipe;

Ham & Mozza Biscuit Bake

  • 3 cups Whole Wheat Flour
  • 3 cups All Purpose Flour
  • 3 Tbsp Baking Powder
  • 2 Tbsp sugar
  • 1 ½ tsp salt
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1 cup cooking oil
  • mustard
  • 2 cups Mozzarella Cheese, grated
  • 500 g sliced ham

Combine first 5 ingredients in large bowl, mix and make well in centre.  Add milk and oil to well.  Stir. Press half of biscuit mix onto bottom of 9 x 13 baking pan. Cover with thin layer of mustard and half of the grated cheese. Arrange ham slices over cheese and cover with second half of cheese.  Flatten out remaining biscuit mix to approximately the pan size. Lay biscuit mix on top of other layers and press – try not to disturb other layers.  Bake in 350F oven for about one hour.  Remove and spread top crust with margarine to soften slightly.  Cut into 24 squares.

What is the Problem With Lunch?

Our current menu has been in place for less than a year but I think there are too many items that the children do not eat.  Many of the menu items had brought rave reviews when they were first introduced last year but lately the children have been eating very little.  I will admit that I am a little perplexed by their lack of interest in eating lunch.

I’ve never had much trouble getting these preschoolers to eat in the past.  It was usually the school-age children that were the pickiest eaters. Often they had not been here as preschoolers and they were very finicky about what they would and would not eat.  For them, fruits and vegetables were usually the most contentious items – sometimes limited to apples and carrots or none at all.  The preschooler’s enthusiasm over all food groups could sometimes entice the older children to try something new.

This year I have no school-age children here for lunch on school days and the preschoolers seem to have become apathetic about almost every lunch menu item.  Recently I’ve been trying out some new recipes to see if I can inspire them to eat lunch regularly.  I haven’t been very successful.

Soup and rice were items that these preschool children specifically requested yet they don’t eat them — ever. Potatoes of any kind have never been popular with this group.  So far pasta dishes are proving to be unpopular. They usually like spaghetti but lately even that is just barely acceptable.

Tuesday’s have traditionally been ‘sandwich day’ here and this is the one day of the week that everyone will eat lunch. The curious point here is that most of them don’t finish a whole sandwich and they used to often have seconds and they are not finishing their veggies either.

I began to think that maybe they just were not hungry so I tried moving morning snack a little earlier in hopes that this might improve their appetite.  The children who attend school in the morning have a snack there and I am unable to change the time that they eat.

Afternoon snack has now become the most popular meal of the day – I assumed that this is because they are really hungry by then. They often ask for seconds of afternoon snack even when the menu item is something that they were blasé about in the past.

I started this post with the intention of highlighting some of the lunch recipes that I have tried and would hopefully add to the regular menu.  However, as I’ve been writing I’ve also been reflecting and speculating.  I was trying to come up with an effective transition from the children’s poor appetites to the introduction of new recipes – hopefully some they really like.

Then I had an epiphany. What if the appetite problem isn’t related to the type of food or the length of time between meals? What if they are not hungry at lunch because I changed the schedule and we no longer playing outside before lunch?!?

Seriously?  I cannot believe that this didn’t occur to me before.  I know the value of outdoor play but I was so focused on the food that I didn’t even consider this.  It also explains why afternoon snack has become so popular since we now go outside for the period between nap and afternoon snack.

I’m still changing the menu.  The current menu has been in place since last January and many of the meals were chosen to accommodate our ‘we have to pick-up the kindergarten child before lunch’ schedule.  Since we are now here and inside before lunch I have more prep time available.  It may be more difficult to determine which items the children like or dislike but at least now that I have realized that the lack of outdoor time before lunch is also a factor to consider.

So, since this post is long enough already, stay tuned for a separate post about new lunch menu recipes – and don’t forget to go play outside — it is essential for a good appetite!

Lunch Solutions

I’ve encountered the first ‘problem’ of the new group schedule. We have too much leftover food.

Last year I had five preschoolers and two school-age children here for lunch every day.  Over the summer two preschoolers were replaced by extra school-age children but they have left now.  My current enrolment includes one infant (who brings his own food), four preschoolers and three school-age children (who stay at school for lunch).

Essentially that means that suddenly I have half as many children here for meals and I’m making too much food.  So, I’ve been considering changing a few of the menu items.  Many of the meals are easy to adjust the amounts to suit the number of children in attendance.  Several of the casseroles can be halved – or returned to original since in most cases I was doubling the recipes.  However some are difficult to modify so they may have to be replaced if I don’t want a fridge full of leftovers.

Another strange phenomenon is that the preschoolers that are here for lunch are eating far less than usual.  I’m not sure if this is a temporary thing due to the change in season and schedule.  This one I’ll just wait and see if it continues then maybe it means they are getting tired of certain meals and we will have to change more of the menu.

Then there is the produce from our garden.  Some things like the peas and corn did not provide anything edible – something I find odd.  Other plants continue to generate so much that we have difficulty eating it all.

I love those little pear tomatoes – we have hundreds of them!

Of course this produce is great for menu items like the Chicken Gumbo;

And I’ve been baking with those zucchini too so we’ve had some special snacks.  Anyone interested in joining the Family Childcare Committee?  We’re looking for new members and our meetings are delicious. 🙂