To make the same healthy meal every day for dc?

(174 Posts)

I am at the end of my tether with this. Dc are 7 and 10 and their fussiness is increasing all the time. It's bad enough that they turn their noses up at most of the food I serve (and I am not a bad cook and it's not anything outlandish just plain simple stuff) they refuse to pitch in with ideas about what meals they will eat. They just shrug angry

I am tired of the frustration I feel and also of feeling as though they think of me as a stupid martyr because I do all the work and nobody seems to appreciate it (which, let's be honest, they bloody don't!).

So, would I be unreasonable to choose one thing that they will both eat, criteria being that it's simple to prepare and healthy, and just serve it night after night? So I don't have to spend time and energy preparing two different meals, one for DH and I and one for the kids; instead I can just bung on some rice with egg and peas (carbs, protein and veg) for kids and not stress...

lougle Sat 04-Jan-14 19:16:29

rice, egg and peas isn't a greatly balanced meal, to be honest.

CoffeeTea103 Sat 04-Jan-14 19:16:54

It's really up to you? If that's what will work for you then not sure why you need anyone here to approve it.

DamnBamboo Sat 04-Jan-14 19:17:34

Yes, YABU.
Keep persevering with them, otherwise how will they ever expand their tastes.

Your second paragraph I'm afraid, is what it's like to be a mother to small kids. No doubt millions of women are in the same boat.

stargirl1701 Sat 04-Jan-14 19:17:34

Put up a menu on a Sunday with meals already decided. One night a week, your 10 year old cooks a meal for the family. One night a week, your 7 year old helps you and learns to cook a meal. Make them pull their weight, OP.

Joules68 Sat 04-Jan-14 19:18:20

Why are they so fussy? That's what you need to address

Are they snacking?

mscnile Sat 04-Jan-14 19:18:52

Give them a choice of say 20 meals and get each to choose 3-5 then make a weekly menu.

RedPencilPot Sat 04-Jan-14 19:19:21

Do they get to eat any junk foods if they don't eat the healthy foods you cook?

DamnBamboo Sat 04-Jan-14 19:19:54

And the same 'healthy' meal, does not necessarily constitute a healthy diet.
What is this healthy meal of which you speak?

PurplePidjin Sat 04-Jan-14 19:21:18

What happens if you serve up one thing then tell them to take it or fucking leave it, no toast/fruit/yoghurt/whatever till breakfast?

KingRollo Sat 04-Jan-14 19:21:45

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

everlong Sat 04-Jan-14 19:23:17

Tbh you've allowed this.

A 10 year old shouldn't be turning their nose up to food you've prepared.

They eat what you've made or nothing and only allow fruit to snack on.

LingDiLong Sat 04-Jan-14 19:24:39

If they really are that fussy it would be much more sensible and convenient to just make the meals you and DH want to eat. Dish them up a really small portion so not too much is wasted if they don't eat it. Freeze the leftovers.

If you can include at least one thing that they will eat - even if it's just rice or spuds or veg then great. If they're too fussy even for that then don't worry.

As a mother of 3 and a childminder to 5 more, I really struggle to find meals everyone will eat. I feel your pain! I now do rotate 5 favourite meals week after week. Weekends are mine and DH's choice.

Rice, egg and peas isn't balanced? What would you suggest as an alternative? I'm deathly serious with my suggestion that I give them a very narrow selection that's easy. OK, maybe not one thing but 2 or 3.

I've been persevering for, oh, about 9 years grin and to be frank, I'm not willing to accept that being a mother = being a stupid martyr.

Menu planning, yes we do this. ds (10) can and will cook, sometimes. Things used to be better, tbh. dd has always had a fairly narrow repertoire but ds used to be much better. Now even things they used to enjoy, they refuse.

Why are they so fussy? No fucking idea. Seriously. It's not like I haven't thought about it and tried to resolve it. I suppose I could ban all food between meals so they're really hungry. They don't snack much, tbh. A few crackers and cheese with cherry tomatoes. A satsuma.

mrscog Sat 04-Jan-14 19:27:03

At those ages I would take a like it or lump it approach - no snacks if they don't want what you've cooked (unless it's something like sardines or something with a very acquired taste). They need to learn to like a variety of foods - what will they do on dates in the future ? Or if they have business meals?

NachoAddict Sat 04-Jan-14 19:27:06

My 6 year old dd is driving me insane with her fussiness at the moment so I feel your pain.

I just serve up one meal, nothing to spicy or unusual, just simple, Plain food for example tonight was chicken and asparagus no pastry pie with roasted carrots and peas. She decided she didn't like it before she even picked up the fork.

She either eats it or not, after all I'm not going hungry, she is. If she has a has a good try of it and genuinely doesn't like it she can have some fruit or toast but if its something that she has previously eaten fine or something she hasn't even tasted then she is sent to bed until she does try it.

FortyDoorsToNowhere Sat 04-Jan-14 19:27:16

My son is very fussy, under a dietician because of his diet.

He is on spatone with juice.

Just keep offering the things you want them to eat.

Are they on school dinners or packed lunch.

DamnBamboo Sat 04-Jan-14 19:27:57

No, not every day it isn't! Of course it's not.

Just make your meals, serve them up, if they don't eat it, don't make an issue of it, but offer them nothing else and say 'this is what there is, take it or leave it'

Bet it won't be long before they start eating it without problems.

Just so I'm clear, they only eat rice, egg and peas? And also now I see satsumas and cherry tomatoes and cheese?

SavoyCabbage Sat 04-Jan-14 19:28:13

If they aren't going to eat it anyway, I would just make what you want for dinner and if they don't eat it they will be hungry. I wouldn't give them access to other food at all.

It sounds like you have tried to involve them in the food planning already and they aren't interested. I would be trying to get them interested by not pandering to their fussiness.

everlong Sat 04-Jan-14 19:29:17

What will they eat?

FortyDoorsToNowhere Sat 04-Jan-14 19:29:18

One of our favourite games is get a blind fold, get a load of diffrent foods and let them try.

For this I use treats and heathy foods

stargirl1701 Sat 04-Jan-14 19:29:20

I once refused to eat dinner. I had to sit at the table looking at it until bedtime. I wasn't offered anything else. I went to bed hungry. Breakfast the next morning was my dinner from the night before. I went to school hungry.

I never refused to eat again.

DamnBamboo Sat 04-Jan-14 19:29:28

So you aren't just talking about one same meal then?

Judyandherdreamofhorses Sat 04-Jan-14 19:31:57

Join our new fussy eaters support thread in the food section. There's nobody smug there, I promise!

LingDiLong Sat 04-Jan-14 19:33:05

Stargirl, that is a terrible approach. Just because it 'worked' for you, doesn't mean it's a good idea. That is the exact approach my (otherwise great and very loving) parents took. It turned food into a MASSIVE, massive issue for my entire childhood. I can still remember that awful, sweaty feeling of being sat in front of food I genuinely didn't like and knowing I would be made to eat it. I employed all sorts of desperate tricks to hide the food. It made meal times horrendous for us all and made me fussier than I would have otherwise been.

Sorry, replies coming thick and fast (I am not used to AIBU) will try and answer all.

Do they get to eat any junk foods if they don't eat the healthy foods you cook? Nope. No way.

What happens if you serve up one thing then tell them to take it or fucking leave it, no toast/fruit/yoghurt/whatever till breakfast? Then they won't eat it. I will follow through with the consequences I've outlined (because I'm not that clueless, thanks wink) so they will complain they're hungry.

And the same 'healthy' meal, does not necessarily constitute a healthy diet. What is this healthy meal of which you speak? I really don't know sad. This is my tether, people. The end bit, right here.

You know what I would do? Cook the DH-and-you meal every day, whatever you fancy. If the Kids dont eat it, they get offered unlimited fruit and yoghurt. This is what I've been doing. They don't eat it they may have fruit (unless I've said not of course). They don't like yoghurt.

Tbh you've allowed this. A 10 year old shouldn't be turning their nose up to food you've prepared. They eat what you've made or nothing and only allow fruit to snack on. I've allowed it! Thanks. What happens is, I make what's on the menu plan (which is on the calendar so they know what's coming). If they don't eat it, I don't make anything else. I don't allow them to eat junk instead or later on. It doesn't work. It's bloody frustrating. I need other options.

If they really are that fussy it would be much more sensible and convenient to just make the meals you and DH want to eat. Dish them up a really small portion so not too much is wasted if they don't eat it. Freeze the leftovers. Yep, that's my current modus operandi.

Maybe what I should have done is asked for advice on how to ignore the fact that they turn their noses up at everything. I don't want to get so cross about it, and particularly I don't want to show how cross it makes me sad

canyou Sat 04-Jan-14 19:34:57

If mine don't eat an then complain before bed that they are hungry they get offered porridge, plain porridge no fruit, sugar or honey which they can have at breakfast. This way I feel they have something warm and good for them.
I don't really do snacks so here it is breakfast, lunch, after school hot choc and treat and dinner. It means that they are always ready for meals

stargirl1701 Sat 04-Jan-14 19:35:19

I never said it was a good approach. Just a memory.

DamnBamboo no, they don't eat just rice, egg and peas. This is the only thing they say they want. That or pasta with home made tomato sauce (ds) and pasta with broccoli (dd)

They get served whatever we are having. Simple stuff: roasts, pasta dishes, what a normal family eats!

