Picky eaters, different schedules, can someone help? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 9 Old 03-30-2011, 08:55 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Okay, I never wanted this to happen, but I've ended up as a short order cook to a family of increasingly picky eaters. I'm bored and burned out and I need help. Here are the problems:

-dh gets home at 7 or 7:30 every night, so we rarely eat together as a family. Right now I am making two dinners every night, but I would like to change this. I would like to make one meal, and reheat dh's portion later.

-right now, the kids are on a very limited rotation of dinners; scrambled eggs, chicken nuggets, pizza, French toast, spaghetti and meatballs. My ds basically refuses to try anything new. Dd might.

-I am afraid that if I make one meal for the whole family, the kids won't eat it. Then what? Dd could have a peanut butter sandwich? Ds could have a bowl of cereal? Also, ds has a very limited range of fruits and veggies that he will eat. Do I continue to offer him something like steamed broccoli every night (which he will eat), or do I just insist he try what is offered for the rest of the family?

Here are some things I would like to put into our meal plan:
-spaghetti and meatballs, salad (kids won't eat salad)
-pasta with garlic, broccoli, and turkey sausage (kids might eat plain pasta and broccoli)
-chicken curry (kids will never eat this)
-roast chicken with rice and veggies
-scrambled eggs and home fries, fruit salad
-turkey burgers...I would like to serve sweet potato fries, but no one will eat them
-fish (kids won't eat this)
-pancakes and turkey sausage (dh won't eat this for dinner)
-pizza
-calzones
-lasagna (ds won't eat), cooked spinach (kids won't eat)
-chicken stir fry with rice
-chicken/veggie fried rice

There are many many things I would like to eat, but no one else will eat--rice and beans, soup, veggie frittata, chicken stew or pot pie, meatloaf. Do I try to sneak these in once in a while or just give up?

Thanks for any ideas or suggestions! It has actually been very helpful just to type this all out and clarify a few things for myself.

lady.gif mama to H. 4/05 and A. 9/08 and baby C. 10/11

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#2 of 9 Old 03-31-2011, 12:50 AM
 
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Well, if it were me, I would cook what I want to cook and plate it up and serve it and not worry about it *shrug* but I have never dealt with out and out food refusal, especially of things like beans and rice and fish! BUT I really do think that's because I never messed around with "kid food" and grown-up food or limited spices or new dishes--just offer and try not to be too attached to whether they reject it or not.

 

I would definitely start adding in the foods that you want in your menu--the kids will not starve themselves to death; seriously just serve it up and if they don't eat it, try again later? I think if you continue to serve up these items, they will eventually get the gist that mama isn't standing around cooking all night so we better eat now (and if necessary state this plainly, lol). And salad could make regular appearances, again with no attachment as to whether they eat it or not, just serve the tiniest portion on their plates and keep offering--I'd make salad w/ less lettuce, more carrots and raisins or other fruit, and pick a dressing they like.

 

Offer a small healthy bedtime snack like a little cheese and some veges or yogurt and fruit, but that's it. As far as two dinners and bad timings--ugh, I can totally relate! My dh works 3pm to midnight, so I cook breakfast then try to do a hearty "supper" type lunch, pack him something for his night shift lunchtime, and then make dinner for me and dd! I couldn't handle making dinner at lunch-time, so I just kept cooking our regular dinners and then we have the leftovers for lunches the next day.

 

Also, for myself I would be okay with having a little later bedtime for the kids so that we could have family dinner--Idk if this would work for your kids or if they would be tapped out by that time of night. My family regularly eats dinner around 7pm anyway, and I've given up stressing over it--that's just how it falls for us, and it's all right. Your idea of one dinner and dh reheats his plate is a good one, too.

 

Good luck!


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#3 of 9 Old 03-31-2011, 07:58 AM
 
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Well I had a big long post all typed up and mdc ate so, the basics of what I was going to say are:

meal plan and mix your tastes with theirs.  Have one night where it's something one kid will like and another the other kid.  When you serve something you want that you don't think they'll eat, make sure there's a side they like.  We have a two bite rule so they have to try everything they're served but they can fill up on the sides.

