When you have a tight grocery budget there is very little room for convenience foods which seem to be the first choice among anyone between the diaper stage and the I-can-vote stage. Our diet consists mostly of home cooked meals which rely heavily on beans, rice, pasta, veggies, fruit, dairy products and small amounts of meat. There are no frozen pizzas or burritos in my freezer unless I’ve made them myself and stuck them in there. And I’m often asked…
“How do you get your kids to eat this stuff?”
So I thought I’d share some of the house rules.
The first is that there are no complaints about the food set before them. We are one of the few countries that make eating a recreational sport. No wonder we have such a high obesity rate. We eat purely out of desire rather than to feed our bodies and we are training our kids the same way. I know, I do it too. In most of the rest of the world eating is to fuel their bodies and they are grateful to have it no matter what it is. I need a little bit more of that perspective in my life. So no one is allowed to say “Oh yuck” at our table or “I’m not eating this” or any form of “What is THAT?” asked with disgust in their tone. We practice being grateful for what we have. Sometimes we practice a lot.
Second, They must try everything set before them by taking one bite. A lot of times they judge it by how it looks but as soon as I instituted this rule they realized that at least half of what they thought looked yucky was really actually pretty darn good. I really don’t make anything disgusting like cow tongue or fried grubs. Most of what I make is nutritious, good for their bodies in some way and tasty. And I don’t feed them anything I wouldn’t eat myself. Plus I don’t set them up for failure or for waste either. If it’s something they might not like I give them a bite size serving. If they want more after that they are welcome to it.
Third, If they choose not to eat it that’s fine by me. As long as they give it a try and don’t waste (see #2) and aren’t rude about it (see #1) then I’m not going to force them to eat it. They just aren’t allowed to replace the rejected food with snacks. They can eat again at the next meal. That usually gives a little extra incentive to look at their food with a better attitude. And again, I’m not feeding them anything disgusting or that I wouldn’t eat myself. If they are choosing not to eat it, it’s purely out of preference. Although there have been times that they have still chosen to skip it but it doesn’t happen very often.
And Fourth, Chris and I follow these rules ourselves. I really can’t expect them to try strange foods and not complain unless I’m doing the same thing. So Chris and I have resolved to have a good attitude and be grateful for what we have too.
But all this made me wonder what the kids thought about some of my meals. So I temporarily removed the no complaining rule and asked them this question….
“Is there anything I’ve made that you thought was totally disgusting?”
They had no hesitation in reminding me of a few culinary disasters. And of course I have a house full of boys (and one girl ) so they tried to top each other in their gross assessments.
“The tofu soup thing you made once tasted like toe jam dug out of a belly button” (Yeah, I didn’t really care for that one either.)
“That polenta thing tasted like puke” (Hmmm, I really liked that one.)
“Even I didn’t like the pumpkin oatmeal, Mom” (From my kid who will eat anything.)
“Remember the time you were out of milk and you used mayonnaise to make waffles? Now THAT was gross. ” (Ok, not my most shining moment.)
So there you have it. The food rules of the house and the true thoughts from my kids. All wrapped up in one tidy blog post. You can’t get much more real than that.