22 Jul 2015

#THEEVERYDAYSPRUCE: get set for summer

- a collaborative project by lapinblu & growing spaces

Images from Pinterest

I have long been a fan of aeroplane food: not the actual taste, but the presentation. Tiny sections of a three course meal, presented all at once for you to eat in any order you please. I am also a sucker for some pretty or stylish packaging, regardless of the quality of the food inside - this has led to some costly mistakes in the aisles of Waitrose. 

Anyway, it seems Dexter has inherited my liking for compartmentalised cuisine. I discovered this in his last few weeks of nursery pick-ups when the only way I could get him in the car without a massive tantrum was with the irresistible lure of a 'snacky box'. Said snacky box consists of no more than a lunch box with different sections, filled with a range of (ideally nutritionally balanced) food - a sort of 'baby bento'. I have become a fan of the lovely 'Capture by Lucy' and the Bento Babies section of her blog and have dedicated a Pinterest board to tiny portions of appealingly presented food. However, Dexter isn't actually that bothered about elaborate edible re-enactments of favourite cartoon characters - thankfully. I think he just likes the variety of a range of small portions he can pick at and eat on the move.

And so to the prompt for this post. I have linked up with Heather Young & Sarah-Lou and their #TheEverydaySpruce project - which sort of does what it says on the tin. This month's theme is 'get set for summer'. Now Dexter's nursery has closed FOR EVER and I have two smalls to entertain for six weeks before Big D starts school, I really want to have some fun days out whilst maintaining a sense of routine. Part of any routine involving kids inevitably features food. Last week, during one of the boy's final days at nursery, I decided my 'everyday spruce' mission would focus on always being 'picnic ready'.

I started by clearing out and cleaning the fridge which took ALL MORNING.

Shiny, shiny, clean, clean!

I then tried to organise food within the fridge into plastic storage tubs, chopping in advance where possible, eg. carrots. Then, well, you just put stuff in the lunch box. I am, in effect, writing a whole blog post on packing a lunch box. But the 'snacky box' seems to have a mystical power of its own. You can get a child to eat, or at least try anything - although Dexter won't eat actual sandwiches. They can select their own contents. You can attempt to have some control over the balance of food groups they should be eating in a day. I'm thinking of taking it a step further and writing up a list of choices for the week on the kitchen blackboard as D will have to select his own school meal choices in September.

A couple of weeks ago, Dexter had a lovely time hosting a play date with his big mate, LL. After some sunshiny fun in the sprinkler, the pair of them sat on the patio, chewing the fat over their snacky boxes. It was true social eating and there was barely a scrap of food left between them. LL now has her own box and Dexter and I are looking forward to more shared summery snacks over the next few weeks.

Suggested snacky box contents...
  • fruit of any kind - pieces of melon, strawberries & raspberries have proved popular. Beware of choking hazards, particularly if the box is used in the car.
  • packets of freeze-dried fruit are handy to have in for when the fresh stuff has run out and you need to do a shop
  • popcorn
  • pasta
  • toasted soldiers
  • boiled egg
  • 'fruit yo-yos'
  • broccoli 'trees' (well stinky in the car)
  • sausage rolls
  • mini fromage frais - don't forget a small spoon
  • crisps
  • biscuits
  • pizza
  • chopped peppers/carrots/cucumber
  • marshmallows
WARNING: if consumed 'on-the-go' in the back of a car, your vehicle will be a bio-hazard by the end of the summer/the following day.

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