Joules68 Sat 04-Jan-14 19:35:53

Crackers cheese and tomatoes? Well that's almost a seperate meal! No wonder they aren't hungry

LingDiLong Sat 04-Jan-14 19:36:24

Oh dear OP, I really do get why this is so frustrating. I think you're right. You're handling it really well and you need to find ways to keep calm and ignore it. Would putting the dishes on the table and allowing them to serve themselves some food help? Maybe if they are more in control of the portions they give themselves....I dunno.

It doesn't hurt to be repetitive as well though and make those 2 or 3 meals you KNOW they'll eat every single week.

TheGreatHunt Sat 04-Jan-14 19:36:41


You cook as you see fit.

If they don't eat, tough.

Rice eggs and peas? Are you sure you're a good cook.....

canyou Sat 04-Jan-14 19:37:29

Would they get involved in your menu planning, shopping and meal prep? I am cruel I make all my DC get involved even my toddler helps set the table

BrownSauceSandwich Sat 04-Jan-14 19:37:37

I'm inclined to agree with PurplePidjin. Serve up what you want to make (reasonably non-controversial, but don't pander too much to their whims). Don't make any fuss when they don't eat it, just point out that that's what there is, get them to sit up to the table until everybody's finished, get them to clear away their own plates, then don't let them have anything else until the next meal time. If they're starving, they could always eat the leftovers. If they don't want the leftovers, they ain't going to waste away before tomorrow's breakfast. Repeat. Forever.

Joules68 Sat 04-Jan-14 19:37:38

And if they know that's coming and read it on your prepared menu then they can 'fill up' on those snacks in advance

A visible menu might be going against you here

everlong Sat 04-Jan-14 19:37:38

Pasta with homemade sauce one night, egg, rice and peas another, will they eat egg or beans on toast?
Just keep it simple - they'll soon get bored.

C3P0 Sat 04-Jan-14 19:38:37

Nope, it's a dumb idea. They'll end up malnourished, more than likely. Everyone needs to eat a varied diet. You should get some specialist support for bringing up fussy-eater kids.

TheGreatHunt Sat 04-Jan-14 19:39:08

I know it's a pisser if they reject your food but don't take it personally. Can your DH cook as well? Let him do some too.

At that age i would get them to start learning to cook - I was certainly cooking by 10. By 12 I could make stuff like casserole.

Queenmarigold Sat 04-Jan-14 19:39:18

Yes, make that for them... But first they have to eat a tiny amount of something rise first. Then once they like done of the other stuff they can have a bigger amount.

wrt the trying new stuff. I always say to them that nobody in this house is made to eat food, if you try something new and don't like it then that's fine.

Trouble is, not only do they "not like" 100% of new things, they "don't like" things they used to enjoy.

They will eat a roast meal. They will eat pasta with their specific accompaniment (as described above). What else? Um… they used to like steak and ale pie, they used to like stir fry with noodles, couscous and veg, sausages and mash. None of these things they will eat now.

It breaks my heart actually, because I want to give them a healthy balanced diet they will enjoy and I don't want to spend meal times anticipating them turning up their noses, watching them do so and being cross and upset about it.

Hence the end tether = one easy meal every day idea.

DamnBamboo Sat 04-Jan-14 19:41:41

And the same 'healthy' meal, does not necessarily constitute a healthy diet. What is this healthy meal of which you speak? I really don't know sad. This is my tether, people. The end bit, right here

It just sounds like you need a few ideas maybe, rather than them being terribly fussy. Doesn't sound too bad really.

Get them to write of list of their 5 favourite meals each and go from there!


Joules68 Sat 04-Jan-14 19:41:52

How do they manage eating out, eating at friends or relatives and eating food at school?

mscnile Sat 04-Jan-14 19:42:31

What about not advertising the menu, but giving them two choices e.g. Spag Bol or shepherds pie - then whatever they end up with has been chosen but them, but from a v limited choice (that changes every day)

DamnBamboo Sat 04-Jan-14 19:42:56

Also, the one same meal won't work - they will tire of it.

Imagine your favourite meal, Monday and then perhaps again the next day, maybe even a third. But night after night... no way. You'll be back to square one.

Rice eggs and peas? Are you sure you're a good cook…..


It's a home made version of Chinese egg fried rice. Sometimes I add some stir fried chicken. It's OK, not michelin star quality, of course!

Joules68 Sat 04-Jan-14 19:43:16

And you say 'they' a lot.... They are both deciding they don't like something? Or individually?

Daykin Sat 04-Jan-14 19:43:21

I would just cook what you want to eat, ditch the crackers and snacks and ignore them. They aren't babies. As an adult you don't get to eat your favourite meal over and over. If someone else is cooking and you are eating with other people then sometimes you eat food that you wouldn't have picked in a restaurant but that isn't a reason to sulk and whinge about it.
I don't mind catering to likes and dislikes but when they are all encompassing then it's just taking the piss.

mscnile Sat 04-Jan-14 19:43:25

Chosen by not but

Joules68 it used to be mainly dd, but ds has started to follow suit. Eating out, they will always choose the same thing if they can: ds will have spag bol, dd will have chicken in breadcrumbs. Eating at gp (which they do fairly often) is not a problem for some reason. MIL always does a roast, every day. They love this. My dm will usually give them pasta, but that's OK because she has them just once a week.

They are taking the piss, aren't they?

Whoever said get them to help: they do. They lay the table (one will do plates and cutlery, the other drinks). They clear the plates. They don't tend to help cooking, though they used to. It's only a few weeks since we've had a proper functioning kitchen (building works etc) so we've got out of the habit of them pottering about helping, because temporary kitchen was tiny and badly laid out.

BrownSauceSandwich Sat 04-Jan-14 19:49:41

Buffy, having read your later post, I wonder how much support you get from your OH on the cooking front. Does he do any of the meal planning or cooking? Does he thank you, or compliment you for what you serve up? On the one hand, he should be reassuring you that you're doing a great job, and on the other, he should be setting the right example for the kids.

If your husband is on side, then the two of you can set and enforce a rule that "if you don't like it, don't eat it, but don't bloody comment on it/moan about it/screw your face up at it." If your husband is part of the problem, sweep all the plates off the table, grab your coat and bag, and walk out leaving him to sort it out.

DancingLady Sat 04-Jan-14 19:52:22

I feel your pain. Sounds like their fussiness is more about control and rebellion rather than food - not sure that's any help. Seems like they are asserting themselves by rejecting things they used to enjoy.

Tbh sounds like you're doing everything right! Some good advice on this thread, and while it is heartbreaking for you try not to let them see it's upsetting you so much.

wigglybeezer Sat 04-Jan-14 19:54:03

Nobody is listening to the poor OP, her kids don't have 5 favourite meals, they shrug when she asks them what they want to eat.

I don't actually think rice, peas and egg is that unbalanced a meal, feed them that a couple of nights, pasta sometimes and if they eat cheese and biscuits with cherry tomatoes give them that sometimes or a sandwich with fruit and a big glass of milk. Occasionally give them a small taster portion of what you and your DH are having and reward them if they try it.

I have heard of worse,a boy who was at playgroup with DS one would only eat custard creams and drink milk, I saw him the other day, he is now a strapping six footer.

Brown DH is a terrible cook. He used to have serious food issues as a child and while he eats a balanced diet now and has no issues, he just has no interest. He will cook, but it makes him very stressed and often things go badly wrong. We're talking things on fire. He doesn't do any of the meal planning, but will shop if asked.

He is supportive in theory, and is getting better at remembering to thank me for the meal. It does feel as though I'm fighting this battle and he's a bystander wishing me well. Without wanting to make excuses (check out my name!) I think it's lack of awareness rather than deliberate attempt to shirk. I have spoken to him about the problem in the past and will be doing so again.

So he's both on my side (in theory) and part of the problem (albeit not on purpose).

Make their favourite meal one night each on the condition the whole family eats it.

The other nights, make other meals.

If they dont eat it, simply keep them at the table til you are done (withput forcing them to eat) and all get down together. Nothing else for them to eat.

They will soon get sick of going hungry.

Monetbyhimself Sat 04-Jan-14 19:56:00

I have one fantastic eater. And 2 fussy ones. I have simplified what I cook because life us just too short for food battles at every meal. My fussy ones have an issue with foods being 'mixed' so I 'll do something like a pasta with bacon bits or chorizo with lots of veg in a cheesy sauce. They'll eat loads of pasta, loads of bacon but I just put a small amount if sauce on the side and timy portions of veg. Say a teaspoon of peas which they might eat half off at a push. I guess to use a poncey term a lot of what they have is 'deconstructed'
I think from the foods yours DO eat, they have a fair variety but I do inderstand the frustration of being limited in what you cook. I've chosen not to fight the battle anymore. My ultra fussy cousin (chips and beans for EVERY meal) is now a chef.....

Maryz Sat 04-Jan-14 19:58:08

Buffy, if it's any consolation after 9 years you are on the home straight.

Soon they will be teenagers and eat the contents of the fridge three times a day (with snacks in between).

Hang in there, cook what you enjoy, let them eat crap whatever they will from it.

In other words - give up, stop fighting. They might (just might) start eating. And if they don't, they won't die of starvation, or get stunted growth. If you are genuinely worried about their health get some vitamin pills.

