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

Mumof3xox Sun 03-Aug-14 20:39:25

I bet there are plenty on here who secretly do the same

My dc don't eat super fantastic

We are good at getting fruit in them, veg is more of a battle but it does get eaten. They mainly drink water or milk with a max one juice per day but this is in no way every day.

Pudding is normally fruit or fromage frais with the occasional ice lolly.

We do have chicken dippers, pizza and fish fingers weekly. We also do a fair bit of pasta, and a roast roughly once a week

Some nights there is so little time the big ones can get beans and hotdogs on toast, and little one a tin of mac cheese

You can only do what you can do

tattyteddy Sun 03-Aug-14 20:43:22

Hello OP,

Do you think it would help if you made a meal plan for the week ahead? When I'm feeling super organised that is what I do, doesn't happen every week though!

Also what about things you can freeze, eg a big match of home made chilli - you can hide loads of vegetables in it! Perhaps you could make some healthy soup? Xx

tattyteddy Sun 03-Aug-14 20:45:14

Also I just try my best too OP. Sometimes it is pizza and other frozen stuff or my DC but luckily she likes fruit. Xx

callamia Sun 03-Aug-14 20:45:39

Don't even try to change all at once . Be gentle an do t slowly. Can you make one more meal a week that is 'healthy'? A pasta bake with lots of veg snuck in? Fish cakes? Can you change a pudding a week too? What fruit is in season and lovely? Peaches, melons - all sweet and juicy.

RainbowSpiral Sun 03-Aug-14 20:48:13

I don't think it is that unhealthy really. Young children shouldn't have a low fat diet. Do they eat fruit and veg? Are any of you overweight.

I think its great to eat healthily but I think the effort some mumsnetters put in is not easy. I would make a few changes but not beat yourself up about it.

My youngest refused water for years, then aged about 10 he did start to drink it. He really did not drink enough as a littley unless he has milk or squash.

toomuchjunk Sun 03-Aug-14 20:48:34

It just feels like so much food to plan, three meals plus snacks and deserts, every time I try I give up sad

I have one day on my list so far:
Monday:
Breakfast: toast and rice crispies (is that even healthy?)
Lunch: Ham sandwich, carrot sticks and fruit
Dinner: Left over chicken, mash and veg. Desert??
Snacks: Fruit?

I am just useless at this sad

I grew up on microwave meals and tins of sausage and spagetti and frozen food and pot noodles sad I can cook okay but just get overwhelmed trying to figure out so many meals and get more and more stressed the more I try sad

noblegiraffe Sun 03-Aug-14 20:49:16

Baby steps. Look through your cookbooks and find one meal to cook and give it a go, and keep to the fish fingers etc for the rest of the week. Make it a fairly simple one so it's not too stressful.
If it works, then add it to your repertoire. If not then move on.

Nothing wrong with cheese sandwiches. Why not try adding cucumber, or tomato or pickle for variety?

SacreBlue Sun 03-Aug-14 20:49:25

Angel delight now and then won't kill your kids, neither will pizza, fish fingers, baked beans or breaded chicken fillets.

Cooking a roast once a week with left overs is a grand thing, getting the family together for a meal and enjoying it.

I started 'selection plates' with my DS, mainly in response to not always wanting to cook or having time to - and I only have one child.

This consists of buying fruit & veg & bunging it all on a plate he can pick from - grapes, oranges, any kind of berries, mushrooms, cheese chopped up, ham chopped up, bread roll or whatever really - left over cold chicken from roasts etc

Mightn't suit everyone but we love it and leaves plenty of room for choice, convenience & enjoyment.

Tests during the war showed you can survive eating potatoes and drinking milk and still get all your body needs <potato fanatic> which just shows that you do not need to over think or over stress about food.

My advice is not to worry, and aim for food being a cross over of necessity and joyful gluttony.

ChillySundays Sun 03-Aug-14 20:50:13

Don't be so hard on yourself. You have a roast once a week with leftovers the next. That's healthier than some. Cheese sandwiches aren't that bad - good sauce of calcium.
Instead of trying to change everything in one go change a meal at a time - spag bog is easy to make. Next week try another recipe. Try a different fruit each week - perhaps eventually they will get a range they like.
My DC are late teens and still won't drink water but I always made the squash weak so oyu could try making waker and weaker.
Good luck.

OneSkinnyChip Sun 03-Aug-14 20:51:15

Spaghetti bolognese is quick and easy and great for getting hidden veg in. I buy the frozen chopped veg from Sainsbury the one with finely chopped carrot, onion and celery. Fry the lean mince add veg and then stir in tomato puree tinned tomatoes basil and oregano. I like to add a little spicy barbecue sauce too. You can make this in bulk and freeze. The frozen veg are good in curries too.

Don't try to change too much at once OP or your kids will rebel but think of a few basic healthy dinners and invest in some basic herbs and spices and some tinned tomatoes. You can make so many meals with these.

fuzzpig Sun 03-Aug-14 20:51:22

Oh bless you sad I've been in a similar frame of mind. It's easy to get into habits of relying on freezer food type stuff but you WANT to change and that's the best place to start right?

Changing the family diet is a huge undertaking so don't feel bad for being so overwhelmed.

You need to do this slowly I think. Where do you stand with veg? Do they have stuff like carrot and cucumber sticks as an extra on their plate, or peas/broccoli/sweetcorn? You could improve what they're having just by adding an extra portion of veg. And that wouldn't be such a dramatic change as they still have the 'safe' food that they are used to.

Are there any meals they like that you don't do at home - like if you went out for a meal would they have spag Bol or something? May be a good place to start?

Honestly do it really slowly, even one meal a week would be a good start smile

museumum Sun 03-Aug-14 20:51:26

Don't try to overhaul your entire week at once. Just do some baby steps. It's good you have the roast Sunday/Monday so why not cook something on Wednesday too with leftovers for Thursday lunch? That would be a good step to take and manageable.

noblegiraffe Sun 03-Aug-14 20:51:28

Oh, and bin the desserts. They don't need them every day and it seems to be just causing you more stress. Give them fruit if they are still hungry, or a yoghurt. Mine have yoghurt every day - I think of the calcium!

MrsWinnibago Sun 03-Aug-14 20:51:53

It's not SO bad OP. Why don't you start simple and just add some things...so when you do breaded chicken or fish fingers, bake a potato each and add some cucumber slices, tomatoes and maybe carrot sticks?

If you do plain potatoes or chips a lot, change that for brown pasta or rice? Take the desserts away completely and offer them only on weekends as a starter....offer fruit if they're still hungry during the week....they don't HAVE to have a pudding.

toomuchjunk Sun 03-Aug-14 20:52:13

callamia that is such a good idea, if I change one meal per week. I could do that! Maybe I was aiming to do to much in one big overhaul. Thank you so much, I can do this, if I change frozen pizza to home made pizza this week that is one meal changed. Just need to think of a desert to go with it? Thank you so much, I knew I would get some good ideas on here smile

rookiemater Sun 03-Aug-14 20:52:28

Agree with callamia - don't do it all in one go, build on things that work.

Would they eat peanut butter rather than chocolate spread on toast for breakfast ? Cheese sandwiches for lunch are fine - could you chop some carrots up to go with them, or weird one this that my DM discovered - give them some frozen peas. Convenience food isn't so bad for dinner provided they are also eating veg with it.Bolognaise sauce is quick to make and if you use passata then it has no added sugar or additives and you can hide quite a lot of veg in it.

If it's any consolation I only have one DS age 8 and his diet is fairly limited. I have spates where I try loads of things then times when it's busy and I go back to the standard favourites.

chesterberry Sun 03-Aug-14 20:52:49

I think if you look at everything you want to change at once I'm not surprised you feel overwhelmed, I don't think it's realistic to change everything at once but perhaps you could break it down into smaller, more manageable changes. Could you aim to change one thing a week (or a fortnight/month - whatever would suit you) rather than look at everything all at once? So this week you might look at offering your children healthier puddings after their meal. If they don't want it they don't get anything else so they're offered something healthy or nothing - there's no harm in them not having a pudding every day if they don't want it.

Maybe then you could look at another area such as breakfast - the change doesn't have to be dramatic (eg: toast and chocolate spread to porridge) but you could try and replace chocolate spread with a sugar-free nut butter or, if relevant, replace white bread for brown.

Could you aim to cook one new meal a week? Say Wednesday night (or whichever night best suits you) you will cook something new for you all.

OneSkinnyChip Sun 03-Aug-14 20:52:55

And pudding shouldn't be seen as an essential part of a meal - really it's a treat so a yoghurt and fruit should be the only things offered during the week.

MrsWinnibago Sun 03-Aug-14 20:53:10

More than just swapping bought pizza for homemade...just add more fresh veg and salad all week long. And cut the puddings!

Deluge Sun 03-Aug-14 20:53:15

Maybe try to start small? You dont have to completely overhaul your whole family diet and start making complicated recipes every night. Way too stressful with four DCs!

Could you introduce some new family rules? We only have proper pudding on Sundays. Its yog/fruit only the rest of the time, for example. The kids are allowed a tea time treat (cake or biscuits etc) on Fridays after school. The rest of the time I limit what we have in the house in terms of snacks, so there is less choice (fruit, crackers & cheese, toast) and less temptation. If there are kitkats and crisps, the kids will inhale them, so I just rarely buy them now.

