Is it Bad to make your kids eat the meals on their plate or not? Do we let them eat whatever they desire? When I grew up, my parents and grandparents expected me to eat my dinner. I either ate their preparations or I didn’t. Of course, they expected me to devour at least an adequate amount to sustain myself rather than starve. The main point here, my parents did not pamper me by providing alternate sustenance. They certainly did not arrange the grocery list or menu according to my likes or dislikes.
One thing kids do not understand and honestly, don’t care, is that choice is not always an option. Many variables go into our meals. It may be a matter of finances, nutrition, special diets, and/or time availability. I believe there is a way to meet half way, a meeting in the middle of sorts. As parents we don’t want to be throwing away tons of food for no reason. Stories of starving children in foreign countries no longer scathe our modern children’s’ thick skin.
My grandchildren taste buds differ from day to day. They tend to deny this fact when I tell them to try it again, they may like it this time. One day, a ham and cheese sandwich on white bread with mayo and honey mustard is perfectly fine. Thinking I have lunch in the bag (no pun intended), my lovingly layered Dagwood is pushed away in disgust! Almost every meal meets rejection of some sort daily. Not by just one child, but both!
How many of you cater meal choices to your children? Do you make them eat what is on their plate? The “old school” bringing up of mine banners flags all over the place each time a plate is pushed away. Frustration and tempers flare on both sides as neither surrender. Forcing a child to eat when they have no intention of eating usually ends up forcing food to come back up. Then, who has “egg on their face”!
So, what is the answer? I truly don’t know! However, some things that have helped us may help you. Involving the kids in menu planning allows them to make choices before it is staring up from the plate. They show more excitement toward the meal holding their picks. It gives them opportunity to practice nutritional information as well as becoming more aware of budgeting groceries. You’ll be surprised! They really listen and absorb all your parenting without even knowing it.
Aside menu planning, another idea to encourage your kids to eat comes by partnering up in the kitchen. Let them help cook dinner with you. I don’t do this as much as I should, guilty as charged ☹ My granddaughter is 12 yrs. old and can be quite helpful when she wants. Younger but not any less enthusiastic, my 7-yr. old grandson is ready to climb to the occasion. Usually, the real issue lies in I’m not comfortable allowing her to contribute the way she desires. However, confrontations and clashes don’t work toward a collaborative cooking experience. Whether she rather constantly flip the burgers, than let them sit and sizzle or perhaps, I cringe each time she cracks an egg can’t become an obstacle. It is hard letting someone else infringe upon your kitchen. If you think about it, a kitchen grows into a very personal room for us moms or grams! Over the years, 35 in my case, I shaped its efficiency to fit my needs. “There is a place for everything and everything has its place” loudly screams my OCD so when its violated I tend to scream LOL 😊
You don’t need to group cook every meal or even the whole meal for that matter. A little piece of participation goes a long way. A couple of great collaborative meal preparations you may want to try are chicken nuggets or pizza nights. Chicken nuggets are a quick and easy protein filled child favorite!
- 2 boneless chicken breasts, pounded and cut into 1-2-inch pieces
- Crushed pork rinds (BBQ flavored or spicy buffalo are also options)
- Grated parmesan Cheese
- Spray oil
The kids enjoy pounding out the chicken. Hand them a rolling pin to crush the pork rinds into a powdered crumb and add parm to the mix. It makes a low carb crust the whole family will love.
Another family favorite to make and chow down is Pizza. Easy and kid friendly by choosing their own toppings. Offer a range of options from different cheeses, pepperoni, ham, bacon, pineapple, onions, sausage, spinach, peppers, mushrooms, olives, and even broccoli. Divide your pizza dough into portions instead of the typical twelve-inch size. The kids roll out their own dough and then create their unique dinner. Serve a small salad of tomatoes and cucumbers on the side to add more fiber and they’ll never think twice!
So, so far, we agree ways to encourage eating comes with cooperative menu planning and secondly, collaborative cooking sessions. Next, experiment with foods. My grandson watches YouTube Videos called “Collin Keys Weird Food Combinations” constantly. Now, I’m not down with all that, but I do understand the premise. Take your tried and true recipes then tweak them with some of the kids’ favorable items. One simple example I can suggest is Macaroni and Cheese. My grandkids refuse to touch any thing but boxed brand scoffing at home made cheesier goodness A compromise in ingredients comprised of
- jarred cheddar cheese sauce,
- grated yellow sharp cheddar cheese,
- and grated extra sharp white cheddar
- melted into half and half cream
- stirred in with elbow macaroni.
They ate it up! Not a word about boxed names mentioned. I know macaroni and cheese is not the healthiest of food choices. How many kids do you know turn down mac n cheese? Mine don’t anymore!
One meal, one day, one child at a time with acceptance, tolerance, and imagination creates children willing to explore and enjoy developed pallets. Just a note to keep in mind… show by example your own willingness and confidence in trying new things. Be careful the children don’t inherit your own dislikes. I despise bananas. I can’t stand the sight, smell, texture, or taste of them. Never ever have I been able to swallow more than a bite even as a baby. However, my kids and now my grandkids grew up eating them.
I hope your kitchen becomes a hub for your family. It is a room we all start every new day. A kitchen should be bright and cheery warmed with food from the heart. A Gram Blog will continue suggestions for family kid friendly and grown up recipe ideas. Look for upcoming posts soon…
❤ Enjoy the day because you’ll find momentous ordinary moments in the Everyday ordinary! ❤