Yikes, school is just around the corner! If you’re a parent of young kids, you’re probably starting to panic and dread the return of the “school lunch” routine. I’m just now discovering what all this means with my four-year-old twin daughters, Emma and Giorgia. This summer, they started day camps; making lunches became part of our 3-week ritual and I can tell you it was not fun. In fact, it was a bit stressful, to say the least!
The horror of the girls returning after a long day of school/camp and seeing their entire lunch untouched was enough to make me cry and feel sick to my stomach, not to mention put me in complete panic mode for the next day, with “What will they eat?” and “What should I make them?” looping endlessly in my head. This couldn’t be happening to me, I told myself. I’m a chef! My food is fantastic! I have two award-winning cookbooks! Well, lest there be any doubt, let me confirm that four-year-olds couldn’t care a less about any chef’s TV shows, books or feelings!
I realized I needed a new strategy. I needed to do what I do for dinner: involve the girls in the prep, so they can taste what we’re preparing and be proud of their creations. No use in surprising them with new flavours or colours in their lunches; the new goal was to show them how to “cook” (within reason) and help make their own lunches.
And guess what? It worked like a charm. Why? It’s fun for them, and it gives them food they want to eat because they are (deservedly!) proud of the fact that they made it themselves.
So, as I say, I really did get Emma and Giorgia to prepare their lunch, all on their own: tuna and mascarpone sandwiches (see recipe below). Step by step, here’s how we went about it.
First, lay out all your ingredients.
We picked herbs (chives and basil) from our garden; the girls love doing this.
Once all our ingredients were ready to go, all that was required was a little assembly. I chopped the herbs and celery.
The girls added the ingredients in a bowl: tuna, basil, chives, celery, some creamy mascarpone, and lemon juice. Then we mixed it all up. The result: a flavourful, creamy, tuna dip that you can spread on bread or in a pita!
My girls did!
Recipe: Tuna and Mascarpone Sandwiches
Tin of tuna, water or oil drained
Mascarpone cream cheese
Whole wheat sliced bread or pita
David Rocco is the host of David Rocco’s Dolce Vita and Amalfi Getaway, and a proud father of three.