This is a real life mom hack that I think other moms will greatly appreciate….or maybe it isn’t as cool as I think it is….nonetheless, I am going to tell you about Surprise Plates.

A snack surprise plate– Peanut butter, chocolate chips, white cheddar puffs

It was a random night this past Fall, around dinner time, when I realized “Oh crap! I have nothing planned for dinner and this kid wants to be fed.” I searched through the cabinets and presented QMonster with several “quick and easy” options, all of which he denied (I mean who turns down hearty meals like Easy Mac, Spaghetti Os, and Lean Cuisines???). I decided I would trick him into eating one of my gourmet options. I gathered up my best “exciting” voice and said “QMonster! Hurry! Go sit down in the living room while I make you a surprise dinner. Its going to be great. A SURPRISE PLATE!” He fell for it.

Thus, the Surprise Plate was born. All that was on the plate was Easy Mac, string cheese, and a few Vanilla Wafers. Nothing fancy AT ALL.

A typical breakfast SP-Grapes, Chocolate chips, string cheese

Its the “surprise” aspect that gets QMonster every time. He regularly requests Surprise Plates. JHub has been known to make a few Surprise Plates too. Best part? There is literally NO COMPLAINING because it was a surprise. You may not like the surprise, but you can’t complain because after all if you wanted something specific you should have just asked.

I use Surprise Plates to introduce new foods to QMonster. For example, green beans. One night I put Mac N Cheese, Green Beans, and a few chocolate chips on the plate. Since the Surprise Plate was full of excitement, he tried them AND LIKED THEM! Now had I just said “QMonster, do you want some green beans?” he would have said “Heck no!” but since they were on the Surprise Plate, he tried them and ate them all! They key to this one is putting 2 things I knew he’d love and one thing that was “new” that way even if he didn’t eat the green beans or tried them but didn’t like, he still had other options and I wasn’t back in the kitchen making another meal for him. #MomWin

Notes on the Surprise Plate:

  • Each surprise plate, whether they be a snack Surprise Plate or a dinner Surprise Plate contains a small amount of dessert type item. That’s right…I give my kid his dinner and dessert at the same time. He may eat the dessert first but he ALWAYS eats the “real” food too. Why? Because I don’t give him enough dessert to get full off of. Just a smidge, like a small handful of chocolate chips or 4 Vanilla Wafers.
  • Deliver the Surprise Plate with excitement and enthusiasm. Every time I go to make a Surprise Plate or deliver one (if he requested it) I use the same “sing song excited” voice acting like the Surprise Plate is so stinkin’ cool…even if it contains lame string cheese, peanuts, and grapes.
  • Surprise Plates can be used at any meal time. Snack Surprise Plate, Lunch Surprise Plate, Breakfast Surprise Plate, Dinner Surprise Plate…it doesn’t matter. Just put a small amount of whatever meal items you deem appropriate and deliver.
  • Typically Surprise Plates have 3 items on them, sometimes 4, but never more than 4 and never less than 3. Mainly I feel like this is a good balance. Not underwhelming and not too overwhelming.
  • I attempt to make sure each plate has some form of protein on it. Even if that means peanut butter (Which can also count as the dessert). Notice I said attempt….If there isn’t a protein, there must be a fruit…I like to at least FEEL like QMonster is eating somewhat healthy and getting some of his food groups in.
  • Don’t use Surprise Plates for each and every meal…A) the sing-song voice is annoying and nobody can fake enthusiasm that much B) it becomes stale and routine for you and the kiddos. One Surprise Plate every other day or so is probably a good max number.

Some Surprise Plate ideas: 

  • Mac n Cheese / Hot Dog cut into small pieces / Vanilla Wafers
  • Chicken Nuggets / Green beans / Chocolate chips
  • Mac n Cheese / Puffs or chips / Peanut Butter
  • Grapes / String cheese already pulled apart / Peanut butter
  • Mini Waffles / Grapes / Chocolate Chips
  • Dry Cereal / Grapes / Peanut butter

So, there you have it. My amazing #MomHack…SURPRISE PLATES! Now, go make a Surprise Plate and feed yo’ kids. Heck, make a Surprise Plate for your husband too!


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