So what’s the deal with so many picture of Isadora’s lunch that I have been posting lately?? Well, I think I posted a picture on my Instagram account just for the fun of it.. and I was amazed at the many questions about where I got Isadora’s lunch box and also the many comments about when do I have time to pack her lunch the way I do, or will she eat everything I pack as other kids are so picky and they won’t touch any fruits of vegetables. So I started taking more pictures of Isadora’s lunch and kind of answer some of the questions many of you had.
Eating healthy is not something that I just woke up one day and realized.. oh I have to change the way I eat. I was lucky enough to grow up in a poor communist country, with very limited amount of choices on food. I am talking no cereal, no candy, no chocolate, not even bananas or orages, sugar was given on a ration so we had to be very careful how we used it. We pretty much grew up on what you would call here a farm, but everybody in my village had a farm, and it was not a big farm like here, everybody had to have animals like cows and chickens and ducks around the house and also had some land next to their house where they would plant potatoes, onions, beans, corn, tomatoes, cucumbers and all the vegetables that we could grow. We made everything from scratch.. And I MEAN EVERYTHING!!!!
Got the milk from the cows, meat from the animals, fresh fruit and veggies from our garden, even bread because we could not buy it from the big city cause we didn’t have a city licence we had to make bread from scratch and that meant from getting the wheat, taking it to the mill, bringing home where we would use it to make bread. We had very heavy winters in Romania so no fresh fruits and veggies, so in the fall we had to be very creative to store enough food to last us through the winter.. Oh how I hated those fall seasons. There was soo much work to do, digging the potatoes and storying them in kind of an underground basement, getting all the vegetables and pickle some, the rest put them in the same basement but making sure they would stay somehow fresh and not freeze. I remember the carrots we used to put them in sand boxes.. I think that kept them from getting soggy.
We would go in the forest to pick fresh mushroom (we learned as kids which mushrooms are good and which are bad), and use the mushrooms together with vegetables to make some spreads that we would use for the bread, or just pickle them together with other vegetables. There were wild berries that we would also pick to make all kind of jams for the winter. And I could write a whole book about how much more work we had to do in the fall to prepare for winter but also in the spring when we had to get the land ready for new crops, to plant and care of the new vegetables that we have been so anxiously waiting to eat some fresh tomatoes, or fresh strawberries after a long winter when we just didn’t have that luxury to eat the tomatoes or strawberries fresh.
For meat, as sad as it sounds and I could just not do it now anymore, we would raise chickens, cows and pigs and then we would… how do I say this.. but yes eat them… I can’t believe that my parents taught me how to butcher a chicken.. I was maybe 9?? And I had to do it all on my own.. learned how to clean the chicken after it was butchered, with hot water to pick all the feathers out, then put some rubbing alcohol on a lid and light it with fire to burn the extra fuzz left off, and then how to cut around to get the thighs out, the wings, the chest, the neck, and the heart, gizzard and liver were always a treat that we would fight over. It’s hard to believe when I write this down that we were taught to do this but if we didn’t know how to do this we would not survive.. So that was life for everybody back than..
Milking the cows was always an adventure and if we were too hungry in between the meals we would just learn how to milk the cow and aim it straight in our mouth. That was quite an art to master.. Ohh those were some hard times.. but now looking back so many memories that we created.
The first time I saw a bottle of Coke I think I was 12 or 13 maybe? Somebody had shipped us a few bottles from England and we had to share a small little bottle among the 5 of my siblings. It tasted pretty interesting.. Banana and oranges again.. we didn’t have them as the communist wanted us to not know life outside Romania so we would have nothing to compare it with and to keep us from not maybe revolt and ask for me. Same with candy, gum, chocolate.. That was always such a privilege when somebody visiting another country would bring some of these treats to us, but again, there were 5 of us, there were cousins and so many other kids that those special treats had to be shared with.
So that’s a bit about my background on learning to eat healthy.. I guess I was lucky enough to just not know any better. Than I came to United States when I was 21. There was of course MacDonalds here that we didn’t have back there (now there are some), Donkin Donuts, cereal in the morning for breakfast, sweet and sour chicken (?????? WHAT??? a food that is main food to be sweet??)) that was such a hard concept, and so many other foods that I could barely wrapped my mind around. I gave it a try for a bit but just never got to really get addicted to any of them because my taste buds were just not too crazy about the new foods. I would eat out here and there but I always craved a home made, all from scratch old Romanian soup. If I was sick all I wanted is a homemade chicken noodle soup..