Also, when I got completely stuck in a food rut, I learned to cook one new, healthy dish a week and made it. Nothing time consuming or requiring loads of fancy ingredients (I started with proper Italian spaghetti & meatballs, then moved on to stews and curries, then would pick something I knew they liked e.g. Chicken and find a few different ways of coking it etc). Yu'll build up a repertoire eventually and can slowly change the family diet to something healthier and more interesting bit by bit.

I also meal plan and write the plan up (or get one of the kids to do it) and pin it to the kitchen noticeboard. Maybe two/three nights it is something very easy and quick like macaroni cheese, a pasta bake, eggs in some form etc.

I sympathise. Easy to get stuck in the breaded-something and beans rut.

onepieceoflollipop Sun 03-Aug-14 20:54:47

I would change one thing at a time, gradually. (Like you, I grew up on a very limited, unhealthy diet, so it didn't come naturally to me)

for example, find out what fruits your dcs like. If funds permit, buy a selection and chop the fruit up. (The children can help). Have fruit for pudding once or twice a week to start.

introduce water as the drink at lunchtime to start with, not a sudden ban on squash.

would they try cucumber/pepper/carrot sticks as an alternative to baked beans? make your own pizza; use pitta breads and spread with passata or even ketchup. get them to add toppings such as sweetcorn, ham, pineapple etc. top with grated cheese and grill.

titchy Sun 03-Aug-14 20:55:57

Set yourself very small goals - maybe for the next two weeks aim for a healthier breakfast 3 days a week - weetabix, or whole meal toast rather than white bread. Maybe beans on toast or scrambled egg in toast once a week.

And aim for just one meal a week to be healthy - spag Bol or shepherds pie. When you do them fish fingers or chicken nuggets serve with veg, peas and corn on the cob maybe. Swap chips for jacket spuds or new potatoes.

Small steps!

fuzzpig Sun 03-Aug-14 20:56:14

Xpost. Seriously don't be so mad at yourself (easier said than done I know). You've not been brought up with home cooked meals so of course it's been hard for you to learn it yourself! You're doing your best and you'll get there smile

Mumof3xox Sun 03-Aug-14 20:56:15

It could be worse op

I knew a three yr old who would only eat cereal and pot noodles

So she had two pot noodles a day, bowl of cereal and that's it

toomuchjunk Sun 03-Aug-14 20:56:32

Sorry crossed post, it seems like lots of you are saying change one meal a week. That is such a good idea! I think I had gotten totally overwhelmed by changing a whole week of easy meals to a week of home cooking, but one new meal a week I could do!

Thenapoleonofcrime Sun 03-Aug-14 20:56:55

I agree with everyone, don't say 'I'm going to be healthy the whole week' and then feel like you are failing. Just do what you normally do and change one or two things in the entire week. Offer carrot sticks and cucumber and little tomatoes with the breaded fish, for example. Just that one meal. Then another night, offer yoghurt and fruit instead of your pudding, just one night.

I don't think you need to make many changes, more fruit and veg would be a great start. A cheese sandwich with veggie sticks on the side and an apple is a fine lunch, mine have something similar most days.

Thenapoleonofcrime Sun 03-Aug-14 20:59:38

The other thing is- don't be put off if the children don't all eat the new things straight away. Just do a very small portion of carrot sticks, cucumber and tomatoes and put them in the middle in a bowl. Those that want can help themselves. You will find if one eats them, the others will follow. You have to present food about 15/20 times or something crazy like that before children will eat it. Do small portions so you are not wasting it.

SorryForTheTypos Sun 03-Aug-14 20:59:54

Agree, with gradual changes. Don't overwhelm yourself.

Fajitas are an easy win - just wraps, filled with chicken breast & a salsa type sauce. Maybe with sour cream? Serve with wedges?

Good luck.

bouncingbelle Sun 03-Aug-14 21:00:47

For an easy desert, fruit with natural yoghurt and then a littke squirt of honey is nice and easy,

Also, sticking some breadcrumbs in a blender and making your own chicken nuggets would be another easy mess change smile

dancingwithmyselfandthecat Sun 03-Aug-14 21:01:40

OP if you find meal planning and ingrediants getting overwhelming, why don't you try Hello Fresh for a couple of weeks? They send you the recipes and all the ingredients. I have tried it, and it has really improved my confidence and got me out of a food rut. It is expensive but you don't have to do it forever, just long enough to give you a kick. I can also send you a discount code if you like.

ShadowsShadowsEverywhere Sun 03-Aug-14 21:02:11

I disagree with the no puddings, we always have puddings here and are all slim and healthy. How about banana and custard as a transition to healthier puds. Or a crumble packed with fruit? Rice pudding is also good as gets lots of milk into them.

TheHouseatWhoCorner Sun 03-Aug-14 21:02:40

I struggle sometimes with desserts too. I give DD yoghurts mainly, but often its ice cream or angel delight etc.
Winter is quite easy with crumbles etc.
What about making (or letting them make) fruit kebabs? Or banana with custard? Or baked apple (sultanas and a tiny bit of brown sugar down the 'core hole').
Get them to grow their own tomatoes next summer?
Make your own pizza is brilliant - get them involved with chucking loads of different stuff on.

NormHonal Sun 03-Aug-14 21:03:18

OP, FWIW I bet many of us on here who grew up in the 70's and 80's grew up eating that sort of food for years on end.

We all go through phases like this with our children - you sound like you have a lot on your plate (pun intended!).

My DC1 loves chocolate spread on toast but now we ration it to weekends and special occasions and she has cereal other days. Was also a water-refuser until I cut out the fruit juice cold turkey one day, then she had no choice. But I know that friends have been advised by their doctors that squash is better than not drinking. Perhaps dilute it more?

Agree with the others, change one meal at a time. Good luck.

WhyOWhyWouldYou Sun 03-Aug-14 21:04:33

I used to be like you before i had dc. My mil is a good cook but would never teach dh. She did however buy all these fancy cook books - we didnt understand them, they had words i didnt have a clue about in, tons of ingredients etc.

I think you need to tackle it one meal at a time, so instead of trying to change breakfast, lunch and dinners for a whole week in one go, just add one new healthy dinner. Then when youre confident making that new healthy dinner add another into the week. Then once youve got a good selection of dinners, look at breakfasts.

Tbh i think a cheese sandwhich is ok for lunch, if youre getting a proper evening meal.

Now we can cook. Someone told me that cow&gate (the baby food company), actually did a good weaning guide, using homemade recipes, so i ordered it. Then as lo got older they sent these little magazines with recipes for thinks like chilli, spag bol, fajitas, cottage pie, etc. These recipes were soo simple to follow with simple ingredients that i learnt to cook! I think they have a lot of these recipes on their website too.

Also i use a lot of frozen ingredients - for example i buy peppers, onions, mushrooms ready chopped and frozen (a large handful is about 1onion/1pepper), also things like peas, sweetcorn, baby carrots, mince beef, etc are bought frozen. It makes it easier as you dont have to plan in advance for a lot of meals then.

appealtakingovermylife Sun 03-Aug-14 21:06:17

If your dc like pizza I found a brilliant way of doing them with dd (3) in an Annabel karmel cookbook called "top 100 finger foods"
You basically buy a packet of wraps, we buy mission deli wheat and white, tomato puree, a bit of grated cheese, and any toppings your dc like.
Get them involved, my dd loves helping make these, they take 8 minutes to cook at 200 degrees and taste fab.
Add a mini corn on the cob on the side and its a nice little lunch or dinnersmile

Mrsfrumble Sun 03-Aug-14 21:07:05

Home made pizza is good because you can get the older children to help you with the toppings. Just get a ready made base, a carton of passata, a bag of grated mozzarella and whatever you fancy for toppings: tuna, leftover chicken, peppers, spinach, mushrooms, olives, whatever!

Would they eat peanut butter, marmite or cream cheese on toast? Mashed avocado or banana?

I sympathise. I hate cooking. If I had all the money in the world the first thing I would do would be hire a chef to cook for my children.

WhyOWhyWouldYou Sun 03-Aug-14 21:07:06

Sorry for all the typos

WhyOWhyWouldYou Sun 03-Aug-14 21:07:13

Sorry for all the typos

MsGee Sun 03-Aug-14 21:08:45

Please don't stress - and one meal a week is a great idea. I have long learned to give up worrying about this. (DD is 6, food refuser since 2.5 so limited diet).

Two meals I have found useful for a crap eater are roast dinners and picnics. Even if she refuses anything at the roast but potatoes, meat and yorkshire puds she is seeing different veg and has the option.... Plus lots of chicken left for sarnies. Also picnic tea (which she loves) - nice bread, ham, salami, cheese etc. I have found that although she is very limited in trying new foods she will try 'new ham' such as salami and chorizo. So I figure that at the very least she is widening the foods she eats.

Will they eat fish - salmon, mackerel etc? My DD won't eat fruit or veg but eats a lot of fish - perhaps start with fish cakes as a change from fish fingers etc.

although I never admit in real life I have taken to buying Ella's kitchen veg pouches (and she is 6) and adding some to baked beans and spaghetti hoops. It eases my conscience a little.

