I know IABU I feed my DC rubbish but feel too overwhelmed to change things :(

(148 Posts)
toomuchjunk Sun 03-Aug-14 20:35:24

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 sad 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 sad

chocoluvva Mon 04-Aug-14 15:06:34

Chopped strawberries work well in jelly too.

Would they eat frozen berries with ice-cream?

Grate carrots into mince/spag bol etc. And at the last minute before serving you can add the finely- chopped dark green leaves of pak choi. It looks like lots of herbs and you don't really notice you're eating it.

Those lumps of frozen spinach are convenient and aren't too noticeable in things like mince, curry, cheesy pasta etc.

SuperGlue Mon 04-Aug-14 15:09:11

I got distracted in my last post and pressed send before it was finished and it reads very holier than thou....which it absolutely was not meant to. What i didn't get to add is that dd is very skinny and keeping her calories up each day is the vital thing for us so she eats cake / biscuits / choc / apple tart and custard / carrot cake etc every day in addition to her meals I do try to bake some of it from scratch but since going back to work I simply don't have the time. I do worry that she is eating a lot of 'junk' but I try to mentally balance it by getting the best quality 'junk' that I can (ridiculous, but hey..) and by making sure her main meals are as healthy as I can get her to eat.

One other thing I do when stuck for time mid-week is to buy a ready cooked chicken from the supermarket and use it to make a quick roast chicken dinner for her as she loves this. DH & I eat it with salad etc then

Shockingundercrackers Mon 04-Aug-14 15:18:11

OP I loathe cooking with a passion and always struggle to come up with ideas on how to feed my two.

I meal plan (dinners only - breakfast is always whole meal cereal, toast and fruit, lunch is a aviation on cheese sandwich and fruit and I don't do snacks) and then do an Internet shopping order straight away.

I tend to warm rather than cook so this is the sort of thing i do:

mon - ready made felafels, cous cous, carrot sticks and salad
Tues - omelettes and veg (sometimes frozen mixed veg)
Weds - chicken tray bake (chop up a load of veg, throw in some whole garlic, stick some chicken thighs (with skin) on top, drizzle over some olive oil and bake for 20 mins on 200
Thurs - salmon with soy sauce, spinach and noodles
Friday - beans on spuds
Saturday - pasta and whatever needs using up in the fridge
Sunday - roast dinner

Frankly with just two little uns that exhausts me.

I don't do puddings either, it's fruit or plain yoghurt with chopped nuts and honey.

scallopsrgreat Mon 04-Aug-14 15:19:18

We do banana pancakes (American style with S-R Flour) for a change for breakfast at the weekend. They could be a pudding though or cook in advance for a snack with butter and maple syrup (yum!)

Strawberries chopped up with icing sugar and cream are a massive hit in this house too.

newnameforanewstart Mon 04-Aug-14 15:38:40

Hi Op. Sorry I have not read the whole tread yet - will do so when I have a little more time. So forgive me if some of these ideas have been mentioned already!

None of your foods are the work of the devil and you could make some easy changes to them. Everything below should be easily purchased in your local supermarket and not hard work involving loads of prep and special ingredients.

Instead of frozen pizza why not get fresh pizza bases, buy some tomato sauce (long term you can make your own pizza bases and tomato sauce easy as pie) get loads of different things - ham, cooked chicken, tuna, sweet corn, sliced onions, peppers, mushrooms etc. etc. and cheese of course and have a make your own pizza night with the kids. Let them pick the things to put on the pizza´s and try and them put them in the oven and cook eat and enjoy. Go for the thin bases not the deep pan and they are pretty healthy.

Instead of fish fingers - do your own battered fish, or fish cakes (fish, mash potatoes, eggs, seasoning)

Baked beans are pretty ok to be honest. But why not do a jacket potato night? Same as the pizza night cook jacket potatoes in the oven. Get loads of bits and pieces, tuna, cheese, soft cheese, baked beans, home made coleslaw etc and lets the kids fill there own potatoes. Favourites in this house, "tuna and sweet corn with mayo" "tuna, baked beans and cheese" "chicken bacon and sweet corn with mayo" home made coleslaw.

Breaded chicken - could be chicken stripes. Get chicken breast and cut long ways into slices, dip in flour, egg and then breadcrumbs and bake in the oven. Great healthy food.

Sandwiches, golly there are sooo many things try the same things as for make your own pizza nights and some of the potatoes ides too, meat ball subs are a total hit here made with left over meatballs and tomato sauce from spaghetti and meat balls and rolls instead of bread

Breakfast - dippy eggs (eggs are great!) with soldiers as Dad is in the army, Fruit smoothies - plain yogurt, bit of milk and frozen berries or fresh, Banana pancakes

Snack ideas - fruit sticks (take sticks and put on chunks of fruit, grapes etc serve), Sliced veggies and dips (carrot sticks, apple slices or sticks are good to start with) and a variety of dips (humus, mayo, soft cheese etc) Plain popcorn,

The squash - just reduce the amount you put into the glass etc week so it gets weaker and weaker eventually just plain water.