PoppySeed2014 Sat 04-Jan-14 19:58:13

Op, I don't havd much advice to add but wanted to offer my sympathy. My Mum could have written your post when I was your dc's age. I mainly ate baked beans and fruit for ages!
I now eat pretty much anything. I grew out if the fussiness. Most people do. Your dc will be fine, you're clearly doing your best and I hope you can just keep going!

I'd like to give you some cake

Foxy800 Sat 04-Jan-14 19:59:20

My 7 year old is very fussy so I do a meal planner every week and if she doesnt eat it she doesnt get pudding etc.

BrownSauceSandwich Sat 04-Jan-14 19:59:25

Maybe you need a code word to prompt him to a) say the right thing, or b) pull the kids up for saying the wrong thing. I get that it's not malice on his part, but if he finds it a bit abstract, he needs to work that bit harder on his own good habits so that he models good behaviour to the kids.

Back2Basics Sat 04-Jan-14 20:01:43

I know it's probably not the done thing anymore but have you tried bribery OP?

Favourite cakes, ice cream, jelly, banana splits, crumbles ect if they eat food you know they like until they decided they didn't like it. Then once they're back in the habit of eating a variety of food make the puddings more healthy an take a more tough shit I know you like this you ate it last Friday approach.

Thank you Maryz

If I'm honest what gets to me the most is the fact that I seem to waste so much of my time on food for them to just turn up their noses at it.

My thinking with the one easy meal was that it would be quick and mindless and therefore I wouldn't feel so cross.

My mantra should be "don't get frustrated" repeat ad infinitum.

And I should make sure the fridge is stocked with fruit, cheese, oatcakes etc so they can graze healthily.

Yes (I'm talking to myself now, it's calming grin) my twin goals are:

1) dc have access to a healthy, balanced diet

2) I become less frustrated about the whole thing

lougle Sat 04-Jan-14 20:05:07

Ok, I was posting in a hurry.

The reason I say 'rice eggs and peas' isn't a balanced meal is that the main bulk of calories will be coming from the rice, which is refined (if you use white rice), with a small amount of vitamins from the peas, and a little protein from the egg.

The calorie content would be around 400 calories. That means that they would need to have 1400 calories from breakfast and lunch to be eating enough calories each day.

Can you sit down with them and discuss what they'd like to eat, allocating days that you choose, then days they'll choose. At first you could have one 'spag bol' day, one chicken in breadcrumbs day, one pasta day, etc.

ConstantCraving Sat 04-Jan-14 20:05:26

Buffy your suggestion is sensible and that meal is just fine. Wish my 4 yr old DD would eat it! She's on SUCH a limited diet that I can only dream of her eating that well. However, a paediatrician told me that the most important thing is that she gets calories and to NOT make an issue of it. I told him that she was pretty much on a fishfinger and pasta diet and he said; 'so keep giving her that!'. My DS was a dream to feed and I stupidly thought it was because I was a great parent - wrong. He was just an easy child. I could do the 'eat it up or no pudding' - and he would. My DD is completely different. We stress too much, as others have said - they do grow out of it. So don't worry.

earlyriser Sat 04-Jan-14 20:05:33

Years ago a very wise mumsnetter said, on a similar thread "your responsibility is to provide nutritious meals, it is your children's responsibility to eat them'
Provide the meal, remove if uneaten, do not rise to the bait!

defineme Sat 04-Jan-14 20:07:02

So your dh was the same? He's a fine healthy adult that eats normally now?
Then step away from the drama. Ignore their food. Talk to your dh over dinner, ask the kids about their day, put the radio on, talk about anything other than the food. Metaphorically pu your fingers in your ears and say la la la. Eat your food later and let dh sit at the table with them whilst you wash up/go for a run. If they complain they're hungry later ignore them having replied quietly that there's nothing but fruit til breakfast.

Whether they eat or not, you'll be calmer. It's not far on you to be so stressed.

Lilacroses Sat 04-Jan-14 20:07:45

Get them cooking a bit? My Dd (11) does loads of cooking and can now do dinner for us with a bit of help lifting things and turning things on an off. She has friends round that are apparently "really fussy" and they eat EVERYTHING they cook. Not being smug. I promise. Dd can be just as annoying in her response to my "what do you fancy for tea?" so that I regret asking but I have found that this has helped hugely in her appreciation of what it takes to put a meal together and her willingness to try whatever is put in front of her.

dingit Sat 04-Jan-14 20:09:59

I feel your pain. Dd15 eats anything. Ds12 is a fussy little git and always has been. Going against what everyone else says, I cook what he wants. He will eat a roast, sausage and mash and spag Bol at a push. Other days, he eats a rotation of pizza ( with crunchie veg on side), fish fingers, chicken goujons and sweet corn, all easy dishes that get bunged in the oven with ours. His loss, as we eat some nice dishes smile

Maryz Sat 04-Jan-14 20:12:21

See, the frustration is why I would give up.

Why do it to yourself? Seriously, why?

It's not encouraging them to eat, it's driving yourself round the bend.

Give them what they will eat. Sneak in a bit of extra iron (steak/sausages), some vitamin c (juice/fruit), milk (chocolate milk if necessary).

Make nice food for yourself and your dh and let them eat the plain bits (pasta, rice, whatever). They might surprise you - it's hard for them to argue with you if you don't argue with them. Don't give them choices. Once a week or so say "if there is anything you would like me to buy/cook let me know" - and leave it at that.

Maryz Sat 04-Jan-14 20:13:14

And what earlyriser says.

your responsibility is to provide nutritious meals, it is your children's responsibility to eat them


earlyriser Sat 04-Jan-14 20:15:28

I suspect it was you who uttered those very words Maryz :-)

LoveBeingCantThinkOfAName Sat 04-Jan-14 20:17:04

I go for you have to try everything on your plate if you don't like it don eat it, but mine are 5 &2.

If I were you I would do the meal you want, making sue theres veg they like and see how it goes. No snacks and fruit/yogurt for afters.

I don't think it will last that long, could you get the lder one on side?

Maryz Sat 04-Jan-14 20:18:01

No, it wasn't.

I wish it was though. I used to worry about so many things when mine were little. And it was such a waste of time, energy and mental effort grin

harriet247 Sat 04-Jan-14 20:21:16

Cant agree more maryz and earlyriser - it was very much take it or leave it when I was small and I do the same to dd. Its also about manners here I think, I would never dared turned my nose up at tea when I was small because my mum would beatthecrapoutofus be upset.

Lougle I use brown rice, despite their preference for white <evil cackle>

In fact, the one thing we sail through is breakfast: we will have things like scrambled eggs, pancakes, home made cinnamon rolls, fruit, porridge and juice made from fruit. Not all at the same time! And our reliance on eggs at breakfast means my eggy rice idea is no good, hadn't thought of that sad

It's the evening meal that's the problem. It has a script: whatever I serve (unless roast or chicken in breadcrumbs) we will sit down, dc will poke the food I've served, ask what it is (even though they know full well). I will tense and say, trying to sound calm "this is what there is, if you don't want it that's fine, just eat what you want but don't complain please".

Usually they will just eat the broccoli (which is the only veg I can rely on to be eaten) and maybe a bit of potato or a carrot or two and leave the rest. I will feel a combination of furious that they've done it again and irritated with myself for allowing the same thing to happen and for showing them that they've got to me.

Don't get me wrong, they're good kids, no behaviour issues or anything. We all get on well, we treat each other with respect. It's just this maddening pattern in the evening!

flashheartscanoe Sat 04-Jan-14 20:22:27

You have my every sympathy- my kids are similar ages and exactly the same. My eldest is a brilliant eater so I dont think its my fault. We dont do separate meals but We do kid versions of our food- eg, Pasta without the sauce, plain fish and veg. There are rules- eg they must eat a bit of protein and veg at every meal but thats it. They eat raw carrots if hungry.
My much younger sister was the same- she ate 3 meals as a kid. She is now a brilliant 28 year old who is a real foodie. Just give them a boring healthy diet and dont sweat it.

Dollslikeyouandme Sat 04-Jan-14 20:24:55

It sounds as though you're doing things the right way, I'd have said offer them their tea and if they don't eat it, nothing else afterwards.

I wouldn't just do a couple of meals as this is just giving in and reinforcing their bad habit.

I'd perhaps offer them a smaller portion of what you've made, so that it doesn't look so overwhelming for them, and so that you don't have so much waste.

I'd let them chose their favourite meals once or twice a week, and the rest of the time make whatever you wish, no snacking for them beforehand, and if they don't eat it tough.

Also, things perhaps you could try, make salad with everything? Different bits but nice and colourful, a bowl of salad always looks tempting and is nutritious and can go with most foods.

Could you do like a buffet style meal say on the weekend, jacket spuds, cooked meats, salads, cheese, eggs, cold pasta or cous cous, and stick some different foods in that they might try, or you could do an Indian or Chinese buffet, might encourage them to try new things?

Will they eat lasagne, jacket spuds, chilli, spaghetti Bol, burgers, usually child friendly foods that can be bulked up with veg, you could even add some different veg to your rice.

And of course keep getting them to cook, would they make a pizza with you or something like that, not the healthiest but may grab their interest in cooking?

