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#1 of 24 Old 10-21-2012, 04:33 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I need ideas on meals that will cost no more than $6.64 and will feed 4 people. They need to be dairy free. And any ideas on how to get super picky kids to eat what is provided? My husband lost his job and we have a ton of food intolerances. My kids aren't use to what most people eat and have no idea what "kid friendly" recipes are. Bonus points if its real food (I know, I know, impossible-lol)

 

Thank you!!!!


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#2 of 24 Old 10-21-2012, 04:39 PM
 
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I was an extremely picky kid and we lived in extreme poverty. I lived on Maruchan Ramen for every meal I didn't get free at school for several years. I'm the tallest woman in my mother's family (and the shortest in my father's family) so who knows if my growth was stunted by malnutrition.

 

I hear that some freaks add vegetables to it and that adds nutrition. I didn't do that. :)


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#3 of 24 Old 10-21-2012, 05:10 PM
 
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deleted because it was way too wordy.  I talk too much : )

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#4 of 24 Old 10-21-2012, 06:53 PM
 
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You should be pretty well off with that budget. Most of my home cooked meals are less than $2/person. Try shopping at Aldi for your pantry staples and figure out which grocery stores have the best prices on particular items. My kids can be picky eaters at times so I try to make sure there is at least one thing they like at each meal but I'm not a short order cook. I'm sorry your husband lost his job and hopefully this situation will be temporary.


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#5 of 24 Old 10-21-2012, 07:39 PM
 
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I think that is a decent tho sometimes tight budget. I feed my family on about $2.00 a person.

 

Less meat

More beans

Soups

Breakfasts for dinner(pancakes from scratch ect)

Fruit and veg on sale/in season

Buy only what you need fresh. Even if you only use half your budget and have to go out shopping later in the week for more fresh stuff its better then buying to much and having it go to waste.

I let the kids pick certain things at the grocery store/meal-a different dried bean to try,what they want added into their pancakes(apples or pear ect)

 

When in doubt call food by a cool name.

I make an avocado dairy free pesto...I knew the kids wouldn't even try it. I called it shrek noodles and now they beg for it. Same with thai noodle soup...it's Kung Fu Panda noodle soup.
 


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#6 of 24 Old 10-21-2012, 07:53 PM
 
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I am vegan and my monthly food budget is about the same as yourse, however I only feed myself and two kids but we do eat only organic...I like to keep good food affordable by buying the large bulk bags of organic rice, qunioa, peas, beans etc from costco. Initially it costs a bit more but a ten dollar bag lasts six to eight months. Some of my cheap favorites include qunoia caserolle with qunoia, frozen or fresh broccolli, nutritional yeast and egg replacer to glue it together. If I have extra money I'll get some fake cheese to top it with. Overall I don't know how much it costs since the big bags of bulk foods are ten bucks each but last forever! For breakfast we love vegan french toast from homebaked bread my mom makes (cheap for her to make I could bake it but I'm not much of a baker) and a bananna in the blender with egg replacer or protein powder. Hmm there are lots of cheap vegan meals out there the easiest thing is to think bulk and think local! See if there is a CSA or a pick and pack farm near you. Or even spend a week 'shopping' at food banks to stock up before going to the store. Also check out the vegan/vegetarian forum here on mdc!


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#7 of 24 Old 10-21-2012, 09:18 PM
 
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Breakfast for dinner is usually a good way to go...pancakes or scrambled eggs with chopped up ham or turkey makes it taste like quiche without the cheese.  

 

I think soups are a really good way to go....they are a good way way to stretch meat...taco soup with tortilla chips, chicken noodle, chicken rice.  For a creamy soup you can use coconut milk, especially in chicken stock based soups.  Adding a batch of quick homemade biscuits makes it feel like more of a meal, or a batch of toast. 

 

We love a rice casserole that includes pork sausage (or ground turkey flavored like sausage with sage, salt, pepper, garlic). 

