Jamming in the mini-van with tired and cranky children, you suddenly realize you are about to face the dreaded second shift. Overwhelmed by the thought of taking a turkey, plucking the feathers, and cooking from scratch; you veer off the road at the quickest stop-McDonald’s. You reason it is a justified evil. “It is this or Hell when you get home,” you tell yourself. Frankly, who wouldn’t pick McDonald’s over Hell? So you roll into the drive-thru and buy your Hell-avoiding Happy Meals. Now you can leave with the peace of mind that you have just gained back two hours of your life from torturous cooking methods.
I get it. People are smart. People know what is healthy and what is not healthy. They know fast food isn’t ideal but they want to get through life sane. I like my sanity just like everyone else. It is a comforting feeling to know all your faculties are in working order.
This is where I think the real food movement gets it wrong. You do not have to fill your child’s newly minted bento box with cream cheese and cinnamon swirled sandwiches in the shape of sushi rolls. By the way, if most American children don’t eat sushi and seem repulsed by the idea of sushi; why are we crafting sandwiches into the Japanese delicacy? And why do we feel we have to carve fruit into miniature Shopkins figurines, in order, for them to be eaten? It is cute. Props to those who do it. But food does not have to be a three-ring circus. So don’t cave under the enormous pressure you put on yourself as you scope Pinterest looking for fairy-tale themed lunchbox ideas. It is not worth it. Believe me. This chick has done it. Pinterest can be dangerous territory.
What happened to carrots sticks, apple slices and a nut butter sandwich with some good ole’ water? Is it fancy? No. But does it meet your veggie, fruit, carb, fat, protein requirements? Yes! Can you feel good about it? Does it nourish your child’s brain? Is it inexpensive? Yes, yes and yes! We have to simplify, people. Make it easy on yourself. Think baby steps.
First step: swap all packaged foods with organic packaged foods. This action alone eliminates heaps of harmful pesticides, chemicals, and factory manufactured ingredients from your child’s diet. After a couple of months of organic packaged foods get ready for the next stop or step.
Second step: Prepare homemade food. One recipe at a time. One meal at a time. Before you know it, you will have weeks of cooking under your belt.
Feeding your children real food doesn’t have to be time-consuming or wallet-draining. It doesn’t have to be McDonald’s or plucking your wild caught turkey. A middle ground you can feel good about does exist. Just remember it doesn’t have to be all or nothing!