Good luck

earlyriser Sat 04-Jan-14 20:29:55

Buffy, what do they have for lunches?
My son is just not that interested in dinner, he will eat a lot at breakfast time (sometimes asks for a third breakfast) and eats most of his packed lunch. I think come dinner time he just isn't that hungry, and tired too. Might that be the case with your children?

desertgirl Sat 04-Jan-14 20:30:22

Goodness, the people who think there is an easy answer don't have my kids...... Who would (do) eat nothing rather than something they don't like, who have limited ranges of what is acceptable (they don't like sweets, with very limited exceptions, it isn't just healthy food they object to!), who aren't persuadable by promises of dessert (don't usually want that either).

It is very frustrating. I massively praise trying new things, and occasionally one will actually like something new... But you can't keep cooking for the bin, it is soul destroying as well as wasteful. Hang on in there.....

Dollslikeyouandme Sat 04-Jan-14 20:31:03

Oh and mostly just try not to worry.

I'm sure that they won't starve themselves, and chance are they'll grow out of it.

Don't get mad or let them see its an issue to you, stick to your guns and if they moan they're hungry just respond with 'well you should've eaten your tea'.

I was a fussy eater as a child, I pretty much refused to eat during the day at school, but I grew out of it and now eat almost anything,

DoItTooJulia Sat 04-Jan-14 20:31:44

You're getting great advice from Maryz and earlyriser.

One tack would be bribe them. Not the best parenting technique i can think of, but I bet it'd work. Yummy puddings if they eat up some tea?

Another would to be serve whatever you're having with a roast potato, say You say, see there is something you do like and some normal dinner in your plate. Eat up a bit of both.

I probably wouldn't do either. I've got a fussy-ish eater and we are veggie, so I worry about him getting a nutritious diet. In the end the ultra fussiness was cut down to fussy-ish by offering the same meals we were eating every day and agreeing what amount was acceptable for him to eat. I used to use the pudding bribe too.

Good luck. It's a horrible place to be in.

MrsCampbellBlack Sat 04-Jan-14 20:31:53

Fussy children are soul destroying - I know. The best advice I got was to take the emotion out of mealtimes.

So I put stuff in serving dishes, meat/fish veg/salad etc and just ask that they taste a little of everything bu they don't have to eat it all.

Also, if your children eat a good breakfast - well my eldest who is my 'fussy' one eats a great breakfast, simple lunch and small supper but from much reading on this subject - this is a pretty healthy way of eating so I now just go with it.

JackyJax Sat 04-Jan-14 20:33:32

Buffy I can relate to you massively. I have 3 children and resent menu planning, shopping, cooking , food being rejected, then having to clear it all away. Then the next night it's the same thing. Tonight in fact I resigned from being the cook! I bloody hate it! And it is such a waste of time, money and effort. Mine used to eat anything and are getting worse.

We have lots of playmates at our house and the other kids always eat my food so I know it's not my cooking. I even signed up for menus4mums which is great in terms of convenience but mine hated all the food!

Like you , I've thought a lot about this and also don't let my children eat too many snacks, etc, etc

My life would be much easier if I could just serve cereal and a banana for dinner every night!

I completely feel your pain.

Chunderella Sat 04-Jan-14 20:36:19

Do they eat roasts if you serve them?

Thanks JackyJax I resent menu planning, shopping, cooking , food being rejected, then having to clear it all away. Then the next night it's the same thing

That is exactly, exactly how I feel. I know that broadly they do OK for nutrition. They eat enough, and it's reasonably healthy. What gets to me is the utter lack of respect for the time I've spent on the things you describe.

I have a demanding job and a PhD thesis due in the summer. Yet they treat my efforts and time spent with such contempt! I know, I know, that's just what kids do.

Maryz and earlyriser are right. I do need to detach from the problem, to stop letting it get to me. But at the moment I am struggling to do this, even though I know I must! <howl>

ChasedByBees Sat 04-Jan-14 20:42:07

Could you make a set load of meals in advance and freeze them? For example, if they eat tomato sauce/bolognaise with pasta, I'd make a batch load of bolognaise sauce. Fill it with sneaky veg, grated carrot (to the point where it's unidentifiable), celery (ditto) and mushrooms and freeze in individual portions.

Then all you have to do is shove on some pasta and heat through one portion of accompanying sauce, served with broccoli on the side. Very little effort.

Could you think about other meals they will eat that just require reheating? My freezer is currently full of calorie laden cheese sauces in individual portions for a similar reason.

That way you could rotate a few meals with minimal effort a few nights a week and put the effort into serving new food to be ignored only about two nights a week.

Chunderella yes, they do eat roasts. And I probably serve them twice a week. But, they are relatively expensive and also time consuming in terms of prep work, even though most stuff cooks by just sitting in the oven. Plus, there's often leftovers, which I make into stews, risottos and such like. Which they poke and say "what's that?" grin

MrsCampbellBlack Sat 04-Jan-14 20:43:00

You do need to take the emotion out of it - its hard I know.

I also found it easier when it was stuff I'd made in advance and the de-frosted, eg, cottage pie - seemed less of a rejection if it was out of the freezer rather than if I'd just spent 3 hours making it.

Yes chased I do do this. There are batched cooked portions of tomato and bol sauce in the freezer. As well as breaded chicken portions made by me.

So I can make two or three meals an evening (because ds and dd like different pasta accompaniments). And sometimes I do. But I don't want to because it's even more effort and makes me even more annoyed.

FunkyBoldRibena Sat 04-Jan-14 20:52:04

Give them the broccoli on a plate and the rest of the roast/dinner gets put in dishes for people to serve themselves. Make no comment and chat with your husband about the weather, work etc. At least if they don't eat it then you can reuse it in leftover meals the next day.

I often say this on here but my brother mostly ate meat and potatoes for most of his childhood and he grew up to be a chef and has cooked for the queen. I gave up trying tactics with DSD as she hated everything so I have the stuff she will eat and just do veg for her with that.

I often wonder what would happen if you gave these kids a heinz baby food jar with a spoon and told them that they weren't grown up enough for the roast dinner yet.

Liara Sat 04-Jan-14 20:53:09

TBH it sounds like they are just not that hungry at dinnertime.

I have this often with my dc. DH and I are very much a large dinner not much the rest of the day people, whereas the dc seem to be able to eat their body weight at breakfast and then decreasing amounts during the day (while still seeming to snack constantly!).

My solution is to cook what dh and I want at dinner, let the dc eat whatever they will then and then serve them the same thing at lunch the day after. Saves me feeling like I am providing 16 meals a day, and goes with their eating patterns (which some say are in any case healthier than eating a big meal last thing).

Maryz Sat 04-Jan-14 20:54:23

It's soul-destroying, isn't it, day after day after fucking day.

And it isn't just the mealtimes. It's the shopping, and the cooking and the decision making that leads to the mealtimes.


And yet (in the greater scheme of things) sooooo unimportant.

When you are an old woman like me, and you look back on your children's childhoods, you are unlikely to think "I should have made them eat better".

because there will be so many more important things that you have fucked up and now regret


So to conclude: IABU but damn I feel better about it now grin

earlyriser Sat 04-Jan-14 20:57:21

It is my son who is the fussiest (but paradoxically is the one who will more often choose the healthier option). So I give him a variation of what theddst of us are having (this doesn't always go down well with dd, but she is much less stubborn!)
But I know he has eaten well the rest of the day so I just go with what he likes.
I agree totally with JackyJax, the whole havingto think about what to make day after day is utterly soul destroying.

Chunderella Sat 04-Jan-14 20:57:42

Roasts are time consuming when you first prep them, but I'd say you can then do a second roast type meal quickly. For example rather than risotto, stew etc with leftover meat, maybe you could get a slightly bigger bird or joint so there's enough for a roast on the second night, and instead of roast potatoes do mash? it doesn't take too long to boil up some spuds and broccoli. A roast is a relatively dear meal, but then you could perhaps stick to chicken and pork which are cheaper. Also have you thought about roasting a load of chicken legs and thighs, serving them in the same way as you would a roast (so gravy rather than rice or salad)? Maybe that would work? Could even do enough for two nights so again it would give you an easy cook night on the second day.

minibmw2010 Sat 04-Jan-14 20:59:42

Stop all snacks, everything. No crackers, no tomatoes, no fruit or yoghurt if they don't want dinner. Nothing extra at all while at home and ignoring your food. I have a DS who is only 2.5 but the only way he'll eat at all (just no interest in food) is to limit snacks. At their age they know full well there is fruit if they don't eat dinner, so nothing else at all for them! If they go to bed hungry, tough! It won't kill them for a while. It'll be a battle of wills but even if it takes a week, 2 weeks then stand your ground. Good luck.

Spottybra Sat 04-Jan-14 21:05:34

I feel your pain. I have 2 easy nights a week that coincide after a late activity football and swimming when we arrive home after 6pm. My easy ones that they eat are risotto, fish fingers, poached or pan fried fish, and pizza.

Currently they won't eat risotto or fresh fish but I keep trying.

Weirdly they also dislike soup.

They refuse what I put out the other 5 nights so they go hungry until supper.

Yes Chunderella is suppose I could do that. I tend to make stock from whatever I've roasted, so I could just make an enormous vat of gravy and freeze portions. Do roast potatoes (they like them done in olive oil and garlic as well) and veg. Every day. For ever more.

Isn't that essentially my original suggestion of taking away the soul destroying planning cycle by only cooking one thing, albeit a somewhat more complex dish?

thornrose Sat 04-Jan-14 21:09:26

Ah Buffy I feel your pain. My dd is 14 and she has such a limited range of foods it's laughable (or cry able!)