 

Stir fry can make quick work of leftover veggies or meats.

 

Smoothies can make a good addition to a small lunch or breakfast, or even just as a snack.  It is a good way to use up old bananas or frozen fruits with soy or almond milk. 

 

I make a lot of muffins to have around as a snack or quick breakfast.  You can do a lot of improvising and substituting with what you have...different frozen or fresh fruits.  Muffins are pretty forgiving and you can make a bunch to put in the freezer. 

 

Speaking of putting things in the freezer, making extra meals when you can afford it and putting them in the freezer gives peace of mind for those weeks when $ is tight...feels like a "free" meal.

 

Meal planning a week or so at a time helps a lot to be able to use up everything. 

 

I would be happy to share some recipes if there is something specific that I've mentioned you're interested in.  Hope these ideas help!

 

Take care Mama!
 


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#8 of 24 Old 10-21-2012, 09:52 PM
 
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Scrambled eggs, quiche, pasta with veggies, cheese and olive oil, pancakes usually with fruit or veggie (pumpkin pancakes for fall; zucchini for summer, etc.), and beans and quinoa are some of my inexpensive staples. We do a chili with cans of beans, a jar of salsa, and quinoa; but my kids have decided the salsa is too spicy for them, so now I do just beans n' quinoa and then top the grownups' servings with salsa. Quinoa and chickpeas with onion, carrot, tomato, and cilantro makes a good cold salad, as does quinoa, chickpeas, apples, raisins, and cinnamon. 


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#9 of 24 Old 10-22-2012, 07:09 AM
 
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Picky in what way? Which intolerances? It would be helpful to know if they don't eat specific foods or if say a whole category is out (mushy foods, sour fruit, etc.) $6 is actually pretty OK for 4 people unless you eat a lot of meat or require all organic. I would do a lot of potato/pasta/rice as a base, then add a protein (we use mostly tofu, eggs, chicken drumsticks, tilapia filets, and canned salmon, organic ground beef once in a while) and vegetables in season. Sauce or don't sauce as your family likes. The main seasonings one of my kids uses are ketchup, ranch dressing & soy sauce, but the rest of us put more spicy/complex stuff on our dishes. In a typical week, we eat each of these things at least once: tortilla/tostada/rice & beans (with toppings), pasta & a jar of sauce (about $4 even using Barilla Plus, which is a bit more nutritious, and decent sauce on sale) with salad of some kind, and some kind of noodle or rice & tofu stir-fry.

 

A couple more tips - if they like soup, save scraps & make your own broth. If you like mushrooms, dried shiitakes make a great broth by themselves. If you add coconut milk as in the tip above, use 1/3 of the can or so & freeze the rest for another time - it goes pretty far in adding creaminess. And two words - cabbage and potatoes. Very cheap around this time (at least here) & you can do a lot with them.


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#10 of 24 Old 10-23-2012, 06:04 PM
 
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I agree with the previous posters about increasing beans and other sources of protein besides meat to cut costs. I have a some budget friendly meal ideas on my blog that my family including my little girl (7) loves (can be found on my profile) .

Hope that helps! 

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#11 of 24 Old 10-23-2012, 08:31 PM
 
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Originally Posted by MommaLura View Post

I need ideas on meals that will cost no more than $6.64 and will feed 4 people. They need to be dairy free. And any ideas on how to get super picky kids to eat what is provided? My husband lost his job and we have a ton of food intolerances. My kids aren't use to what most people eat and have no idea what "kid friendly" recipes are. Bonus points if its real food (I know, I know, impossible-lol)

 

Thank you!!!!

 

Can you list all the food intolerences and the sorts of foods your kids do eat? It might help generate ideas that are most useful.

 

 

lactose free recipes- http://www.food.com/recipes/lactose

allergy friendly recipes- http://foodallergies.about.com/od/recipes/Dietetic_Recipes.htm

 

If they can and will eat rice and beans or lentils those are good frugal options.

red beans and rice... stir fry

tacos or bean burritos

soup is a good dollar stretcher- my picky dd likes chili and minestrone best.


