Giveaway: $250 super-pack of MightyNest lunch gear
I will be the first to admit that Mazzy's lunches are less than inspired. I attribute this to the very limited amount of foods that Mazzy will allow in her mouth. But it's also possible that Mazzy has a very limited lunch repertoire because I have been giving her a very limited menu.
I guess it's a 'which came first, the chicken or the egg thing'.
I am willing to accept we are both to blame.
I've been packing Mazzy's lunch since she started camp this summer and it always contains the following very uninteresting items:
• 1 half turkey sandwich (initally I gave her a whole sandwich but it always came back half-eaten)
• 1 plastic baggie of vegetables (usually mini carrots since DUH they come pre-cut)
• 1 reusable plastic container of cut-up fruit
• 1 plastic baggie of crackers or pretzels
The reason for turkey sandwiches is because I can't find any other protein source that she will eat cold. She won't eat cheese, she won't eat roast beef, she won't eat ham or salami, she hates tuna fish (my mom's old lunchbox go-to) and for some reason she thinks peanutbutter and jelly is disgusting, even though she has never allowed it to touch her lips.
The camp leaves all the uneaten stuff in the lunchbox so you can see what your child is and isn't eating. Often the vegetable baggie is never opened, but I'm not going to be the kind of parent who sends her kid off for the day with no vegetables.
I also recognize I am wasting a lot of plastic, especially after my mother scolded me for sticking the supposedly reusable plastic containers in the dishwasher. That's a no-no. Something about releasing the plastic chemicals and then those chemicals leeching onto your food. If you want to know the full details, I'm sure there's a newspaper article my mother would love to send you in the mail.
A little over a week ago, MightyNest contacted me and asked if I was up for a "Lunchbox Challenge". It meant equipping Mazzy with the right tools for a healthy lunch, including environmentally friendly lunchbox gear and reusable sandwich and snackbags.
I took a look through all their colorful gear and creative storage containers (like the Lunchbot Bento boxes, the Lunchskins snackbags, the Din Din spoon and fork set and the stainless steel straw bottles) and began to think about packing lunch a little differently. Is it possible that in addition to being healthier for my kids and better for the environment, MightyNest might help the picky eating problem too?
Before I continue, I want to be clear that I am not someone who slaves over her childrens' meals. I am a big fan of doing things as easily and as quickly as possible. I find making lunches (and cooking in general) boring and a chore— especially since neither of my kids like eating them.
But the MightyNest lunch gear seemed like it could appeal to my creative side and make the food more fun for the kids. Plus, we weren't really talking about cooking or tons of prep work. Just more thought, a little cutting, and some careful arranging.
That sounded like my speed.
For starters, I ordered tons of lunch gear in pink— bento boxes, airtight containers, a thermos, a straw bottle, sandwich wraps, a giraffe lunch bag, etc. Surely, Mazzy would be more excited about her meal if she opened up her lunchbox to find her favorite color instead of a sea of clear plastic.
Secondly, I got some cookie cutters because I thought fun shapes might her boring turkey sandwich more appealing.
All last week, I made Mazzy's lunches as creative as possible without straying too far out of her (or my) comfort zone.
I can't show you the lunches I made without showing you what the camp returned uneaten. That would not be the whole story. So I'll say this— the process was mostly successful, but not entirely. I think we're going in the right direction, but Mazzy's picky eating is not something we are going to solve in one week.
WHAT SHE BROUGHT BACK:
Mazzy ate all her turkey and left the bread. Which is fine. She said she didn't like the watermelon mixed together with the blueberries, which I had never done before. She did like the flower shaped watermelon, but complained of SEEDS. Oh, what I do for my children to just accept white watermelon seeds.
WHAT SHE BROUGHT BACK:
I used crackers to separate the tomatoes from the celery and since she didn't like Monday's bread, I rolled plain turkey and added a mini bagel with cream cheese on the side. I have never given Mazzy a bagel in her lunch box before and clearly this new development was something she chose not to acknowledge. But it was nice to know she liked the turkey rolls, something I would never have just stuck in a plastic baggie. And YAY for eating all her veggies!
