I know IABU I feed my DC rubbish but feel too overwhelmed to change things :((148 Posts)
I have 4 DC and DH in the army away a lot. Me and 4 DC eat rubbish I know we do and I want to change. I have all the cook books, but feel to overwhelmed by all the ingredients etc. Also meal planning for 3 meals plus snacks and deserts takes me hours and I get stressed. DC are used to having sugary deserts like angel delight, jelly, ice cream and I don't know how they would react to plain yogurt or fruit. I cook a roast on Sunday with leftovers on monday but the rest of the week is frozen pizza, fish fingers, baked beans, breaded chicken fillets etc. Lunch is cheese sandwiches, I just cannot come up with other fillings the kids will eat. Each week I plan to buy healthy food but get overwhelmed with all the ingredients I will need to buy. Plus I have no idea how I will get the DC (age one, three, five and six) to change. There is no way they would eat porridge for breakfast, they all like chocolate spread on toast they guzzle sugar free squash and will not drink water. I feel so depressed, I had such good intentions when I only had one child, now I have four and I have lost my way and cannot see a way forward
Sorry crossed post, it seems like lots of you are saying change one meal a week. That is such a good idea! I think I had gotten totally overwhelmed by changing a whole week of easy meals to a week of home cooking, but one new meal a week I could do!
I agree with everyone, don't say 'I'm going to be healthy the whole week' and then feel like you are failing. Just do what you normally do and change one or two things in the entire week. Offer carrot sticks and cucumber and little tomatoes with the breaded fish, for example. Just that one meal. Then another night, offer yoghurt and fruit instead of your pudding, just one night.
I don't think you need to make many changes, more fruit and veg would be a great start. A cheese sandwich with veggie sticks on the side and an apple is a fine lunch, mine have something similar most days.
The other thing is- don't be put off if the children don't all eat the new things straight away. Just do a very small portion of carrot sticks, cucumber and tomatoes and put them in the middle in a bowl. Those that want can help themselves. You will find if one eats them, the others will follow. You have to present food about 15/20 times or something crazy like that before children will eat it. Do small portions so you are not wasting it.
Agree, with gradual changes. Don't overwhelm yourself.
Fajitas are an easy win - just wraps, filled with chicken breast & a salsa type sauce. Maybe with sour cream? Serve with wedges?
For an easy desert, fruit with natural yoghurt and then a littke squirt of honey is nice and easy,
Also, sticking some breadcrumbs in a blender and making your own chicken nuggets would be another easy mess change
OP if you find meal planning and ingrediants getting overwhelming, why don't you try Hello Fresh for a couple of weeks? They send you the recipes and all the ingredients. I have tried it, and it has really improved my confidence and got me out of a food rut. It is expensive but you don't have to do it forever, just long enough to give you a kick. I can also send you a discount code if you like.
I disagree with the no puddings, we always have puddings here and are all slim and healthy. How about banana and custard as a transition to healthier puds. Or a crumble packed with fruit? Rice pudding is also good as gets lots of milk into them.
I struggle sometimes with desserts too. I give DD yoghurts mainly, but often its ice cream or angel delight etc.
Winter is quite easy with crumbles etc.
What about making (or letting them make) fruit kebabs? Or banana with custard? Or baked apple (sultanas and a tiny bit of brown sugar down the 'core hole').
Get them to grow their own tomatoes next summer?
Make your own pizza is brilliant - get them involved with chucking loads of different stuff on.
OP, FWIW I bet many of us on here who grew up in the 70's and 80's grew up eating that sort of food for years on end.
We all go through phases like this with our children - you sound like you have a lot on your plate (pun intended!).
My DC1 loves chocolate spread on toast but now we ration it to weekends and special occasions and she has cereal other days. Was also a water-refuser until I cut out the fruit juice cold turkey one day, then she had no choice. But I know that friends have been advised by their doctors that squash is better than not drinking. Perhaps dilute it more?
Agree with the others, change one meal at a time. Good luck.
I used to be like you before i had dc. My mil is a good cook but would never teach dh. She did however buy all these fancy cook books - we didnt understand them, they had words i didnt have a clue about in, tons of ingredients etc.
I think you need to tackle it one meal at a time, so instead of trying to change breakfast, lunch and dinners for a whole week in one go, just add one new healthy dinner. Then when youre confident making that new healthy dinner add another into the week. Then once youve got a good selection of dinners, look at breakfasts.