Pudding does not need to be served every day save it for treat nights.

If the weather is good with you get the BBQ out! Cook chicken thighs, pork chops, good quality sausages, make some coleslaw - bung a hand full of raisins in as it tastes a bit sweet then do jacket potatoes on the BBQ.

The winter is easier to be honest to get veg etc. into kids but start making the changes now and you will be set for a winter of pasta dishes, baked dishes, and one pot meals!

You can do it op.

dingalong Mon 04-Aug-14 15:51:26

Batch cooking can be helpful too - for those evenings that you're rushing/wrecked.

My dc's love meatballs (I grate carrots, onions and add using food processors). I cook enough for about 3 dinners

I cook fresh a large fish cod/hake fillet (with breadcrumbs, cream, mustard and cheese on top). Takes about 2 minutes to prepare (frozen breadcrumbs) and about 30 mins in hot oven

Roast lamb/beef is great, I stick leftovers in food processor and whizz to make shepherds pie or bolognaise (use left over gravy in it too)

Cook, chop some veg and offer as a starter while doing the rest

I also have a cheap cupcake/muffin maker, it was a gift from my Dad but they only cost £10.

I've used it today to make 21 cheese and ham muffins and 21 cherry muffins. I've popped them in a freezer box and stuck them in the freezer, they take seconds to defrost in the microwave and since I used the maker it only took 15 minutes to make all of them.

Obviously you can use the oven but this was quicker and it doesn't need paper cases.

I do them with loads of flavours, veggies and fruits and they're only small so I give the DCs a couple for a snack.

MrsWombat Mon 04-Aug-14 19:27:33

Gammon is an easy midweek "proper" meal for us. I stick one of the small joints into the slow cooker in the morning with a bit of water and flavouring. (Onion, carrots, apple juice etc) Then serve with boiled potatoes and steamed veg which you can prep while the kids are at school. During the summer months I serve it with cold new potatoes and salad/coldslaw.

dingalong Mon 04-Aug-14 19:45:46

Second Rachel Allen for good ideas.

You can make a nice berry compote for yogurt ice-cream - it lasts well.

Matildathecat Mon 04-Aug-14 21:03:43

Here's what I did to encourage my dc to eat my food when they were little: each dish had it's own name. Tuna and pasta bake with cheese was Captain Hook Special and so on. They generally gobbled it all up. I still never make anything with a long list of ingredients.

Keep it simple and give it a jolly name. Oh and if all else fails a small dollop of low sugar ketchup.grin

Purplepoodle Mon 04-Aug-14 21:32:11

My husband works away most of the time. Tbh I only plan the evening meals and often cook them in the morning then reheat in the evening as I'm really tired by then or have stuff in the freezer.

Lunch is always sandwiches - cheese, meat, peanut butter

I often keep it simple. My teas are

Pasta and bolognese (make own with lean mince, tin toms, onion, peppers - boil in pan then blend)

Jacket potatoes - done in the microwave with beans or cheese

Fajitas - buy the packer from old El Paso, tacos are good too

Pasta and sauce - you can make your own pasta sauce with pasatta and load of veg cooked blended down - freeze it and you can whip out of the freezer.

Pitta pizza - pitta bread (I keep mine in the freezer) slather in tom purée then stick some toppings on and cheese, bake in oven for 10mins.

I got load of great ideas from slimming world website

Purplepoodle Mon 04-Aug-14 21:33:38

Breakfast is always just cereal they can pick from 3 usually we have weetabix, shred dies, Cheerios, sultana bran.

Ormally Mon 04-Aug-14 21:36:36

Could you get them to help with 'decorating' things? E.g. making your own pizzas on plain bought bases, or just topping a quarter each of a big margherita?

They could do fruit arrangements like blueberry faces and plain yoghurt 'hair' (messy but not point-of-no-return messy!) or teddy ears/snouts from banana circles.

Try fishcakes instead of fish fingers, you can get some nice chilled ones sometimes.

Some dips and daft things to dip in them (like hummus and mashed up avocado; peanut butter), cut up cucumber into shapes or it makes an easy Hello Kitty shape face (sorry, yes, I haven't gone loopy but at least DD eats cucumber now) - this goes down best while they are hungry and waiting for a meal.

And definitely proceed by stealth!

missymayhemsmum Mon 04-Aug-14 22:08:52

Yup, I'm with you, op, no point in spending hours cooking what they won't eat. Frozen pizza with a mixed salad, chopped peppers etc is a good quicky, make sure you have a full fruit bowl for snacks, and substitute fruit juice diluted with fizzy water instead of squash (much more exciting).
How about fish fingers, potato wedges and veg? Jacket potatoes?
My dd currently has cheese on toast for breakfast, (with strawberry milk, and a slice of watermelon!) Bizarre and am sure she will move on soon, but chocolate spread on toast is not a disaster. Will they eat boiled eggs? So long as they are getting a reasonable diet overall with fruit and veg and dairy and protein then no point faffing about being supercook when you could be playing with them.

