Whats on the Menu? (blog marathon post 2)

One of the marvellous things (and yes there are indeed many marvellous things—but let us focus on one thing at a time) about living here, is the Children’s school lunch menu, which would give a Gourmet restaurant a run for its money. The menu (See Study the image above.Click on it to enlarge as a separate pdf file.Thanks to Nikhil.) sounds more like a restaurant menu where the children have the option of Hot dinner (for some reason they refer to the afternoon meal as dinner here) or packed lunch plus a vegetarian option and the most delicious desserts.

The cooks who make it have all achieved a NVQ level 2 qualifications in Professional cookery. The lunches meet the Government based food standard as well as nutrient based standards (which are very high). To top it, the menu changes every week, and they have a different menu each season! Could anyone ask for more?!

The parents can decide that morning what the child will have and then hand over the money (2 pounds a meal) to the school that morning when they drop the child—or if you have decided which days, you can indicate that or if you like you can choose for the child to have school lunch the whole week. You are also free to send packed lunches from home. (Which I often do—my children love my cooking)

We’re all given a copy of the menu—so each morning before they leave for school, my children look at the menu( and decide what they will have—mummy’s cooking, hot-dinner or packed lunch option at school. Based on what they say arrangements are made accordingly. Husband of course loves my cooking and I pack lunch for him every single day. My son too prefers my cooking but my daughter wants to have it at school. (I suspect it’s largely because of the desserts they offer—plus she can leave out food and I won’t find out!)

A few days back my daughter (who is soon to be eight, she keeps reminding you) studied the menu intensely. If you look at the menu above, you will know that it takes a while. Then she looks at me and announces “Ma—whatever I want is not there in the menu.”

I am secretly pleased, as it gives me a chance to prove that Mom’s cooking is indeed the best and what even a gourmet menu cannot provide, mom always can.

So I say magnanimously, my chest swelling a bit with pride, “Tell me darling, whatever you want, mummy will make it for you.”

She says “You can’t Mom. You may not know the recipe.”

I say “Of course I can—I can google everything. All the recipes are there.”

“This one isn’t.”

Now curiosity is getting the better of me. “What is it?” I ask eagerly, bent on proving my culinary skills.

“I want a non-vegetable.” she says.

I am a bit surprised as my daughter is a vegetarian.

“Oh—you mean you want non-vegetarian?” I correct her, presuming she had made a mistake.

“No Ma,” she insists “I want a non-vegetable. It means if there is even a trace of vegetable in it, I won’t eat it.”

She totally stumped me there!

There are no non-vegetables in MY menu (You can’t have Maggi and curd rice on a daily basis! Definitely not advisable for growing children.It is completely against my mommy ethics)

And googling for non-vegetable recipes is of no use either!

I tried. :-)


Addendum: After reading some of the comments, hurrying to add this. (Especially because the recipe suggestions are making me hungry and making my mouth water!) Using all my mummy cunningness (Oh and it comes naturally once you have kids) I have made a deal with my daughter. Once she finishes her quota of veggies for the day, she is allowed to eat junk :) It works best ! (Especially when there is no house help, unlike India, and you have to do the washing ,cooking cleaning etc all yourself and you can't afford to make 5 different things)


  1. Put your daughter on a veggie meal marathon. 31 days and 31 diff recipies :)
    But then you will be running too many marathons I guess :)

    -Tarun Chandel

  2. Tarun: If there is vegetable in it--she wont eat it! So no recipes for this one!!If she ate vegetables i would gladly do this marathon 100 times over!

  3. ha ha ha .. if i was in her place i wud ask the same thing...

    i was so strictly non veg when young.. mom had to force me to eat green !

    its another thing that I love them nw
    but still very much a non veggie..

    - suddentwilight ( twitter)

  4. Well either you can disguise the veggies in a cutlet and give her tht or make kathal n tell her it's a non-vegetable (when I was a kid my mom used to tell me that kathal is a vegetarian non-veg dish whatever tht is :P)

    Or give her one of my favourite non-vegetable dishes - hot steaming rice and mashed boiled potatoes (mash them with a pinch of sale, pepper and mustard oil) and ghee/ butter :)

    I'm sure she'l love the latter. Everyone who's eaten it has.

  5. SMM: Nutrition is zero (except for carbs) in the steaming rice and mashed potatoes--and she wont
    eat potatoes as its a vegetable! And u cannot NOT eatc veggies if u want your minerals,vitamins and proteins!!

    Teeki Mirchi: Now that i think of it, when I was a child I used to love non-vegetables too!

  6. It's an ocassional option not an everyday meal. Btw are chole bhature also a a vegetable or rajma chawal?

    Veggie cutlets are a good nutritious option aren't they though

  7. Oh Preeti, what I am saying is that you market your vegetables in a better way.

    Like if I had asked you to post everyday you would not have done this but doing a Blogathon is exciting. Similary the school has already made an impact with the menu (as I twitted, it does sound delicious).

