Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Can we talk about this?

Really? Can we have an honest, open conversation about food? One that is free from judgement and condemnation? Please?

So here's the issue: lately there have been frequent conversations in our house about food, specifically what meals to make that everyone will eat and enjoy. The kids, well, they are just picky. One doesn't like corn or onions or sweet potatoes or eggs or. . . ( it think you get the point) while the other would eat only bread and cheese if she could.  E grew up eating a certain kind of way (let's think of roasts, hot dogs, hamburgers, hamburger helper) and I can only remember eating a lot of fast food when my dad was out of town (like, three wholesome meals a day from McD's, honestly).

So when you combine the constraints of a grocery budget with my medical food issues and people's preferences, well, there are lots of grumbles at the dining room table at dinner time.

And now I need your help. Please.

Tell me what you eat for dinner. Tell me what your family loves, what they ask for seconds of, what nourishes and satisfies you.

Please don't edit your response becuase you feel you might be judged because it's unhealthy. I'm desperate. Because right now the way that I want/need to eat isn't mixing well with what my family will eat.


Kara said...

I remember that regardless of what we had for dinner, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches were always the other option. We had to make the sandwich ourself (which my picky brother often did) and that was it. Dinner or self-made PB and J. His tastes broadened once he became a bachelor in college ;-)
And by the way, I always think the things you make for dinner sound delicious!

Anonymous said...

1. Pick your battles - Wednesdays are exclusively tacos or spaghetti and I brown and freeze (venison) stored in glass Prego containers - that's a work day and church night for me.
2. Stromboli or lasagna are other good make heads and freeze
3. chicken nuggets and fish sticks are legal and much healthier baked at home
4. veggie rule: stock up on frozen - mixed veggies (they are allowed to pick out limas), corn, beans, peas and buy a fresh head of broccoli and lettuce every week.
5. Sunday night is breakfast (b/c I love it and am not awake enough in the mornings)
6. crock pot lots of chicken and revamp it throughout the week
7. buy church cookbooks, b/c that's what real busy moms cook over and over and over

Hope this helps, and I'll try to check back and pick up ideas from your other friends. - Danita

pablohart said...

I like the PB &J idea. Maybe I should try that. My kids just tend to go to bed without having eaten much for dinner when they didn't like what I made.

We have a regular rotation of things like spaghetti, enchiladas, soup and stir fry. None of them are that thrilled with all of it, but they all now eat tomato sauce on the noodles, which they didn't before. Keep offering different things! And I'll eat your leftovers in the meantime. :)

Manda said...

Oops that post was from me, not Paul. :)

Laura Kuperus said...

We eat quite simply most nights. A main thing (chicken--several favorite easy recipies, pork chops, spaghetti, pita pizzas, etc... a veggie (fresh or frozen) and a fruit (fresh/canned). Sometimes we have bread or rice or potatoes, but not most nights. All the kids don't like everything, but they can just eat more veggies/fruit if they don't like the main thing! :)

Rachel V. said...

We do tacos/taco salad at least once a week.
I make homemade pizza once every 2 weeks.
When we have ground beef in the house we do burgers at least once a week, as well as chili (which i grind half the beans in the food processor so my kids don't complain of all the beans)
In the winters we do lots of pasta dishes and in the summer we do lots of rice stir fry dinners.
And many nights if my Eric is not home we do cereal or eggs and toast. (my kids get a hot breakfast and lunch almost every day so i don't feel bad doing cereal every once in a awhile)
I have been making lots of chicken rice soup and homemade corn bread (GF of course)Also, a beef stew from Sunday roast leftovers.
My kids love their veggies raw with ranch and they love salad so we have either of those most meals.
If my kids don't like what i am serving they are not required to eat but they get nothing but water til the next meal...usually they eat at least a little. Their choice their hunger.

that is what i came up with off the top of my head, hopefully that helps
Maybe let the kids help make the meals then they might want to eat it even if it is not their favorite????

