We’re approaching that time of the year when the class parties begin and you’re asked to provide a plate of shared food. So I thought I’d give you a few ideas so you can bring a plate – whole foods style!
In my kids early years of school, I’d bake a cake (carrot was my go-to) for them to take to school and they loved it. But, a year or so in, they began to realised that the food they took wasn’t very popular. I can remember my son saying ‘I loved the carrot cake mum and so did the teachers, but the kids only wanted the stuff in packets’.
At this point I had a hard think about the ‘plate’ because it’s really important to me that my kids have fond food memories and a healthy relationship with food. I completely understand that sometimes, as a parent, it is tempting to give up. I admit under time pressure I have occasionally conceded to them taking a packet of good quality corn chips or popcorn (there are a few options that aren’t too bad additive wise).
However on the whole, rather than giving up entirely I’ve tried to make concessions, like if we made a cake, we choose a popular flavour like chocolate (and it’s iced because the kids reckon that guarantees it will be devoured). I’m also guided by what they’d like to take – these days they tend to want to take either sushi or sausage rolls. The teenager mostly just grunts ‘whatever’ and I improvise ha ha. I think part of being a parent is not necessarily giving your kids what they want, but making allowances when it comes to celebrations is important so that they and their friends, enjoy sharing their plate. That’s my two-bobs anyway!
Food for thought
In times long gone, food acquisition was a group effort and food was shared amongst the village. I believe there’s something special about sharing food with others – it’s very bonding and even educational, teaching children co-operation and fairness.
An interesting study of 466 Belgian students, found that those who had shared meals more frequently in childhood scored better for altruistic behaviours, particularly giving directions to strangers, offering their seats on public transportation, helping their friends move and volunteering. All wonderful traits to instil in your kids.
I believe our Western individualised societies can benefit from sharing food now more than ever, especially as most foods are targeted to ‘individual portions’. In many parts of the world, sharing food with family and friends is a way of life and these cultures are known to have very positive relationships with food (less issues with food fussiness and even less eating disorders).
Buffet style meals at home, where the food is served on the table and everyone helps themselves are a great place to start. But sharing food, especially in peer groups is also really exciting and a great learning experience for kids.
Bring a plate to school
So next time you’re asked to ‘bring a plate’ perhaps consider the value of such a simple concept and instead of grabbing a pack of biscuits or chips on the way to school or the event (as tempting as that is), consider using the occasion as an opportunity to involve your kids in the making and taking.
So today, I thought I’d share a few ideas for when you’re next asked to ‘bring a plate.’ Remember to make sure you get the kids to help – they always love taking something they’ve made or contributed to!
Get your bake on
Meatballs or sausage rolls
Hot or cold, meatballs or sausage rolls are always a hit with a crowd. This recipe is always popular.
Fruit platters and fruit kebabs are easy done. I like to mix fruit and cheese which I cut up and let the kids thread onto the kebab stick. Or get a little bit more creative with this simple Watermelon Pizza- slice watermelon into triangles, top with yoghurt and fruit (as pictured).
Make sushi rolls or sushi hand rolls (cones).
Rice Paper Rolls
Rice paper rolls can be filled with sweet or savoury fillings.
Popcorn is a great, budget friendly plate. Pop the corn and simply toss it in a little butter and sea salt for a quick, delicious snack.
Pizza is easy to make using wraps as bases (and then quarter into slices). Simply spread with tomato paste, sprinkle with a little oregano and top with pineapple, ham and any veggies you like (my kids like mushroom and red capsicum). Then top with grated cheese and bake until the base is crisp and the cheese has melted.
Make a dip
There are so many quick and easy to make dips (recipe inspo here). Even if your kids don’t make the dip themselves, get them to arrange it all on a plate to take to school.
From a very young age, children love to play food games -they make mud pies, have tea parties and mimic the rituals of adults. Our role as parents is to ensure that a love of real food, and sharing and celebrating with food is nurtured and supported. I believe the fondest memories are made when gathered around the table.