Tbh i think a cheese sandwhich is ok for lunch, if youre getting a proper evening meal.
Now we can cook. Someone told me that cow&gate (the baby food company), actually did a good weaning guide, using homemade recipes, so i ordered it. Then as lo got older they sent these little magazines with recipes for thinks like chilli, spag bol, fajitas, cottage pie, etc. These recipes were soo simple to follow with simple ingredients that i learnt to cook! I think they have a lot of these recipes on their website too.
Also i use a lot of frozen ingredients - for example i buy peppers, onions, mushrooms ready chopped and frozen (a large handful is about 1onion/1pepper), also things like peas, sweetcorn, baby carrots, mince beef, etc are bought frozen. It makes it easier as you dont have to plan in advance for a lot of meals then.
If your dc like pizza I found a brilliant way of doing them with dd (3) in an Annabel karmel cookbook called "top 100 finger foods"
You basically buy a packet of wraps, we buy mission deli wheat and white, tomato puree, a bit of grated cheese, and any toppings your dc like.
Get them involved, my dd loves helping make these, they take 8 minutes to cook at 200 degrees and taste fab.
Add a mini corn on the cob on the side and its a nice little lunch or dinner
Home made pizza is good because you can get the older children to help you with the toppings. Just get a ready made base, a carton of passata, a bag of grated mozzarella and whatever you fancy for toppings: tuna, leftover chicken, peppers, spinach, mushrooms, olives, whatever!
Would they eat peanut butter, marmite or cream cheese on toast? Mashed avocado or banana?
I sympathise. I hate cooking. If I had all the money in the world the first thing I would do would be hire a chef to cook for my children.
Sorry for all the typos
Sorry for all the typos
Please don't stress - and one meal a week is a great idea. I have long learned to give up worrying about this. (DD is 6, food refuser since 2.5 so limited diet).
Two meals I have found useful for a crap eater are roast dinners and picnics. Even if she refuses anything at the roast but potatoes, meat and yorkshire puds she is seeing different veg and has the option.... Plus lots of chicken left for sarnies. Also picnic tea (which she loves) - nice bread, ham, salami, cheese etc. I have found that although she is very limited in trying new foods she will try 'new ham' such as salami and chorizo. So I figure that at the very least she is widening the foods she eats.
Will they eat fish - salmon, mackerel etc? My DD won't eat fruit or veg but eats a lot of fish - perhaps start with fish cakes as a change from fish fingers etc.
although I never admit in real life I have taken to buying Ella's kitchen veg pouches (and she is 6) and adding some to baked beans and spaghetti hoops. It eases my conscience a little.
Finally - don't stress. I have two rules with food - do not backslide on any food - don't allow them to reduce the foods they eat. And introduce new food appropriately - trying to introduce 3 veg in a week won't work. It took a few months to get DD to eat mash. But it showed she will eat new things...
With the squash. I agree with gradually making it weaker. Also one possible way of making plain water more exciting - could you get a jug and put a load of ice cubes in it? Loads of DCs I know are obsessed with ice cubes perhaps you could have a new house rule of 'water only after 5pm' or something (I do this anyway as the few times DS had sugar free squash at bedtime, he wet the bed!) and just have a communal jug of water on the dinner table.
If you're making your own pizza you could try using English muffins - I get wholemeal, shove any veg on there and top with some torn mozzarella and grated cheddar before grilling. It's easy and we love it, I only started because our oven is busted so can't buy normal pizza.
Don't worry about breakfast for now if it's stressing you out (depending on how your DCs are in the morning it could be the worst time to get into food battles!). Mine are total cereal addicts I do want to gradually improve that (actually been meaning to start a thread for ideas so I'll do that now!) but so far I've been focusing mainly on improving the evening meal and getting rid of unhealthy snacks. Breakfast is the last mountain to conquer
I hate meal planning - hate it. But not nearly as much as getting up and going, 'what the FECK are we going to eat today?!'
So I have basic tips:
- don't stress about breakfast variety - just keep it the same everyday if nobody objects. Toast and cereal. Easy. Maybe swap the rice krispies for something whole grain like Cheerios (which are still packed with crap, but might be a good transition to something less processed like Weetabix). Flavoured ReadyBrek is also surprisingly OK and higher in nutrients than you might think, and might be a good transition to introducing porridge. You can also sneak pulverised bananas into it very easily.
