Here is the story: dd (11) is a vegetarian, she does eat eggs. ds (7) a bean avoiding beanaphobe, does not like eggs, at all, and could live on noodles. They basically are polar opposites in many ways, especially on the food front. I am losing my mind trying to come up with options on a daily basis that covers all the bases. Noodle based meals are fine, but we need to have more than one common meal!! Pizza is also a staple. Some nights I end up making about 3 different dinners. This has taken all the joy out of family meal times for me. Is there any hope other than waiting them out until they are grown enough to manage their own dinners?
Well first I would say that 11 and 7 is old enough to make their own dinners. Or at least very actively help. Certainly with meal planning, shopping, prep etc.
In general food that you pick and choose and assemble yourself that way everyone takes the part they like instead of like soup or casserole.
Off the top of my head two meals we do that ds only likes parts of but can satisfy everyone's desires:
Tacos/burritos: everyone assembles their own: beans, rice, veggies, meat, salsa, cheese, sour cream, guacamole
Indian food: rice, dahl, curry, naan, chutneys, meat dish if so inclined
3 dinners? Why are you doing it to yourself. Cook what you like. If they do not like it, give them an apron and direct them to the kitchen.
At that age they can find recipies on the internet and cook.
I would have nothing done at work or home if I cooked 3 dinners
My first thought is to revert to my mom's way of cooking: veggie, starch, protein. Then the kids can pick which parts they want. Your daughter can have the veggie and starch, your son can do whatever. But honestly, *picky* isn't something I entertain in my house. You don't like it? Try a bite and then find something else to eat. When DS was younger and we were on our own for a few years, I would make whatever I liked. If he wouldn't eat it, then he got a snack plate: carrot sticks, nuts, pita and hummus or cheese and crackers, yogurt, etc. I didn't cook anything separate for him.
I would not make more than 1 dinner a night. I would let them each choose a few meals a week. If they don't like what you make the other nights they can make a sandwich or eat something else they can make themselves. They are both old enough to do that now.
Kim ~mom to one awesome dd (12)
my mom was pretty strict and we ate beef at ALL meals and often only beef, or beef + canned veggie. Blech.
(mostly because stepdad got half a cow as bonus and we were dirt floor poor)
you ate what was put on your plate and you sat there until you ate it. Even if you gagged and threw up. she'd dig food out of the trash and you'd still have to eat it if you tried to sneak it. My brother was once served the same plate of food for 3 days until he caved and finally ate it, and he fell asleep at the table every night as you didn't get up until you ate or fell asleep.
This has turned me into a REALLY picky eater (partly lack of exposure to foods, partly imbeded you-must-eat mentality) and I tend to order one thing and one thing only from places we eat out, and really balk at new foods. I never ate salad nor any sort of melon until I was 18+, never had a fresh green bean or pea until I was in my 20s.
my kids have gone through, and still do on occasion that toddler thing where they love something one day and hate it the next. I fought that quite a bit, however my policy has always been try a bite or two and if you REALLY don't like it, i'll make you a pbj or something. if it's just a side dish I still want them to try, but they don't HAVE to eat it if they really don't like it. I'd get irritated however if its something I knew they liked and usually once they have a bite they would finish it anyway ;)
Both my kids, the younger is a little less-so, are pretty adventurous eaters now. My older one will generally chew up and swallow and often do 2 bites to "make sure" it's something he doesn't care for. Younger son being the "baby" still acts up for attention which I believe is due to my ex's house where he has grandpa/grandma/aunts/dad to baby him. They were totally ignoring us when we'd visit while still married so I suspect the kids have to act up now to get any attention. That doesn't fly with me...but I still get the 2/3yr old type "noooo...I don't wanna....*pout*" stuff from him on occasion.
Last night he threw a good 10min long pout and whinge and slide out of his chair tantrum over the fact I told him he was getting 1.5 pbjs and his brother got 2, and I got 1 btw (big slices of bread!). I said if he ate it all he could have more...but he threw a fit anyway *sigh*
generally however he'll end up trying it, although I have to be a little harsher with him "eat one bite or you'll sit here until you do" type stuff, but this tends to only happen after a long visit with my ex :/
both my kids will eat a TON of foods I won't, will try pretty much anything once, and I often make something different for THEM and eat something for my picky self.
as they are getting older, and i'm sure it'll be worse when they are a few years older still, they have decided they want something different..."I don't WAAANNNTTT spaghetti, I want burgers from sonic!" or "I don't WAAANNNNTTTT this, I want that" and it's generally something they like. Thats when I go "tough, thats what i'm making. Eat it or don't.....but thats what is for dinner"
If i were in same position as you, i'd encourage son to try stuff like I do with my kids (and thus far it seems to be the right choice to make...since kids are far less picky than I am!) and if he REALLY hates it, and there isn't enough eat-around-it option for dinner, then he can make himself something to eat.
I'd try and rely on dishes that can be mixed together like a PP said, noodles/rice + veggie + protien. That way they can be eaten together or in seperate bits. if there is something that you want to make that can't be served that way, allow daughter to make her own meal at that point.
I don't consider being veggie the same as being "picky" so i'd make special considerations for that, however you ideally want to eat together as a family i'm sure....
and i'd be adverse to letting daughter eat something junk foody like PBJ when son will def want to veto food in favor of too....so i'd be weary of that.
at nearly 9 I won't even let my son NEAR the stove. he's ADD for sure and i'm worried about him walking infront of cars in the parking lot, he tends to be pretty oblivious to his surroundings. my younger son turned 6 less than 2 weeks ago and he's actually far more focused and aware of things and i'd be more apt to let him do things around hot ovens. I just have to worry about hurting the older one's feeligns on that front ;)
but at 9 I remember cooking my mom a mother's day meal of eggs, bacon, and biscuits.....all while keeping my 2yr old and 6yr old siblings busy. I think it depends on the kid...but at 11 I could cook a dinner for 8 by myself. by 15 I was writing up grocery lists for my stepdad to buy (mom was mentally unstable and in hospital at this point for a bit) since I couldn't drive to store myself at that point...lol.
I cooked dinner atleast 4-5 times a week from 14 - 18 when I moved out, for a family of 8. I also did extensive baking for sweets since we couldn't afford bought ones.....so i'd spend all afternoon making 4x and 5x batches of cookies, pound cakes, homemade breads...etc.
Gotta do what works for you, but I'd def work on involving daughter in planning both family meals and HER meals for when family meal can't be modified to fit her restrictions, and work on son's pickyness.