 

And tastes change alot so you never know when your child will decide they actually do like curry.  Involve them in meal planning and cooking.  My kids eat zucchini all summer long because we have tons so I put it in everything.  They aren't huge fans, but they know it's good for them and we aren't wasting it and I try to make it in ways they enjoy.

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#4 of 9 Old 03-31-2011, 08:26 AM
 
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I agree with the PP.  I did the short order thing for a while and just couldn't keep it up.  It was awful.  So now I make the spaghetti I want and let them choose whether they want sauce or not.  The only non-negotiable thing is the veggies.  The kids have to eat some or most of them.  I don't make weird veggies, just the basics like broccoli, salad, green beans, peas, and carrots.  Most nights one kid will LOVE the meal and the other HATE it.

 

I have also found that as my kids have gotten older, they are much better at trying things.  They like things that I never thought possible.  Just keep trying it.  It is so discouraging, though. 

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#5 of 9 Old 03-31-2011, 08:58 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Before I had kids, someone could have described this situation to me, and I would have said, that will never happen in my family! But here I am, and I feel like an idiot for letting this happen. At the same time, it's just so hard when ds rejects half the food I put in front of him and complains. When I tell him it's dinner or nothing, or dinner or cereal, then he's just hungry at bedtime and it delays everything to get him a snack.

It's difficult to serve the kids something they don't much like when it's not the whole family at the dinner table. It feels pointless to serve them and then they won't even touch it. It doesn't even feel like mealtime. So that's how I got into this pattern of serving kid food that they will eat. I really wish we could eat together as a family, but we have tried and it just doesn't work for our family right now. The kids are starving by 5pm, even if I give them snacks all afternoon. And a late dinner makes bedtime too late, and it makes everyone too stressed out, with dh getting home at different times, and dealing with serving and cleanup. Right now I serve dinner and get the kids bathed and ready for bed by the time dh gets home, and then we have a planned activity for the whole family (board games, legos, blocks, books,etc) before bed.

I think a big part of solving the problem is making a meal plan and sticking to it. When I've tried in the past, I get discouraged really easily because of the kids' complaints, and then I'm back in the situation of ccoking two separate meals every day (but then neither meal is very good, because I'm so focused on getting things on the table quick). I think maybe if I tried to cook early in the afternoon, and then reheat the food for both meals, that might work better.

I can turn this situation around, right? This problem is making me feel like a failure, and it's making me feel really burned out as a sahm. I used to love to cook, I think I need to find that again.

lady.gif mama to H. 4/05 and A. 9/08 and baby C. 10/11

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#6 of 9 Old 03-31-2011, 10:12 AM
 
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Sure you can.  You just have to figure out what your end goal is and keep at it.

 

I'd have an early dinner and then feed your dh his portion later.  I'd also do a before bed snack.  It might be easier to get them to eat if you eat with them instead of just having them eat.

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#7 of 9 Old 03-31-2011, 01:27 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NicaG View Post

I can turn this situation around, right? This problem is making me feel like a failure, and it's making me feel really burned out as a sahm. I used to love to cook, I think I need to find that again.

 

hug2.gif

 

You're not a failure! You can make this work, just take tiny incremental baby steps toward introducing new foods.

 

Another thing I thought of is having the kids be part of cooking--it's amazing how if you let the kids slice the the zuchini and put it in the pan, they are much more likely to eat it. Or let them make the salad and dressing, etc.

 

I would definitely stop preparing two or three separate dishes to cater to everyone's tastes, though. I mean, why would they ever choose the "weird" dish if a pb n j is right there, you know? PP gave you good ideas on introducing one new thing along with familiar stuff--or shake up the usuals--do broccoli in w the mac n cz or what have you.


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#8 of 9 Old 04-02-2011, 08:13 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NicaG View Post

Before I had kids, someone could have described this situation to me, and I would have said, that will never happen in my family! But here I am, and I feel like an idiot for letting this happen. At the same time, it's just so hard when ds rejects half the food I put in front of him and complains. When I tell him it's dinner or nothing, or dinner or cereal, then he's just hungry at bedtime and it delays everything to get him a snack.
<snip>
I think a big part of solving the problem is making a meal plan and sticking to it. When I've tried in the past, I get discouraged really easily because of the kids' complaints, and then I'm back in the situation of ccoking two separate meals every day (but then neither meal is very good, because I'm so focused on getting things on the table quick). I think maybe if I tried to cook early in the afternoon, and then reheat the food for both meals, that might work better.

