Like so many of us, I worked for a time during college and graduate school in the restaurant industry. As is the case with most wait staff, I wasn’t thrilled when a family with young children was seated in my section because such patrons tend to leave both a huge mess and a meager tip. I remember in particular one family who left a mess that took me a good thirty minutes to clean up at the end of the night - we’re talking papers shredded and thrown everywhere, goo mashed into the carpet, and condiments smeared on the walls - and about a $2.50 tip. Thank you so freakin’ much.
It’s those memories that make me so anxious about taking my own children out to a restaurant. I don’t want to be those people. I will go to places that don’t meet these criteria, but these days I prefer my restaurants to have tile floors, be noisy, and be self-serve (i.e., order at the counter, etc.). Then I don’t feel so weird about hunching down under the table to pick up the chunks that have migrated to the floor.
Is it just me that does this??? Seriously, I'm thinking about getting one of those little crumb sweeper things for the diaper bag.
Since most kid's menus consist of junk food, I bring my own unless I'm going somewhere where I feel comfortable ordering something off the menu for the babies. Maybe that makes me a jerk, but I don't really care. I'm not about to ruin all of the good work I've done on developing their healthy eating habits for the sake of a stranger's feelings.
It is after much experimentation that I feel ready to tell you what I believe to be the best meal to pack for a toddler. I have selected it both for its clean-upability and lack of refrigeration requirement. Are you ready?... Wait for it...
Peanut Butter Sandwich and Box of Raisins
It's simple, and there are no vegetables, but that can be taken care of with the meal at home. But you know what? I'm still thinking about the mess we're making the entire time we're eating. Come on, am I the only mommy who worries about this?