Food for kids…(what to pack for lunch, quick breakfast, and more…)

If I had a dollar for every time someone has asked me, “What do you feed your kids when eating Paleo?” I would be a gazillionaire…  The short answer is, they eat what I make - and what I allow in my house.  If you only have healthy options available in YOUR house, there will not be any need for arguing, negotiating, begging, or pleading.  ALL the food in my house can be eaten whenever my kids want to eat it, there is no “special” food, reward food, or “dessert” food.  If we DO have ice cream in the house, or chocolate, the kids can eat it.  BUT this does not happen very often and if we want a dessert like ice cream we leave the house to get it.  This way –  it’s over, it’s done, and there are no crying fits for dessert after every meal.  A big treat in my house is sliced strawberries, blueberries, and raspberries with a drizzle of honey and served with home made whipped cream or served in a bowl with coconut milk.

Next big question I have been getting, what do I pack my kids for lunch?  Pictured is what my 6 year old will have for his school lunch tomorrow.  It’s a tupperware of chicken and hard boiled egg salad, carrot sticks, dried cranberries and pistachios, and mandarins.  Sometimes school lunch will be deli meat, celery sticks, apple slices, and a dried fruit bar from Trader Joes.  My 14 year old usually packs his own lunch of pastrami, celery and carrots, an apple, and cashews.  Sometimes he chooses to eat hot lunch and comes home feeling like crap.  He’s 14 and understands what happens when he makes his own choices.

Another question that often arises is how do we handle the need for a quick breakfast: My oldest is typically our breakfast guy.  I teach early morning classes 5 day’s a week so my husband and kids are on their own most mornings.  My son will fry up some bacon, scramble up a half dozen eggs, and then my husband packs individual tupperwares of eggs and bacon for everyone and they all eat in the car.  Sometimes I’ll make a big batch of sweet potato and sausage hash that lasts a few days or I’ll make a giant frittata that we eat throughout the week.  Hard boiled eggs are a must and I recommend always having a dozen ready to go in the fridge and you can see from my pics that hard boiled eggs do not have to be boring!  : )

Also pictured is a bunch of after school snacks as well as food I always have in the car such as tupperwares full of nuts, dried unsweetened cherries, and pieces of beef jerky.  I never leave home without a bag of beef  jerky, dried blueberries, sliced apples and nuts.  My kids are ALWAYS hungry when I pick them up from school and with food in my car there is never even a request for fast food.  At this point my kids understand that fast food is horrendous anyways, in fact, my 6 year old got into a huge debate with his teacher the other day – his argument being that no one should EVER go to McDonald’s.  She was teaching a health unit and mentioned that it is possible to find healthy choices at McDonald’s and that eating fast food periodically is ok…  For those of  you who know my 6 year old, you can probably imagine this conversation…

So, those of you with kiddos, you can make it happen!!  Don’t be neurotic, but be strong.  Remember, the food that enters your house is there because it was YOUR decision.  If my kids go to a friend’s house or to a party, I DON’T attach a note to their foreheads reading that they cannot eat gluten or sugar, I just rest assured that 95% of the time they have real, quality food, and I SEE that they are healthy, active, and overall pretty amazing kiddos….

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Comments

  1. says

    Woohoo – you answered my question – thank you! This is extremely helpful and I really appreciate it that you took the time to post the write-up and pictures. I have been pretty guilt-laden for a long time about my ‘double-standard’ of having ‘healthy’ food for me and ‘not-as-healthy’ for my kids. I don’t buy them full-on junk, nor desserts, but they have grains and sugar and I don’t. I’m going to make this transition although I am nervous about the back lash since my kids have already formed habits since they are 12 and 8. When did you convert your 14 year old and how did that transition go? Sounds like he’s a helpful and agreeable kid, so kudos!

  2. says

    Wow, within five minutes I got this post AND a similar post in my feed reader from Marks Daily Apple. Is there some kind of caveman underground communication network happening?

    I’d also like to hear more about your teenager. My daughter is 13 and I can only convince her to eat maybe three paleo/primal meals a week. She has no problem eating some steak or a venison burger patty (or two), but isn’t as keen on vegetables. Most evenings she makes pasta for herself. Oh, and she has a bagel for breakfast every day even though I offer her eggs.