She has had favourites which she has then gone off reducing her "repertoire" even further, SO frustrating.

Dd is wearing clothes appropriate size for her age, she has energy, she shows no signs of being malnourished, she is NEVER ill so apparently has a great immune system.

I've come to the conclusion that for her, food is fuel, no more, no less. I love food, she isn't really interested sad

At the moment she has pasta with my home made tomato sauce, jacket potato with beans and cheese, fish fingers and wedges, roast dinner and W Indian chicken dishes plus rice and peas and plantain. She will also have a very specific brand of pizza occasionally. Packed lunches tend to be Philadelphia cheese sandwiches, fruit and a biscuit. Breakfast is chocolate croissant or toast, occasionally pancakes or cooked breakfast at weekends.

She has never eaten red meat (except curry goat) she hates minced meat so spag Bol, Lasagna etc are off the menu. Food does not give her comfort or pleasure and as hard as that is for me to accept, that is how it is!

earlyriser Sat 04-Jan-14 21:13:01

I also have one day of the week where they choose what to eat.'whatever they want'- sometimes this is 20p noodles, sometimes shreddies, but more often than not it is porridge. I love those nights :-)

LedareAnsley Sat 04-Jan-14 21:14:39

I'd be dubious about the amount of protein in rice, egg and peas.

But I've come across something similar when I worked in a special school where most children had autism and food issues. Baked potato, beans and cheese were on the menu every single day.

I lived on that myself for the best part of two years as an evening meal back when it was a cheap option.

thornrose Sat 04-Jan-14 21:15:57

LedareAnsley, spot on, my dd has AS grin

LedareAnsley Sat 04-Jan-14 21:16:24

Didn't RTTF, I see the protein issue has been addressed, sorry.

Maryz Sat 04-Jan-14 21:19:52

ds1 has AS too.

He is a really good cook, can cook loads of things. But day after day he cooks himself a stirfry, with the same ingredients. I think he gets comfort from eating the same thing every day.

Anja1Cam Sat 04-Jan-14 21:21:58

OP I see exactly where you're coming from. I could scream at times. Refusing things they enjoyed last time. My two (6 and 9) are very similar to what you describe, and it is so frustrating to cook a nice family meal and find most uneaten and picked over. The only concession I make is a separate helping of veg they will eat, like broccoli or peas, carrots only if raw... I don't cook challenging stuff but it's not bolognese or pizza all the way either. I try very hard not to make an issue, they eat what they want, for example painstakingly scraping offending veg (leek) off the chicken stir-fry last night... and do get dessert regardless, most usually that will be yogurt anyway. I'm trying my hardest to avoid battles over food. Both are of fairly lean build, and especially the older one eats the tiniest meals except for a fairly substantial breakfast.

One night a week they get what they like best, usually a simple version of pasta bake and DH and me eat something very different later. But the rest of the week we stick to meals round the table and I try not to get too frustrated. At least I still have dh who appreciates my efforts. But do persevere, just last week I threw together leek soupand I should have made doubledouble they liked it despite being fully aware what it contained!! And it was green too grin

So I have no advice really, just wanted to let you know you're not alone. We just have to persevere and hope for the best. School dinners I wonder if they eat anything but pasta and cheese, even packed lunches sometimes come back mostly unbeaten. I don't know how they do it, they are definitely not filling up on snacks though.

thornrose Sat 04-Jan-14 21:23:48

Yes Maryz, I think it's about control and just, familiarity?

My dd tried something new the other day and she did a whole body shudder like babies do grin

LedareAnsley Sat 04-Jan-14 21:26:15

I have autism and so does DS. I have eaten the same two or three evening meals for ten years although I love thinking about / reading about food and cooking like your son Maryz.

DC and I eat a lot of fruit.

I'm always recommending this book to people with children on the spectrum. It is so validating.

BranchingOut Sat 04-Jan-14 21:26:50

Glad you are feeling better - I just try to remain a bit 'zen' about the whole matter of eating. 'You can take a horse to water...'

So could it look like this?

Sunday - roast
Monday - roast mark II (reheat veg in oven plus fresh broccoli smile)
Tuesday - pasta at your Mum's
Wednesday - rice, egg and peas meal
Thursday - roast
Friday - roast mark II (as before)
Saturday - something that they help to cook?

Ragusa Sat 04-Jan-14 21:28:37

I feel your pain op. One thing I have done with my fussy one is make it absolutely crystal clear to her that she is not allowed to make rude comments about food provided ('it's disgusting' etc). I had a really stern talk about it, how hurtful and unacceptable and impolite it was. It has now mostly stopped and my stress levels have fallen smile Other than that, no ideas, sorry!

Could eithher of them be anaemic as this can impact appetite.


bellybuttonfairy Sat 04-Jan-14 21:28:53

I havent read the whole thread. But arent you doing ok? Your job is to put healthy food on thd table, not to make them eat it.

The secret is not to worry.

Your children with thrive with breakfast and lunch per day only. Stress around meal times is the big nono.

Make some nice tea. Sit at the table and shrug if they eat nothing.

If they are hungry - say you cant be we just had dinner, look confused and shrug!

Dont be afraid of hunger - its not harmful - infact its good and gives the desire to eat. We have lost the ability to be hungry, source food and become very very hungry and then finally eat.

So make any dinner, if they eat - great, if they dont - great. They will soon sort it out themselves!

thornrose Sat 04-Jan-14 21:29:45

That book looks great. Interesting how I said dd gets no pleasure or comfort from eating and that was virtually the first sentence in the book. Good to know my instincts are right.

LedareAnsley Sat 04-Jan-14 21:34:47

I wish more people knew about it. I also suspect that, like me, DS doesn't actually know when he is hungry. I'm always having to prompt him but then I forget that I haven't eaten since midnight the night before at six in the evening blush

Shockers Sat 04-Jan-14 21:35:49

Use wholegrain rice and change (or add) one ingredient at a time, substitute the peas for chopped up fine beans for instance... add tuna/sweetcorn to the whole dish, until you've built up more variety. Then change the rice for something like new potatoes.

Rome wasn't built in a day wink.

KenAdams Sat 04-Jan-14 21:36:56

Make a list and make them choose something. Get them to help cook it. That will stop the "what's this" question. Make them make different parts of the meal, so rather than offend you if they won't try it, they will be offending their sibling, who no doubt will take offence at that grin

Maryz Sat 04-Jan-14 21:38:36

Though to be fair, he did eat anything when he was smaller and will eat anything anyone else cooks, he just tends to stick to the same thing when he is doing it.

When mine were young, I used to give them proper dinner as soon as they came in from school, as they were hungry then, and dh and I ate much later.

They would then have a small snack before bed.

I found that they were hungry when they came in. If they had a snack to keep them going, they were much pickier by the time tea-time proper came around.

I used to have set meals on set days when they were at school too - they all seemed to like knowing that Monday was stew, Tuesday was spagbog, Wednesday some sort of chicken, Thursday stir-fry, Friday crap from the freezer, Saturday roast chicken and Sunday whatever we could find. It was like that for years.

ImperialBlether Sat 04-Jan-14 21:41:33

Do they have school lunches, OP?

Chunderella Sat 04-Jan-14 21:43:14

I'd say it's a watered down version of your OP suggestion buffy. Not cooking the same thing every day, but variations on a couple of themes. You could perhaps do roast pork on Sunday and Monday and chicken two other days, to get some variation there. And a second veg alongside the broccoli. BranchingOut's menu sounds pretty good. Ok not the most varied in the world, but pretty good given the constraints on you. Or, if they have a roast during the week at your mum's too, you could do one or two more nights of pasta or rice dishes instead.

The idea of a vat of gravy is very appealing to my northern self, I would like to sneak into said vat and roll around in it. Actually, one of my cousins was a fussy eater as a kid and eventually they worked out he'd eat a wider variety of foods if they were covered in copious quantities of gravy (also northern). So maybe more common than you'd think!

starlight1234 Sat 04-Jan-14 21:44:59

I may of missed your children have school lunches? My Ds has school dinners and will have beans on toast, picnic teas and these include sandwhich, fruit cheese on same plate..

My Ds would go through periods of not eating pre school and I have to say cutting out snacks made him get out the habbit of eating..seemed to make him worse..

I can imagine how frustrating it must be but my worry about same meal is if they go off that where do you go...

A healthy diet is based over a week, make sure they are getting a balance of protiens, fruit and veg over the week...It can be with raw carrots and dips if they will eat that...From how stressed you sound through posts it sounds like dinner time is a battle of wills...

Oh Ken they know exactly what it is! The "what's this" is to express their horror that I could possibly imagine that they could bring themselves to eat it grin

So, plans include:

Hide frustration better Be more Zen about the whole thing

Serve more roasts and recycled roasts

Save on mental energy by having regular meals on regular days

Vary things for adults by doing kids a proper meal when they get in and cooking something nice for me and DH later. Sort of a Date Night wink<squirm>

NiceTabard Sat 04-Jan-14 21:50:49

Not read whole lot, sorry.

They do sound like they're winding you up a bit, I think.


