I was absolutely inspired by this post at Building Cathedrals, in which Mary Alice (also of Just Keep Swimming) challenged her blogging group and their readers to keep a log of what we feed our kids, for five days running.
This challenge dovetailed beautifully with my own twofold goals: (1) To feed my kids (and whole family) more nutritious, home-cooked meals, and (2) To be more aware of how much food I'm giving them, in order to minimize waste. I got started right away after reading Mary Alice's post: My log runs from Thursday, February 21, through Monday, February 25.
Following my pediatrician's advice, I've been using each person's fist as my guideline for portion size. I'm also rethinking our snack/meal schedule--in the mornings, these times may be too close together (or perhaps I just need to adjust the amount I'm offering), while in the afternoon, these times tend to be much farther apart. Given naptimes, school schedule and Daddy's time for arriving home for dinner, I'm not sure how much I can change that. Besides which, at ages 2, 4 and 8, their individual needs may vary greatly. Just something for me to keep in mind, I guess.
I've also noticed that when my 2 and 4 yo boys get up from the table, it doesn't necessarily mean they are "done." The 2 yo just doesn't sit still long enough (and quickly rebells against the restriction of his booster seat tray); and Taz (4 yo) not only seems to "fill up" faster than most, but he takes awhile just to "warm up" to the idea of eating in the first place. If I move Sunny-boy to my lap mid-meal, and then allow a trip or two out of the kitchen toward the end of the meal, he eats more. And at lunch time, I've had a lot of success encouraging Taz to repack his lunch box with his leftovers (including untouched food)--oh, yes! lunch boxes! They are a lifesaver time and clean-up wise, and the kids love them!--and stick it in the fridge; he often finishes his lunch an hour or two later, while Junie B. and I are focused on her school work.
I realize this kind of flexibility during meals will not appeal to everyone. For me, it's about picking my battles, and acknowledging that our meal/snack schedule is based on many factors other than the ebb and flow of the kids' real hunger.
Anyway, back to the challenge. Alongside the log of what I fed my kids, I've also kept a log of what I've had to toss. It's a work in progress; I'm tossing out a lot less than I was 6 weeks ago. It's hard, sometimes, to gauge not only how much they're "able" to eat, but also how hungry they may be at any given time.
Still with me? (cue crickets) :) Here's the food log--I'll go meal by meal for each day, and then follow with a list of everything I threw out for the day.
Thursday, February 21
Breakfast: Honey Bunches of Oats Cereal (about 1/3 to 1/2 cup); 1/4 large pear; 1/2-3/4 c. 1% milk.
Snack: Lemonade (store-bought; kids hated!); 3 small vanilla cookies
Lunch: 1/2 PB&J on Potato Bread; 1/2 oz. tortilla chips; small Crispin apple; small cookie; 6 oz. chocolate milk.
Snack: Varied: Junie--2 popcorn cakes with cream cheese; water. Taz: finished lunch, plus 6 oz Honey Vanilla Milk. SB--1/2 slice banana bread, plus chocolate milk, 1/2 apple and cookie from lunch.
Dinner: Taco Chicken Croissants with grated cheddar cheese and sour cream; mixed veggies (broccoli/carrot/cauliflower); 4-6 oz 1% milk; red grapes.
Bedtime Snack: Raspberry Juice or Water; Buttered Popcorn (stovetop).
Discards: 1 cup cereal and milk (approx equal parts); 3 small vanilla cookies; 2 cups yucky lemonade; 1/4 PB&J sandwich (pulled apart and bitten); 1/2 oz tortilla chips; 1/2 sl banana bread, broken apart and crumbled; 2-3 oz chocolate milk; 1/3 popcorn cake; 1 Taco Chicken Croissant; 1/2 cup mixed veggies; <1/4 c milk; +/- 1/2 c. raspberry juice.
Friday, February 22
Breakfast: 1-2 Banana-Apple Pancakes (1/2 whole wheat flour; sweetened with honey); side of real maple syrup; 2-3 oz "Dora" yogurt; 4-6 oz 1% milk.