    • Sarah says

      Hi Amy,
      Like I mentioned to my post to Annika, I recommend not supplying the foods that you do not want your daughter to eat. I do not buy any food that I do not want in my house and my 14 year old son soon realized that what we have is what we have and he no longer notices or complains. Futhermore, expaining why we eat the way we do and getting the kids, younger and older ones too, involved in the meal preperation is helpful as well. Kids will not starve themselves, and if your daughter throws a fit, be gentle and understanding and say with a smile, “If you are hungry, this is what we have to eat.”

  3. says

    My kids are 12 and 14, and are not on board with Primal eating. I still buy them white flour and sugar (they bake), crackers, and pasta, even though I feel very conflicted about it. Dinners are Primal, but they might add to what we make; for instance, tonight we are having meatballs and roasted broccoli, and the kids are making pasta to go with the meatballs. They make their own breakfast and lunch. My daughter has been a horribly picky eater her whole life, and we still have lots of power struggles over food. I try to educate and offer healthier choices whenever I can, but they are in the eye-rolling phase. It can get very frustrating!

    • Sarah says

      Hi Annika,
      I understand your frustrations, and my only bit of advice would to only purchase and have available food that you WANT to have your kids eating. I refuse to have anything with gluten in my house, and like I mentioned in my post, if I CHOOSE to buy a treat like ice cream, there are no power struggles, we just eat it. Otherwise, I put the food on the table, and if my kids are hungry, they eat it. No arguing, struggling, or other choices. My 14 year old understands the health risks associated with eating non paleo food items, therefore he has no argument. If HE chooses to eat non paleo foods outside of my home, I by no means punish him or even tell him not to, but as he begins to notice more and more how much better he feels when he sticks to Paleo foods, he starts to make better choices outside of our home. Again, my advice is to choose not to make a bid deal about food. Offer what you have purchased and prepared and if you hear complaining, calmy say, “Oh, it sounds like you are unhappy with what’s for dinner. Well, this is all we have so if you are hungry, you are welcome so what I have made.” That’s it. They won’t starve, I promise…. : )

      • Sara Bennett says

        how would you suggest to handle it if you child doesn’t have a choice what to eat when outside your home. (i.e. at his Dad’s house half the week)? I want to adopt this type of eating for my son, but am concerned about him feeling sick after eating at his fathers home. (btw, we’re just starting Paleo so haven’t seen any evidence of this yet) I certainly don’t want him to feel bad after eating there, but I know I won’t be able to change the eating habits over there to a great degree if at all.

        • says

          I face a similar situation and I believe it was on Robb Wolf’s website that he had mentioned no not worry so much about what they eat when its beyond your control.

          My ex wasn’t on board for a few months until it happened.. the kids stomachs started to cramp, they had diarrhea, and were acting out.. He was quick to call me and let me know that they were ill and had gone mad and I needed to pick them up. Ha ha ha I knew it was only a matter of time. On my way to grab the kids I stopped at the book store and bought him a few Paleo Cook books and gave them to him. I have yet to have any issues since then.

          My kids are 6 and 3 I explained that wheat, bread, pasta etc has bad sugars in it and it makes their tummies not happy. It took some convincing but after the first month of not having any “bad food” in the house I let them eat them eat the cookie from the grocery store and they now know that with in the hour of eating “bad” food they will be in pain and explode in their pants. My son is so cute he makes sure when he is around “bad food” he tells every one.. Sugar makes me poop my pants. Ha ha ha.

  4. Paul says

    This is a great post! Thanks. I have a 7 month old, so we are not yet at the stage where we are making meals for him besides formula and the like, but this is good stuff for the future.

    To the two previous commenters worried about their kids’ backlash: what the hell? Aren’t you the grownups? Why are you worried about what a 13 or 12 year old thinks? Get rid of the junk in the house and tell them they are going to eat what you put on the table. Simple as that.

    They may go on a hunger strike, but I don’t think it’s going to last very long.

    • Rhonda Estuare says

      fyi – formula is junkfood for babies. cavemen didn’t drink it. just giving back some of the judgmental crap.