Finally - don't stress. I have two rules with food - do not backslide on any food - don't allow them to reduce the foods they eat. And introduce new food appropriately - trying to introduce 3 veg in a week won't work. It took a few months to get DD to eat mash. But it showed she will eat new things...

fuzzpig Sun 03-Aug-14 21:11:19

With the squash. I agree with gradually making it weaker. Also one possible way of making plain water more exciting - could you get a jug and put a load of ice cubes in it? Loads of DCs I know are obsessed with ice cubes grin perhaps you could have a new house rule of 'water only after 5pm' or something (I do this anyway as the few times DS had sugar free squash at bedtime, he wet the bed!) and just have a communal jug of water on the dinner table.

If you're making your own pizza you could try using English muffins - I get wholemeal, shove any veg on there and top with some torn mozzarella and grated cheddar before grilling. It's easy and we love it, I only started because our oven is busted so can't buy normal pizza.

Don't worry about breakfast for now if it's stressing you out (depending on how your DCs are in the morning it could be the worst time to get into food battles!). Mine are total cereal addicts sad I do want to gradually improve that (actually been meaning to start a thread for ideas so I'll do that now!) but so far I've been focusing mainly on improving the evening meal and getting rid of unhealthy snacks. Breakfast is the last mountain to conquer grin

I hate meal planning - hate it. But not nearly as much as getting up and going, 'what the FECK are we going to eat today?!'

So I have basic tips:
- don't stress about breakfast variety - just keep it the same everyday if nobody objects. Toast and cereal. Easy. Maybe swap the rice krispies for something whole grain like Cheerios (which are still packed with crap, but might be a good transition to something less processed like Weetabix). Flavoured ReadyBrek is also surprisingly OK and higher in nutrients than you might think, and might be a good transition to introducing porridge. You can also sneak pulverised bananas into it very easily.
- lunches - bread, cheese, meat or egg mayo, cherry tomatoes, carrot sticks, bag of salad leaves, sliced cucumber. Let the older kids help themselves. For my 2.2yo DS, I do tend to dice tomatoes into subatomic particles, mix with cream cheese and avocado to spread onto a sandwich, or submerge under a layer of melted cheese and he eats it.
- dinners. Planning these is really the only PITA in my book, so what I do is think 'something with pasta, something with potatoes, something with rice' (that's three meals down), 'something convenient' (ready meal or takeaway - four meals), 'something with bread' (five meals)...and then you've already got your Sunday roast followed by leftovers the next day. Seven meals, sorted. smile Another variation is going by cuisines rather than a base carb e.g. 'Something Italian, something Mexican, a curry, something traditional'. But I'm a little carb-obsessed so the previous method tends to be the one I use.

Lucked Sun 03-Aug-14 21:19:37

Yes change one meal and you are almost half way there. We aren't a pudding family, occasionally at weekends only. I think it depends what the snacks are during the day, if they aren't getting anything but pudding it's probably okay but remember it doesn't really matter if they don't eat your healthy alternative, it can be optional.

Only on mumsnet is sugar free squash the devils milk btw. If you want them to have water give them one glass of squash and then water on the table, that way you know they won't be getting dehydrated.

ouryve Sun 03-Aug-14 21:20:00

With 4 kids to look after mostly on your own, you're safest making small changes. Start by making sure there's always a fresh and frozen vegetable or a bit of salad with lunch and dinner. Get used to preparing them and get the kids used to being given them. It's an easy change to make. Cherry tomatoes, cucumber or carrot sticks take little time to prepare and, if they're served in the centre of the table, it will feel like less of a battleground if they're rejected.

Similarly, rather than going cold turkey on the puds, top the angel delight with sliced strawberries or banana (delicious on the butterscotch!) or add fruit to the jelly you make. If they'll eat bananas, you could make bananas and custard - with custard prepared from a tin of birds, you can control the amount of sugar in it and it's relatively crap free.

Once you're all in the habit of having fresh fruit and veg as part of a meal, plan a midweek meal cooked from scratch. It doesn't have to be complicated. It doesn't need hundreds of ingredients.

Make gradual changes and you're less likely to have mutiny.

plinth Sun 03-Aug-14 21:22:36

I wouldn't be trying to do a whole load of homemade stuff with 4 small kids!

You've got the roast, so that's Sunday and Monday sorted for dinner. Plenty of veg on the side rather than say beans.

Tuesday do something with mince or a stew that you can freeze on the weekend. If you do loads and are inventive that's Tuesday and Wednesday sorted, eg chili with rice one night and pasta or tortilla wraps the next. Thursday something easy like omelette, ready made quiche....

Make sure you offer plenty of veg or salad as the side dish each night.

Friday is chuck finish fingers in the oven night as it's the end of the week and everyone's knackered.

Puddings are custard, rice pudding, yoghurt or if they don't want any of that it's fruit.

Lunchtimes swap white for brown bread, offer chopped carrot, cucumber and tomato on the side and pudding is fruit. I don't think there's anything wrong with cheese sandwiches but for variety offer ham, tuna, chicken roll. If they would rather have cheese then fine, you can lead a horse to water...... smile

Breakfasts I think cereal is fine, if they can be persuaded to go for a whole grain cereal like weetabix or Cheerios then great. Plus a banana or toast.

Don't go nuts and start knitting your own muesli. The kids prob won't eat it and it's a waste of your energy anyway smile

Oh, and I agree with PPs - save the stress and forget about planning dessert. It's not necessary. Make fruit or yoghurt the only options if DCs are still hungry. We'll have dessert maybe once or twice a week, and it's usually a spur-of-the-moment unplanned thing DH picking up a tub of Ben and Jerry's on the way home

ouryve Sun 03-Aug-14 21:24:56

Quesadillas might go down well if they like cheesy things, btw. Just leave out the chilli if they don't like it.

callamia Sun 03-Aug-14 21:31:42

Sacrebleu has a great idea - and reminded me that my parents used to do 'buffet teas' - all the grapes, cheese, crackers, bread, salad etc, but al put out on the table so we could help ourselves. It felt like a super treat. Perhaps your kids aren't as easily fooled as I clearly was toomuch, but it might be worth a go - a bit of novelty and the illusion of choice for the children wink

HalfEatenPizza Sun 03-Aug-14 21:33:46

Leave them hungry for one day and they will eat anything you offer.

A meal doesn't need to have loads of ingredients. In fact, the less - the better. A meal in my house sometimes is just a: banana; or avocado; or boiled egg; or a handful of nuts; or a handful of prunes. Meal, or it could be snack! For snack - slices of fruit, ot veg, or olives Eating healthy is soooooo simple.

HalfEatenPizza Sun 03-Aug-14 21:36:32

Why do you need to have a desert???

Deserts are for special occasions like restaurant or Cristmas!!!

plinth Sun 03-Aug-14 21:39:07

That reminds me callamia, my parents used to do "breakfast at dinner" which always (slightly bizarrely to me now) seemed like a treat - full fry up of bacon, mushroom, tomato, eggs and hash browns except it was grilled or oven baked and therefore surprisingly healthy.

Dead easy too - throw everything under the grilled except the scrambled eggs (microwave) and frozen hash browns (oven).

plinth Sun 03-Aug-14 21:41:09

HalfEaten a boiled egg or a handful of nuts isn't a "meal" for a growing child!

callamia Sun 03-Aug-14 21:44:12

Plinth, your parents were champions of the cunning dinner. That sounds excellent.

GirlsTimesThree Sun 03-Aug-14 21:47:50

Everything you're giving them that's processed and frozen is easy to substitute with homemade.
My oh used to make the DDs his 'chicken yumbos' (!). Cut chicken breasts into bite sized pieces, roll in egg then fresh breadcrumbs, onto an baking tray and into the oven for 15-20 mins along with fresh cut potatoes into chips, tossed in a little olive oil. Serve with veg. You can do the same with strips of fresh fish.
Start there and introduce new things weekly, as others have said. You'll get there, but life must be pretty full on with four little ones, I'm not surprised you're feeling a bit overwhelmed!

HalfEatenPizza Sun 03-Aug-14 21:48:32

Yes, its ONE meal. You can balance it with the rest of the food eaten throughout the day.

Notcontent Sun 03-Aug-14 21:51:06

The first and most important thing to do is to start cutting out all the sugar. Healthy fat is fine - sugar is not.

There is no need for dessert. And don't kid yourself that fruit yoghurts are any better - they are not. Most flavoured yoghurts contain as much sugar as ice cream.

toomuchjunk Sun 03-Aug-14 22:18:32

A picnic dinner is an excellent idea, thank you. I think the kids would really like that and a great way for them to try new foods too.

With the deserts, I was bought up always having a desert and I seem to have gotten my children into this habit, I just thought everyone had desert I did not realise it was seen as a treat. None of the children apart from the one year old will eat fruit sad Should I just offer fruit or yogurt after lunch and dinner even if they would pick yogurt every time?? I cannot see any of them picking fruit sad They do eat veg though, peas, sweetcorn, broccoli, peppers, anything really. They just do not seem to like fruit. I don't eat fruit though so maybe that is why sad I was never given any growing up we just never had any apart from going soft apples or going brown bananas in the house! Maybe if I start eating fruit they might follow! It is so tough with DH being away it feels like I am just a full time food provider with 4 DC. Plus breakfast is in 3 sittings as the DC all wake at different times sad

Carriemoo Sun 03-Aug-14 22:18:33

We started out like this. We used to have pizzas and chicken nuggets and chips etc. So I sat down one day with a recipe book and picked our two meals I thought I could cook. And I started to build my pantry food (like garlic ginger sauces etc) eventually I am now making 4 to 5 new meals a week and when I look in a magazine I can say oooh I like the look of that... go down the ingredients and have 90% of them.

