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Okay, that's it. I'm going on strike.

I try to feed my family a variety of good, healthy dinners. I try to coupon and bargain hunt and meal plan. I buy the food, prepare the food, serve the food...

And, after all that, my darling children turn up their noses. Here's an example, from tonight's dinner of homemade chicken noodle soup:

DS (7) - "Oh. My. God. What is this THIIIINNNGGG in my SOOOOUUPPPP??? It's an ONION, isn't it!! I hate onions!!"
DD (2) - "I no like chicken. What else we havin'?"

The same could be said about many of the dishes we've had this week - (red beans and rice, stuffed peppers, fajitas, etc). Needless to say, this leaves me feeling frustrated and unappreciated, like I've wasted my time.

I know that someone out there must understand what I'm talking about. But what's the best way to resolve this?

My natural inclination is to say "Too bad, kiddos. Like it or lump it. If you're hungry enough, you'll eat it!"

But my friend and I were talking about this the other day, and she said that I'm going about it all wrong. She suggested that I serve primarily foods that they like -- turkey burgers, turkey hotdogs, homemade macaroni and cheese, chicken nuggets, pizza, turkey tacos, baked pasta, etc, making sure that they get plenty of veggies (corn, cucumbers, and carrot sticks, the only veggies they'll eat!) on the side. She said that it's all well and good to "fight the good fight" by getting your kids to eat a variety of foods, but, in the end, it's cheaper and FAR easier to just make 'em what they like and save your energy for the more important battles.

Now, I'm not a huge fan of chicken nuggets, but the idea of saving so much time and dinner-table stress is very appealing right now. I don't want to "give in", or allow the kids to dictate things for our family, but I'm not sure that anyone is gaining anything when I make a meal that they won't eat.

Any thoughts?
 

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I could see your friend having a point about making more kid friendly meals. There are many recipes for making homemade pizza (so that it's healthy and cheaper than ordering in). There also recipes for how to make chicken nuggets using chicken tenders and breading. To get us to eat different foods my mother would put a little of the dinner on each of our plates, we had to at least try it. If we didn't like it there was only one other alternative and that was a PB&J sandwich. No dessert though, if we didn't eat the dinner like everyone else we didn't get to enjoy dessert like everyone else either. I don't have children yet, but I can imagine it's quite an ordeal when you have picky eaters. I tended to like to eat what was in front of me, we hardly if ever ate anything other than mom's homemade meals. Maybe a few times a year we ate at Mcdonalds and every couple of months ordered a pizza, I think that was a good thing for us, because I wasn't missing the taste of those foods.
 

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Your husband or you picky? Kids take their cues from us many times. When they were real little I suppose I catered more to them but after they started going to school they either ate what I served or went without. Mind you I didn't make a whole dinner out of things they said they disliked, just slowly but surely introduced them to many foods and they grew up to be adventurous, polite eaters.
I'm with the kids on stuffed peppers, lol, I've never made them.( I don't like huge amounts of peppers in anything) One of the bonus's of being the chef is that you don't cook what you don't like, lol.:toothy: I suppose I'm contradicting myself but that's my story & I'm sticking to it. :p
 

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I must say I disagree with your friend. Ods is now 18 and picky because I did what your friend suggests instead of saying " Tough eat it or go hungry" If I could go back and do it over again I would in a second
 

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I agree with the other posters, we always ate what mom made or it was the peanut butter sandwich here too and no dessert.I do think that you can make healthier versions of several kid friendly meals but I draw the limit at some foods. Our kids seemed to balk at spicier foods or foods with strong tastes like onions and peppers . I seasoned mildly and let everyone season their own.I did not start the process of making a different meal for everyone.I would offer wide choices of fresh fruits and veggies for snacks and desserts. Have you ever noticed that kids don't seem to be too picky about fast food?It's unhealthy and leads to obesity. I would limit that in the process as well.As one person said, if you don't have it, you don't develop the taste for it.Just my opinions.
 

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I'm of the "take it or leave it" school of thought, and that's how I grew up, too.

I don't intentionally make an entire meal that I know she won't like, but
I also don't skip things just for her. She doesn't like mushrooms at the moment, so I try to dish up small amounts of those on her plate, while still using them as usual in my cooking... she has one or two bites, and knows she has to taste them or there will be no snacks or desserts later.
 

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I always have made a wide variety of food for dinner. I know that some food is just not appealing to all people. So we had a compromise--the kids had to at least taste the food. If they didn't like it, they made their own PBJ. No complaining. (DH did this on occassion!!:invisible )

When they were teenagers, an interesting stage of life,:surprise: if they complained about what I made for dinner--they got to cook dinner the next night. It really cut down on dinner time revolt.
 

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I run somewhere down the middle in trying to appeal to the kids in planning meals. I don't purposely make something they don't like or wouldn't care for, but do expect them to eat what we are having. Right now our 4yr old is being very difficult and I believe rude most nights about dinner. The rudeness is setting me off and she has gone without a few nights recently. I don't think in my case it is so much what I am serving, but that she is going through one of her developmental jags and trying out some of her autonomy. Which is fine - but rudeness is unacceptable.