    You can also try something creative that get her to eat vegetable and yet feel nice about it :)

    @SMM: wow now I am feeling hungry.

    - Tarun Chandel

  8. You could give her a soya granule curry ( add tomato puree with the masalas that you would use for any curry) and make a chappati wrap or even mix it with rice to pass it off as a pulao.

  9. ahhh she sure has u stumped there heheh... its so difficult to make most kids eat veggies, but i also do know kids who eat too much veg also and i wonder how they manage to do so...

  10. SMM: oh yes--veggie cutlets are a good option :) The best way i ahve figured is to make a deal with her..Once she has her veggies she can eat junk :)

    Radha: She wont touch pulao! I just make a deal with her that once she eats veggies, she can have junk..That works. Soya option is nice though..thanks!

    Enigma:Yeah--even i know kids who love their veggies.

  11. Tarun: :) Yes- noted..and Yeah SMM--you mae me hungry too! :)

  12. Seems like its going to be a challenging month for you with the blog a day and now the new recipe.

    Non-Vegetable hmm one solution Paneer Paranthas (Technically Paneer is not a vegetable as curd is not)

  13. Anonymous3:53 PM

    lol...but gud for ur kids yaar...i hate the mess food here in india...yuck :(

  14. Prats: i do soooo want paneer paranthas now!

    Sahil: Come to UK! :)

  15. Teaching them the power of the bargaining tool :P

    @ Tarun...If your hungry, the best thing to do is eat. Have some nice tasty tangy mirchiwali chaat wih boiled channa n aalu n sprouts (nutritious n yummy too) :P

  16. SMM: Wait till u have kids and then we'll talk :) And i am, this very instant, going to make that chaat :)

  17. Omg! LOL! I am sitting alone and laughing out loud :) Please make sure that once you have the recipe you post it on the internet. At least we'll be able to google it then :)

  18. SS: Glad it made u laugh..No way! I'll patent it and become a millionaire--thanks to a valued comment by SMM ;-)

  19. I'd be glad to share my receipe with whoever wants it. However I want a few spoons from it for haring my valued recipe :P

    And, Preeti, if your planning to make millions based on my valuable advise, I want 5% percent of the profits in INR (before Satish asks) :P

  20. SMM: :-) Well said!!! :-) Smiling a big smile now :)

  21. hey this all made me so hungryyyyyy... :((

    Gosh ur daughter is so cute... try mashing vegetables in flour and cook parantha..may be then she can eat..though I know kids are smarter...:)

  22. in our place our kids love different sets of things... so its a nightmare trying to get them to both agree to something.... except junk of course :)

    but i've seen, hunger is the best motivator... they will eat almost anything!

  23. Non-vegetable!!!! wow!!! I can wholly understand your plight...these kids can get so difficult to please at times...
    I'm sure you would have tried any number of strategies to deal with this...so nothing can go past them. :)
    But if I were to be given that weekly menu.I would jump at the offer... ;) saves the agony of cooking marathons during vacations, with endless requests

  24. I always knew Geminines were clever and yes, your daughter is a Geminine and please don't argue and say the word 'cusp' :)

    She is so smart! I wud never have known to say the word non-vegetable and you know how old I am!

    Hey, how about egg? I'm yet to figure out whether it's a non-veg or veg dish, so let's just call it non-vegetable. Yeah, I know, I don't make much sense :)

  25. wow....so cute...I just love her innovation...Non Vegetable;-)) I cant think of anything against her wishes, as I was like that, My mom used to tell me;-) From mommy's perspective, u need to make deals with her too uh;-)!!!!

  26. nice way to start the blog marathon...
    Anyway ur daughter do have some out of the box choices... :)

  27. nice way to start the blog marathon...
    Anyway ur daughter do have some out of the box choices... :)

  28. Day 2 of the marathon n u have so must to tell us..yippe!

    ohh..no veggies..that cant be a PERFECTLY healthy meal...but yet she can have a nutritious meal...if u make all the types of daals(tuvar,yellow moong,green moong,masoor etc etc), chole, Rajma..u get the drift...basically lentils n so lots of proteins.
    My mom makes this really nice stuff with green moong..gravy n sabji, which I make now. Tell me if ur REALLY interested n i can email u the receipe.
    Is onion and/or tomatoe considered a veggie or no?? if not..i can give u so many more receipes!

  29. sometimes when you stay alone all these foodie marathons seems like a distant dream


  30. Chronicwriter:No foodie marathon--only blog marathon which anyway u have mastered! :P

    Pavi: I am always looking for new recipes to try. i have a huge collection.I try and if its nice it goes into collection. Would really appreciate any dal recipes--mostly for moong dal and tuvar dal..I also make green moong.Onions and tomatoes are ok! Can be disguised. If its not too much trouble pls do mail them to me..ps@preetisatish.com

    Sushobhan:Oh yes, she does!