They will eat a roast. So meat, roast pots, veg (assuming brocolli!) and gravy. Good meal, which you are doing twice a week to keep them happy.

leftovers - we do cold meat, I do too many roast pots so I can slice them and shallow fry them. They can't object to that surely (although knowing kids maybe they will). Serve with salad - they apparently approve of cherry tomatoes. Mine really like beetroot. Good plan is to have bits and pieces (we have got into marinated artichokes recently) so people can take what they want so grown ups can have loads of salads pickles etc and kids have what they want. Maybe something like that would work? Don't know if it's something you do. My grandparents and parents all ate like that usually lunchtimes like a picnic and kids seem to like it.

Then we do the same the next day as well blush so the roast goes 3 days then we're onto something else.

I suspect you have probably tried this stuff. It sounds like a nightmare & it sound like you are doing everything right. It also sounds like it is becoming a "thing" but if they aren't too thin and they aren't too fat & they're getting vitamins carbs protein you know the usual then even if it is repetitive they will be fine I'm sure.

the fact that they eat what they are given at GPs is the kicker.

pandarific Sat 04-Jan-14 21:51:02

I do think it may be a family dynamics/control thing with them. (My dsis was the same, which is why I'm giving this interpretation btw.) Being a little kid means you have no control over anything in your life, it's all with adults - but you can refuse food, which upsets/angers your parents. I think 100% the dc know how food refusal makes you feel.

It's not exactly malicious, more a boundary testing/power struggle thing. Anyway, do think about this interpretation and see if there are any good books about it? Also, sounds like dd is the ringleader and ds is following her. Can you divide and conquer somehow?

I can't imagine how frustrating it is for you btw - enraging!

Maryz Sat 04-Jan-14 21:51:22

Date night in front of tv/mumsnet.

Not too datey shock

<slides vat of gravy towards Chunderella>

Sorry, several people have asked about school dinners. They used to have them but much prefer packed lunches. I'd prefer them to have school dinners, but my mum used to force me to have them and school used to force me to eat everything, to the point of me actually vomiting a couple of times sad so I am reluctant to make them.

I compromise I've mooted is they they go through the school menu and have dinners 2/3 days per week, with packed lunches on the other 2/3 days. I think I will start this when they go back next week. Will be another way of reducing the pressure on me.

earlyriser Sat 04-Jan-14 21:52:42

Sounds like ds Chunderella, a vat of homous also helps many a vegetable go down. Although i'm not so keen on the green bits left behind after he has dipped the broccoli in...

grin Maryz the squirm was at the awfulness of the "Date Night" concept

NiceTabard Sat 04-Jan-14 21:55:04

Cold roast meat and fried sliced roast pots (aka like chips but nicer) with branston is one of the most delicious things in the world ever. You would be a fool not to try it wink

Maryz Sat 04-Jan-14 21:55:50

I know.


dh might think I had expectations [horror]

CaterpillarCara Sat 04-Jan-14 21:57:06

Just a thought - when you say you make plain, simple food - could that be the problem? My children eat "plain, simple" food very poorly - they like stuff that is really flavoursome. It took me a while to realise this as I had this automatic assumption that for kids plainer was better.

So tonight they had chicken fajitas with the chicken marinated in lime juice, cumin, coriander and oregano. It was served with peppers and red onions, lettuce and a fresh tomato salsa. They ate well. If I'd served chicken in tortillas without all that flavour, they would barely have touched them.

Likewise, I used to just serve grilled pork and they sneered at it. But if I "schnitzel" it with breadcrumbs and paprika, then they will eat it.

This may not be the case for you, but I thought it worth a mention.

slightlyglitterstained Sat 04-Jan-14 21:58:36

If you have portions in the freezer ready for heating, can you just make them get something out & stick it in the microwave/oven a couple of days a week while you sit down with a cuppa?

If it's something that needs a fresh accompaniment like pasta then you can drain that for them. But they're well old enough to reheat stuff.

thornrose Sat 04-Jan-14 22:00:29

That's a good point Caterpillar, texture and strong flavours tend to be avoided where children are concerned. Some children crave that over traditional "children's food".

It may be a control thing, but I'm not sure. I am actually of the belief that children should make decisions about their lives as much as is practical and sensible. Consequently, I am not an authoritarian parent, though I take no shit. Both dc are independent minded, and I'm happy that they are. I just wish they'd be less picky and rude about the food I make. And yes to whoever posted this, we also have a no rude comments rule grin

Gluezilla Sat 04-Jan-14 22:02:45

OP change tack - What would you like for dinner ?
Cook that and enjoy it.
Your DC are very rude to ask you what the food is when they know full well- I would give them the look hmm and ignore.
Seriously what do you want for dinner - shop for it, cook it and enjoy it smile
Role model eating and enjoying food in front of your DC and stop worrying so much - they are playing you !

It's plain as in traditional fare, rather than bland Caterpillar. Ds used to help to prepare and then eat with gusto things like Thai green curry. Dd, not so much.

And I agree Nice I love cold meat and fried roasties. Dc however: <poke> "what's this?"

NiceTabard Sat 04-Jan-14 22:04:03

Do you try meals apart from the roasts where they are able to choose what they want? Rather than it's already mixed in / dished up IYKWIM.

NiceTabard Sat 04-Jan-14 22:05:10

NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO they are winding you up they know full well what cold roast meat and a fried pot looks like!

Out of ideas, sorry.

Glare at them?

Gluezilla Sat 04-Jan-14 22:05:27

Then reply " Its your dinner" and ignore .
Any further rudeness and they would be upstairs and early to bed with no dinner .THE END

You're probably right sad cold meat and fried roasties with salad it is then Gluezilla <rubs hands in anticipation>

Letting them select from serving dishes? I do this with a full roast and also I sometimes do one of those Waitrose chinese meals that you part cook part heat.

I suppose I could do everything in serving dishes and let them just pick what they want.

Really, the actual consequence for them winding me up about food (for I now see that this is what they are doing, the gits) is for me to say right then, if that's the way you feel I am no longer prepared to give this my time and effort. There's the fridge. Said fridge stocked with healthy stuff they can prepare for themselves.

pandarific Sat 04-Jan-14 22:09:33

That was me - not implying this is in any way your fault or anything, just saying it's a possible interpretation as they're testing their boundaries and undermining you as a parent as it's a way of asserting control over themselves in a 'grown up' way. Just a thought that possibly that could be the root of it as you mentioned they know full well what the dish is, but make a point to ask etc.

Maryz Sat 04-Jan-14 22:12:43

Serving dishes? What are they?

Are they those things that have to be washed?

They are extra bowls that have to be bunged into the dishwasher Maryz

Tbh putting four extra items in the dw is a small price to pay for not having this mental anguish every day.

tis all Wifework shit really sad angry

Gluezilla Sat 04-Jan-14 22:17:08

It doesn't solve the problem of family meals OP.
Do you really want everyone in the family to be cooking at different times of the day?
Cook the dinner, dont rise to their rudeness- remove them from the table if they persist, no pandering or explaining what the food is ( they know)and enjoy your own dinner.

NiceTabard Sat 04-Jan-14 22:20:15

Well with the cold meat + spuds + salad combo I stick out some beetroot in a bowl + some supermarket type pkts coleslaw / artichokes / sundried toms / whatever & a basic chunky mixed salad (pickable) and we all help ourselves. They go back in the fridge so no extra washing up etc. It gives them more of a choice which seems to work. Mine are little though. And in the week they often eat separately to us. If it works with a roast it might with other things? Dunno. Mine turn their noses up at lots of things at the mo - pasta with sauce, pies so we are having an inordinate amount of roasts and leftovers at the mo! But it's balanced and they eat it & we like it so actually I'm not that fussed.

I do hope you can get somewhere with this it must be driving you up the wall, and you've got such a lot else on!

Glue I do not particularly want people faffing with food at different times, rather I'd prefer we all sat down to a nice meal together.


Provided they clear up any mess they make, I would rather everyone sorted out their own food than treated me like a rather dim witted servant. Goes against some principles I abide by rather strictly in other areas of my life, you know, principles whereby women aren't the ones who do all the domestic shitwork that nobody values.

Seriously though, what am I teaching them at the moment? That it's OK to be rude about someone's work? That it's OK to prioritise their whims over someone else's time?

Aw crap, I don't know. I just want us all to eat healthy stuff and get on with life, you know?

Ragusa Sat 04-Jan-14 22:25:09

What's this? Said with an attitood is just plain rude. Woild you ever dream of saying that to anyone who cooked you a meal?!?!? Would you consider pulling them up more?? Some kids seek food control because they lack control in other areas; some do it simply because they can. I be they would not dream of saying that to a lunchtime supervisor. I am all for giving them choices and not being authoritarian but honestly I think you need to weigh in a bit more. They are treating you badly and need to know it's really unacceptable.

NiceTabard Sat 04-Jan-14 22:28:02

I also do jkt spuds and when I do them I think well I would like to choose toppings so I put them out.

DH thinks I was odd in that I grew up in a family where everything was help yourself / what do you want rather than being dished up. So saucepans on the table and someone going do you want some of this do you want some of that. It's just what I'm used to.

I have had better results with jkt pots when I put out a few bits for them to add themselves rather than doing it for them IYSWIM.

I am aware though that much of this is a "how you were brought up" in terms of eating thing. I remember being really shocked the first time I was at a boyfriend's house and I got my food just all dished up on a plate and that'd what you get! I found it a bit odd. I know DH finds eating at my parent's house a bit odd. Still I think with kids utilising both methods at different times might work. eg they get free rein on the savoury but not on the jam grin

missmapp Sat 04-Jan-14 22:29:18

Ds1 was really fussy with food, the best advice I was given was to cook the one staple he would eat and add small new things to it.