That was the daunty bit for me as I didn't have the money for lots of different bits.

Our dinner plan this week is
Mon - African chutney chicken
Tues - homemade chicken korma wirh homemade flat breads
Wed - chinese style pork fillet with noodles

Etc and so on.

Little changes at a time. I'm also growing a herb garden now :D

toomuchjunk Sun 03-Aug-14 22:19:17

Wow - a bit too many sad faces in my posts. I'm not that miserable in real life, honest!

HalfEatenPizza Sun 03-Aug-14 22:22:25

Why would they eat fruit, if you offer desert after each meal? Obviously, the desert is sweeter. And fatter, to top. Stop offering desert. Offer fruit before meals, as it is very quickly digested and if eaten after meals sits in the gut rotting waiting for the meal to be processed - not good. Tip - when you offer fruit, cut it into bites - much easier to eat for small kids (even for grown ups) and also much more appealing when you see the juicy pieces and smell the lovely fruity smell. Mmmmmm smile

juliascurr Sun 03-Aug-14 22:34:31

www.sainsburys-live-well-for-less.co.uk/meal-planning/

this ^ might help
find out what fruit they will eat, then get it a couple of times a week

I could have written your post ten years ago! I had four children aged 5 and under, DH away in the forces..and kids who just wanted chicken nuggets and chips!

They didn't die of malnutrition and they aren't still eating chicken nuggets either smilesmile

I gradually gained confidence in cooking basic meals (I still don't do cooking for pleasure...I'm just not interested enough!).. and had a basic bunch of reasonably healthy meals..
It used to go something like :

Sunday.. roast chicken, potatoes, carrots, parsnips (disguised as potatoes)
Monday... beans on toast
tuesday Pasta and bolognaise sauce..(bought) but threw in sime fine chopped veg
Wed ; Jacket potatoes.. choice of cheese, tuna, coleslaw
Thurs; curry with rice (usually chicken) chuck in some sweetcorn, onions...
Friday.. chips!!!

It still DOES go pretty much like this.. but the roasts have become varied, and even DS1 now happily eats just about any roasted veg.. beetroots, sweet potato broccoli etc.
I batch cook a huge vat of spag bol (again..lots of veg thrown in) freeze it.

I'm never going to be pouring over a cookbook.. I just am not interested, but the children are older teenagers now and all have grown up strong, healthy, and unlike me, three of them enjoy cooking!!!

Snacks became grapes, raspberries ( shove a small grape inside a raspberry and eat.. fun for the kids to do!) and random fruit.

* we did have a 4 year long phase of DS1 eating an awful lot of pot noodles but that's normal teen stuff and I made sure he drank gallons of milk and orange juice grin

I'd ditch the puddings tbh.. no need.. 'if you are still hungry here's the fruit bowl' OR raw veg bowl. I don't like fruit very much..never have, but love raw carrots, cauliflower, fresh cooked beetroot etc the my lot have taken after me and are often found scrunching through a bag of salad or a ton of baby tomatoes!

it IS tough when you are alone and doing it all.. and you should not be so hard on yourself.. just make easy changes..small ones...

Happy36 Sun 03-Aug-14 22:38:09

You are not being unreasonable. It sounds as though your kids´ diet is OK. They´re eating home-cooked food which is a great start.

Can you make a bigger roast on a Sunday and that way have sufficient leftovers for Monday and Tuesday? A roast can be a good way to get children to eat a few veg. without fussing. (Or perhaps do a mini-roast mid week?) Also you could try mashed potato instead of roast potatoes sometimes - not necessarily healthy but just for a change in their tastes. (Then perhaps mashed sweet potato or other roots/tubers in future).

In my opinion there´s nothing wrong with baked beans, fish fingers or breaded chicken fillets. Will your children eat frozen peas, or sweetcorn, with these meals?

Can you get the kids making pizzas themselves using French bread (or any bread product, really) as the base? Messy, yes, but it might increase their interest in what they´re eating and it can be a bit healthier than frozen ones as you can use less cheese and maybe even get a few finely chopped vegetables into the topping.

Bolognese sauce for pasta can be made in bulk and frozen. Also you could make a batch of chilli con carne with minced beef, finely sliced onion (and garlic and or red pepper, if you wish), baked beans and some chilli powder (dried oregano is nice in there too). Freeze and take out to defrost in the morning when you want it for dinner that night. To save even more time you can get microwaveable pouches of rice and pasta.

Do they eat eggs? Omelette or scrambled egg is a nice quick dinner made from scratch.

The thing that I would be tough on personally is the desserts as they don´t have much nutritional value. Miss out the desserts on weekdays and give a slightly larger portion of dinner instead. Perhaps have an after dinner card game instead? For the weekends if you´re making jelly you can pop in some tinned fruit - I am sure they would still eat that? Orange jelly with tinned mandarins is nice, (you could even cut the mandarin pieces in half). Otherwise squeeze 2 or 3 fresh oranges and bung the juice into the jelly instead of cold water.

I would also try some fruit in the lunchboxes such as white grapes. Cheese sandwiches in the lunchbox is fine. (Do you put in crisps or biscuits? I would say take them out and add an extra half sandwich, plus the grapes).

Good luck!

Blu Sun 03-Aug-14 22:46:50

OP, if they eat plenty of veg, that is generally actually better than fruit!

I brought DS up on apple juice (outdated books - I didn't realise everyone was only offering water or milk blush )and weaned him off by offering 'mountain water'- chilled mineral water with ice cubes in it and a straw.

I agree - pick one simple new dish every few weeks and add it to your repertoire.

Try:

Shepherd's pie
Fish pie
Mild chlli con carne
A chicken casserole
Pork chops in homey and mustard

bigkidsdidit Sun 03-Aug-14 22:53:21

What about stewed fruit? I often make a big pot of stewed apples and raisins and keep it in the fridge for three or four days. If you do braeburns or similar no sugar needs to be added. Just that with cream for pudding, would they eat that? Or strawberries and cream?

I have got my 3 year old DS weaned off diluted juice by offering sparkling water. He is very excited by the bubbles.

For dessert, have you tried toasted tea cakes with butter? It's still a sweetish treat but a lot less sugar than traditional desserts.

EverythingCounts Sun 03-Aug-14 22:54:00

Re fruit - everyone talks about fresh fruit but tinned is also fine, lasts longer, is cheaper and may be more appealing to them as you can put it in bowls like the desserts they are familiar with. Tinned pineapple chunks or peach slices always go down well in my experience, and saves you having the rotting fruit bowl of shame around the place.

toomuchjunk Sun 03-Aug-14 23:02:47

haha everythingcounts we have the rotting fruit bowl of shame!! Each week I chuck the gone bad fruit in the bin and replace it with fresh fruit and week after week no one eats it except the baby. That is my guilty secret. I feel like I should stop buying the fruit but somehow that feels even worse!

Some great ideas on this thread, I am feeling motivated again. Thanks guys!

plinth Sun 03-Aug-14 23:05:18

Yep rotting fruit bowl of shame here too.

I buy a load to give the baby the selection, but in reality he's the only one who gets force fed eats it and after a few days I can't pretend its edible any more.

Frozen veg is your friend. Broccoli florets, cauli florets, sweet corn as well as peas. Just as healthy and less waste.

RJnomore Sun 03-Aug-14 23:05:20

Sorry if anyone's already said this but why do you fell you have to do dessert?

We never have one except very special occasions. It's not necessary and it cuts some sugar out your diet for you actually doing less work not more.

plinth Sun 03-Aug-14 23:05:58

I only offer yoghurt or fruit and it's just another opportunity to get some calcium/vitamins in.

Laquitar Sun 03-Aug-14 23:11:38

OP you are bringing up 4 dcs with your dh away so you must keep meals/cooking simple.

Some easy meals that we have here:

- Omelettes (you can put any veg in them, we like onions and psppers, or spring onions, or spinach, mushroom)

- Pasta . With frozen peas and pesto. Or spinach and cream cheese. Or ham and cheese. Somet
imes tuna.

- Chicken pieces. Just put them in a try with olive oil and onions, peppers.

- Salmon fillets. In a foil parcel. Serve with brocolli or gren beans.

- Hummus, cheese, veg,

- veggie bean burgers. With wedge potatoes and carrotsor to,atoes.

- Spinach and cheese pancakes.

Dont worry too much about fruit. Veg are more important than fruit.
You could perhaps introduce fruits with pancakes? I.e. bananas and berries.

RJnomore Sun 03-Aug-14 23:12:13

Yeah fair enough plinth, just if the op is looking for easy ways to improve her diet perhaps cutting out might help?

Nowt wrong ŵith yoghurt or fruit though.

SnoogyWoo Sun 03-Aug-14 23:15:08

I have banana omelette every morning for breakfast. One egg and one banana whisked together and fried in the pan and a little honey drizzled on. Don't knock it until you try it, simple and delicious food.

I also add sultanas to to the mix as well every now and again.

MrsWinnibago Sun 03-Aug-14 23:22:31

Fruit is much more attractive to kids if you cut it up and put it in a glass bowl or dish as though it were a dessert.

I put natural yogurt and honey on too but yours might not go for that yet...just chop it up...apples, satsumas, grapes, bananas and put it in a dish.

newbiefrugalgal Sun 03-Aug-14 23:29:58

Make a fruit salad or get older ones to help. Just a couple of fruits and it's delicious.

