Last evening we all got back late from the gym after swimming lessons. I knew there were lots of leftovers in the fridge, so I didn't make dinner; instead, I pulled out all the soup and deli meat and cheese and breads and fruit and arranged it on the kitchen peninsula to make a sort of buffet. It was an unusually good set of leftovers because we'd been feeding houseguests over the weekend.
I've learned that it engenders a panicky rush if we set all the children on the Leftover Buffet at once, so we called them up one at a time (beginning with the pickiest) to choose items for their plate. Mark and I were tired and not in a mood to argue, so we didn't bother "helping" them, or enforcing any rules about vegetables, and let them put together anything they wanted.
I always think it's kind of interesting what they come up with. I think we must be doing okay in the "how to make a balanced meal" department. This is what they chose (in order):
The 8-year-old boy:
- Peanut butter and jelly sandwich on wheat bread
- an orange
Two-year-old boy (okay, he had help):
- Part of a homemade blueberry muffin
- Rolled-up slice of deli ham
- Sliced oranges
- Three corn tortillas
- spread with cold canned refried black beans
- and rolled up with lettuce and diced red bell pepper
- Homemade bean-and-ham soup
- Turkey, muenster, and tomato sandwich on a bought whole wheat bagel
Me, I had curried butternut squash soup with added diced raw cabbage and peppers; some Scottish cheddar cheese; a wedge of cornbread; and a widget-can of English ale. I think Mark had a dinner similar to Oscar's, plus an ale like mine.
In our house we have a rule that the children may have juice boxes with dinner if Mark and I are opening a bottle of wine or if we're each having our own beer (standard practice is to split one, since I am a horrendously light lightweight). This keeps the juice-box consumption low while retaining a sort of celebratory feeling about it. Also it leads to the children constantly asking us, "Don't you think some beer would go really well with that dinner, Mama?" So they had juice box with their leftover buffet as well.
I guess they are internalizing the things we teach them after all. We really weren't supervising much, and they could have chosen nothing but blueberry muffins if they'd wanted that.
(Here's another post about leftovers: Leftovers with Attitude. Contains links to a few good ideas for leftover night.)