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Tuesday, January 15, 2013

What's For Dinner For Picky Eaters?

Oh, there was a day in my early marriage where I actually accomplished the Once A Month Cooking approach to meal planning. Nowadays, three kids later and each with a different opinion of what their taste buds will allow, it has become a bit more complicated and discouraging.

Meal planning falls way down on the list of things that need to get done each day. When it comes time to eat, everyone is hungry and you throw something together hoping you have at least one healthy item on the menu.

Before you toss your "I can parent a picky eater better than you" attitude my way, consider that:

  • Neither my husband nor I are picky eaters in the least.  We absolutely love to eat. 
  • I followed a healthy diet while pregnant.
  • I breastfed all three of my children well into toddlerhood.
  • All three children started out with healthy foods as their first foods.  My pickiest child even ate broccoli as well as watermelon at one time, begging for more.
  • I tried the "I'll re-heat it in the morning if you don't eat it tonight" approach.  And, believe me, it is possible for a child to refuse to eat.
  • I have also tried the "I'll sit right here with you till every last bite is taken".  ...  All that got me was a moment of feeling as though I succeeded only to end up with a child throwing everything back up all over me and the carpet.

Some suggest using a crock pot, but that would require actually putting something into it each morning.

Some suggest biting the bullet and forcing the kids to eat what we eat, but that got me hours (yes hours) of upset children/mama/papa and green beans thrown back up all over me.

Some suggest going out to eat, but that is far too expensive for a family of five people.

Judge my parenting choices if you will, but my conclusion has been to try to find food that everyone will eat and compromise on the other.

Yes, I feel like a short-order chef and it has taken all the joy out of cooking and meal planning for me. However, I try to at least get some healthy food down each child each day. Here are some of the foods that every child agrees on:

Apples - I have to core them and slice them, but it is worth it to me. I also have one child who much prefers the green apples to the red ones, but that's ok too. Sometimes, I add peanut butter for a bit of protein. Other times, I'm just plain happy to get the fruit in.

Chicken tenderloins - Yes! All three of my children will actually eat chicken tenderloins when I cover them with bread crumbs and olive oil and bake them. Mixed Berries - To my delight all three children will each mixed berries if they are frozen with just a tad sprinkling of sugar.

Cheese Roll Ups - All three will also eat cheese rolled up in a tortilla when the cheese is slightly melted. 

Cheese - Yes, I do have children who are the cheesiest. All three absolutely love cheese of almost any variety. I knew we were meant to head for Wisconsin.

Perhaps, you are a stronger parent than I and willing to let your children squirm and fight just to get them to eat what you prepared. If so, you are welcome to come nanny for my kiddos anytime and see if your iron-clad will holds up. For me, any sprinkling of joy I attain from watching my children actually, not only eat but devour and look forward to something I've made, is worth it to me.

What do your children all agree on?

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