Laquitar Sun 03-Aug-14 23:38:04

I am going to try the banana omelette Snoogy!

sconequeen Sun 03-Aug-14 23:45:44

I agree that small changes are the way to go, and to not get too stressed about it either. My DC are pretty fussy but I manage to get plenty vegetables into them with the help of my trusty handblender - you can get loads of veggies incorporated into pasta sauces, soups etc and if you make double quantities, it's not really any extra work at the time, you can stick the extra in the freezer and that's one meal less to have to worry about the following week.

For breakfast, thinking about your chocolate spread situation, why not try giving them porridge with a small amount (1/4-1/3 teaspoon) of chocolate spread to mix in? My DC love this and have it most days. They also enjoy mixing in the chocolate spread themselves.

I make the porridge out of a 50/50 mix of organic rolled oats and a organic muesli base of four other grains which I get from our local health food shop and cook them with milk (no sugar or salt added) You could just use rolled oats on their own but using the other grains increases the nutritional value further. It's really easy and quick to make once you get into the swing of it, and. although I am sure some people will throw their hands up in horror at the idea of adding chocolate spread, I use a good quality dark chocolate spread which contains very little sugar and I use such a small amount that it is far, far less than the amount of sugar they would be getting in a boxed cereal. We don't add any sugar to the porridge other than the small amount of chocolate spread. This breakfast is also pretty economical, even if you choose to use organic ingredients, and I buy 2 kg of the oats and muesli base at a time which keeps my two (3 and 7 years) going for around 6 weeks. DD isn't keen on fruit but for DS, I often add in some blueberries or banana etc into the porridge as well when it is being served up.

Fruit muffins might help get the fruit intake up as well, although I agree that getting vegetables into them is more important that fruit. Muffins are easy to make and if you steer away from recipes laden with sugar, they are quite a healthy option. I add a couple of handfuls of frozen mixed red berries into them (eg raspberries, strawberries, blackberries, redcurrants etc) at the final mixing stage and even my fruit-hating DD wolves them down. The DC also like to be involved in making them. Fruit muffins can be a nice pudding as well as a snack. Fruit cobblers or fruit crumbles are also nice puddings, easy to make and you can find recipes which aren't too sugary. Again, with muffins and fruit cobblers/crumbles, I tend to make double quantities and put the extra in the freezer as the start of the following week's menu. Making double quantities saves on time and washing up too!

Hope some of this is helps! I have picked up some ideas myself from the posts you've had. Am going to try a banana and egg omelette very soon!

SnoogyWoo Mon 04-Aug-14 00:06:32

I changed my diet at the beginning of the year to more simple foods. The banana omelette helped me the most as I needed a sweet substitute for cereals in a morning.

My fave food day now is:

Banana and sultana omelette with honey and almonds on top for breakfast.

Bacon and avocado salad for lunch.

Salmon and roasted veg for main meal.

An apple or dark chocolate for a snack.

I feel great when I eat like this with no IBS symptoms, bloating or sluggishness.

Keepcalmanddrinkwine Mon 04-Aug-14 00:24:58

Well done for making the first steps. One meal a week is a fantastic idea. The children could make their own pizzas if time, they are more likely to eat them. I make loads of dough and freeze half so you only have to do it fortnightly. Or use pittas or naan bread. Have sweetcorn, peppers, mushrooms, tuna, cheese, pineapple then smaller amounts of ham, cheese etc. for them to choose from.

If they're not keen on fruit, how about making a fruit salad. Even tinned fruit (in juices rather than syrup) is a start. You could have a small amount cream/ice-cream or yogurt with it to make it more of a pudding if you wanted.

AdoraBell Mon 04-Aug-14 00:45:20

Here those "buffet teas" are an indoor pinnicwink and my DDs líked To lay them out as toddlers too. They always are moré if they'd "prepared dinner".

I agree that making one change is the way To go.

A breakfast mine have always líked is natural (I told them it was special breakfast yoghurt) yoghurt with chopped banana and a little muesli sprinkled over, or 1 buscuit crumbled miraculiously turned it into a pudding.

pursuinghappiness Mon 04-Aug-14 01:09:41

I wouldn't attempt to overhaul their diet in one go unless you are prepared to be very militant as you could be setting yourself up to fail.

I don't think there is much wrong with Rice Krispies and toast for breakfast so long as they don't have a mountain of sugar on it; if they do then cut it back bit by bit until they jsut have a sprinkle of sugar.

So far as squash goes, personally I would swap the no added sugar squash for normal squash and try and get as natural a version (Rocks or good quality Hi Juice) as you can afford.

Your roast dinners and left over roast is absolutely fine and I see nothing wrong with fishfingers really. You could try making homemade pizza (buy breakfast muffins, slice in half, spread with tomato puree and add toppings and cheese). I give mine mash and sweetcorn/peas/carrots rather than chips and beans when I do 'easy dinners'. You could try making soup and giving them pasta for lunch; soup is mega easy, saute an onion and whatever veg you are using, add stock and a few herbs, boil until soft and then blend if you want it smooth.

Same with macaroni cheese, just try making the things they like homemade to begin with and then eventually you just vary a theme but, maybe, just try one new thing a week or a month? Ham, peanut butter, egg mayo are usually reasonably palateable for sandwich fillers, maybe make one round of each including cheese so and given them one quarter of each sandwich so they get to try new flavours.

Feeding kids is hard because with 4 invariably not everyone will like the same thing so do what you can do and don't be hard on yourself. I don't know what they are like yet but I signed up for the healthy meals email from the government health campaign so you could look at that?

EmeraldLion Mon 04-Aug-14 01:17:26

Do your kids like coco pops?

Ds2 will not eat porridge on its own...but he will if there's a handful of dry coco pops mixed in. It's actually very nice! And a handful of coco pops really doesn't bother me when it's in a big bowl of porridge oats.

DogCalledRudis Mon 04-Aug-14 07:09:09

Sounds pretty much like very normal diet. I wouldn't blame kids for not wanting to eat porridge (i hate porridge).

Have you seen that Sainsburys ad? Drops of yogurt with a slice of strawberry frozen like 'buttons' & thinly sliced Apple baked and sprinkled with cinnamon. ...worth a try?
How about natural yogurt with raisins?
TBH I wouldn't worry too much about fruit if they eat veg.
and I am so gonna try banana omlettesmile

43percentburnt Mon 04-Aug-14 07:39:09

What about chopped fruit with ice cream? Or frozen banana instead of ice lollies?

Mashed banana on whole meal toast.

If lunch changes from cheese sardines then cheese on whole meal toast for brekkie or beans on toast for brekkie.

A handful of frozen berries thrown into a bit of natural (not low fat) yoghurt. Stirred and mushed is very nice.

Lasagne (you could make two and freeze one for later in the week or for the following week).

Vegetable curry with rice or on jacket potato.

Jacket potato with tuna and cucumber/peppers chopped into tiny pieces.

43percentburnt Mon 04-Aug-14 07:40:25

Lol sarnies not sardines! Tho my baby loves sardines, maybe your 1 year old will also love sardines!

fuzzpig Mon 04-Aug-14 07:40:59

The indoor picnic thing works great with my two. Sometimes they just ask for "cold things" which is DD's name for a plate of cut up fruit, veg, crackers, cheese etc.

Yesterday I was doing sandwiches and they asked to have them in their lunch boxes - I bunged a load of extra veg and fruit in and they took them outside to eat, it was such a treat for them!

Surfsup1 Mon 04-Aug-14 07:44:40

A few people have hit on what I think is the key. Replace one thing per week every week.
Maybe week one you could ditch the sugar and replace it with rice malt syrup and/or stevia?
Replace the chocolate spread with a nut spread.
Replace the dessert with fresh fruit. Replace processed snacks with nuts, fruit, yoghurt (careful of the low fat ones which are often full of sugar and other rubbish).
Replace the squash with water - add some fruit pieces to make it more interesting?
Replace the sandwiches with a box with hard boiled egg, ham pieces, cheese pieces, chopped carrot - etc etc

I found one of the best ways to make the change easier was to become well acquainted with my slow cooker. It allows you to cook dinners far in advance and you can use really cheap cuts of meat.

There are some really good pages on Facebook which are full of brilliant ideas on how to make this sort of change.

stripedtortoise Mon 04-Aug-14 07:46:10

I bet there are lots of people like this.

Tbh it sounds like you're just a busy family putting good on the table and trying hard. There's nothing 'wrong with that' and I personally think there's nothing wrong with something from the freezer a couple times a week, a takeaway here and there and the rest of the time doing your best to be healthy. IMO this is how normal people eat. There are people on here that will scorn at that and only eat green pepper flapjacks from scratch or whatever but yea right :/

Breakfast for us is a choice from toast, fruit, cereal. If it's not there you can't eat it so just stop buying the chocolate spread.

Dinners range from home made spag Bol & chilli, roasts, something from the freezer, jacket potatos, sausage and mash, fajitas. Basically things that are easy to do for a busy family with young DC. I too get overwhelmed with lots and lots of ingredients, but you don't NEED lots to make tasty, largely nutritious food.

For the record, we are all slim and healthy. And happy by the way.

stripedtortoise Mon 04-Aug-14 07:47:20

Oh I forgot to say, we do love fruit and veg in this house and that's I'm quite stringent on. Every dinner will have at least 2 or 3 veggies either on the side or in a sauce and the fruit bowl is constantly stocked up.