      • says

        I think that it is safe to point out that Teenagers can be hard to handle at times regardless of food. They have hormone issues, boy troubles, issues with their bff’s etc. Changing their eating habits during this time for them is not going to be a walk in the park and is much different than doing it at a younger age. Plain and simple what Sarah is saying: If it isn’t in the house then it will not be eaten. If your child chooses to eat crap out side of the house there is very little you can do about it.. But I can grantee sooner or later they will feel the wrath of the grain. :D

        I also agree, formula is not the greatest choice in supplementing breast milk. If you are wondering what is look to the Goat. :)

  5. Tammy says

    Fantastic post! Thank you for sharing. Lots of great ideas and very motivating. Have you ever tried Larabars as an on the go treat/snack? They are great! I need to get to TJ’s to stock up. Haven’t made the hour trip in months. Thank again!

  6. Pacie says

    Sarah is so right, Amy. The kids will eat what is in the house and after a while the things they miss will be forgotten.
    My daughter is 14 years old and her body is working against her hormonally. Acne, chubbiness, moodiness, etc. I offer her a totally paleo dinner and breakfast every day and she never complains because it’s what she sees me eating as of late. She doesn’t feel like I am asking her to give things up that I haven’t and knows I want her to be healthy. This small change (in just a few weeks) is helping her weight, her skin and her demeanor. :) I don’t make mention of the meal when I serve it. I just put it on the table without and word and she and her brothers eat what they like (which is usually everything) and leave the rest for the neighbor’s chickens.

  7. stacie says

    We only recently transitioned to the paleo lifestyle…back in November. I have an extremely picky 8 year old and 5 year old who is just as happy eating asparagus and chicken as he would be eating pizza! When we started, I printed out a couple ‘short version’ explainations from the internet of why eating this way is best for our bodies. My 8 year old was very interested by it all. He felt a part of our descision, although it was ultimately up to my husband and I, of course.
    We talked with him in the beginning about our eating choices and how hard it was for us too those first couple of weeks, but after a while he began to take pride in his good choices and it got so much easier! It is amazing to see him eating…and enjoying…so many foods that I never dreamed he would!!
    Oh, and did I mention with the diet changes he was able to come off his ADHD med?? He is doing AMAZING!!! He will NEVER take them again!!

  8. says

    Hi, brilliant post, extremely useful. My husband has coeliac disease and our two girls are highly likely to develop it (30% compared with 1% for “normal” people) at some point in their life. We are extremely motivated to keep the whole family fighting fit and paleo is fitting well. One tricky aspect is with their nursery care, where meals are provided, and communicating their dietary needs without sounding whacky. The cook, thankfully is superb, and we supply them with the more expensive items, such as almond milk powder and gluten free products. A top breakfast for them is home-made chocolate smoothie – avocado, coconut milk and fat, banana and 70% cocoa powder – absolutely delicious.
    I always have a supply of nuts, seeds and dried fruit on hand, and mostly (but not always) they don’t just squirrel out the fruit.
    I’ll keep checking out this site for ideas in future, thanks
    Lyndsay
    PS my kids have never needed anti-biotics and I firmly believe that’s due to their healthy diet (and breast-feeding but that’s a whole other debate!)

  9. says

    I am so glad I found your blog! I’m subscribing via bloglines right away. I’ve been doing Menu Planning Monday for a while now, and it has saved me so much time and energey – and money. But I haven’t really yet found a resource like yours to provide paleo recipes that are family friendly. We are having your meatloaf tonight – probably with some kind of a tomato topping, but that meal looks great!

  10. Brad says

    “Sometimes he chooses to eat hot lunch and comes home feeling like crap. He’s 14 and UNDERSTANDS WHAT HAPPENS WHEN HE MAKES HIS OWN CHOICES.”

    Nice. How dare a child eat a school lunch! Or not obey his obviously mother. Doesn’t he know a school lunch can kill him! LOL You crossfisters crack me up. Better than everyone. Even your own children.

    • Dana says

      It’s called “grownups have more experience in life than children do, and while children do need practice in making their own choices and living with the consequences, the bottom line is that Mom and Dad know best, or should at least be treated as though they do, since this is how human culture has been transmitted throughout most of our species history.”

      If you don’t like it, change species.

