I found an oasis yesterday. A true oasis – a place to have a drink of water in the hot, hot desert. And it wasn’t a mirage. It was the best drink of water I ever had. When I finished, I thought to myself, why had no one ever told me of the oasis before?
The oasis was Sweet Tomatoes. My drink of water was a healthy meal that my picky child would eat. The hot desert is my life during the week while I work full-time and try to balance making a fresh healthy dinner for our family.
When we walked inside, I was shocked. In a good way. Almost every table had children. Children under the age of 8. There were a couple of kids running around, even one toddler throwing a tantrum – and NOT A SINGLE table was making a dirty face about it. It was loud with children’s voices. In my life before kids, this would have been my nightmare. Now it was my Mecca. I found the Holy Land for the frazzled working parent.
As we walked quickly through the salad bar, my seven year old was eating the cold pasta salad and black olives that I put on his plate. He even tried some asian chicken salad and ate jicama strips. When we went to pay, I noticed that kids under three are free (score!) and that kids over 3 costs only a couple of bucks. Plus we didn’t have to wait for the meal to be served, didn’t have to bribe our server with a large(r) tip to rush my son’s dinner that is way unhealthier than salad, pasta, and a baked potato. We already had our meal. And it was made to order. Literally.
My favorite part? My son was trying new things! When you have a picky kid that eats the same twelve things over and over; well, those words are better than anything. Yes, there is nothing gourmet about Sweet Tomatoes or it’s cousin Fresh Choice. But we are not a gourmet family. Our dinners at home are family meals; often the same kind of meals that I had growing up. Serving lobster or “high end” olives doesn’t make me a better mom or a better person. Getting my kid to eat anything more than strawberries is good for me.
We don’t live close to a Sweet Tomatoes to dine there frequently (some of those kids knew their way around there pretty well, if you know what I mean). And I do pride myself on making a home-cooked meal at least 5 nights a week (with the other nights usually being a family members house with a home cooked meal). But to know that a place like that exists, well it just makes me happy.
Next time, I’ll remember to bring a coupon.
Photo credit:Liddy Hansdottir – Fotolia.com