We have a long history of constantly improving our menus.
In 2008 we completely changed our menus at Mars Montessori, replacing the standard nursery food of “Turkey Twizzlers” and “Heinz Spaghetti Hoops” with freshly made home-made food. We also introduced the serving of multiple courses.
We found previously fussy eaters were less anxious at meal times. Having multiple courses every day, allowed the children to relax, knowing that if they did not enjoy one particular food item, it did not matter, as another course with different food would soon be served. The lower anxiety encouraged them to try more types of foods and flavours, helping them to get used to more variety.
We bought everything organic where possible (milk, meat, vegetables). This approach was considered revolutionary in the UK at the time for a nursery, and Islington gave us the “Best Practice” recognition for nursery meal times. Other nurseries were encouraged to visit us to learn about our meal times (and they simply could not believe we were using fresh ingredients, let alone splashing out on organic food).
A few years ago, we upgraded our lunches again. We realised that even though our sausages were organic, they were still processed meat. We replaced them with home-made organic meat-balls. We removed organic ham, as ham is also heavily processed, as well as being high in salt and sulphides.
Most importantly, we tried to greatly reduce the number of times any lunch time main-course recipe was repeated within a two-month period. Children benefit from experiencing many more varieties of foods. Salmon can be served with many different sauces, each time it looks, smells and tastes different. The principle behind this is that if a child experiences lunches as being constantly different, it makes it harder to “latch on to favourites”. The classic example is a child who will only eat plain chicken breast. If this item is only served once every two months, then it is harder for a child to think that this is the only food he/she will eat, as there is simply no expectation that it will be served again soon.
When Les Trois Oursons opened we were so happy to use our great menus in both nurseries.
In 2015 we replaced plastic crockery with real plates and glasses, which also helped create a special atmosphere (see this link for more details)
Almost all our food is organic, although there are still a few remaining items which we are not finding in organic versions. We find there are fewer organic cheeses than we would like, yet for the sake of variety we have kept a wide range of cheeses on our menus despite not all of them being organic. Some dried and fresh herbs are not readily available in organic form. This is also the case for some other ingredients.
Overall, we feel we have the right balance of nearly all organic, yet with a great variety of good. We have have noticed a good improvement on this since we switched to Ocado in the past few weeks. We will always try to prioritise organic options when they are available and are pleased to be leading the way when it comes to nursery food in London.