Kim ~mom to one awesome dd (12)

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#12 of 24 Old 10-29-2012, 08:51 AM
 
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Eggs and home fries are pretty cheap.  Fried rice with veggies.  Spaghetti and sauce with grated cabbage mixed in the sauce (you can barely taste the cabbage). 


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#13 of 24 Old 10-29-2012, 09:18 AM
 
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We do a lot of beans and rice meals, as well as homemade soups. Can you qualify for WIC and/or food stamps? 


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#14 of 24 Old 11-02-2012, 08:40 AM
 
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I"m a vegetarian and my family does limited dairy. Even if you do eat meat, it can be cheaper to cut it out.

 

I make a great vegetarian chili with 3 cans of beans (which ever you like), 2 cans of diced tomatos, 1 can of tomato sauce, 1 green pepper, 1/2 an onion, and cumin to taste. I know canned isn't the best, but I've never been good at soaking beans. So if you know how, you can get like a pound of beans for $1.

 

Tacos are pretty cheap. I do black bean tacos (again canned), red beans & rice tacos (Zataran's box is like $1 and very good), or even falafel tacos because although a little dry, it tastes pretty close to taco meat. You can make your own tortillas for cheap, or they aren't that expensive pre-made. You can even wrap it all up in the tortilla, cover it in enchilada sauce and bake for enchiladas instead.

 

Also I try to stretch my food. For example, when I make vegetarian sloppy joes (with a meat alternative) I mix in some refried beans or black beans to stretch it. Kids don't know the difference. And I'll use left over sloppy joes for spaghetti sauce the next day.

 

Your kids seem to be around the same age as my kids.  I like caiesmommy's idea of changing the name of the foods to get the kids to eat it. Also, I can't afford for my kids not to eat what I'm cooking so if they don't eat at dinner time, they get no snacks after dinner. Usually by 7:30pm before bed they are scarfing down the dinner they didn't eat because they are hungry. I don't give in to picky eaters, but my kids are pretty good. I listen to their grievances (like my older son doesn't like cooked carrots so I don't make him eat them) but when he's refusing to try a food thats new or refusing to eat a food I know he likes, I don't give in.


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#15 of 24 Old 11-02-2012, 11:55 AM
 
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growing up in the midwest in dairy/corn country, all of our meals were pretty heavy on the meat. Added to fact my stepdad got half a cow as a bonus so we didn't have hardly any money but we always had plenty of nearly-free beef. So my exp in stretching dollars from childhood are pretty slim.

 

Again, not knowing what kind of restrictions you are on, but some of the cheaper meals I do -

 

1. Pancakes (Atleast the ones I make!) freeze amazingly well. I found that for a 1/4th-1/3rd of the flour I use wheat and the pancakes are just as light but have a more substantial taste and flavor. Any more and they start to feel like healthfood tho ;) I make them in very large batches and let them cool and throw them into gallon ziplocks and into freezer. When I was still married my ex would wake up early with DS and they would reheat the pancakes and let me sleep in a little (since I was up every night with baby and working crazy hours it was the only break I got!)

Def lots cheaper than prepackaged eggos and such. They are nice for busy nights after work with the kids too....dinner on table in minutes. Not super healthy, but quick and filling. I usually throw some fruit ontop for the kids to up health value a bit!

 

2. "sloppy corrans" as we call them. my ex requested sloppy joes when I was looking for new food ideas and I had terrible memories of my mom's version. I looked up healthier versions using turkey and stumbled upon this one. We called them SCs because Corran my eldest would balk and complain UNTIL he ate one, then polish off more than a grown man could at 2-3. LOL. Both kids actually whinge when I make them STILL until they take a bite....then they lick plates clean. I cook several lbs of ground turkey in pan, pour into crockpot. I think recipe called for 1 packet of onion soup mix for 2lbs, but I sieve out the onion (I have a thing about texture) and I like salty foods, so I usually do 2 packets for 3lbs of meat. I do roughly 6oz of tomato "sauce" (the canned tomato puree, but by all means use up whatever you got), a splash of vinigar (recipe called for red wine, i've used balsamic to great ends too), and some pepper.

