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What do you feed your kids?

February 11th, 2015 at 05:58 pm

I have a 5 and 6 year old boys and I struggle trying to figure out what to feed them. Well, really just the oldest one. He is soooooo picky. The younger one will try anything. So, I have trouble meal planning because I can hear the complaining from kid 1 in my head.

I actually let him help me plan the week's menus this week and frankly, my grocery bill was a lot less because of it. I guess he has cheap tastes.
He picked, pork chops, grilled cheese, burgers, and breakfast for dinner as his choices.

We can't just keep eating these over and over. So, any tips for picky eaters, and for meals that are kid friendly but healthy, and don't require me making a special meal for kids and adults each night at dinner time.

I try to do protein, veggie, fruit, and starch for dinner.

11 Responses to “What do you feed your kids?”

  1. JulieAlbright Says:

    I think you're on the right track with involving him in the planning. If you look on Pinterest there are many crafty type boards where you can make up some sort of notecard or magnet with different meals, and then family members can take turns choosing a meal and putting it on the calendar, so everybody gets to have their choices equally and everybody can visually see the plan.

    My picky eater "kid" is in his 20's and living with us this semester. He was being really grumpy about food until I instituted one night a week that he and his brother cook dinner and then I clean the kitchen up (we swap roles). A couple of nights of that really drove home for him how frustrating it is to put together a meal and then have people complain, and his own complaining nearly ceased.

    If I had young kids again I'd start doing that as soon as they were old enough to make a simple recipe. Even if it was just something like sandwiches and apple slices.

  2. ceejay74 Says:

    I know this isn't probably the most healthy method, but it works. We let the kids request a few meals, and we make sure to plan mostly meals they like. Two or three nights we may have more challenging meals. Regardless of whether it's a challenging or well-loved meal, whether it's all healthy food or kinda junk-foody (like tater tots), our rules are always the same:

    If you won't try at least two bites of every component, you go to bed early (and hungry). Our mantra (stolen from Daniel Tiger) is "you gotta try new food cause it might taste good."

    If you eat at least two bites of everything, you get to stay up and maybe have a healthy snack, but no sweet treat.

    Eat the whole meal (or most of it for the 2-year-old) and you get a sweet treat.

    No seconds on anything unless you finish everything.

    I can't remember the last time either of them had to go to bed early for not at least tasting the food. And a lot of times the 4-year-old will make this comeback near the end of dinner and finish something she doesn't like, when I remind her that she'll have to skip treats otherwise.

    (Actually I say it's hard-and-fast, but NT asked if they could have their leftover pizza tonight if they don't like what we're making--kale and mushroom bread pudding. So there are rare exceptions like that. But we lay that out beforehand so they know it's a special occasion. Like having dinner in the living room while watching a movie vs. eating at the dinner table. They know grownups can make exceptions to the rules, but they know it doesn't happen very often, so they don't try to push the boundaries very often.)

  3. LuckyRobin Says:

    We had a couple of rules when the kids were young. One was that you had to try a bite of any new food presented. You could spit it out if you really didn't like it, but you had to at least try it first. The kids discovered a lot of foods they liked that way. And my daughter eventually came around on many things. She still can't handle most sauces, but she will eat almost any spices.

    The second rule was that you couldn't "Ewwww!" anyone else's food. If you said anything like gross, or sick, or yuck, or that is disgusting, you then had to eat the food you were badmouthing. It stopped a ton of complaining. It also prevented the older child from making the younger child think something should automatically be rejected because she didn't like it. My son likes a lot more foods than my daughter who has texture issues and has a hard time with anything with vinegar in it, but if we'd let her bad mouth the foods, he never would have eaten most of what he eats.

  4. MonkeyMama Says:

    Ooooh - I really like Robin's second rule. Big Grin I will have to remember that. My kids will eat just about anything but they sure can complain.

    Our rules are along the line of Ceejay's. I do have (had) one picky eater. I really just wanted to elaborate on the taste rule. In our house, it's that you have to try anything you haven't tried in a while. Kids' tastes change very rapidly. There is so much food my picky son has liked that he didn't like before, I can not imagine him refusing to try a small bite of anything. & he is really open-minded about it. Especially after experiencing liking a food that he once did not like. But we might have had that rule since he was a baby and so I don't know when the last time he would have complained about having to try something. I wanted to add that as an important part of the rules, to keep trying the same foods. Over time, my picky child will eat just about anything. (I call him picky because I know he has an aversion to tastes and textures like I do. My parents' solution was to let me eat nothing but pizza or whatever. I could easily see him being *that kid* without the rules).