Surfsup1 Mon 04-Aug-14 07:48:25
shakethetree Mon 04-Aug-14 07:50:36

Sounds pretty ok to me - just throw in a bit more fresh fruit & relax.

fuzzpig Mon 04-Aug-14 07:58:08

Thanks for posting about that sainsburys ad honeybee - I'd seen it once but forgotten, I'd really like to try the yoghurt buttons!

CakeUpWall Mon 04-Aug-14 08:14:25

Oh OP, please don't be hard on yourself - so many of us have been where you are food-wise. It's really tough looking after young DCs and striving for that elusive varied & healthy diet too!

You are doing a brilliant job, and doing it by yourself. It's not easy.

My family meals have been revolutionised by discovering the wonder that is the Slow Cooker. They are cheap to buy, pennies to run, and it's amazing what you can produce with only a little practice. There's lots of advice on MN, fb groups etc to get you started.

I honestly regret that I didn't have one when my DC were small, as I too used to beat myself up about the convenience foods they ate. Now almost every meal is from scratch, but just thrown together mid-morning ready to be served at our convenience at dinner time.

Try it, you won't regret it! (and give yourself a break. thanks)

Picklepest Mon 04-Aug-14 08:15:27

Well... If 7 days is to much to plan, try 5. I plan Monday to Friday only. I cheat too. See....

Friday nights it's always fish. Dunno why. Just meant that one meal a week was fishy based. Fish fingers, fresh, battered. Don't care but it's fish.

Sunday it's always roast. Chicken or anything. That always gives you a roast dinner Monday night. And probs left over veg already done.

Tuesday it's always mince. Spag Bol or cottage pie or something. Chilli (no chilli in it, But looks different coz of beans n chickpeas and when much older I will put chilli in it.) But mince based. There's always left overs. I then give those Thursday.

This means that several times a week I already have meals ready for dinner.

That's all without the left overs of stuff that I freeze in small pots.

Breakfasts well mine always eat the same, toast or cereal eggs or bacon. Or yogurt banana.

So it's just lunches I really 'wing'. If dinners are planned I'm more relaxed as I know if we are out late I can feed almost as walk in via microwave, reheated home food. And it makes the witching hours of dinner bath beds smoother.

Alter to fit your tastes but you get the pattern...

Georgethesecond Mon 04-Aug-14 08:15:32

For the fruit - ime kids much prefer fruit salad to whole pieces of fruit. I don't mean fruit salad like you would serve to adults. Just chop up two apples and half a punnet of strawberries and put it in a bowl. That's fruit salad. If you have some nectarines or a few grapes so much the better. Pour a little orange juice on it if you like. Let them serve themselves and eat it with cocktail sticks if you have some. That will probably get some fresh fruit in them!

vdbfamily Mon 04-Aug-14 08:16:28

Our kids were having too much fruit juice so we have started keeping a big jug of water in the fridge with slices of lemon and lime in.Add some ice cubes and everyone is happy so one meal a day has become just water.
Jacket potatoes is always a great easy meal. You can have some bowls of easy fillings and let the kids choose.
If we are at home for all meals we have a easy meal of bread or cheese and biscuits and have lots of cucumber/carrot sticks/celery/salad/mini tomatoes and some lovely houmous to dip it in.
The breaded chicken is easily done yourself and not really unhealthy. Try potato wedges rather than chips.
We find it is easier to write a plan for the week and shop accordingly.We don't always stick to it but it is a start.
Bolognaise is a great thing to batch cook and have frozen and you can add lots of finely chopped veg that the kids wont know is there. Can be had with so many things...pasta/rice/jackets/wraps/nachos/lasagne/cottage pie etc.
But it is so hard to stay motivated as it can just get so tedious.Are any of them old enough to help out?

BarbaraPalmer Mon 04-Aug-14 08:21:28

I've managed to convince one of mine to drink water by switching to "mineral water", served with ice, which makes her feel very grown up

we bought one bottle of still mineral water about three months ago, and have topped it up from the tap every night when no-one's looking. the evil marketing people are definitely on to something.

Boomerwang Mon 04-Aug-14 08:22:15

I'm in the same position :/ When my baby was born I was full of it, going on about how she'd only ever eat home cooked meals and none of that processed crap.

Fast forward two years and I struggle to cook the most basic things like roasted sweet potato or something because I always seem to mess it up. She won't even eat these things. Unfortunately there's hardly any choice here in Sweden, they bring kids up on meatballs and hotdogs. The only veg she will eat are peas or sweetcorn, and some cucumber which is great but that means putting them in every meal otherwise she won't eat any veg with her meal.

My big struggle is the meat. She won't eat stripped chicken, or pieces of pork or beef cut into small bits, she won't have it blended with anything either. In fact, if there's any meat on her plate she will simply leave it.

The only way to get her eating meat is to give her meatballs or bloody hotdogs as a snack before her meal, as then she sees it as a special treat. Yes, the 'special treats' I've been panicking about because I don't want her to ever see food as part of any reward system.

When she visits her grandmother she dishes up a bowl of buttered macaroni and ketchup. That's all. No veg, no meat, just stodgy carbs. I've even had to fight about the ketchup as she would slather it all over whereas I only allow a few drops.

I want to take more control of my daughter's diet and enrich it, but I'm stuck for ideas....

...so I'm following this and going to read all the replies above.

pukkabo Mon 04-Aug-14 09:00:22

Eggs! Eggs are brilliant. Scrambled (and mixed with milk)- protein, calcium and lots of other vitamins, dippy eggs and soldiers are always excellent and easy breakfasts/dinner even! Make the switch from white bread to 50/50 and eventually to wholemeal. Use a fortified spread on the bread. Cheesy omelettes are always good too. I lurve eggs.

Fruit wise. Make a fruit pizza? It's very simple. You can get recipes on google for the base, the sauce can be yogurt and then just top with a shed load of fruit. Banana muffins/bread/cookies are always good and you can make a batch to freeze. Blueberry muffins too. Pancakes for breakfast topped with yogurt and fruit. Greek yogurt mixed with honey/maple syrup and peanut butter and put some berries/grapes in there? Make shapes out of the fruit. Sometimes I do rice cakes topped with peanut butter, banana ears and eyes and blueberry mouth- rice cake bear.

Easy teas- as others have said homemade pizza is always good. Use wholemeal breakfast muffins, tortillas or even pitta breads as the base. Let the DC top with what they choose (within reason of course). Fish fingers are fine, especially the omega 3 Birdseye ones. Sweet potato chips? Just chop sweet potatoes into wedges, spray with some olive oil and into the oven they go. Fajitas are usually a hit with DC. Picnic tea or 'higgeldy piggeldy tea' as I call it always goes down well. Selection of carrot sticks, pepper sticks, ham slices, cheese, hummus, fruit etc. Pasta is never not good. Tuna pasta, cheesy pasta, pasta mixed with quorn or chicken pieces. Shepherds pie when weather gets cooler, hide some thinly chopped veggies in there. Beans on toast with cheese on top is one of the easiest and best meals you can have. Switch to low salt/sugar beans, 50/50 and then eventually wholemeal bread, fortified spread on the bread and top the beans with grated cheese. There's just about everything going on with that meal- calcium, protein, iron, carbs, good fats. Linda McCartney sausages, jacket potatoes. Cheesy bean mash.

Squash wise slowly weaken the squash. To jazz water up add strawberry pieces or squeeze some orange/lemon in there. Offer milk twice a day- flavoured milk

Breakfast wise toast is fine, try topping with peanut butter instead of chocolate spread. Cereals- porridge topped with honey/maple syrup/peanut butter/mix some yogurt in there, mash a banana in with it and top with chopped berries (make a face with the berries). Weetabix is good. Pancakes for a treat- use a sugar free recipe and top with honey or yogurt to sweeten.

samthewolf Mon 04-Aug-14 09:00:45

Rachel Allen does brilliant cook books, I was the same as you until I got hers! Easy meals is particularly good as it has sections with less than 5 ingredients, 1 pot etc. I just do two meals and desserts that can generally be frozen, she has a brilliant meat balls recipe that you can get the kids involved in making too so it's fun and it has a nice sauce you can make too or just use a good jarred one that says one of 5 a day or something similar. I bet there's a good meatball recipe online you can find, you can make a double batch and freeze them for quickness! X

samthewolf Mon 04-Aug-14 09:01:51

Obviously meat balls are my favourite grin

pukkabo Mon 04-Aug-14 09:02:27

Dessert is fine. Rice pudding is good, Greek yogurt with fruit and honey, yogurt in general. A favourite dessert of my DC is quinoa with mashed banana and desiccated coconut- it is very very good. Frozen yogurt is a tad better than ice cream for treats.

Surfsup1 Mon 04-Aug-14 09:14:05

Spinach and ricotta ravioli is one of my favs for a quick and easy dinner. I serve it with a browned butter and sage sauce - done in minutes!

The other thing that I find works quite well is just changing the names of things. My DS2 went though a stage of avoiding meat, but he would eat meat lollipops (lamb cutlets). Neither of mine would eat tomatoes, but they would eat red berry bombs (cherry tomatoes).

I've not read the whole thread but wanted to chip in before I start doing the housework. Apologies for any repetition.

Firstly, don't be so hard in yourself, there are parents out there doing a lot worse, you are at least wanting to change things and you have a roast in there presumably that means meat and veggies.