If you feel you need to change things, try making a change a week when you shop. So - we haven't got any squash this week, you can have milk, juice or water. Next week a new rule- if you want a snack you can have cheese, fruit, a carrot or bread and butter, (I didn't buy any crisps or sweets)
Dinner always includes vegetables, that's just how it is. (Fill your freezer with bags of frozen veg and your fridge with salad and you're half way there, without spending hours cooking).

Also, what do you like eating?

Sapat Mon 04-Aug-14 23:52:43

Cook enough for two meals (spag Bol, curry, fish pie, roast) and make it last 2 days so you only cook properly every other day. For eg I make roast chicken one day, then next day I cook onion, mushrooms, peppers and reheat the left over shredded chicken with cream and I serve it with rice.
Pudding is fruit. I bake at the weekend. I also make soup at the weekend for lunch.

As for the kids, we have fussy eaters. But what is on the table is what gets eaten. No alternative, if they don't like it, tough and naughty step if they complain about the food too much. It took my son 1 hour to eat his dinner tonight, he was winging so much we just left him to it. He then demolished a mango in about 10 seconds. My daughter hates soup, my son loves it. She gets a small bowl of it (and I sometimes need to feed her, but hey Ho, she eat it) and I make sure the next meal is something she likes more.

You do what you can, but food is important and they will be less inclined to change as they get older.

toomuchjunk Tue 05-Aug-14 20:54:52

THANK YOU EVERYONE!

I have had time to read all the replies now and have some great ideas from them. I am going to change one thing per week starting with making home made items if their freezer favourites, i.e. pizza, breaded chicken and fish fingers. Next week I will tackle deserts and so on.

You have all given me a new motivation, thank you so much. On to the next challenge which is their tv viewing which is far too much, I may have to start another thread for that one. I am determine to be the mother I had hoped to be instead of the one I have ended up being. I am so glad I posted here such amazing advice from everyone smile

toomuchjunk Tue 05-Aug-14 20:56:37

Forgot to say for deserts I am going to change to yogurts and fruit, that will be next weeks challenge, I don't want to shock their systems to much! One thing a week is such a great way forward smile

JumpJockey Tue 05-Aug-14 21:33:05

Hope you don't mind, I've asked if this can be moved to Classics as it's a much better home for a thread full of such great advice and lots of brilliant ideas.

BlackeyedSusan Tue 05-Aug-14 22:00:50

a simple recipe is chilli con carne. can be made from the freezer with frozen lean beef mince, frozen chopped peppers and onions, tin of kidney beans.

with the squash, make it a little bit more dilute each week and they will not notice. (dd will not drink water, she will drink milk but only because the dentist told her to, and the rest of the time she drinks extrememly diluted squash)

Glasshammer Tue 05-Aug-14 22:12:40

Wanted to mention that my standard store cupboard items are

- Greek yogurt in big tubs for puddings or snacks
- frozen raspberries to top Greek yogurt (kept frozen)
- eggs (omelettes and dippy eggs for breakfast or lunch)
- nuts, seeds, oatcakes, nut butters for snacking
- humous and celery, cucumber etc for dipping.
- seasonally cheap fruits - so melon at the moment

Glasshammer Tue 05-Aug-14 22:14:00

Cod and other fish are easy enough to cook

HotBurrito1 Wed 06-Aug-14 09:32:30

Take them scrumping for blackberries (great fun, mind the thorns!) then have them as dessert with cream or yoghurt. Kids love collecting food to eat IME.

Ormally Wed 06-Aug-14 14:09:08

Glad to hear you feeling more cheerful! I had another thought and it goes with the suggestion about blackberries above - soon it will be apple season. I frankly love collecting windfalls from a tree near the river and any other 'public' ones (to the huge embarrassment of my DH). Keep your eyes open for ones near you as there are always loads of usable windfalls (don't fret about the odd hole in them if the apple is otherwise firm).

Get the DC to make a crumble with you - who doesn't love apple crumble? If you peel the apples and make quarters they can slice them into a saucepan. Add about 1cm of water and put the pan on a low-medium heat. Keep an eye on it and stir the apples around. When they start to break down, add sugar or honey (I like about a tsp of honey and then maybe 2 or 3 tbsp. sugar depending on how much you are doing). Keep stirring from time to time until you have apple crumble filling and taste it to see if it is sweet enough. You can also add raisins, blackberries, or chopped kiwi is nice. The apple - kiwi is good cold with yoghurt too.

Use an instant crumble topping or look up crumble making on the web - it is flour rubbed into marge or butter then about half the quantity of flour's worth of sugar stirred in, but you can add oats etc too if the fancy takes you. Bake the pud at 170-180 degrees for 15 to 20 mins. Serve with custard or ice cream - yum. If you make quite a lot of the stewed base (I would do this to distraction as I love it!) then you can freeze it in freezer bags for future Autumn & Winter crumbles when you can't be bothered to do the chopping up. Should make you a popular Mum!

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