When I plan meals I try to think of what appeals to everybody, but also incorporate some new dishes to try. Each week we will have one night either of spaghetti or mac n cheese. We also have hm pizzas one night each week when the children get to help make their own pizzas. Since we have started the girls have come to enjoy eating baked potatoes, a olive oil/garlic pasta with chicken (they call it white spaghetti), chicken tetrazinni, beef stroganoff and other things they turned their noses up at before. Sometimes it took feeding the same meal three times before they actually decided they liked it. They enjoy most vegetables and love steamed broccoli. My children don't like a lot of meat - but do enjoy their starches - potatoes, rice and pasta so I actually let them have more of the veggies and starches than the meat.

Since they get to choose, within reason, their breakfast and lunches each day - I feel I can be a stickler on dinner. Also, they can not like what we are having but must try it and not be rude about it.
 

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Around here it has always been eat what is made or go without. The same rule holds true for me. I do not eat meat but will cook it for the family a few nights a week. Those nights I just eat whatever else is made or I skip dinner. DS loves bell peppers and when he cooks dinner there is always bell peppers in it. The rest of us just have to pick around them.

My kids are now old enough to make their own meals. DS and DD make their own breakfasts and lunches each day. They also cook dinner a couple of nights a week. They know what a pain it can be to please everyone so they no longer complain if we have made something they do not like.
 

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Well, All I can say is my oldest DS was always picky and if he didnt eat what I made I would just tell him he'd starve cause I wasnt making making many different meals to suit his appetite, lol. He finally got a little over his pickyness cause he didnt like to cook, now that's he's older he either buys his own or eats what I make.

Kid friendly meals are a plus but either way they will most often want something different that what mom has cooked, maybe start the day with "What does everyone want for dinner tonight?" Then each can vote or you can say "Okso-and-so, we can have what you want tonight and what so-and-so wants tomorrow".
 

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I am haveing this problem with my children too. Here is what Im doing. I make what I have planed and I try to include a side dish that I know they will eat. Last night we had a lentil loaf, I knew dd would not eat it so I made rice to go with it and some grilled mixed viggies. She ate the rice and the veggies that she liked and I told her she couldnt have anything for dessert if she didnt try the lentil loaf. By the way the loaf was yucky to me so I didnt blame her for passing. We wont make that one again.

I think the best thing to do is try to consider them when cooking but make them try new things and dont just cook what they like. And what ever you do don't give them a choice, IT just creats picky eaters for life.
 

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as far as snacks i tried them over and over during time, then some times they would like them sometimes they never would. Most kids when their small dont always like to try something new. But if u give them the 2 bite system, at every meal of each thing at least they tried it. Then maybe u can retry another weeks down the road.
Bear in mind , my oldest was the fussiest and the youngest loves almost every raw veggie and fruit going. I did the same thing for both but every kid is differnt.
 

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When I was little, we had the same rule as the rest of you. We either ate it or went without. Except we had no other alternatives. Now that I am older I like the idea of either eating the food made or making a sandwhich. I watched a Jamie Oliver (a british cook) episode once where they had a family start eating healthier meals instead of all of this other stuff (chicken nuggets/fast food/mac and cheese etc) and after a few weeks, the parents said their family life was calmer and their kids were happier and less stressed out. I would say that I disagree with your friends.

I'm not the pickiest eater, but I am more picky than some. I don't like onions or really spicy foods. My mom used to make food. If it had onions in it, sometimes I would eat them anyways or sometimes mom would let me pick them out of my food and eat the rest. If she was making something, like tuna salad, she would change her tactics. Sometimes she'd just leave onions out of it all. Other times she would put some aside for me and add onions to the rest for everyone else. Still other times she would put onions in and I'd have to eat it, onions and all. But I knew that it was either eat it or go hungry so I usually ate it. I learned to eat what i didn't like first, then it was gone and I could enjoy the rest.

If your kids don't like onions in the soup, maybe you could let them pick out the onions. Or if you're making something that you can easily take the unliked food out of or leave it out of, I'd just make two. If its soup, maybe you could cook two pots. After all, it's the same soup, right? So just have two different pots, and leave the onions out of one of them. It shouldn't take any longer and would only dirty a dish or two more, it might be worth it for the added peace at dinner.

Anyways, those are my suggestions. My fiance and I have agreed when we have kids our policy will be either eat or or make a sandwhich, but that's it. And I agree with the making kids at least try it, idea. Also, if they help make dinner that might make them more willing to eat it too! :)

Hope this helps.
 

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WOWZAS!!! I can relate to this and I dont have my own kids yet!

For the kids: Im all with the eat what I make or go without however the option of a PB&J samich is good too. At least they eat something. I also agree with no desserts or snacks after dinner, though they didnt eat it b/c they wouldnt try something new. Two bite system works great or put a bigger portion then what you'd like them to try and cut it in half to make a bargain of it ;) that way they'd prob eat more then their '2 bites' ;)

I would suggest trying a new type of food item slowly - mix it in with what they're used to eating that way they can try it and go back to what they know. If you cook a meal they didnt like, promise them you'll make one that they like the next day and alternate new meals with ones they like...that way they'll learn, though they dont like it now, they'll like tomorrows for sure. For bargaining power, let them pick the next days meal - the one that they'd like and eat.