  11. says

    I think Sarah is simply teaching her children about a healthy way of eating. Obviously she encourages her children to eat paleo because it’s healthy. As a parent myself, I’m also concerned with what my kids put in their body and the reality is 99% of school lunch is horrible for you. In no way does she state she is better than anyone or discuss anything even related to crossfit. It’s a Food Blog, there’s no mention of her fran time! Thank you Sarah for sharing your experiences and your recipes.

  12. Megan says

    Hey – I have a 2 year old and I have been TRYING to stay paleo but it is extremely difficult since i work and go to school, on top of being a mom to a toddler. it’s hit or miss with the paleo meals she will eat. i dont have the time to make every meal or even make different meals for her to eat if she doesn’t like it. how can i get a toddler to eat even SOMEWHAT paleo?

    • Sarah says

      Hi Megan!
      Plan plan plan ahead.. Make a big batch of the egg cupcakes on the weekend that you can warm up quickly for your 2 year old in the mornings, pack turkey slices, cooked carrot sticks, “apple fries” (thinly sliced and peeled apples), and strawberries for quick and easy snacking. Hard boiled eggs are great for toddlers, and if you start them this young, they will eat what you put in front of them. A 2 year old will not starve him or herself so only make available what you truly want your little person to eat. I hope this helps and good luck!!

  13. Sharon says

    Hi Sarah,
    Chef Joye from Chico visited this Sunday and prepared bacon and brussel sprouts for us. It was delicious and it is added to the “new recipe” file. I took a long time in getting to the point of trying this new eating and on day 39 have decided to keep on truckin’ down the path.
    Enjoy Joye…she’s the best.

    • Sarah says

      Yes, I agree, Joye is the best… We are SO blessed to have her in our lives. Wow, day 39 and still truckin’!! Good for you!! : )

  14. says

    Curious to know what beverages your kids typically drink with their meals. Water, almond milk I’m guessing. Any juices (without added sugars n’ stuff). Thanks!

    • Sarah says

      Most often just water but also almond milk now and then and sometimes I buy those juice boxes from Trader Joe’s that are diluted with water oh, and my oldest likes to drink iced tea now and then.

  15. Sarah says

    Ah… another mother feeding Paleo to her children! I was feeling very lonely! LOL! My husband started Paleo two years ago, I jumped in 6 months ago and the kids have tagged along. They are 5 and 6. I feel fortunate that we started this way so young because bad habits weren’t cemented into their being. I do struggle with my 5 year old. But I chalk it up to the regular challenges of parenthood.
    I really like the idea of having a stash of food in the car. I generally try and do it before leaving but a big batch is less work.
    It was nice to read that your lunches are similar to mine. I’ve started putting meatballs in their lunches. We do have dairy so plain yogurt generally gets put in there too. If you come across any other grandness to throw in, I am all ears. Variety is nice.

    So glad I found your blog! There are more and more women starting Paleo! You are one of the few with children!

  16. says

    This is great Sarah, and so correct. Kids will only request what they know they can get! My girls (4yrs/2yrs) are adjusting well to eating paleo, however they still get their fixes here and there.

  17. Tuismomma says

    I am interested in starting this type of lifestyle for my family which includes my 5 year old who has several food allergies. I have a very difficult time already finding things to feed her and he DR. says feed her what she is least allergic to. I can’t do eggs or nuts. I have been doing deli meats but she wont eat it if i dont send a “dip” with it. like ranch dressing (she is allergic to milk also). But she will come back with her complete lunch, starving because she will not eat it.Then her stomach hurts all evening after she eats when she get home usually a sandwich because of the air in it from not eating all day. You make it sound easy but it is not when you have food allergy challenges to add to it.

  18. Rachel says

    I don’t know if anyone is still reading the comments to this post or not, but here goes.

    I strongly disagree with the posters who advocate telling teenagers what they can and cannot eat. If kids want to eat pasta with their meatballs, and they’re willing to cook it themselves, then they should be able to. They’re old enough to make decisions about what they want to eat.

    I became vegetarian when I was 14. My mom, lucky for me, was supportive and didn’t mind setting aside a portion of whatever she was cooking for dinner for me before she added meat for the rest of my family. I was vegetarian for 9 years.