  31. Durga: i too loved the term non-vegetable!yep--deals are a part and parcel of the game!

    Still thinking: No i wont argue--must tell u something--heck no--that can be a post! :P

    Prats:Yes--many times i tell them to eat there too..sometimes they dont like whats on the menu for that day. Then i cook.

    Guru: oh yes--and everything is extra tasty when they are hungry!

    Chirpy paro: yes--she does like parathas.

  32. Kids really do say the most adorable things sometimes! Non-vegetables... that had me stumped for a while too :D

    Interesting blog, cheers...

  33. non vegetables kids are innovative for sure...

    try mixing dal and boiled and mashed veggies in dough and make paranthas, my mom did it with my sis who was ditto as ur daughter and i am doing it for my son

    PS: i signed up for the challenge too :)

  34. No please, please tell me! I just can't handle suspense :p

  35. Gosh! Aren't the kids just pampered silly !! I haven't met one person who says canteen food rocks. Maybe an item or two. But ever single day. Naah!

    Purvi is way way too smart for her years. Things like these never occured to me when I was her age. They still don't occur to me actually!

    Your culinary skills I don't doubt. That sure is such an achievement for your family to choose your cooking even though they are spoilt for choice! Wow!

    Maybe if you make something that you've never made before, she'd be thrilled even though that has vegetable components! Take care :)

  36. Stillness speaks: please come to Uk and visit us soooooon!!

    Still thinking: it wasn't anything great--but entertaining nevertheless--your cusp comment reminded me of that--will post!

    Monika:Welcome to the madness :)

    Arnab:Thank u! Cheers :)

  37. Long time!!

    Bravo on the second consequetive post.

    Non vegetable, now thats something new. The menu looks super cool, if only such service was available for office folks.

  38. You came up with a great solution.

  39. Nessa: Works for now!

    J: Yeah--menu is too good! How have u been?

  40. When my daughters started getting demanding about different foods I bought them some simple cook books and taught them to cook. It's really paid off. Katy makes the best pies!
    And Shelle does some very adventurous things in the kitchen.
    When they were little it helped them feel more in control of what they were eating and happier, too.

  41. School meals in this country hav eundergone a bit of a shake up over the last couple of years..but even by the standards I've seen..your children's school menu is amazing!

  42. Rayne: That is indeed a BRILLIANT idea! Thanks for sharing. Will surely try that out.

    Niall: Isn't it the same menu all over UK? I presumed it was so!

  43. what a menu! my kids too prefer to take packed lunches..sometimes i have to force them to buy at the school cafeteria...:)

    though i'm not a great fan of c ooking everyday, somehow i don't mind cooking SO much after coming here ;)

    btw, tarla dala has a cookbook for kids and my nephew has been trying diff recipes from there for ages...the 6 yrold seems interested in cooking so i plan to get that book for him...

    okay my priceless suggestion : soya cutlets? i sometimes put them in mini burgers...or give it plain

  44. wow that is awesum! now im so depressed i dint get to study in a fancy skool which had such fancy lunches...!!

  45. where did she get the idea if she's a vegetarian :-O
    ..that does a jacket potato look like ;) and.. sweetcorn medley sounds like such a musical dish :P

  46. Smart girl,

    Don't know if she would take rice....anyways here is my option of Non-Vegetable(Atleast she woulnot see any veg)

    Lemon rice?
    Tomoto rice? ( if you can cut tomoto into tiny pieces it won’t be visible)
    Bun butter jam
    Bun butter bournvita ( I had it in my PG Hostel almost every single morning)
    Bread sandwich ( only with red and Green chutnies- It will look like Indian flag too!!!LOL)

  47. I was so much like her when I was small.. used to eat only curd n rice for years together n since amma was working in a diff place I had my way with dad.. Dads never oppose any junk eating habits ;)

  48. haha.. I used to be like ur daughter ! and thats why i'm 22 and 45 ! my age and weight respectively!! :P :(

  49. ma dear!

    if ya looking pour some sympathy for having no house help, you certainly not getting it from moi! ;)

    evilish, devilish grin turning into green goblin (hint: spiderman movie)


  50. I AM QUITE JEALOUS OF UR KIDS....all kinds of delicacies!! and here we get stale "sambar" and rice that seems to be cooked few days ago and you will be lucky really lucky if you DO NOT FIND insects like "cockroaches,lizards,maybe even worms" in the curry..i was lucky that i din find any but one of my friend did and we stopped going to our college canteen....he he...lived for 2 years only on 1 samosa and a lime juice Bill Rs 5...quite a saving na??? but by the time i get home..i could eat 10 dinosaurs...

  51. Anonymous1:24 PM

    Amazing... non-vegetables in my dictionary normally means non-vegetarian. I should try some non-vegetables for my vegetarian husband - so pass on the recipes.


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