For my bf the big baby that he is, he's a very fussy eater. Willing to try but turns his nose up at everything before I ask him to try it. For example: He joined my family out for a Chinese Acrobat Show. We chose a Chinese Buffet for dinner this way we can all pick what we want and eat kind of in a hurry. Everyones eating them cold shrimp with cocktail sauce and he was just gawking. I was eating veggies galore and kept asking me what was in it, how it tasted. I offered him one off my plate to 'try' instead of him going up to get a scoop of it to not eat it. He tried reluctantly and now he likes bok choy :lol: When he went to get his own serving of it, he came back with one cooked shrimp and asked my sister and dad how to eat it. We all showed him but before he smothered it in sauce, I asked him to try it then try it with the sauce to know the difference. He said no he didnt like shrimps. This past weekend I made Alfredo shrimp penne and he loved the shrimps. Go figure! I've also gotten him to try soy milk - he still turns his nose up but still takes that one sip for each new brand I try. So in my eyes, atleast hes not 100% close minded.

If I cook a meal he doesnt like, he'll eat it but requests next meal I make something he'd like/prefer/is used to. To me, thats a comprimise. He has yet to cook for me but then again Im not a picky eater - just as long as its healthy and not take out or fast food.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
One of the bonus's of being the chef is that you don't cook what you don't like, lol.
SO TRUE!!! I really hadn't thought of it like that before. I don't like mushrooms, and don't eat any kind of red meat or pork. So, of course, I never cook dishes with any of these ingredients.

You ladies are wonderful! I really appreciate all of your advice. I think that I will continue to cook a variety of foods, even the ones that I know are not their favorites. But, after requiring them to try at least two bites of the food, they can ask for a PB&J or toast for their dinner (we only eat dessert on Sundays here, so that's not an issue). If they won't at least try it, or they make a big eye-rolling, eeeew-gross scene as they pick onions (or, heaven forbid, another vegetable!) from their food, they can go hungry.

I'm thinking that maybe I should try to prepare one red-meat-meal each week (since I'm the only one in the house who doesn't eat it). It might help me set a good example -- that not every meal can be your favorite, but you can eat the side dishes or your PB&J with good grace, and without making a big scene.

Thanks again for all of your insight!
 

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It might help me set a good example -- that not every meal can be your favorite, but you can eat the side dishes or your PB&J with good grace, and without making a big scene.
:clap: Bravo! That's what we taught our kids. It not only goes for foods but life in general. Not everything is your favorite or goes the way you want and you just need to learn to find a way to make it work, enjoy & be pleasant.
 

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I try to mix up the meals. We eat all our meals at home as a family (breakfast, lunch and dinner), Dh included, so I have to have a variety of foods that everyone enjoys. If I fix something Dh doesn't really care for at lunchtime (like homemade mac n cheese) then I will fix something for supper that he really enjoys. Same with the kids. If I'm planning a meal during the day that they probably won't like I make sure that the other meals are filling for them.

I let DD#1 pick a lunch about once a week. I ask Dh what he wants to eat, but he's not picky at all, he'll eat anything I set before him even if it's not his favorite.

We don't do a lot of sandwiches right now because they don't have lunch meats here and DD#2 is allergic to peanut butter.

What I have found with DD#1 is that one meal she will tell me that she doesn't like a certain ingredient (like tomatoes in soup), but she sure loves that ingredient cooked another way (spaghetti sauce). She's that way with a lot of foods, but she knows if she wants a snack later in the evening she has to eat something at supper.
 

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My 2 boys were never really picky. But there were times when one or the other didnt want What I had made for dinner. I had a choice, either eat the dinner prepared or have a peanut butter or cheese sandwich. That appalled my mother who thought I should only make what they wanted to eat.
I did for a long time, let them pick one meal per week each and then I would let them help me make it.
If I did make something that i knew that one of them wasnt crazy about I would make a side that I knew they would like. So at least they would eat the side dish.
Now my ds is old enough to cook something for himself, if I have to work a night shift. I do leave dinner cooked in the fridge for him and my dh. If ds doesnt want what I left he will cook himself something. One rule about that is he has to clean everything and I mean everything he used when cooking. that includes putting it away.
 

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Amy Dacyczyn wrote an EXCELLENT article in her book The Tightwad Gazette about kids and eating. It is long so to get the full story go read it, since many of you have the book. I fully agree with her and it works well for us. I wouldn't let my kids substitute a PB&J sandwich for dinner, since they often eat that for lunch and I wouldn't want them to LIVE only on that!!
 

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In my house, you eat what I make or you go without. Last night, Patrick didn't like tuna noodle casserole. So, Patrick didn't have dinner. He's eaten it before when he was hungry, so I knew that he wasn't dying of hunger. That's how I grew up and how dh grew up and we're just fine, so it's how we raise our kids, and they are just fine as well.
 
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