WHAT SHE BROUGHT BACK:
Success! I packed all things I knew she liked, except a snuck in a tiny cheese sandwich shaped like a flower amongst the turkey. There is no fooling Mazzy. Initially, I was concerned that using the cookie cutters to make sandwiches would waste a lot of food, but then I realized you could roll up all the excess turkey scraps into sandwich sushi. Yes, sandwich sushi.
WHAT SHE BROUGHT BACK:
Apparently, Mazzy was not as thrilled with sandwich sushi as I was. But I was encouraged that she at least tried one. I then had a long discussion with her about how tortilla bread was still bread, just flattened bread. Maybe I should have explained it to her before camp.
WHAT SHE BROUGHT BACK:
She didn't touch any of her turkey sandwiches (not even to eat the turkey out) which was confusing until I found out Friday is pizza day at camp. Apparently, most of the parents forgo bringing a lunch on Friday and let their kids get the hot lunch. I guess that's what I will be doing next week.
The plums were a brand new thing so I am not surprised she didn't try them, but that doesn't mean I'm giving up. One thing that is great about packing a bento lunch is you can introduce new things in small ways.
So here's what I learned from the MightyNest Lunchbox Challenge:
1) I love packing bento boxes. It was fun to figure out simple ways to present new and old items. Plus, knowing I was posting pics on the blog helped me try to make things look different and exciting.
2) Packing bento boxes made me think about color as I tried to do something different in each quadrant. This lent itself easily to variety and a broader range of nutrients than Mazzy would usually get in one day.
3) Packing smaller portions of more things helped me as well. Usually I load up a whole baggie full of one thing, which always leads to a lot more waste. It also opens up opportunities to stick in something new without it throwing off her whole lunch.
4) Packing one bento box instead of packing several plastic bags guarantees that Mazzy opens and sees everything, as opposed to leaving an entire bag of veggies unopened. The veggies were the thing she seemed to eat the most, which was not the case before.
5) Using less plastic bags is not only healthier for your child and the environment, it's ultimately a money-saver. I can continue to use my new gear for years to come instead of buying box after box of baggies and disposable containers.
I'm not saying my relationship with Ziploc is over for good (I use them for tons of stuff besides food), but MightyNest's challenge ended up being way less of a challenge than I thought. Two of my friends who happened to witness what I was doing this week immediately said they were going to try it out too. Who knew I would turn into an evangelist for bento boxes?? It really is a very easy change to make with a lot of positive outcomes.
In addition to selling products for healthy living, MightyNest has a place on their site that gives ideas on how to institute healthy changes for your family. They ask people to sign up for pledges, like the pledge to only use reusable snack and sandwich bags. They also have a great resource which shows the different lunchboxes they carry with a guide as to what gear you can fit inside. And to top it all off, MightyNest donates 15% of every purchase to your local school with a goal to raise $1,000,000 for schools this coming year.
What I would really love, as a lot of our kids go off to kindergarten for the first time this year, is that we take the Lunchbox Challenge together. If you sign up through the widget below, you will be entered to win a $250 super-pack of lunch gear from MightyNest similar to all the gear I used in this post. Don't worry— I don't think you need to get all the pink!
FYI- this giveaway is only open to Mommy Shorts readers.
In order for me to continue with the challenge, I'd love for you to share meal ideas in the comments, especially meals that might broaden Mazzy's eating habits. In my next post, I'll take some of your ideas and test them out on my very picky four-year-old and perhaps I'll try to rehab my even pickier one-year-old too.
I need as many ideas as possible! Maybe my next challenge should be called: Breaking out of the Turkey Sandwich Rut?
This post was sponsored by MightyNest but all thoughts and opinions are my own.