Karen Ruis said...

Good questions. My Grandchildren eat with us alot too.. so I feel I can join in the discussion. Gerry and I grew up with meat and potatoes kind of meals. I still find that easiest way to cook. Tonight's dinner were pork steaks (bought on the close out at Meijers). I browned them and seasoned, put them in a baking dish with a rice mix ( has a variety of grains I can eat) no dairy, no wheat, cooked for an hour, steamed some beans and we all enjoyed dinner. Naija asked for fruit so that was her dessert! We often have a meat and starch and vege/ fruit!

Skooks said...

Well you already know we are a Saving Dinner family. Honestly, the way I grew up and the way these kids are growing up, they eat what N and I make. I'm not saying they LOVE every single thing, but that is what we are eating and we don't let them (read: Little Miss)off with PB&J. Not for dinner. Breakfasts and lunches are pretty standard stuff and things she always likes so I feel that she can make some dinner compromises and try things. She's not forced to finish (unless she expects some kind of "treat" after dinner) and we give her a reasonable portion. When she tries several things on the plate and still doesn't want to eat them, I am willing to offer her a piece of fruit and/or salad or baby carrots because they are nutritious and I know she likes them. Basically she is well aware that if she chooses not to eat, she may feel hungry because of it, but we're not running a fast food restaurant and I'm no short order cook.

With that being said, we do sometimes just cook up eggs at night for a quicker dinner when we need one and have had some good omelets as well as a few whole wheat pancake nights. We're flexible with our meals, but once it's made, that's what it is. Know what I mean?

Anonymous said...

We do spaghetti about once every two weeks. I add veggies to the sauce like yellow squash, spinach, carrots, onions, and green peppers. I used to make it with lentils and will probably return to that again. I basically boil the lentils in water with a beef boulion cube add tomato sauce to it when soft and drained, and then grind it in the blender along with the veggies...and nobody knows what went into the mix. I also used to do lentils with a bacon, ginger,maybe some curry with soy sauce, honey, and dry mustard. Another one was a pizza sauce flavor with cheese. Clayton loved the ginger one over rice and has asked for the recipee. A new one that I have tried lately is pouring apple sauce over pork chops, butterfly cuts of pork,or chicken and just baking it when we have pork on the rare occasion. It is great over rice. You can add spices to that of either the onion type, or more the all spice cinnimon flavors... Today we cut up tomatoes, green peppers, onions and mixed it with tomatoe sauce and poured it over chicken legs. It would be great on rice. Tomorrow we are making rice to go with the left overs. (We had baked sweet potatoes instead tonight plain without anything on it. The girls like it as well as ourselves.) When we have a sauce,I let the kids have a teaspoon of the sauce or more on noodles or rice. They have to try a bite or two, and then hope that in time they will desire more. When I did the daycare, they also had to have sauce on the first scoop of noodles, and could have plain noodles after that. Kayla has just started helping me make lassagna as that is her favorite. I insisted that there were some veggies either in it or on the side. We steamed the veggies, and spiced them and she ate some of them. She would love life without any veggies, except she does like a few like green peppers. At breakfast the family has crepes, and I have eggs with onions green pepers, etc.. I prefer to start the day with protein and not so much sweet syrup stuff. I make a lot of soup for lunch with left over veggies in the fridge etc.. Soup was not always their favorite but the older ones have said they do miss it. One of their favorite is with either chicken or turkey and hominey beans. Isn't spelled right. You then add a bit of salt and pepper and serve shredded lettuce, onions, raddishes, avacadoes, tomatoes, cilantra, on top of the soup. Eat with a tortilla or just a spoon. You could also crumble tortilla chips into it. I think all my kids love that one except one! Sunday night we at times just have ice cream with bananas and make a milk shake. If my kids complained(or burped or farted) at the table about food...they had to do the dishes!Ken did his fair share of dishes too. Eating beans almost daily was hardly fair! If they didn't eat the food at that meal, they could have it at the next meal. That was with the first four kids. The last two generally do eat what I fix, but I haven't saved any for the next meal if they haven't. They have chosen not to eat once or twice, and had to wait until the next meal.

