Having a help-yourself lunch is hardly a new or groundbreaking idea, but since my kids always get excited about it, I thought it worth sharing!
Here is how it works: most weekends we have a simple buffet style lunch where everything is laid out on plates, along with a jug of squash, and we all help ourselves. There is a pretty healthy balance of veg, fruit, protein, dairy and carbs. The kids LOVE choosing and serving themselves, particularly my 3 year old, who is prone to fussiness. By giving him control, it goes a tiny way to reducing his need to assert his independence by refusing certain food. We don’t try and push him to eat certain things and hope that, in the long-term, he will become less fussy (like his older brother). Things are slowly improving. The freedom to choose means that sometimes the kids will just fill their plates with bread/pizza, but we just smile sweetly and pretend we couldn’t care less whether they eat any of the veg (!) And actually, they sometimes fill their plates with most of what is on offer too.
I don’t normally spend more than 20 minutes preparing a help-yourself lunch as most of the ingredients are really quick to prepare, fresh or shop-bought.
Examples are: shop-bought falafel, shop-bought tortellini; chorizo or ham; cooked sausages; fresh chopped veg (cucumber, carrot, tomatoes); griddled halloumi cheese or slices of cheddar cheese; corn on the cob; asparagus with butter; oat biscuits; baguette or any bread; fish fingers; crisps; hard-boiled eggs or 3 min microwaved omelette (crack eggs with a little milk, butter, and dried herbs, beat well, then microwave in a shallow bowl for 3 mins, flipping over halfway); pizza cut in to slices; houmous and breadsticks; roasted chickpeas; fruit; quiche; olives.