Meal orders reduce the morning madness

I hope Laura's triplet daughters know how good they have it!

In the mornings before school, there are so many decisions to make. What to eat for breakfast, what snack to take to school, what to have for lunch. These things became entirely too hard for my three 6-year-olds to decide in the morning, so I devised a plan. I bought a restaurant-type order pad at an office supply store and every night they have to place their ‘orders’ for lunch, snack and breakfast. In the morning all I have to do is get the order forms together and start breakfast, lunch and packing snacks.

When I give my kids any food choices beyond "Would you like Choice A or Choice B?" we quickly devolve into whining and bickering. For us, sticking to Ellyn Satter's "food division of responsibility" as described in "Child of Mine: Feeding with Love and Good Sense" — I decide what, where and when, they decide how much (if at all) — seems to work well, or, at least, as well as can be expected from two finicky children. Another great title I'm rereading: "How to Get Your Kid to Eat: But Not Too Much" (Ellyn Satter)

Related: More great ideas in the Feeding/nursing archive


  1. Jill in Atlanta says

    About once a month I pull out all the snack containers and my 6yo fills them all up with whatever he can find of interest. They get kept in a bucket in the pantry so he can pack them for school easily.

    Taking the idea from the post, I’ve started keeping the lunchboxes and anything that might go in them at child level. If he wants to take a lunch, he can fill a water bottle, grab a yogurt and a piece of fruit, a spoon and some crackers. We’re hoping to expand to eating sandwiches sometime soon, but if all he wants is yogurt ever, I’m ok with that too! It makes for an easy lunch at least!

  2. Nat says

    Child of Mine is a great book! I too highly recommend it, especially for anyone who has a picky child or is tired of playing the role of short order cook.

  3. Carrie says

    Picky children will most likely love this idea. Aside from choosing what they like, we can be sure that they eat their lunch.

  4. mel says

    A couple other “eating” books that are helpful to parents and respectful to kids: Winning the Food Fight by Joey Shulman, and Feeding Your Child for Lifelong Health: Birth Through Age Six by Susan Roberts and Melvin B. Heyman.

  5. MrsHamilton says

    I’ve been using Ellyn Satter’s “food division of responsibility”, too. With great success. I read her “Secrets to Feeding a Healthy Family”.

  6. Annette says

    What happened to kids eating what’s put in front of them? And since when do six year-olds get to decide what’s good for them? IMHO, this hack does nothing but turn mom into a short-order cook.

  7. Lisa says

    This is better than forcing them to eat meals they don’t want. Well, not in an unhealthy way, but as a choice for healthy foods.

  8. Parent Hacks Editor says

    Another Triplet Mom: I deleted your comment — personal attacks add nothing to the conversation. Had you left your email address I would have written this to you personally.