I debated about writing this post because the answer seems almost too simple, and I do not want to come across as a know it all or one of those “holier than thou” types. I absolutely do not claim to know everything about parenting, and there are even days when I feel like I have done just about everything wrong. I just wanted to share what has worked for my family in the hopes that it will help some of you mamas out as well.
I know a mom who cooks a different meal for each of her family members. One for her, one for her husband, and one for each of her kids. Nope! No way! Not in my house! I personally could not imagine spending that much of my time cooking dinner. I try to feed my family mostly real, unprocessed, whole foods and cook my meals mostly from scratch. As such, I spend enough time in the kitchen and I am certainly not trying to add to that. I knew from day 1 that there was no way I was going to cook more than one meal for my family at a time. Props to you mamas who do the multiple meal thing every. Single. Day. I have neither the patience nor the energy. If it works for your family, more power to you! I am by no means trying to tell you that you should change your ways. Each family is different and I totally get that.
However, if you are sick of cooking more than one meal, or want to try to prevent this from being your future, keep reading! This is what I did with my children and I only cook one meal for dinner, every night. One of my kids is very picky and I have never had to make anything separate for him in hopes that he would eat, so I am confident that this can work for just about anyone.
This will be most helpful for those mamas who still have babies or younger toddlers. If you are in this stage of motherhood, then I hope that you find this information useful.
It is said that babies develop taste preferences as early as in the womb based on what mom is eating. If you are currently pregnant, be sure you are eating a variety of nutritious foods. Same goes for you breastfeeding mamas out there! If you have a baby who is just starting to eat solid food, bombard that baby’s palate with lots of different tastes. Try not to feed them the same thing day after day. The goal is to get them used to different flavors and textures. Make sure you are feeding a variety of fruits and vegetables to start healthy eating habits. It is very likely that the more you foods you expose them to, the more willing they will be to try new things, which will definitely work in your favor.
2. Set The Precedent Early
My kids know that I will only make one dinner. If they do not eat what I make, then they are out of luck. There have been a few times where one of my kids has not eaten and I absolutely did not give and make another meal. After a few test pushes, they knew what to expect and this does not happen any more. This may sound a bit harsh, but hear me out. I always have something on the table that I KNOW my kids will like. Two out of my three kids will eat just about anything you put in front of them. However, I do have a picky one on my hands. I have a good idea if he is going to balk at what I make or not, but I always offer something that I know he likes. For instance, yesterday I made Chili for dinner, which can be hit or miss for him. Well, last night it was a miss. With our chili, we had bread and salad, which I know he likes. So he took a few bites of his chili before he decided he did not want to eat it and then he ate his bread and salad. If you have a picky eater, make sure you are providing at least something you know they will eat and incorporate it into your meal.
4. Keep Offering
Is there a food that your child just doesn’t eat? My picky eater would never eat vegetables. This really concerned me because I know how important vegetables are to good health, especially for a child that is still growing and developing. To change this, I just kept putting vegetables on his plate with every meal. I would not force him to eat them, as that would just work against what I am trying to accomplish. However, I would require that he take a “polite bite” and try it. If he did not want to eat any more after that, that was fine. I just wanted him to try it. It can take children 70 or more tries before they decide they like a new thing, so don’t give up! Keep offering! My picky guy now eats broccoli, onions, peas, carrots, cucumbers, olives, lettuce and a few others. there are still some that he will not eat, but if I make them, I still put a few on a little on his plate and ask him to take a polite bite.
I hope you found this article helpful. I would love to hear your stories. How do you avoid being a short order cook for your family? What tips do you have to end picky eating? If you were ever a short order cook and you are no longer, how did you make it work for your family?