I can turn this situation around, right? This problem is making me feel like a failure, and it's making me feel really burned out as a sahm. I used to love to cook, I think I need to find that again.


It sounds to me like your kids did not become picky overnight and you're not going to correct this overnight.  It was a slippery slope... not a failure.  Kids have a knack for wearing down our defenses slowly.  ;)  You just let a little bit go at a time and now you're in the weeds... but absolutely you are not a failure!!

 

For starters, I would NOT let them substitute healthy, homemade scratch food with something unhealthy and processed like cereal.  Part of the pickiness of children come from the chemicals and salt that are in processed foods.  They can and do become addicted to them.  When something is heavily salted, it trains the taste buds that you have to have a high sodium content for something to taste good.  That would be the first place I would cut back.  Slowly retrain their taste buds to like food that is pure and made from whole foods.  If you aren't already, start making their favorites completely from scratch to get the sodium out of their diet.  As you cook from scratch, they are going to learn that food doesn't taste exactly the same every single time even if you make it the same way.  When you cook from scratch, the end results change just because the ingredients are not identical every time.  Your spices may have aged a little, the tomatoes may be a little sweeter than last time, the parsley may be fresher, the carrots came from a different farm, etc.  What makes processed food appealing to kids is that the salt and chemicals make them taste the EXACT same way every time.  That's why their taste buds get trained.  Mix it up!!

 

I agree that they will not starve themselves.  Don't get discouraged.  Think about DIFFERENT ways to prepare the same thing.  If you can get them to eat salad with a yummy dressing, you can put spinach in the salad instead of cooking it.  If you can get them to eat ravioli instead of spaghetti, you can put a lot of healthy things inside.  If you make your spaghetti sauce from scratch, you can grate all kinds of good things into it.  If your kids don't like steamed peas, put them in your cottage or shepherd's pie.  If they like eggs, try quiche.  Lots of ways to change it up using familiar-to-them dishes/ingredients.

 

You have an older child that may be harder to turn around, but you have a younger and one on the way that will be less work to become more adventuresome with foods.  Just make the food you want to make and let them decide to eat or not.  FTR - my dd(9) is not picky and eats a very wide variety of ethnic foods because I just cook what I cook.  Some meals she's more enthusiastic about than others, but that is normal.  She *will*, though, eat what is put in front of her because she knows that even if it's not her FAVORITE thing in the world to eat, it is wholesomely-made and good for her.  She doesn't get an unhealthy alternative like cereal or PB&J.

 

Good luck!!

 

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#9 of 9 Old 04-02-2011, 11:09 AM
 
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My dh also get home at 7-7:30 at night. I make dinner for that time and we try to eat together. Dd will have a snack at 5 or 6 PM.

 

When I plan meals each person gets to say what we will have for 1 or 2 meals a week. So everyone gets some of what they like. It isn't always kid foods.

Dd has to try a couple of bites of a new food. If dd tries something and does not like it then she can have a sandwich or cereal. I don't consider those unhealthy options. They are things she can get herself so I am not leaving the table once I sit down to my meal. I think that aspect is pretty important to ending your time as a short order cook.

If I know dd absolutely will not eat one thing- like steak or salad- I make sure to incorporate a food she does like into the plan for that night. It isn't really a substitute but a part of the whole meal. It doesn't have to be unhealthy or something the rest of us don't like.  Dh and I still eat everything and dd eats the thing that she does like that night.

Leaving some rice or pasta plain is pretty easy.

 

 

I honestly would work on introducing new foods earlier in the day instead of at a time when you are maybe all getting cranky and tired and mess up your family time. I know that dd and I have limited time with dh and I don't want to spend those hours in battle over food.

 

 


Kim ~mom to one awesome dd (12)

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