    Letting teenagers make their own decisions about their diet is an issue of respect. I’m not saying you have to fill the house with junk food, but if they want to cook grain-based foods for themselves, that should be their option.

    • Sarah says

      Hey Rachel!
      I totally respect your opinion – and I agree to some extent – but I feel strongly that grain based foods are the major cause of all modern day illnesses, so why would I have something like that in my home? BUT – like I said in my original post, my kids can choose what they eat. When we go out to eat, to friends houses, or birthday parties, they can pick and choose what they like – I would never punish or scold my kids for their food choices – but the cool thing is, the longer we eat paleo, the less often I see my kids making poor food choices outside of the house. They like to feel good too and know that they don’t feel as great when they eat junk food. I am also educating my children about food and they understand why we do not have grain based foods or sugar filled foods in our house and mabye I am just lucky but I do not have any power struggles or problems with not having pasta with their meatballs as an option. If you have noticed from my pictures, my kids are always helping in the kitchen, always coming up with ideas, and loving the real food that we put on the table. My 14 year old wants to be a chef and is determined to have a gluten free restaurant someday. I think food issues come from parents forcing their kids to eat certain foods, making food a reward, and obviously by modeling bad eating behaviors. We do not have these issues in our home but I know a lot of people with standard american diets that do. The rates of childhood obesity and type II diabetes is disgusting, sad, and ridiculous. But I do respect and understand what you are saying and I can see for some familys, making the transition to paleo eating when their kids are in their teen years could be difficult, this is why explaining the reasons that we do not eat these foods is important rather then making it a “rule” or a control issue or something silly like that. We honestly do not put a whole lot of emphasis on the food that we eat – I shop, we cook together, we sit down, we eat it. That’s it, no fuss, life is filled with so many other distractions for kiddos, the less you fuss over something the less they will too. We all need to re-wire our thoughts on food – food is not the end all be all of happiness, food fuels for our bodies, brings families together, and food is the little secret to health that so obviously many of us are missing the boat on. Thanks so much for posting your honest opinion, that’s what this blog is all about, a safe place to say what you think, share ideas, and learn together how to feed our families the best way we can!

    • Dana says

      There’s the issue of respect, sure, and there’s the issue that teenagers are about to be grown up and need the practice of making choices for themselves while they’re still relatively safe from the worst consequences. That said, if you’re the teenager (hypothetically speaking), it’s not your household. You’re not paying the household bills. You’re not the one legally responsible for yourself or your siblings. So yes, you do have to do what your parents tell you to do, for the most part. (Assuming no abuse or neglect.)

      And frankly, if my daughter told me she wanted to be a vegetarian I’d consider myself failed at teaching her basic nutrition and I’d make her sit through a remedial course and make sure she understood that she was about to put her health at serious risk. And that’s ovo-lacto. If she wanted to be a vegan I think I’d ground her til she was eighteen because clearly *someone* outside the home was being a bad influence and I need to cut off that contact.

      Good nutrition is not a matter of personal opinion. It’s kind of like gravity–it works whether you want it to or not.

  19. Spinner says

    Thank you for posting such wonderful lunch ideas! My family and I are looking to switch to a paleo diet. We have followed Nourishing Traditions now for a few years, but with my being a type 1 diabetic, there are still too many grains even with soaking and my blood sugars are erratic. Talked to my Endo on Monday and he agrees that the paleo/primal diet is probably best for me.

    So in discussing it with my dh, he was concerned about what he would eat for lunch, since he is a local trucker and has to eat in his truck and needs quick things. Right now, he lives on peanut butter sandwiches, but he is willing to switch–and your kids lunches are a great place to start for him! Our 16 yr old daughter will also be making the switch, course she has been eating NT style now for quite a while and so I don’t think it will be too much of a shock to her system. Actually, she eats 3 eggs scrambled in butter every morning for breakfast, and she is 4’10 and 94 pounds and those eggs get her most of the way to lunch. At Nutrition break she eats some crispy almonds I have made.

    I am so glad I found your blog–I am going to keep reading and adding your recipes to my cooking binder!

  20. SK says

    I am still in the “thinking about paleo” phase. One thing I have noticed is that I have been feeding my kids (ages 3 & 4) paleo most all the time. They would rather have plain steamed broccoli than anything else! Now, just have to get more serious about it for the whole family. thanks for all the great ideas!!!