You can easily embelish, but I like how simple this is to start with. Cook for 8(ish) hours on low. This is like stew, the longer it cooks the better it tastes.

after we have the SC for dinner, I use the leftover meat in a variety of dishes. Cook up pasta and some spaghetti sauce and toss in a few spoons of meat. Reheat in saucepan with some water or broth or more tomato sauce to thin it just a bit if needed, add in curry/chili/cumin for a quick taco meat. Gotta do this on the stove tho because you don't want those spices "raw".

Use on tacos or in quesadillas. Throw some meat onto english muffins and top with cheese and veggies for mini pizzas. and my personal favorite - add just a few spoons to velveeta shells and cheese (I make my own since both box sizes are wrong for us. cook whatever pasta I have laying around, cube up some velveeta and a splash of milk and stir til creamy then toss in like ehh....1/4th to 1/2c of meat mixture)

I've been known to make this just for the shells and cheese aspect. but it's a great base for using up leftovers from other meals and it freezes WONDERFULLY....so I will cook it and put it into 2 meal serving sized containers and after it defrosts it's just a few minutes to the table for us.

 

3. When I was unemployed for a really long time (pre-kids) I lived off about 1/4 to 1/3rd of a grilled chicken breast and a cup or two of rice a day. I'd cook off chicken and put in fridge and then cut up into small bits, heat with a bit of oil on high til crispy then toss in cooked rice and some soy/teriyaki. I still make this (with veggies or sometimes tofu) for the kids. They like it and it's cheap and filling as well.

 

4. one of my favorite meals my mom did make was breakfast night....usually involved a giant pan of scrambled eggs, some sausage (the tube stuff cut into pucks and cooked until they were rock solid. mom wasn't a very good cook....and while I don't care for sausage every now and again I get a craving for rock hard nearly burned breakfast sausage. LOL) and biscuts. When you are cooking cheap for 8 people you not only had to get inventive on cost but also what CAN be cooked for that many. we'd easily eat 2 dozen eggs....so she had to be able to cook that much.

 

5. on that same note, I make a quasi quiche (mom found it on back of pillsbury can I think. she only makes for breakfast on xmas morning) that uses 1 can of crescent roll dough (haven't found generic that works as well as the real deal however) I think it calls for 4 eggs but I generally do 6ish....it called for cooked sausage but you can add ANYTHING just like a real quiche....i've done spinich, bacon, sausage, hamburger meat, chicken...whatever...or just plain....some shredded cheese (great to use up a cup or two you had for another meal but nothing else ot use it on) and a splash of milk. should easily feed 4 as it makes a 9x13 pan, even if just plain.

 

My plan to cheaper cooking isn't looking at a single meal however, its generally more a bulk approach. It's near impossible to walk into a grocery store and come out with the stuff you'd need for a dinner for 3-4 people for under 20 bucks, but using what you have already, adding cheap ingredients (rice/beans/etc), coming up with inventive leftovers.....thats where you can really stretch your money. Meal planning of course is key....if you know you'll only use half a jar of spaghetti sauce, then the next day or two figure out a new meal that will use up this other half.

I HATE leftovers...way too many times as a kid did we eat the same meal multiple times, but if you can turn it into something else, or split the ingredients between several meals...then you do better budget wise.

 

if you have several meals that use veggies and meats (Etc)....then save leftovers and use in a soup/stew. If you bake, spend one day to make some bread for a soup meal, plus set aside some dough to use in a day or two on pizzas. Use leftover (Stale) bread from soup meal to make french toast one night....timing can be everything!