Some of my favourite, quick meals are;

Baked Potatoes with either cheese and beans or tuna mayo and sweetcorn, they taste better in the oven but are still nice in the microwave and you can serve them with a salad or veggie sticks.

Eggs, omelettes you can chuck loads of things in, ham, bacon, cheese, onions, peppers, mushrooms.
Boiled, poached, scrambled. All very quick and easy and filling.

There is no shame in beans on toast for dinner, mine will ask for it on occasion. baked beans aren't that bad for you and if honey re served with some wholemeal toast it's a good meal, especially if you follow it up with some fruit and a yoghurt.

Squash isn't the devil, it's better that they drink something than nothing, dilute it as much as possible and maybe buy a nice bottle to tempt them into drinking some water when out.

You know your kids though, if they are healthy, slim, active and their teeth are getting the thumbs up from the dentist, I wouldn't worry too much.

I've taught young parents and parents on a low budget to cook basics with little ingredients, please PM me if you want and I'll help in anyway I can. smile

thegreylady Mon 04-Aug-14 09:24:37

Philadelphia cheese spread comes in a chocolate version which my dgc tell me is delicious and it has the cheese which makes it quite a healthy option. They eat lots of pasta and their favourite is pasta twists with 'red sauce' which is tomatoes, carrots, onions, celery, garlic blended together and served with grated cheddar. My dd makes and freezes batches. She lets them do their own pizzas using split pitta bread as a base and putting out passata, grated cheese, ham, chorizo, peppers etc so they can make what they like. These are very quick and easy to bake or grill.

fuzzpig Mon 04-Aug-14 09:28:28

The other thing that I find works quite well is just changing the names of things. My DS2 went though a stage of avoiding meat, but he would eat meat lollipops (lamb cutlets). Neither of mine would eat tomatoes, but they would eat red berry bombs (cherry tomatoes).

That reminds me of our favourite Charlie and Lola book "I will not ever never eat a tomato" - carrots are orange twiglets from Jupiter, peas are green drops from Greenland, fish fingers are ocean nibbles from the supermarket under the sea, mashed potato is cloud, and tomatoes are moonsquirters! grin

KEGirlOnFire Mon 04-Aug-14 09:52:08

OP - I'm sorry that I haven't read all of the PP so apologies if I'm repeating what someone else has said.

Roast dinners are healthy (generally - especially if you roast the potatoes using low cal spray), so how about variations of roasts?

What I do every week is buy the 3 for £10 on meat that they do in all the supermarkets.

Last week we bought Pork Loin Joint, Beef Mince and Chicken Breasts. Each night you could make something from this and just do either pasta and veg, mash and veg, sauté potatoes and veg.

This week we got Gammon Steaks, Medium Chicken and Cod in Breadcrumbs (Sainsburys).

Bear in mind however that there are only three of us in the family so if you can afford it, you may want to get two lots of the meat. It's not exciting, but it's healthy and easy.

Again, lots of eggs, lots of Jacket spuds. And maybe change the choc spread on toast for honey? Healthier but still sweet.

Any way that you can do away with the desserts altogether. Maybe just a piece of fruit?

snoogywoo
I have just attempted the banana omelette with an epic fail blush
I whisked together an egg and a ripe banana and fried, it just turned into a pile of mush and wouldn't set sad where did I go wrong??
So...not to be beaten as I was hungry, I made a plain omelette with 2 eggs and smothered it in golden syrup and icing sugar grin very lovely!

OP have you tried sparkling water? My DC used to think they were very grown up drinking this, maybe add ice cubes and lemon slices?

Breakfast: Toast with peanut butter and sliced bananas on top
or just reduce the amount of Nutella and add banana.

Breakfast / teatime: pancakes with blueberries or strawberries, optionally cream and drizzle with honey.

Lunch: add some cherry tomatoes or apple slices to those cheese sandwiches

SacreBlue Mon 04-Aug-14 10:16:37

Re bananas - try the Aussie thing and stick them in the freezer.

They are nice frozen & chopped up and last for ages (no more squishy brown mush)

I think some places stick lollipop sticks into them before putting in the freezer so they can be eaten like an ice-cream lolly.

(we have ours with chocolate ice-cream)

WhistlingPot Mon 04-Aug-14 10:28:45

Ooh yes fuzzpig, decorating the plate too. Mine will happily approach something they'd never usually if they're saving the universe by eating a villain's nose/ear/eyes etc.

And absolutely agreeing that what you are offering is Not That Bad. I only have two dc and often find myself reaching for the fishfingers in a desperate attempt to dish up something they both will eat. My HV said fishfinger get too bad press, especially now you get salmon ones!

I have one dc that wouldn't touch anything in a sauce (is getting better but was awful for a while) so I have also conditioned myself to not fearing what the result is (ie not a proper "recipe") if it's balanced and healthy and they eat it.

So for example buttered boiled rice or pasta, with chicken and peas is REALLY easy, one dc would have it all separate (with nothing touching/contamination hmm) where as the other would have other stuff chucked in/on top: cheese, tomatos, sweetcorn, brocolli etc. I'd drizzle some reggae reggae sauce or something on mine to jolly it up a bit.

For lunches, a favourite is "bits in a bowl" which consists of bits of ham, cheese, cherry toms, grapes, cucumber, carrot sticks, sometimes with rice cakes or crackers or breadsticks & humous to dip.

And yy to trying fruit like grapes/strawberries/melon/blueberries if apples/oranges/bananas etc aren't their thing. For a very sweet and not so healthy but I sometimes serve them in a meringue nest as a treat. Fruit makes great faces!

LovingSummer Mon 04-Aug-14 10:41:18

Can I suggest you record everything you serve at all meals for just one week. I think you might be surprised at what you're managing to get into them after all, sometimes the broader view is a clearer picture rather than stressing meal-by-meal.

Also, we do a weekly dessert treat, other than that it's fruit or yogurt. Perhaps if you're accustomed to angel delight you could do that every other day to wean them off gently.

As for Nutella spread for breakfast? Maybe next time you run out, leave it a few days or weeks before restocking it, that way you haven't picked a fight but they have to 'temporarily' source an alternative, which could broaden their horizons.

I agree with other posters who say one little change at a time is more achievable.

Many years ago I kept a menu rota because I was working shifts and couldn't keep track of it all properly. On the back of the rota I listed everything I would need from the supermarket that week, it seemed easier to scan through it and tick off items I already had in the kitchen, leaving a neat little list of what's needed.

The funny thing is that once you get used to cooking different things, they become second nature and you don't have to give it much thought at all.

Depending on how fussy or young your DC are, may depend on whether you introduce each meal gradually. For example, my fussy 4 year old is given a new food with half of somehow he will happily eat, like bread roll or cucumber sticks. It somehow enables him to explore the new foods safely and I can rest in the knowledge that he won't go to bed hungry either!

Finally, it doesn't take much effort to dip cod or chicken breast into egg and breadcrumbs before putting them in the oven, but at least you know it's wholesome because you've don't it yourself.

Same with oven chips; boil for 5 minutes, shake to rough them up a bit, then straight in the oven with some sunflower spray.

Homemade pizza is a great idea too. You get get a lot of veg and protein in that way.

If all they'll eat in sandwiches is cheese, could you add a tiny bit of ham one day, tuna the next, egg after that, so they still get their geese but you're adding in new tastes that you can eventually reduce the cheese portions?

theressomethingaboutmarie Mon 04-Aug-14 10:48:53

First of all, give yourself a break. You've got 4 young kids, that must be bloody hard work and very tiring. I second the approach of changing things a bit at a time. I also recommend batch cooking - making a huge lasagne (with lots of hidden veg) and freezing it in portions. My kids adore sweet food and would love to have sugary puddings every day but I tend to give them full fat yoghurt that has pureed mango in it. I know that sounds a bit lentil-weaverish but I buy it from Sainsburys and they LOVE it. It's sweet, filling and full of fruit and calcium - yum.

You might want to try to put the food in the middle of the table and help them to help themselves. Would that work? (I'm sorry, I've got 2 (aged 2 and 7) so my perspective is probably out of whack with your reality). My kids tend to eat better when they are able to control what goes on their plates.

Good luck OP and be kind to yourself!

Surfsup1 Mon 04-Aug-14 11:03:05

THIS plate worked brilliantly with my fussy eaters. Little portions of new things are apparently much more approachable.

fuzzpig Mon 04-Aug-14 12:14:54

I'm loving the idea of putting fruit purée into proper unsweetened yoghurt. My DCs love the muller corner/frube type things but it'd be great to make it healthier that way. They've tried Total but it was far too sour (for me too!)

Zucker Mon 04-Aug-14 12:24:36

Great tips on this thread, I wouldn't worry about the fruit OP as you say yourself they do like the veg. Don't create battles for yourself grin

I too am an owner of a fruit bowl of death, just not great lovers of fruit here, but we do eat veg. I reckon it all evens itself out. None of us have scurvy yet anyway!

silverten Mon 04-Aug-14 12:34:09

Stop stressing about puddings and snacks. You don't need either for most of the time.

I rarely take snacks out, but if I do it's something like a banana, fig rolls, or mini babybels. All nice, but not so nice that children will eat them whether they are hungry or not.

Pudding in our house is usually as much fruit as you want. Sometimes with yoghurt, for a special treat (mean mummy wink) it's fruit yoghurt.