  21. Holly says

    Is anyone concerned about the chance of creating an eating disorder in their children? I haven’t gone full paleo yet with my kids (7 and 5) because I’m concerned they will binge outside the house as they grow older. I can’t get my head around this – do you offer some non-paleo foods so they don’t seem so magical and powerful? I just don’t want my kids to end up with eating disorders for life.

    • Sarah says

      Hey Holly! Great question! I’m not concerned at all about creating eating disorders due to the fact that I do not offer non-paleo foods in my home. Eating disorders stem from a myriad of different things, many reasons having to do with a traumatic incident in a child’s life that causes his or her self esteem to go out the window. Also if there is an over abundance of concern by the parents about being thin – or if the parents have an eating disorder – this can also cause a child to follow in his or her footsteps. I could see my kids having problems if I was monitoring their fruit intake or nagging them to not eat too many pistachios, but that’s a parenting issue rather then a food issue. We all parent differently but my approach has been to be honest with my kids about why we eat paleo but to them it’s normal now and we simply don’t make a big deal of it. Food is food and we eat it and we have fun making it together and if they go somewhere with friends and eat gluten, life goes on. Amazingly, the longer we eat paleo at home, the better choices my kids make outside of the home. They don’t feel that great either after a huge sugar binge and it’s interesting to see their choices when we eat out – most of which are pretty darn good comparably. So, with that being said, I suggest minimizing that food is magical and powerful, but rather that food is good and it is what sustains us and keeps us healthy and the choices we make affect us in all aspects of life and teaching kids how to make healthy choices is important no matter what the concern may be. I hope this helps and good luck! : )

  22. Melissa says

    Where do you buy your jerky? If you make it, can you post a recipe? I have a dehydrator and tried making jerky but it was a mess and didn’t turn out well. Do you know if there is a place that sells grass fed beef jerky in the Chico area?

  23. Amanda says

    This is great. My husband and I started the Paleo deit about two weeks ago, so we are very new to this. I have a 4 month old and a 3yr old. My 3yr old eats a few things that I will eventually not have in the house. My husband and I are very excited, we are doing crossfit along with the Paleo diet and we are seeing results fast. We can see a big change in our health and energy. I’m so glad to had find this blog. Good luck to everyone trying the Paleo diet. Dont give up.

  24. Carla says

    I can only imagine a 6 year old challenging a teacher who is telling kids that it is ok to go to a fast food restaurant occasionaly. Good for him! :))

  25. Carla says

    I don’t have kids but as an avid paleo eater myself, i know for a fact that if I had one, my child won’t be eating anything non-paleo.

    My family members know what I eat and I believe that they would have to respect my family choices.

    I too believe that if a child goes to a party, he or she should not have a note tagged on his/her forehead with his dietry requirements.

    I guess if you teach your child why you are making certain choices, and once they are old enough to realise that they feel bad, gain weight and those awful pimples by making poor food choices, they will make a healthy choice even when outside the house.

  26. savita says

    I usually give chapati and dal to my child.Its desi indian food.And in my opinion this is the only food due to which my child is healthy and smart too.

  27. says

    Sigh, thank you…I was to the point of sending several sandwiches to school with my kindergartner each week (whole grain, but still…) – will give the chicken and eggs a shot. She gets mostly paleo at home, plus milk, and I am trying to figure out how to get her to go paleo. We talk a lot about food, and in preschool she got in an argument with her teacher about the french fries (they providd lunch) – she refused to eat them and told the teacher that they can make you fat! I needed ideas to get away from the bread – thanks!

  28. Shanean says

    I love your website it is a wealth of information. My husband has been Paleo for 9 mos and 2 mos for me. We have been working on getting our kids to convert but is rather difficult. I only serve Paleo at home and no junk food or non-paleo food is in our home. I get a lot of grief from the kids about the dinner meal but we are holding strong. When my 10 and 8 yr. old go to school I pack a Paleo lunch but they come home with wrappers from junk food traded with friends.
    My big question is where do you buy unsweetened dried fruit, particularly cranberries?