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#16 of 24 Old 11-29-2012, 11:47 AM
 
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mujaddara is just rice, lentils and fried onions - super cheap.  We eat that a lot here.  

 

Also, pupusas are another really cheap food to make (just Masa Harena corn flour and cheese - I do add refried beans to ours though)

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#17 of 24 Old 11-29-2012, 06:16 PM
 
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If you're tight on money (we are) think outside the box. (FWIW - I am a WOHM and I still cook everything from scratch..... well, now we buy crackers and occassionally bread but I make everything else).

 

On Picky Kids: unless there is a reason for pickiness (sensory disorder), my thoughts is that they will be picky if we let them. If they know you won't make them eat the meal, and you'll let them have something else, they will be picky. E is 6 and she eats everything - but not always without complaint. We had a fried rice this week that she complained about every bite - for the first 5 bites. Then it was "good! This is really yummy!" and she asked for seconds. However, she will not eat a peanut butter and jelly sandwich  for anything  - she will go to bed hungry. That (at least for her) is true "I don't like it". We are working on the three big things "I don't like it", "I don't prefer it", and "I haven't tried it - it looks weird". I don't like it NEVER has to be eaten. That has happened with 1 thing ever. I don't prefer it means she has the choice to eat it or not - but she doesn't get anything else. We try to pretty it up by listening to her - if it's too spicy, we add it yogurt, too bland, salt and pepper, too ugly, serve it in a pretty dish. And she has to try everything. That's just a given. But we provide a good example and try everything also!

 

Look for sales right now on meat. You may have missed the big ones (think, turkey for 50cents - we have 6 now in our freezer) but you may be able to find things like ham and beef on wicked sales. I used to use triple the meat I use now in my crockpot chili - I use two to three different types of beans to replace the ground beef that I used to use and I use a  *tiny* piece of beef.

 

Pull your crockpot out, make your own beans, and freeze them in freezer bags or canning jars. Pull out to make things like chana masala, chickpea curry with spinach, other chickpea recipes, black bean recipes, random bean recipes. I cook these and dice something (chicken, pork, etc) really small so I get a bit of meat in each bite.
 

Buy a chicken. Whole. Pop it into the crockpot to cook. Shred and freeze meat in bags. Pull out to make chicken and rice, chicken and noodle soup. Make thai curries with 1 can of coconut milk for all 4 our you. Use lots of cheap veggies - whatever is cheap in your area. When you make your soup, put half the meat they call for.  Soup recipes.

 

Change how you think of a meal. A bowl (or 2) of soup can be dinner if it has veggies, protein and starch. You can make an apple and a tiny bit of cheese an appetizer. Fruit and nuts to whet your appetite. Shop sales and make what you can with what  you get. (I shop our local sprouts/sunflower to get cheap fruit and veggies. I don't buy anything unless it's less than a dollar. Most items have to be less than 60cents a lb for me to purchase them. I love cauliflower - but at 2.50 a head I can't buy it. Once a year or so it goes on sale for 99cents each. I buy a couple and make all my wonderful cauliflower recipes. My DH may prefer oranges but for 2 months straight I buy the store out of grapefruit - because at 3-6 for a dollar it's the cheapest fruit. I know every way to make carrots because carrots are cheap. Same with potatoes. Parboil some potatoes at the start of the week and you can make a quick breakfast with potatoes and eggs. Shop your ethnic markets - they generally have the best price on veggies. Our mexi-mart generally has avocados for 2 for $1, the asian has great price on eggplant.

 

Make sushi! We purchase or rice in 10-20 lb bags from the asian market. I also purchase asparagus (I don't buy the whole bunch, I just pull 5-7 out), a bell pepper, 1 fillet of some fish (we do cooked fish because we can't afford to purchase sushi grade - still yummy!) cream cheese,  carrots, and celery. Yummy, filling, FUN and incredibly cheap. You can look up all sorts of recipes, but we don't mind just the cheap and easy. I LOVE, no, ADORE sushi.