Agree with changing one meal at a time. Doing everything at once is too exhausting to think about.

Meals don't have to be fancy. Nothing wrong with simple stuff like boiled egg and toast, omelette, pasta and sauce, pasta bake, baked spuds with toppings. If you don't manage much veg on the side it doesn't really matter if you have fruit afterwards.

silverten Mon 04-Aug-14 12:47:49

Oh yeah and one of my favourite boring meals goes down a storm every time: cauliflower and broccoli cheese.

Chop a cauliflower and a large head of broccoli. Steam this whilst you make a mumsnet microwave cheese sauce with a good metric fucktonne of plain municipal cheddar. Pour it over the veg. Add more grated cheese and/or breadcrumbs if you're feeling fancy. Grill for a bit to brown, or just eat it if you can't be bothered with the topping. Takes about 15-20 mins with practice.

bibliomania Mon 04-Aug-14 12:52:46

Sympathies - I get overwhelmed about food too, and I only have one dd.

I wouldn't necessarily give up on porridge, by the way. DD loves it, especially in cold weather. I've never told her it's healthy, as that would be the kiss of death as far as she's concerned. I let her stir in a spoon of honey or sugar (still less than in commercial cereals) and job done.

I'm going to go through this thread and see can I pick up any ideas. Thanks for starting it!

Skiingmaniac Mon 04-Aug-14 13:24:59

Don't be too harsh on yourself - there are easy ways to improve things. Here is a typical meal plan for my family in the holidays (me and DCs 8 and 7):

Monday
Breakfast: toast or cereal and yogurt - weak apple/orange juice or milk
snack: cubed cheese or plain air popped popcorn (I love it too!) - water
Lunch: picnic style lunch: slices of ham, cucumber sticks, bread sticks, prawns, share 1 bag of crisps - water
snack: 1-2 biscuits - water or weak sugar free squash
Dinner: Left over roast and veg turned into something else (this you already do) - water
pudding or later snack: frozen juice ice lollies (cheap and simple)

Tuesday
Breakfast: pancakes with mixed berries and yogurt - juice or milk
snack: piece of fruit or nothing
Lunch: reduced salt and sugar baked beans on wholegrain toast - water
snack: treat....mini packet of haribo or small chocolate bar (kinder) - water
Dinner: Tuna cheesy pasta bake - easy to throw together and hide some pureed carrot or suchlike in. - weak squash then water
pudding or later snack: yogurt or fruit

Wednesday
Breakfast: toast or cereal and yogurt - weak apple/orange juice or milk
snack: popcorn/fruit/raisins/nothing
Lunch: Cheese and ham sandwiches, cucumber sticks, cherry tomatoes - water
snack: biscuit
Dinner: toad in the hole (sausages and for ease use a packet batter mix), veg - weak squash/water
pudding - fruit ice lolly

So, you get the idea........here are a few more simple ideas for meals:

scrambled eggs, bacon, beans and toast - grilled not fried.
baked potatoes with various fillings
spaghetti bolognaise - hidden pureed veg
macaroni cheese - using crème fresh and hidden pureed cauliflower
pizzas - buy the bases and put on toppings yourself.
omega 3 fish fingers (not fried) and oven chips are ok

I hope that helps and good luck you are doing great!

VinoTime Mon 04-Aug-14 14:15:50

Op don't be too hard on yourself my love. I'm sure everyone on here has, at some point, stuck some frozen junk in the oven for dinner because it's easier. We're all guilty of being too tired to cook at times.

My suggestion? Stop buying the junk. If you don't buy it, you can't eat it. I stopped buying any naughty food (crisps, sweets, chocolate, biscuits, chips, oven goodies like curly fries and onion rings, etc.) a while back and it's done me and dd the world of good. If we fancy something naughty on a Friday or Saturday night, we'll pop to the corner shop and treat ourselves to one thing. Other than that, there's fruit or ice lollies if we have a sweet craving or we can of course bake some goodies from scratch - we made banana bread the other week and had great fun getting caked in flour grin

Now I don't necessarily stick to strict meal planning, but I can pretty much walk round the supermarket picking up bits on offer as I go and the weeks meals form in my head. This weeks food shop was £27.25 (receipt is tacked to my fridge!) and that included all organic fruit and veg, organic milk, lots of fresh fish, some wholemeal bread and some frozen quorn products I needed to replace.

This weeks dinners for me and dd (7):

Monday: Smoked river cobbler chowder (using sweet potato, sweetcorn and peas to bulk it out).

Tuesday: Cheesy wholemeal pasta with broccoli, carrots and peas.

Wednesday: Home made sweet potato, onion and chedder grills with green beans and carrots.

Thursday: Smoked mackerel salad with garlic bread.

Friday: Spaghetti bolognese with wholemeal spaghetti and cheese (using quorn mince and bulked out with onion, mushrooms, carrots and peppers).

Saturday: I'll have a jacket potato and dd will have pizza (it's her 'naughty' day where she gets to choose whatever she wants to eat - this week was pizza).

Sunday: Quorn sausages, roast potatoes, veggies, Yorkshire puddings and gravy.

For breakfast there's toast and fruit or porridge with currents.

For lunch there's sandwiches, omelette and toast, soup or cheese and crackers.

For snacks there are apples, bananas, carrot sticks and small low fat yoghurts.

Fizzy pop is strictly forbidden in this house (I swear the stuff gives me a touch of IBS so I don't touch it and I would never encourage dd to drink it). There are some fruit squashes but generally speaking I use Tupperware juice containers to mix up flavoured water (tap water, half a lemon, half a lime and some mint leaves - am drinking it now and it is bloody delicious!)

I was very young when I had dd and food used to really overwhelm me. Luckily my mum always cooked from scratch so I had a few basic recipes down pat but the rest I had to learn. Even now, I stick to pretty basic, easy meals that we know and love, though I ditched the oven fish and chips three times a week a wee while ago! Eating well and eating healthily is actually pretty easy once you've come to grips with it. You soon realise that giving a young child an apple will keep them quieter for longer than a chocolate bar ever would and healthier options will fill them up for longer than crappy carb loaded oven dinners.

I'll say it again - don't be too hard on yourself. There's a plethora of good advice to be found on this thread and others like it. Take it a bit at a time - small steps in the right direction smile

SuperGlue Mon 04-Aug-14 14:36:48

Hi OP, you certainly have your hands full with 4 dc and a dh who works away. Hats off to you!

I have 1 dd (8) who has been an incredibly fussy eater since she reluctantly weaned onto solids. I have worked hard (and often with a lot f frustration, hidden, on my behalf!) to get her to eat a range of foods. When you have a dc who is just not that into food it can be heartbreaking. Funnily enough she has NO problems trying out a new type of choc / biscuit . cake though hmm

For breakfast she has a choice of cereals usually including: weetabix, readybrek, cheerios, shreddies, granola, porridge and perhaps 1 'rubbish' one like cocoa pops etc. We do not have all these cereals all time time but they are the ones we buy.

Lunch tends to be a rotation of: grilled bacon sandwich (either on bread or english muffin), beans on toast, poached egg on toast, pancakes with crispy bacon, banana & honey smoothie served with toasted brown bread and slices of cheese), mini-philadelpia and breadsticks, tomato soup with brown bread, toasty (rare as she is not mad about then - ham and cheese), crisp sandwich! (again rare - usually during school hols as a treat), banana with brown bread, egg mayo sandwich on wholemeal bread (i buy the little pots of deli filler egg mayo to save time and it lasts a few days). I always serve slices of apple or cucumber with lunch depending on which lunch it is. none of these things need many ingredients or take long to prepare.

Dinner is a rotation of homemade spaghetti bolognaise with loads of veg i the sauce (carrot, onion, celery, peppers, courgette - all whizzed in the hand blender before sauteing). I use lots of parmesan cheese and freeze portions of the sauce for her so we always have a quick dinner for her.

Chicken curry with rice & mini poppadoms (great for getting her to scoop up the sauce with)

Roast chicken dinner - she will eat roast potatoes, slices of chicken breast, raw carrot sliced

Fish & chips (a rare treat if we are out somewhere or as takeaway)

Pasta with pesto (top tip - add some cream to the pesto if they find it too strong a flavour at first) with peas

pasta with creamy parma ham and mushroom sauce - she loves the pasta, sauce and picks out every single mushroom and sliver of ham

pizza (i know...)

High Tea - grilled bacon, sausage, beans, white pudding, fried or poached egg with toast - she loves this

poached egg and baked beans on toast

I think that may be it....I am constantly trying to get her to try new things but it is an uphill struggle sometimes.

One good way of encouraging fruit is to chop and put on skewers and drizzle with a teeny tiny bit of choc sauce

chocoluvva Mon 04-Aug-14 15:00:00

easy home-made orange and mango ice-lollies:

peel and chop a very ripe mango
blend with orange juice
pour into ice-lolly moulds and freeze

You could do just frozen mango but the flavour might be too much.

Apologies if this has already been suggested - I have only skim read your post - banana and strawberry smoothies - blend banana, strawberries and apple juice to taste

Do your DC like mash? If so you can boil some sweet potato, celeriac and/or swede in with the potatoes and mash together. Add butter and/or a little milk if you like the texture to be more of a puree.

Sweet potato chips. Boil the (peeled) sweet potatoes for 5 minutes. Cut into chips and roast with a little oil in a hot oven for approx. 20 minutes.

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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