    • Sarah says

      Hi Shanean, I buy my dried fruit from Trader Joe’s, but I have yet to find unsweetened dried cranberries anywhere except for online but I haven’t ordered any yet. Here’s the link http://www.tierrafarm.com/cranberries-2.aspx From Trader’s I buy the dried cherries, apple rings, apricots, and figs – all big hits with my kids and they are all unsweetened. Good luck with the kiddos – they’ll come around, just keep on making an offering healthy paleo food, try to make it fun – and involve them if you can, and stick with it!

  29. says

    In our house, it’s not about what makes your “fat” or “thin” (that’s just BEGGING to become an eating disorder!). We eat what makes us feel good. I can tell when my kids have breads with lunch (school lunches) because they’re SUPER cranky when I pick them up. Lo-and behold, when I say “what was for lunch today?” they say something along the lines of “pizza” or “corndogs” or “french fries” (yuck). Then I say “how did you feel after you ate?” and the answer is ALWAYS something like “yucky” or “too full, and my tummy ached”. Then I ask them, “how do you feel after you eat breakfast? or dinner?” the best answer I’ve ever received to that was “LIKE SUPERMAN!” followed by a faux Judo kick-movement. ;) This is the most SIMPLE way I’ve found to explain the benefits of eating Paleo to a 1st, kindergarten and preschooler. I don’t explain anything at all. They make guided observations, and come to their own conclusions. I’ll leave all the science and reasoning for when they’re old enough to care. Right now? They just care that what they eat can make them feel like “superman”. ((HIYaaaH!))

  30. says

    Although I see this is an older post, I’m wondering what you would serve at a birthday party for kids? I’m planning trail mix fo’sure and a big, honkin’ veg-tray with a guacamole dip, plus a banana “cake” with coconut cream icing, but after these I’m fully stumped! Could you write a blog on this topic…um, soon?

  31. Hailey says

    Every time I have a Paleo question and google it your site comes up! Either you’re psychic, or you just have the most well rounded site. I’m switching my daughter to a new preschool because her current one is on the USDA food program and does not allow packed lunches from home. I love the suggestions for lunches. Tonight we wrapped up pumpkin seeds in turkey slices for a snack. YUM! Add a little spinach pesto (cheese free, of course), Devine! Thanks for always being first on google, Sarah!

  32. says

    *sigh*
    My daughter’s teacher suggested we cut dairy for her attention/focus issues last school year, and she did GREAT off dairy…. but we let it slide over the summer, as “us parents” adopted the Zone diet – which includes lots of dairy for protein, so yogurt and cheese were in the house all the time – so she wanted it and, well, we thought hey- its summer. have it. Now she is back in school and the teacher said she is having a real hard time focusing at all.
    I felt like last year it was a real struggle to get her nutritious food without using dairy….and the substitutes were really $$$ or gross or soy, which is gross on many levels…..
    I’m not sure if e can “handle” full on paleo, but I think this is a step in the right direction for us. I know this post is “old” but I just found it… I guess I will be cruising your site for ideas for dinners and lunches now for sure! thanks for taking the time and energy to do this site!!!