He would eat pasta and cheese, so I would do that and add new things- a small piece of brocoli, then carrot, then chicken- really small.

I would give it to him, not mention the new food, and then let him eat his food.
When he tried the new thing, praise, but not mad over the top.

This worked for us and lots of new things were introduced. No, about 5 yrs later , he eats well and doesnt refuse new foods.

Good luck

Ragusa yes, they are treating me badly. And I do pull them up on it - honestly, I take no shit - but it then feels like I'm always complaining about their behaviour at meal times. This goes against the other very sensible approach, which is to give the impression of not being bothered either way: here's your food, eat it or not.

Which sort of brings me full circle back to where I began, which was asking, out of sheer frustration, if I would be unreasonable to make the same simple, healthy meal every night. To make the point that I am unwilling to make an effort if just results in rudeness and waste. If I did this (and I probably won't, but if I did) the point wouldn't be about their diet (though I would need to ensure they were being adequately nourished) it would be to bore them silly with one dish, so they took notice of why I am so pissed off at the whole situation.

Third option, which is the one I will probably do, is the roast / recycled roast option. Remove most of the effort of planning, shopping, thinking etc and just make things really easy. Remove the problem.

NiceTabard Sat 04-Jan-14 22:38:19

It is removing the effort but it is not a cop out. Roast leftovers + salady bits is a fine balanced meal. For nights when there aren't leftovers egg rice peas is fine.

i agree with others though that if you are going to go that way it would be good to have a couple of night a week where you eat with your DH and can indulge in more interesting foods.

That diet won't do them any harm though.

And if they ask why you aren't eating with them & you say "oh dad & I are a bit tired of this we are having prawns and then lobster thermidore later" that might get them a bit interested grin

Or not. My brother was terribly picky, he lived on bread and butter and jam IIRC. He is now thin as a herring, very tall, and very fit. So, you know. It'll be fine smile

Spermysextowel Sat 04-Jan-14 22:41:34

I'm with the idea that it's a control thing. Their repertoire was a lot broader so whilst it's possible to go off things it seems like they rather enjoy (tho not consciously) winding you up a bit. The whole 'what's this?' question has become the blue touch paper of your evening meal. They know what it is, you know they know & they know you know they know. Your response isn't a calm statement of what it actually is, but a knee-jerk 'this is all there is, you don't have to eat it but don't complain'. As you've said it's all very scripted.

I know it's mentally wearing; in the past I've smashed a plate & thrown soup up the kitchen wall. It got better when I stopped caring so much. Although you will always have friends whose DCs like nothing better than some crostini with tapenade before their smoked haddock roulade (can you tell this was once cited to me as a 7yr old's favourite meal grin ?) there will be others with DCs who will eat nothing but garlic bread & French fries.

I'd usually steer clear of your idea re the repetitive meals but it doesn't seem like the food is your problem. If it gets you off the awful treadmill for a while I'd say give it a try. Since they are ok with your DM & Mil could you try asking them to add something new & see what happens? Or even sneak one of your previously enjoyed meals to them to serve? Tho they may see past your ruse..

Gluezilla Sat 04-Jan-14 22:41:50

I would concentrate on manners rather than constantly change the food you offer.
They are expected to sit at the table at mealtimes, eat without a fuss or if its not to their taste ,politely say they have finished -I would always provide bread on the table BTW
No fuss, no bribery, no denying pudding etc.
If they poke their food or are rude - they are removed.
What you are cooking is not the problem, they are the problem and until they learn manners I would remove them from the table.
You could cook bloody Michelin starred food and they would still poke at it what you are cooking is not the problem its your DC behaviour.

CaterpillarCara Sat 04-Jan-14 22:59:37

Smoked haddock roulade sounds disgusting! But mine love tapenade and it was made for them by my DAD who couldn't cook when I was a kid and has now, apparently, learnt.

Next time someone tells you tapenade is Tarquin's favourite, I suggest you turn your nose up at how salty it is... especially when followed by smoked anything which is also probably salty!

Spermysextowel Sat 04-Jan-14 23:06:26

Ha! Mine love tapenade now at 14 & 16 but it's made for me by a JAR. Hats off to your dad.

Tried to compete by making the roulade thing & turned out like a fishy omelette.

Lesshastemorespeed Sat 04-Jan-14 23:10:38

Buffy yabu, but I totally understand why you're at this point.

try here:

CaterpillarCara Sat 04-Jan-14 23:15:36

To be fair, I think tapenade is not hard. But yeah, I am quite proud of him in a way being so much better with food. He wouldn't even eat anything with vinegar when I was growing up.

Mine will eat rollmops - wonder if that works in the fishy competition stakes. Definitely from a JAR! smile

JackyJax Sat 04-Jan-14 23:16:05

Buffy I could howl at the moon with the frustration of it all- sigh.

You could try the website I mentioned. It's brilliant at cutting down your work load. They email you kid friendly food menu for week, you click button for shopping list to be sent to supermarket, supermarket delivers.

It is a brilliant concept. Unfortunately my children disliked nearly everything- their friends on play dates loved it!

Breakfast is our easiest meal too. Everyone is happy re food at breakfast. But at dinner time the whole show collapses hence my howling at the moon....

JackyJax Sat 04-Jan-14 23:26:29

In my case I don't think it's about kids testing boundaries,etc. At breakfast sometimes I give a choice, sometimes I don't and everyone is happy and eats.

My children used to pull faces like gargoyles when I served dinner, accompanied by howls (family of wolves ;- ). I pulled them up on that so now they sit with normal faces but still don't eat what I serve.

On a side note, I'm beginning to resent lots of my roles in the house-cleaner, cook, housekeeper, etc. The job description of 'mother' needs some work. Op I really do feel for you!

jellyandcake Sun 05-Jan-14 06:20:41

The NHS Birth to Five book basically recommends the approach you suggest in your OP, Buffy. It says when dealing with fussy eaters not to worry about a varied diet but that if you serve up the same few healthy things that they do eat then that's fine.

I have a really fussy three yr old. Finding healthy things he will eat is really difficult. We did blw and for the first year of eating his enthusiasm for all sorts of food was amazing and so much fun. Now he refuses all veg, cheese, eggs, won't eat anything like stew, won't eat anything with mash eg shepherd's pie etc. Only likes fish if it's smoked (therefore really salty) or in the form of fish fingers. Only likes potatoes in the form of chips or roasties. Not very keen on porridge. Gets upset at the whole concept of mealtimes really because he's so busy playing all the time and sees coming to sit up at the table as a resented interruption ("oh no, not DINNER!"). Would be delighted to live off fruit, yoghurt, milk and biscuits. It is so, so frustrating and a highly charged emotional subject!

However, I was a really fussy eater as a child - horribly, horribly picky. I grew out of it and became adventurous with food, love cooking etc. It won't last forever so I would say just reduce the stress as much as you can for yourself.

Toecheese Sun 05-Jan-14 08:02:21

I think you are taking the wrong option sorry.

In your shoes I would stop any snacking and eating between meals completely. Hide the cheese and use the oat biscuits in the lunchbox only. Don't let them graze at all. I don't let my youngest ones graze because they then won't eat tea if I do. My eldest can graze because he will eat his tea despite snacking.

Secondly what time are you giving them lunch? Can you feed them a bit earlier so there is a larger gap between lunch and tea. More time to build up hunger. Also are they over eating at lunchtime? Are they eating a tea sized lunch? Sandwich, a bit of cheese and fruit should be enough possibly.

Thirdly I think you are building a rod for your own back if you cook two evening meals. Your kids need to be exposed to a variety of food and by feeding them the same meal everyday you are enabling poor food habits. You really won't be doing them any favours seriously.

I think you need to remain as you were - making one family tea and them either choosing to eat or not. Then Offering nothing (except the meal again) if they are hungry later. They clearly won't starve and will at least have the opportunity to eat a varied diet.

Most importantly stop snaking!!!

Toecheese Sun 05-Jan-14 08:04:31

I think cooking two meals would be v stressful, time wasting and annoying. Just cook one and stop caring if they eat or not.

Toecheese Sun 05-Jan-14 08:06:38

I think you are taking the wrong option sorry.

In your shoes I would stop any snacking and eating between meals completely. Hide the cheese and use the oat biscuits in the lunchbox only. Don't let them graze at all. I don't let my youngest ones graze because they then won't eat tea if I do. My eldest can graze because he will eat his tea despite snacking.

Secondly what time are you giving them lunch? Can you feed them a bit earlier so there is a larger gap between lunch and tea. More time to build up hunger. Also are they over eating at lunchtime? Are they eating a tea sized lunch? Sandwich, a bit of cheese and fruit should be enough possibly.

Thirdly I think you are building a rod for your own back if you cook two evening meals. Your kids need to be exposed to a variety of food and by feeding them the same meal everyday you are enabling poor food habits. You really won't be doing them any favours seriously.

I think you need to remain as you were - making one family tea and them either choosing to eat or not. Then Offering nothing (except the meal again) if they are hungry later. They clearly won't starve and will at least have the opportunity to eat a varied diet.

Most importantly stop snaking!!!

Morning all. Roast chicken for tea today anyway, so no flash points there!

