As parents we all know how hard it can be to get a varied and healthy diet into our small people, which seems to get harder as they get older.
I have some slightly traumatic memories of when we were weaning Elijah of me frantically pureeing everything you can think of only for him to not eat a single spoon full.
When he started nursery he always ate so well, he would eat food that if I did it at home he would have turned his nose up at!
I always worry Elijah eats to much junk, not enough veg and has far to much sugar in his diet.
He ate the same sort of beige ‘freezer tapas’ for so long, and it is only from trying new things at nursery and we have since tried them out at home.
I think the emphasis of having a hot meal, setting the table, sitting down with peers is a really important part of their culinary development.
Planning
With such a wide range of ages to please it takes a considerable amount of planning and research of Little Owls’ and chef Sandra’s part to implement a menu change.
This time though, they didn’t just switch to a winter menu they involved the children and for the first time the parents of Little Owls children too.
There has been some changes to the menu such as switching from two to three weeks to help get even more variety in.
We all know how quickly they can go off something that claimed to love!
Mini MasterChef
You may not be aware, but when a menu change occurs the nursery pick a few children from each room to become a Mini Masterchef where they get a sneak peek at the new menu and a chance to try it out and give their opinions!
I suspect they are likely to be far harsher critics than Gregg Wallace and John Torode, don’t you?
It could be well and good to change a menu and have lots of new meals, but if no one eats it, then there isn’t much point in changing it!
It also shows how much Little Owls really does value the opinion of the children, who if they could we know would all pick chocolate cake at every meal!
Parents
As parents we want to feel safe in the knowledge that when we send our little ones in, that they are getting a wholesome and nutritious meal, and snacks throughout the day. From my experience of picking Elijah up, the nursery are so diligent, they tell me what Elijah has eaten and even how much. I go away knowing he has eaten well that day (Thanks Sandra!)
When the nursery recently asked parents to make suggestions on the new winter meal, it was a chance for them to get the inside knowledge of what our fusspots like to eat at home and enjoy and translate that into the menu which strengthens the home link between nursery and parent further.
Learning
Along with meal changes, I think what has changed Elijah’s view of food is learning about what is good for him, bad for him and how to look after his teeth etc with his nursery keyworkers and peers. He has been so excited to come home and tell me about what he has learnt and even told me off a few times that I was eating bad food (in my defence I was hiding in the pantry eating biscuits but he caught me!)
You can see and appreciate the effort that Little Owls have put in this new winter menu, from changing the format, asking for parent’s input and also taking on the children’s feedback too. It is about providing them with more than a warm meal like winter sausages and mash, or home made mac and cheese in the colder months it is about educating them and giving them the building blocks that they will take with them for the rest of their lives.
If you wish to see the full three week menu you can by clicking here.
Now, I wonder if there is any more of that homemade ginger cake?

Vicki Cockerill is a Freelance Content Writer and NICU/CHD Mum to two boys, she authors The Honest Confessions Of A NICU Mum Blog and co-founded the @KnackeredandNorwich Social Club and campaigns for NICU and MMH issues. You can contact her via her blog or social media;
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