  33. RaisePaKids says

    Great reads above! I have researched Paleo for a while. My husband started before I did. I recently switched the kids (9 & 3) and myself “cold turkey.” I removed everything in the house that was not Paleo. The first day my eldest literally said, “cavemen were stupid, why would they eat like this.” haha!
    We are not a family of extreme weight concerns (mainly vanity), and we are very active. However, the more I read the more guilt I felt about my eat-whatever-just-exercise mindset. My 9 year old has ADHD and in two days (no lie!) I noticed better focus/behavior. My 2 year old is happier, livelier (oh Lord!).
    But we struggle with school lunch, friends houses and friends over at our house. I am of the same mindset that Sarah is, if you are in my house you will be allowed anything I serve. If my kids are away from home I pray, just like with their behavior and manors, that I have given them the correct tools and examples to make the right choices. The absolute best part is, I never keep anything in my house that my kids can not eat at any time they like. I never have to say “No” or “Not before dinner” or “Eat some fruit first”. Every morning I set out a bowl of fruit, usually grapes, strawberries and blueberries. That is their snack bowl. They graze on it with every passing-by. We eat Sarah’s apple muffins for breakfast a good bit. I actually up’d the almond flour for a different consistency. And I use a couple handfuls of carrots (processed in my food processor) instead of a banana. I leave these on the table all day and they snack on the “carrot cupcakes” too. They are also fab in the lunchbox!
    My 9 year old and I discovered “kid sushi”. Which he loves in his lunch. We use whatever lunch meat he is in the mood for or bacon. Chop up the white of a hardboiled egg (cause it looks like rice), slice thinly, lengthwise, carrots and cucumbers. Lay the lunch meat or bacon(cooked obviously) flat layer on the eggs, carrots and cucumbers. And roll it up just like a sushi roll. Lunch meat sticks closed pretty well usually. But the bacon we normally stick a toothpick in to keep it rolled. Sometimes we cut them into little mini sushi bits and sometimes he likes them left full length. He loves to decide what meat and roll and cut them. Since he loves them so much, I will make extra the night before school and leave them in a tupperware. Both kids and my husband grab them for a quick snack.
    In essence, I was worried about the kids too. My 9 year old was MAD when he discovered I think milk chocolate, cheese and wheat bread are bad. So I told him as a Mom, my most important job is to give them the tools to make them grow healthy, strong and happy. I showed him Sarah’s book and asked him to just give it a month. Didn’t even take a month! I came to realize that, they will help guide me to where their taste-buds lead them. But it is my job not to buy anything for them that I wouldn’t want them to eat. We lead each other. They feel more in control when they have a little input.
    I wouldn’t let them leave without knowledge and guidance of right from wrong in anything else in life. I wouldn’t let them go to school without supplies. Why would I let them “run wild” with what they put into their bodies?

  34. Graham King says

    Great set of posts, thank you all, its 06:50 in the morning, I’m a separated dad, and I havent a clue what to feed my two children (boy 7 & girl 11) for breakfast today, I saw that in the original post there was scrambled eggs, sausages and lunch meats, which are all out as scrambling eggs oxidizes the yolks and lunch meat and sausages are highly processed and have all sorts of additives which I wouldn’t eat and therefore wouldn’t want to feed my children – help!!!

    Oh- my daughter doesnt like fried eggs, so it looks like they’re having two boiled eggs for breakfast this morning, but I’m sure they’re going to be asking for something to dip in them:)

  35. Jennifer says

    Can soynut butter be used in place of almond butter? Do you have any recommendations for cooking for a could with a tree nut allergy?
    Thank you,
    Jennifer

    • Sarah says

      I would not recommend soynut butter (recommend avoiding soy altogether actually) and try sesame seed butter if there as allergy to tree nuts. Hope that helps!

  36. Momof4 says

    Thanks for the ideas. I especially appreciate the bit about keeping only good stuff in the house and making a special trip for things like ice cream. This teaches that “food is fuel” and also that it’s ok to splurge every so often. So right on.

    It’s not always easy; especially if they’ve been eating junk their whole lives. I eliminated all the junk on New Year’s. We were big veggie lovers anyway – so it hasn’t been too difficult, but since the switch my kids are even developing a tolerance for sea food. As a result, we’re already enjoying the benefits of clear skin, better sleep, and trimmer waistlines – everyone but my adolescent daughter. She came to me yesterday and said, “Mom, we need to buy junk food. I’m wasting away!” Then she pointed to her normally round belly to show me that “something is not right, it’s not supposed to be flat.”

    We aren’t paleo but after having a lot of trouble finding “clean eating” ideas and recipes that are actually clean, paleo usually fits just right.

  37. Emma says

    Hi, great site, looking for some advice please, I have a 2 year old, he is now in his 2nd week of paleo (w/o dairy), he wouldn’t eat barely anything before we started the diet – he restricted himself to waffles, sausages, crisps, chicken nuggets, fish fingers, cheese and yogurt, and raspberries. We have obviously taken out the potato products, removed the dairy due to allergies and he won’t eat a thing. We are really worried, he still has breast milk 3x a day, for sleeps, he is having the odd nut cake here and there, he won’t touch a vegetable, he had an autism crash around 14mths and went from a great eater to a non eater overnight, so I’m sure some of this is sensory too, any advice would be greatly appreciated, thank you

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