- lunches - bread, cheese, meat or egg mayo, cherry tomatoes, carrot sticks, bag of salad leaves, sliced cucumber. Let the older kids help themselves. For my 2.2yo DS, I do tend to dice tomatoes into subatomic particles, mix with cream cheese and avocado to spread onto a sandwich, or submerge under a layer of melted cheese and he eats it.
- dinners. Planning these is really the only PITA in my book, so what I do is think 'something with pasta, something with potatoes, something with rice' (that's three meals down), 'something convenient' (ready meal or takeaway - four meals), 'something with bread' (five meals)...and then you've already got your Sunday roast followed by leftovers the next day. Seven meals, sorted. Another variation is going by cuisines rather than a base carb e.g. 'Something Italian, something Mexican, a curry, something traditional'. But I'm a little carb-obsessed so the previous method tends to be the one I use.
Yes change one meal and you are almost half way there. We aren't a pudding family, occasionally at weekends only. I think it depends what the snacks are during the day, if they aren't getting anything but pudding it's probably okay but remember it doesn't really matter if they don't eat your healthy alternative, it can be optional.
Only on mumsnet is sugar free squash the devils milk btw. If you want them to have water give them one glass of squash and then water on the table, that way you know they won't be getting dehydrated.
With 4 kids to look after mostly on your own, you're safest making small changes. Start by making sure there's always a fresh and frozen vegetable or a bit of salad with lunch and dinner. Get used to preparing them and get the kids used to being given them. It's an easy change to make. Cherry tomatoes, cucumber or carrot sticks take little time to prepare and, if they're served in the centre of the table, it will feel like less of a battleground if they're rejected.
Similarly, rather than going cold turkey on the puds, top the angel delight with sliced strawberries or banana (delicious on the butterscotch!) or add fruit to the jelly you make. If they'll eat bananas, you could make bananas and custard - with custard prepared from a tin of birds, you can control the amount of sugar in it and it's relatively crap free.
Once you're all in the habit of having fresh fruit and veg as part of a meal, plan a midweek meal cooked from scratch. It doesn't have to be complicated. It doesn't need hundreds of ingredients.
Make gradual changes and you're less likely to have mutiny.
I wouldn't be trying to do a whole load of homemade stuff with 4 small kids!
You've got the roast, so that's Sunday and Monday sorted for dinner. Plenty of veg on the side rather than say beans.
Tuesday do something with mince or a stew that you can freeze on the weekend. If you do loads and are inventive that's Tuesday and Wednesday sorted, eg chili with rice one night and pasta or tortilla wraps the next. Thursday something easy like omelette, ready made quiche....
Make sure you offer plenty of veg or salad as the side dish each night.
Friday is chuck finish fingers in the oven night as it's the end of the week and everyone's knackered.
Puddings are custard, rice pudding, yoghurt or if they don't want any of that it's fruit.
Lunchtimes swap white for brown bread, offer chopped carrot, cucumber and tomato on the side and pudding is fruit. I don't think there's anything wrong with cheese sandwiches but for variety offer ham, tuna, chicken roll. If they would rather have cheese then fine, you can lead a horse to water......
Breakfasts I think cereal is fine, if they can be persuaded to go for a whole grain cereal like weetabix or Cheerios then great. Plus a banana or toast.
Don't go nuts and start knitting your own muesli. The kids prob won't eat it and it's a waste of your energy anyway
Oh, and I agree with PPs - save the stress and forget about planning dessert. It's not necessary. Make fruit or yoghurt the only options if DCs are still hungry. We'll have dessert maybe once or twice a week, and it's usually a spur-of-the-moment unplanned thing
DH picking up a tub of Ben and Jerry's on the way home
Quesadillas might go down well if they like cheesy things, btw. Just leave out the chilli if they don't like it.
Sacrebleu has a great idea - and reminded me that my parents used to do 'buffet teas' - all the grapes, cheese, crackers, bread, salad etc, but al put out on the table so we could help ourselves. It felt like a super treat. Perhaps your kids aren't as easily fooled as I clearly was toomuch, but it might be worth a go - a bit of novelty and the illusion of choice for the children
Leave them hungry for one day and they will eat anything you offer.
A meal doesn't need to have loads of ingredients. In fact, the less - the better. A meal in my house sometimes is just a: banana; or avocado; or boiled egg; or a handful of nuts; or a handful of prunes. Meal, or it could be snack! For snack - slices of fruit, ot veg, or olives Eating healthy is soooooo simple.
Why do you need to have a desert???
Deserts are for special occasions like restaurant or Cristmas!!!
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