Meika said...

You spend an AWFUL lot of time and energy planning and preparing food for your family for there to be this much grumbling, Sammy. You might need to do some figuring as to what the root problem(s) is. Picky kids? A hubs that wants more meat? Maybe Eric needs to sign up for a couple dinners a week and do burgers or steaks or even pasta or whatever, so he gets what he's craving and you can concentrate on making your dietary restrictions work. As far as kids go, your kids have seemed like GREAT eaters when we've seen them, but...

...here are our rules, more or less, for whatever they're worth. A lot of them come from this blog: http://itsnotaboutnutrition.squarespace.com/, which is about teaching kids to eat well and has some things about picking battles and what not.

Rule #1: Child must try everything that is served. That technically means that it must go into the mouth and be experienced. They don't even have to swallow it (though they don't know that yet; the plan is to teach them how to politely spit into a napkin or excuse oneself at some point). The idea is that exposure accustoms them to the flavor and texture whether it goes down the hatch or not. It also lowers the stakes for kids who don't like to try new things because they know there's an escape - they don't actually have to swallow.

Rule #2: I don't care how much you choose to eat at the table, but lunch is lunch and that's it. You may have a snack whenever you'd like. It will be a fruit or a vegetable, period. This is so I don't get caught in the "two more bites of mac 'n' cheese!" trap when, really, no nutritional value there and I don't have any idea if they're actually full or not.

This blog also suggested having a "back-up" meal, like mentioned above, if what's served isn't something the child likes - not something super-appealing, but something acceptable. Her example was cottage cheese.

Rule #3: Say thank you for your meal. I don't really think of this as a rule, but when I think about it we're super-strict this way. There is to be absolutely no complaining about what you've been served. Someone made it for you; you say thank you. Period. If you don't like it, don't eat it. (See Rule #2.) I just don't get enough joy out of cooking to listen to complaints about what I just made. Come on. I could've been reading a book!

And really, re-reading your post, I think that's the bottom line. You have a family of five; you ALL need to learn to accomodate each other. It's not only your job. I wonder if it's the GRUMBLING that's the problem, because I'm just not seeing it in what you serve. "You don't like what's on your plate? That's very sad. That hurts Mommy's feelings, because she worked very hard to make it for you. You may now enjoy time at the table with your family, or go to your room until we're ready for your help with the dishes. What is your choice?"

Now ask me again when my kids are five years older. :) Sheesh. I wrote a book out of my inexpertise. Why didn't I just call you?

The Vander Meydens said...

I feel like I do ok figuring out what we are going to eat, however, i rarely factor in whether the boys will eat it or not. Often we have spaghetti, tacos/fajitas, different soups with bread. Our rush meals can include grilled cheese with soup or chicken cordon bleu from the frozen meat section at Meijer (my boys love these!) or frozen ravioli with either pesto or spaghetti sauce. There is always a veggie and I don't alter that for the boys because they would choose none of them if I gave them the choice. There is always bread with butter, applesauce or cottage cheese but sometimes those things come after a bite or two of what is served. Jack is our picky one and I sometimes wonder how he can still be living :) Kids are different in eating styles too--Jack eats a TON for breakfast but not a ton for other meals so to factor him into the meal equation seems silly. The only time that I might alter things is if we have leftovers but not enough for everyone, then I might add something that will be more pleasing to them. We don't really push them to eat but they know that they will not be served anything until their next meal so they better be ready! (I know--why don't you just hire a personal chef so that someone else can worry about it!)

Rebecca said...

I was just checking back on this and I'm glad to see you got a lot of feedback, and I hope it was helpful. Glad you got a lot of feedback from others because since I don't have kids I didn't feel like I had a lot to say!