Ok, so I have very picky kids. But it’s not their fault. I am actually pretty picky myself, or at least was, historically. Until my third pregnancy when my tastebuds changed rapidly and I was able to eat onions, peppers, and all kinds of foods I would never have touched before, I was a pretty bland palette. I have a very sensitive stomach too, and I hated being asked to try things when I was younger. I need to try a new food about three times before I even feel medium about it, especially if it is not sweet.
And I definitely ate only a dozen foods until I was 13. I had no nutrition, which might explain why I’m so short!
So, needless to say, with four kids now under 7, I am not surprised that they are a little picky. Not that the rocking food establishment helps either with their “drink milk” and “milk is the devil” type mindset! All three of my boys have gone through a very long season where they wouldn’t eat meat (except for chicken nuggets) for almost 2 years each. One of them won’t eat squishy foods, like grapes or pudding. One of them was allergic to citrus for two years, and my “baby” still doesn’t naturally appreciate most fruits, texture-wise. They all like sweet things, but they differ as to what else they’ll explore. Sometimes they’re curious about adult foods (i.e. Caesar salad), and my oldest is finally getting interested in takeout foods (i.e. Dad’s Italian sandwich). But they have notoriously rejected hot foods, cooked foods, and most cooked vegetables (although raw is usually ok). Also I’m a homeschooler who prefers to work later in the day and doesn’t prepare more than thirty minutes in advance for dinner. So, when combined with my NO HYPOCRISY HERE approach, I don’t force them to eat much that they don’t want, and I don’t cook adventurously to have them pick over it.
I just can’t stand that gagging over one bite face!
My husband feels differently, of course, and he is not as attached to my “they need mostly whole foods” approach. Obviously he never had seven years of grinding his teeth as the pediatrician eyes his children and hums over the height and weight chart! He eats pretty much what he wants and stays thin, so he can’t understand my anger when everyone hands my kids lollipops and cookies. We have no “junk” food sweets in the house (i.e. no Fruit Roll Ups or things like that), but they definitely eat chips, hot dogs, and the occasional Wendy’s like every other kid. Desserts are at a minimum, although this has the unfortunate effect of making them crave them whenever they’re offered somewhere else =) And I use chocolate chips or M&Ms as a reward a lot, despite ALL the childhood experts who say to NEVER reward with candy!
They’ve never toilet trained four little people in a row or TRIED to get homeschoolers to check their work!
So we’re somewhat of the electic approach, which I suspect is normal for most families. In general, my kids eat about 50% of a good whole foods diet which is rounded out by little children staples: graham crackers, animal crackers, cereal, chicken nuggets, frozen pizza, etc. I’m not going to win any healthy kid awards or anything, but I’m happy to have kept them so far free from most cookies and candy, soda, and… uh, TV. Hey, you have to pick your battles.
That said, long story short, I am just embarking on trying to gently wean my kids (any myself!) onto cooking. My oldest has now turned seven and is ready to be pushed a little to expand his horizons, especially since he is now eating double the amount that I do! The crashing realization that he better start being able to eat cooked, easy foods like macaroni and cheese, chili, and lasagna casseroles came down on me a couple weeks ago. One day, all my boys will be big and needing to eat me out of house and home unless I have some foods stocked in the fridge at all times. And it needs to be cheap, so no super-size boxes of granola bars which will be emptied in one afternoon!
Since they are picky as a foursome, I thought I’d post some recipes and outcomes here. I probably won’t get pictures and things going until later. (If you like that, just feast your eyes on www.pioneerwoman.com.) Just in case YOU have a picky child or don’t already cook foods for your kids, this is a chronicle of my starting point. How I become a little kids cook. Successes and failures. It will not appeal to all, since I am going to largely stick to my healthy approach but not enough to feed those raw diet gurus. It will reflect my efforts to give them all the food groups without too much white flour or sugar, or convenience foods, but as simply as possible— given I can only afford to shop on sale at Kroger like every other penny-pincher. It will also reflect my time, which is “medium” in the sense that I do stay at home but don’t have the inclination to become a true meal planner each day. And ability, which I would also call “medium” in the sense that I can read and follow a recipe adequately without having any true Rachel Ray or Betty Crocker bone in my body. Maybe I’ll learn. Lastly, it will reflect the idiosyncrasies of my children who have never fallen for the “Kids Love It!” labels on recipes. In the end, I will probably satisfy no-one, but the goal is just to get myself out of the no-cooking pit I have started with my kids =) I understand– that’s how it goes… food is personal.
Enjoy my journey!