  5. Jenn Says:

    You won't like my advice, but it's sure worked for us. (I have 5 boys.) We don't accommodate picky eating. The boys don't have to eat anything they don't want to, but if they don't eat it, there is no alternative dinner that will be served for them. They can just hope their tastes are in line with the next meal served. Eventually, they WILL get hungry enough to eat - I promise. A little boy will not let his tummy get too grumbly.

    On occasion, one of the boys has decided that he doesn't like some ingredient - like onions. If it's worth it to him to skip spaghetti or to painstakingly pick each tiny onion piece out, then fine. But interesting, after a time, he just eats (and enjoys) it.

  6. ThriftoRama Says:

    Jenn, that's what we do now. I'm just wondering if there is a way to reduce the dinner time complaining. I'm tired of whining! Thanks for all the advice guys.

  7. Buendia Says:

    My dinner formula is: one night is chicken, one night is fish, one night is an egg or potato based thing, one night is a bread and cheese based thing and one night is a pasta. And one night is something from the freezer (that I made earlier). F and D have input about what I make. F doesn't like the crustless quiche so she gets it deconstructed (all the same ingredients, and I put them in little bowls - like a bowl of sundried tomatoes, a piece of turkey, a scrambled egg - so I'm not making a different thing. But I won't make a completely different thing.

    Some of our kid-friendly meals:
    - chicken piccata (super yummy!) with rice and a veg (and they can have the chicken plain if they don't want the sauce
    - white chicken chile (kids seem to like it way better than red chile)
    - very sweet salmon (a great way to get them to eat salmon - with a sticky sweet sauce) - 1 T hoisin, 1 T sugar, 1 T soy sauce with broccoli and brown rice
    - mexican eggs is like breakfast for dinner but dressed up (a Nigella Lawson recipe) with a salad
    - frittata with spinach and cheese (if they like eggs, the spinach sort of disappears)

  8. ceejay74 Says:

    Ooh, Buendia has a really good point that I forgot to mention. My oldest especially has a harder time with foods that are mixed, so if it's easy to separate her stuff, I'll do it. If it's something like a casserole where there's no easy way, I make sure to tell her in advance of dinner that it's an "all-mixed together" dinner, so she has time to mentally prepare for it.

    Recently she's started voluntarily mixing some of her separate stuff, so that may be something that she transitions herself out of. Smile

  9. DecisiveParadox Says:

    Since becoming a stay at home dad I never really appreciated how hard it was to feed children.

    My Son(5) is the fussy eater, any strong flavours and he's out. he hates vegetables and doesn't like meat.
    My daughter(3) will eat anything.

    One thing he does like is mashed potato. I mash up other vegetables and cut meat finely and mix it in.
    I mix everything I can into his potato salads as well.
    Sometimes I just flat out lie. Tell him steak is chicken. mashed carrot is sweet potato.
    If all else fails I resort to the tried and tested parenting technique of blackmail. No desert till you finish your plate.
    Usually the injustice of his sister enjoying ice cream will quickly over come his discomfort for what ever is on his plate.

  10. ThriftoRama Says:

    Well, I will say that this week, dinner has been nearly 100 percent whining and complaining free, and I think a lot of that has to do with letting the oldest help me plan the meals. Of course, we can't go on like that forever, but maybe there is a way to let him be more involved and reduce the complaining.

  11. snafu Says:

    We got eldest DS declining tog eat anything younger DS said he liked. It was a crazy time with pre schoolers. To this day one particularly likes liver and onions and I believe mostly because his older brother detests it. DS1 rarely eats mashed potato but will eat roasted, boiled, fried potato, anything easily identified as potato.

    We handled declines by offering only a peanut butter and banana sandwich, no dessert and no 8 pm snack which was typically cereal or fruit. In retrospect I guess it was because both our moms made different meals that catered to different likes and dislikes of our siblings. Too much work!

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