 

1 salmon fillet can be cooked and frozen into 3 portions. Those portions can then be used with a bit of yogurt and cream cheese to make an appetizer for your family. A small (but decadent) appetizer.

 

Make it fun! Don't get down on what you can't have - do what you can. Oh - use chopsticks. The asian market carries a pack of 5 for less than $2. Make your own kids chopsticks helper.


~ Kim

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#18 of 24 Old 12-11-2012, 05:24 PM
 
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You can find some on different threads here on MDC - there is an old $2 meal thread that has 100s of recipes.  However, I would go to the library and check out some vegan and budget cooking cookbooks. Also fun to check out cook books from cuisines that lend themselves to frugality and flip through them and find some ideas.  I did this years ago when things were extra tight and rather than feeling like we were on a strict food budget - the kids thought I had become obsessed with trying new recipes :) 

 

Also, if you live near any ethnic grocery stores you can often get great deals on items that are expensive in standard american grocery stores.  We live in an area with a lot of Korean families and I get much better prices on MANY items at the Korean grocery stores than at "American" grocery stores.

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#19 of 24 Old 12-23-2012, 07:19 PM
 
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Although frugal recipes are important (and fun!), I start from the other end. I find great deals on foods we like, buy as much as I can afford/carry/store, and then figure out what to do with it. The other day, my store had eggs for 50 a dozen. I got 5 dozen, the limit, and we had scrambled eggs a few times. I made and froze a few quiches, and made some great custard. Still have some eggs left! Produce in season is another source of deals, and I often buy cases to freeze, can, or otherwise preserve. I also regularly check the discounted (near the pull date) meat and dairy.


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#20 of 24 Old 12-24-2012, 06:09 AM
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On Picky Kids: unless there is a reason for pickiness (sensory disorder), my thoughts is that they will be picky if we let them.

 

Just stopping by to stick up for the "picky" (I really hate that word) kids and adults:

 

It's genetic:

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/body/science-picky-eaters.html

 

 

OP, have you tried shopping in bulk at Costco or Sam's Club?  You can save money if you focus on what you need in the store and ignoring all the "wants" of the store.  You could get flour, beans, rice, etc. in 50 lb. bags for not too much money.  


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#21 of 24 Old 12-24-2012, 11:51 AM
 
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Originally Posted by A&A View Post

Just stopping by to stick up for the "picky" (I really hate that word) kids and adults:

I would put that in the category of sensory disorder. Lots of people are picky though because they don't prefer something. I've been able to get preschoolers to try things just because they know it's a safe place that they wouldn't touch at home because their parents were fine with them not eating it! At school we'd talk about the plant it came from, show pictures, talk about the taste and texture, make graphs about it etc.

Life is hard and while I never advocate or bribing, punishing or cajoling during meal time I do believe that making it fun can make all the difference for some kids. And, while we're on the topic, adults too! I like pretty, fun food better than boring, plain food!

~ Kim

mama to E (01-2007) and wife to C

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#22 of 24 Old 12-24-2012, 07:40 PM
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Yeah, there's just a difference between "Let's try something new, it will be fun" and "You will sit there until you eat that" which is how my parents treated the situation.  


"Our task is not to see the future, but to enable it."
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#23 of 24 Old 12-25-2012, 12:23 PM
 
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Hugs A&A. If there's one things parents are, it is flawed. Hopefully you successfully feed you and yours with respect! I teach an Early Childhood class and am amazed by the thing people use to get their kids to eat. And they think it's ok because their parents did it- it's a never ending cycle.

Good luck and may peace follow you on your journey!

~ Kim

mama to E (01-2007) and wife to C

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#24 of 24 Old 12-25-2012, 05:29 PM
 
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We keep a small spice pantry, so the basic meat-starch-vegetable pattern can be worked out into diverse meals like chili, curry, goulash, stew, and so on.  It keeps us from feeling deprived.

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