Still feel cross this morning, everyone is leaving me alone grin. Just about to take the dog out, which will cheer me up.

Thanks everyone who posted for talking me down yesterday smile

Borntorun25 Sun 05-Jan-14 10:02:07

OP, I feel your pain. I think the roast and roast II with easy options like rice, egg, peas other days sounds fine. Good healthy diet with all necessary nutrients, up to your DC if they get bored they will join with your meals, if not you are feeding them well and minimising your stress. Take the stress out for you as much as possible is important.

My DS2 gets pasta about 5 times a week, this is plain pasta, no sauce or additions accepted!! He does get a variety of pastas though, penne, macaroni, spaghetti, shell shaped, does that count? grin
He will eat very little else, used to eat loads as toddler but now refuses almost everything and gags if I make him sit and try. I intermittently stress myself silly about it and then go all zen like and think, well only another 9 years to go before he leaves home.....

Love the post about it being parents job to provide nutritious meals but DCs job to eat them. That will be my mantra from now on.

Joysmum Sun 05-Jan-14 10:04:31

There's a huge difference between being fussy, and genuinely hating the food on offer.

I would never offer genuinely hated foods but I do serve up stuff they don't hate and just would prefer something else.

If they don't eat it then they aren't hungry enough, nobody will starve to death and having tested the boundaries they realise the world doesn't revolve around pandered to in order to have favourite meals.

Let's face it, a well balanced and healthy diet isn't generally what people would choose to eat based on enjoyment criteria, if black forest gateaux and cheese were the perfect diet I'd have no problems!

brettgirl2 Sun 05-Jan-14 10:21:39

It isn't soul destroying if the dcs refuse to eat what I've cooked. I eat it and enjoy it, dh eats it and enjoys it.

If I do tea for them alone I do one if their favourites (and I understand why this is tricky in your case)

I wouldn't give them anything between meals at all.

FunkyBoldRibena Sun 05-Jan-14 10:26:20

To be honest, what I would do is to have a mass roasty cook-off; slice the lot and freeze it in slices [make loads of soup that can be frozen with the rest] and then you can do one pan of rice and carrots and sling some peas in at the end; and they can have that with some of the defrosted roast meat - whilst you have a nice meal yourselves - this will get you out of many 'whet shall I cook them' rages.

And keep saying when they are big enough they can have what the grown ups eat.

[I don't eat meat but that's what I'd do if I did]

florascotia Sun 05-Jan-14 11:07:30

OP , the earlier posters who wondered whether your DC might not be very hungry in the evenings rang a bell with me. If they are having and enjoying a good breakfast (yours sound excellent) and a reasonable lunch, they might not need or want much later in the day. What time do you eat in the evenings?

I'm not so young, and, even for her day, my mother had old-fashioned ideas about meals. That meant, until we were teenagers, on Mondays-Fridays we children had something to eat fairly soon after we came home from school - maybe 4.30 or 5 pm. We were ravenous then, but I don't know if we'd have felt so hungry if we'd had to wait until later. The food was nourishing but mostly cold - and simple for my mother to prepare. (It was varied - I remember ham, cheese or sardine sandwiches, cold roast meat or cold chicken sandwiches, or cheese on toast or beans on toast, or cheese and oatcakes...), plus one or two of tomato/lettuce/cress/celery/carrot etc. Then bread, butter, jam or honey, or perhaps a simple cake, and fruit. If we were hungry again before bedtime, we could have a milk drink (hot or cold) and perhaps a biscuit or two (plain, eg digestive). No snacks otherwise, except for very special occasions. Our parents ate separately, later in the evening.
Weekends were different - we had big family lunches together then, and family teas with nice cakes later in the day.

This might not suit your workload (which sounds awesome) or your DC, but even now, if I am tired, I often prefer just soup or a sandwich in the evening, rather than a 'proper' meal. But for my DH, an evening meal is his preferred main meal of the day ...We are all different.

BadztMaru Sun 05-Jan-14 11:27:52

Hi Buffy, I can empathise with you, I'm going through the same thing with my son.
I don't know whether to give him what little food he will eat for meals so that I know he is getting some goodness,
Or keep offering different meAls.
I don't know whether to give him his yoghurt which is pretty much the only source of goodness that he gets or to withhold it until he eats something else.
I can't eat out with him, there's no point. He doesn't eat food at parties or at his friends house.
It's very upsetting, I feel I am to blame and I know it's what everyone's thinking.
If he's not offered food that he will eat (junk food crap mostly) then he just won't eat, he will get hungry and ill and still won't eat.
He now has an appointment with a dietician coming up, I just need to know what to do for the best.

florascotia at the moment, we all eat at around 5:50-6. If the kids 'like' it, they'll eat loads so I don't know if it's a problem with mismatching the routine with their hunger.

However, all is about to change from tomorrow, because DH starts his new job and doesn't finish until 6. So maybe a more substantial version of the after school snack for kids and a proper meal for DH and I later. This will work even better if they've had school dinners.

TBH I've avoided this in the past because it feels like cooking two meals in the evening, but given the options available (cook one meal but end up feeling crap being the other) maybe this is what will work.

And on the days when it's packed lunches (boo!) I can batch cook pasta sauces, chicken breadcrumbs, use frozen roast leftovers, etc.

Well done Vipers, together we've formulated a plan that I think might just work! smile

Chunderella Sun 05-Jan-14 11:43:50

I see your point re wifework Buffy. Unfortunately, this is one element of it that can't really be opted out of and is inevitably going to fall on you because of DHs food issues. I do hope you're making sure the other household members are picking up slack elsewhere though! The DC are old enough to do a few jobs.

Procrastreation Sun 05-Jan-14 21:05:59

I feel your pain - and shame on the posters trotting out platitudes about pandering parents (& bad cooks hmm ).

Procrastreation Sun 05-Jan-14 21:11:39

My solution for a similar dilemma has been the slow-cooker (and I've also started doing batch cooking).

I find it helps to decouple the effort of making the food & the serving of the food. It makes it less emotive when they are sniffy. My most fussy DC tends to get upset at 'burnt bits' (aka delicious crispy bits) - and actually quite likes the slightly bland and soupy slow cooker stuff.

Slowcooker cooking also gets around the effort/nutrition conundrum.

CaterpillarCara Sun 05-Jan-14 21:23:59

I think the "bad cook" one was me. I can see how people read it that way. But it was not intending as a criticism of the OP at all - it was a criticism of my own mistakes and I tentatively put out there the chance that OP had made the same error. She hadn't though, so the bad cook crown is all my own still. - I totally erred on the side of too bland food for years. Am still playing catch up to improve things.

Procrastreation Sun 05-Jan-14 21:30:50

Sample slow cooker bootcamp:

Monday: Pasta pomodoro (half and onion, two garlic cloves, a carrot, a bay leaf & seasoning topped up with two cans of value chopped tomatoes. Low for six hours. Blend. Serve with bowl of pasta and sauce spooned into middle - so non tomato DC can have some tomato free pasta. Cheese & olive oil to taste.)

Tuesday: Gammon in coke. Low all day. Serve with plain rice and boiled vegetables.

Wednesday: risotto or other rice dish (I fix mine in the slow cooker - can you tell I'm a fan?). Put a piece of fish on the top to steam with the rice.

Thursday: Chowder (I fix this cos I love it - kids are a bit hmm ). I actually take more trouble over this, because I like it - but I think you could get away with a finely chopped potato, pint of fish stock, carrots, bay leaf , high for a couple of hours - then chuck in some smoked haddock. Finish with cream & peas either on the side or in the dish (depending how nice you feel towards the DC!). Bread on the side.

Friday: Mince dish (eg spag Bol or shepherds pie). In both cases, fry off mince & onions & then cook it all day on low with relevant seasonings. Then either serve with pasta, or top with aunt Bessie mash & serve.

Saturday lunch: Lentil soup. Bag of lentils. I chicken stock cube. Carrot, onion & bay (don't chop - they're for flavouring). A couple of hours on high or all day on low. Serve with hunk of cheddar and chunk of bread. Great in a thermos.

Saturday dinner: Chicken korma. Chicken + jar or curry sauce in slow cooker! I don't typically fry off - it tastes better if you do - but it makes no difference to the kids reaction (in fact DD gets stressed about 'burnt bits' - & it's a lot more faffing ). Breast only takes a couple of hours. Thigs are more resilient - but kids are freaked by bones. Serve with rice & naan & mango chutney & cucumber & generally give it a bit of pizzaz in presentation.

Sunday lunch: Roast dinner

Sunday dinner: Fajitas using roast left overs (use shop bought seasoning mix, and maybe splash out on a few accompaniments for fun - tortilla crisps on the side always get a cheerful response.

NK5BM3 Sun 05-Jan-14 21:40:59

I haven't read the whole thread (first few posts I did) but huge empathy to you op.

I was one of those children who was extremely fussy. My brother was too. We didn't eat a lot of stuff. Really. My grandmother who was a fab cook looked after us before we went to school and after school since we were babies and we drove her mad.

Our staple diet was egg fried rice with spam. I'm sure somehow there was veg snuck in somewhere but that's the staple food I remember. I remember also turning up my nose at her lovely cooking...

I'm Happy to report I eat most things now... Happy to cook most things too. I'm a size 8, 5ft3. grin

I'll try and read the thread now.

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