Snack: Vanilla pudding and animal crackers; herbal tea
Lunch: Tuna/mayo salad on homemade wheat bread with Am. Cheese and Slicers pickles; small fuji apple; 1/2 oz potato chips; 4-6 oz 1% chocolate milk.
Snack: Unsweetened applesauce and graham crackers
Dinner: Egg Casserole (eggs, cheddar, wheat bread, milk); ketchup for dipping; broccoli; 1% milk.
Snack: Fruit juice popsicles
Discards: 1 pancake; some bread crust; a few chips (on floor); couple T applesauce; 1/4 c. ketchup; 1/2 sl. egg casserole; couple T veggies; 1/4 c. vanilla pudding; handful animal crackers.
Saturday, February 23
Breakfast: Buttered Wheat Toast or Cocoa Puffs Cereal; 4-6 oz 1% milk; 1/3-1/2 c. applesauce.
Lunch: Taz--1/2 PB&J on Potato bread; SB--Chicken Tomato Goulash (leftover from earlier in week); Junie B.--1/2 Tuna, Am cheese & pickles on wheat bread. All--apple, 1/3 of 1 oz bag of potato chips; chocolate milk.
Snacks: Unsure (sister b-sitting)--cookies, peanutbutter pretzels; rice cakes; grapes.
Dinner: Grilled Cheese (Am.) on potato bread; tomato soup; 1% milk.
Discards: 1/2 c. applesauce; 1 c. lemonade; < 1T shredded chicken (from goulash); 1/4 PB&J; 3-4 chips; 1 1/2 c. milk; 1/2 rice cake; near-whole grilled cheese sandwich; 1 c. tomato soup.
Sunday, February 24
Breakfast: LO banana-apple pancakes with maple syrup (1 each); milk; cran-apple juice; 1 sm slice homemade white toast with cheddar (Taz) or PB (Junie).
(No AM snack on Sunday)
Lunch: SB--1/2 oz cheddar cheese squares; 4 Japanese rice crackers; 1/2 c. milk; 4 (1/2") apple slices; 1/3 of 1 oz bag potato chips; 1/8 piece of Hershey bar. Taz--3 thin slices (1" sq) cheddar cheese; 4 (1/2") apple slices; 1/8 Hershey Bar; 1/2 PBJ on wheat bread; 1/3 oz chips; 1/2 c. milk. Junie B.--1/2 PBJ on wheat bread; 1/3 oz potato chips; 4 (1/2") apple slices; 1/8 Hershey bar; 1 c. milk
Snack (w/ b-sitter, amts uncertain): Apples, pretzels, juice, animal crackers; no known discards.
Dinner: Linguine with Chicken Spaghetti Sauce; green beans; 1% milk.
Snack: 3 T +/- Chocolate Pudding
Discards: 1 c. milk; 4 oz juice; 1/3 pancake.
Monday, February 25
Breakfast: SB--wheat toast w/ butter; vanilla milk; 1/4 large pear. Taz--same, plus 1/2 oz cheddar cheese. Junie B.--Cocoa puffs, milk, chocolate milk to drink (4 oz), pear.
Snack: Reeses Pieces/Cheerios Mix (equal parts; about 1/3 c. total); water.
Lunch: Junie B. & Taz: 1/2 bologna & mustard on soft wheat bread; 1/2 oz potato chips; 4 small carrot sticks; 1/4 c. applesauce with cinnamon sugar; 2" cookie pop; milk. SB: 3 rice crackers and 1/2 oz cheddar; applesauce with cinnamon sugar; cookie pop.
Snack: 1/2 naval orange; 1 popcorn cake; herbal tea w/ cream & honey
Dinner (Restaurant Takeout for my birthday!): All three kids shared one adult meal: Chicken Cordon Bleu; Mashed Potatoes; Mixed veggies in butter; garlic breadstick.
Snack: Birthday Cake!
Discards: 1/8 pear; bits of cheese; 1/4 sl. toast; 1/3 c. cocoa puffs; 1/2 c. cheerios/RP mix; 1 carrot stick, found chopped up later in sister's boot; 1 popcorn cake; 1/4 orange.