Didn’t really intend for this to be a long blog post but I guess I got carried away with memories. But once Isadora was born, it’s not because I was very strict or anything but I just could not imagine giving her any of those baby food jars. It could say as organic as they want on it. All I could think was well I can make it myself. So when she first was able to eat some solids I would buy fresh fruit and vegetables and puree them myself with this little $39 puree blender. I would make soups and puree those, and then for desert puree fresh fruit.
Once she got older, because that’s all I had around, always lots of fruits and vegetables, she just got used to not having chocolate bars, and candy around the house but rather fruit. Of course there are many times when she will have a candy, or some chocolate but now her bud tastes are kind of not used to those sweet foods and she will say.. this is too chocolaty for me. She will eat the cupcake but take the frosting away. And as much as there are other parents that are way more strict than I am, I don’t want to go that way as if I don’t let her have anything than she will grow up and just try to indulge in all the things I didn’t let her have. I tried to teach her in fun ways how fruits and vegetables are so good for her and look at this cute video I think she was about 3 when she woke up and her skin was sparking because she ate some tomatoes. Of course I had to make her day and woke up earlier and put some sparkles on her little face..
With all this said, we come back to Isadora’s lunches. One trip to have lunch with her and see the food the cafeteria was offering and you can my now realize that every single fiber in my body was in shock. Nachos, sugary oranges from a can and chocolate milk was on the menu. Maybe I went on the wrong day but I could not imagine putting that food into my daughter’s body. I started packing lunches and it was so hard because she could just not find all the foods I packed or the sandwich would get all smooshed, no way to pack a really healthy lunch. Till 2 years ago when I came upon something called the Planet Box. I saw it online and wow my heart sank when I saw the price, $60??????? for a lunch box??? I didn’t have that kind of money.. but I also didn’t have the kind of money to just throw away all the food Isadora was brining home cause she did not see it way at the bottom of her lunch box. As crazy as I thought I was at that time, I just bought the planet box but in the back of my mind I was thinking this will be another waited lunch box and this time a very expensive one. But the moment I got it. I LOVED IT!!!!!! The food was so much easier to pack, Isadora was able to just open the box and all the food was there for her, and more importantly I could pack all healthy food and be creative with it that she will love it.
And off we went on our Planet Box lunches. There are so many ways to go overly the board creative with her lunches, I could do cats and dogs, and hearts and butterflies and flowers and balloons and at one time I really thought I could do all that. But my time is so limited, I am a single mom, running around all day, dividing my time between raising her, taking care of the house and running a business. I blamed myself for maybe a day or so for not going the extra mile to do all the fancy lunches but than I gave myself permission to lower my standards and just pack a healthy lunch with a touch of fanciness. I do have a few shapes that cut her vegetables into cute little flowers that I use sometimes, I put a little green lettuce leaf to decorate it, I make the fruits all colorful.. That is about as fancy as I get in order not to drive myself crazy that I won’t have time to pack her lunch and to still be content with the yummy lunch she will enjoy. A great compromise that really works for me.
I know there are so many resources out there to really go out of your way with the kids lunches, but unless you have a lot of time on your hands, don’t worry so much about creating a perfect lunch. Start with small things like having a fruit and a vegetable always in their lunch box, than if you feel creative one day you can buy the little flower shapes ( I got mine at AMAZON ) and cut surprise them with fun shaped vegetables, but for the most part if you just pack a healthy lunch and teach them healthy eating habits is way more important than going all out and buy every single cute little tool to create elaborate designs.
Hope this answers some of the questions on why I pack the lunches I pack and the choice of foods for Isadora’s lunches. There will have to be another post on how to buy food for your kids lunches, well and even for your lunches, and since along with the many jobs I had in my 36 years of life was one of a truck driver, I will share with you how our food is treated behind closed doors, that will really make you not want to have that ice cream anymore, and what stores have the best and freshest food. Sorry for all my Iphone pictures.. I will try to use my big camera from now on.. Just that time is limited in the morning and didn’t have time for that. I will wake up a bit earlier to take some better pictures that hope will do a better representation of her lunches..