story and photography by Lunches + Littles
A LITTLE BACKGROUND
As a new mom, I began to think about the foods my children (only having one at the time) would come to eat, even before they could eat. Of course, I knew I wanted to offer them healthy foods, but like most women early on in motherhood, I also wanted to be a fun mom. I didn't want to have to sacrifice color and taste in my kid's meals for the sake of nutrition. And I also never wanted mealtimes in our home to be a dreaded thing - for either myself or my kids. I wanted the experience of eating real food to be enjoyable, and I knew that may take some work. So... I got to work.
I’m not a chef, or an expert in nutrition. I don’t know all the feeding rules, or the do’s and don'ts, but from the very start, I presented my (now oldest) son colorful and purposeful meals. Even at just one-year-old, I wanted him to be exposed to the rainbow through what I offered, and I wanted greens and healthy foods to be something he was comfortable with, not this foreign thing. Over time I started to present meals to him that weren’t just colorful, but also fun. - Using cookie cutters, a spiralizer, and experimenting with things I already had in my kitchen, I began to transform mealtimes into an experience he was excited about, which in turn was exciting to me. Testing out natural ways to color foods and combining flavors that you may not normally put together - the kitchen started to become my happy place. And though my focus was feeding my son healthy foods, I actually grew to love meal prep, recipe development, and healthy eating so much more myself along the way.
When I started my Instagram account a couple years ago I had no intention of it ever going anywhere. I was just a new mom documenting some of my son’s favorite dishes and the things that were working for us around our table. But my feed started to grow a little, and then a little more. And I began connecting with other moms from all over the world striving to feed their children the same way. And this once intimate place slowly became a community. Over time presenting healthy and fun food went from a hobby and passion to a job. I am often asked about this transition, and I am not sure I can put it to words, but what I can say for anyone wanting some inspiration or wanting to surround themselves with a community like this, is don’t give up and just do you.
I didn’t just wake up one day and know that Lunches + Littles was a thing. In fact, there have been plenty of times over the last year especially, when meals and recipes I worked really hard on just didn’t perform well (meaning low likes or response), and in those times I have completely questioned my value in the space. Like I mentioned before, I am not a Feeding Expert or a Pediatric Dietician and being on a platform with so many talented and educated individuals can be intimidating. I am a self-taught cook and photographer and I have truly just learned along the way.
All that to say – don’t give up. And, don't underestimate your value. Everyone is different and has a different approach, and that is what makes it so cool. Despite the areas where I lack schooling or don't seem to have an edge, I am creating every day and doing something I love. And doing just that and creating authentic content that you love even if you are unsure if it will be liked, is always worth it. I can recall some of the first times I shared a big stack of food or ice cream that was bright yellow. I didn't know how those posts/ recipes would be received - but I loved them, and they worked for us, so I shared and I have never regretted doing so.
I get feedback all the time that inspires me to keep on doing what I'm doing. Messages from moms that their kids ate their vegetables at dinner because they used a simple change in presentation I recommended or messages from men and women that they themselves are eating more real foods thanks to the recipes I post. Or some of my favorite messages are simply that I made someone smile with a colorful creation or that my feed brightened their day. These kinds of messages have become a true sense of success for me, even when the engagement may be lower than expected on a particular post. Way beyond the likes and numbers and algorithm drama - there are people that are viewing what I am putting out there, and it is making them smile or helping their kids eat better, and these other parents are making choices for their family based on what they see. What an incredible thing to be a small part of.
These days over at @lunchesandlittles I get to create all sorts of recipes showcasing real food that is really fun. And in our kitchen, I am no longer creating dishes for just my son, because that little guy that got me creating healthier options years ago, is now one of three little ones that call me Mom.
With a two, three and four-year-old (for a few more weeks!) time can be limited and the days hard, but preparing healthy, flavorful dishes and snacks for my entire family has grown to be of utmost importance to me. And then sharing those meal ideas and treats with the Lunches + Littles community is something I look forward to every single week.
Not everyone gets to say that they love their job, but I truly do. I have met some incredible other parents, entrepreneurs, and professionals in this space and it's been awesome. And I love that creating fun food and having colorful, real food on kid’s plates is a hip kind of thing these days. My hope for my son, almost 5 years ago when he was born, was that he would be able to see the value in real food; never feeling deprived of color or flavor in the process. Today, for all three of my children my goal is the same –developing healthy relationships with food, eating a rainbow of colors and having mealtimes and the foods I create be fun.
If at the end of the day, I inspire someone to eat more fresh foods or just make them smile with a colorful creation I post, I would call that a good day. There is so much darkness in this world, and it is humbling, encouraging and even a bit surreal that I get to share color and goodness with so many people each day in this space. Food and meals can bring people together in so many unexpected ways and I hope that my little corner, @lunchesandlittles, continues to make people smile and inspires people that real food really can be fun – even for little ones, for a long time to come. A stack of rainbow pancakes, bright purple ice cream, a rainbow salad – If you look for it, and if you really want it; you will find, it really is a colorful life.
Lunches + Littles focuses on quick, healthy and fun meal options for little ones and the family as a whole. A mantra of sorts – making meals fun doesn’t have to be hard and real food really can be fun (and loved)! Find our more on Instagram; @lunchesandlittles!
Pizza with Hearts and Homemade Sauce Recipe