How do you feed a family meal when they all like/dislike different foods?

(39 Posts)
2712 Sun 16-Jun-13 11:18:22

That's about it really. One doesn't like something the others do, etc, etc, so mealtimes are a real pain and there is lots of waste.

pinkpanther79 Sun 16-Jun-13 11:25:00

I do a simple ratatouille (whatever combination of aubergine/onion/old toms/courgette/mushrooms with tin of toms, herbs, seasoning and half a teaspoon of sugar). This can then be used as a base for pretty much anything e.g. puree with pasta/pizza for fussy toddler, with pitta bread and fresh mint for lunch, poach salmon in it with pots for adults and for vegetarians I serve without pureeing on pasta with parmesan or mozerrella and fresh basil, with jacket pot for easy supper. Can be frozen and lasts for about 3 days in fridge.
Especially if people can cook themselves it is a healthy base at least.

BadRoly Sun 16-Jun-13 11:25:05

Is this your family and a daily thing or an extended family one off thing?

BadRoly Sun 16-Jun-13 11:29:50

I get round it by doing basics that they will all eat then tweaking, so:
Pasta - with cheese for dc1&3, with bog sauce for rest of us. Garlic bread on the side.
Sausage & jacket pots - skin off (so mash) and gravy with veg for dc3, skin off with beans for dc2, skin on with cheese and beans for dc1&4, any combination for me and dh smile
Roast dinner - each dc chooses a veg so at least they all have at least one they like.

I just cook one thing. If they are hungry they will eat it, if not they don't. DS went from being a pain in the arse picky eater to a child that eats everything except olives very quickly.

I do substitute kidney beans for baked beans in chilli as he really hates those bit says he doesn't like baked beans either. Gobbles it down though.

trice Sun 16-Jun-13 11:31:06

Just serve one meal and ignore moaning. They can take it or leave it. If they are hungry they will eat. If not then it doesn't matter. Kids don't have to eat at every meal.

trice Sun 16-Jun-13 11:33:01

Serve tiny portions to reduce waste.

busygirl Sun 16-Jun-13 11:35:06

this I don't run a restaurant,what's on the table is lunch/dinner,don't like it,go to play.apart for a couple of things,even then they can pick them off the plate(eg cheese or boiled eggs)

retiredgoth2 Sun 16-Jun-13 11:35:36

I'm with Trice.

...used to bugger about with everyone's preferences. Then gave up and just cooked same for all.

Was tricky for a few weeks but they are used to it now..

busygirl Sun 16-Jun-13 11:36:02

Meant to be ^ ^

SacreBlue Sun 16-Jun-13 11:38:15

Occasionally I fancy eating something the DS doesn't like or vice-versa, in which case I just make both and freeze any left overs if I can (or bung 'em the fridge for the next day if I can't)

For big lunches with lots of people and potentially different tastes I make several things, put out a variety and again freeze what I can (or send home takeaway boxes of left overs with guests if they want)

With so many different foods available I am sure you could find at least a few things that everyone can/wants to eat for when you don't feel up to making more than one thing - and having portions frozen means you can also just pop some of them out for convenience to save cooking on other days too.

It helps if you know in advance so you can plan ahead - so why not get each one to list a few of their favourite things and see what you can do from there?

You can also encourage them to try more things because our tastes can change and widen if we are open to giving something new a go, which might save you a lot in the long run.

<disclaimer : I love cooking, if you don't, then finding one or two things everyone likes and telling them if they want variety they can learn to cook their own dishes or pay for take out is also a valid suggestion>

mikkii Sun 16-Jun-13 11:39:35

I make one thing, although I might give DDs baked Beans and substitute salad for DS as he hates beans.

If I make stew DD1 has to eat the meat, but can leave some of the veg.

I don't run a restaurant.

It's a pain! I only cook one thing, or one thing with variations - but across the week I make sure that nobody has to eat anything they detest completely. Eg: dd1 won't eat anything in a cheesy sauce, so we'll have that when she's not eating with us / dd2 doesn't like baked potatoes much, so if we're having baked potatoes I'll make sure that there is stuff she does like to go with them.

Things everybody is currently happy with -

roast dinner or variations of eg with roast vege, or with mash, lots of different side vege (except we have nut cutlets instead of meat)

big pan of roast vege with veggie sausages and green vege

dhal and rice and salads

chickpea, sweet potato and spinach curry
vegetable and paneer curry (with these last 2, dd1 gives dd2 her paneer and dd2 gives dd1 her sweet potatoes!)

New potatoes and salad with 'something' eg: a homemade caramelised onion quiche, or they have chicken and I have halloumi, or so on

Wedges, vege or salad and 'something' - eg wedges, eggs, peas / wedges, salad, omelette / wedges, veggie sausage rolls, homemade baked beans

Rice and stir fry plus protein element - eg cashew nuts, omelette strips, tofu

Puff pastry tart with a different topping for each corner!

SEWannabe Sun 16-Jun-13 11:40:09

Unless there are medical reasons for a family member not to be able to eat what I serve, they don't get a choice.
I am not a slave, and would never think of making separate meals. Teach them not to be so picky.

Olivo Sun 16-Jun-13 11:46:07

I disagree that if they are hungry they will eat it? I wouldn't, I'd not eat it and wait for days until I was fed something I liked. I just give them things that I know they will eat, the basics if the meal are the same, but one prefers plain pasta, one with pesto, one likes sausages, one prefers fishfingers. no big deal if the oven is on.

Each to their own however, I can see this may not work for e very one.

Olivo Sun 16-Jun-13 11:47:00

Btw, my decision came precisely because I was made to eat everything and that made me a picky eater confused

I also disagree with the, 'If they are hungry, they will eat it.' I couldn't make myself eat tinned tomatoes, even if they were the only food I had. I just couldn't. Obviously, if I was actually starving, my views might change - but I don't think anybody is going to take it that far with their children!

DD1 is naturally very fussy, but she has trained herself to be able to eat lots of things that she previously wouldn't. However, mushrooms, kidney beans and creamy/cheesy sauces remain beyond her at the moment.

When they were younger, the girls had the option to eat what had been provided, or to have peanut butter on toast plus fruit. That way, I knew they were getting something healthy enough and nobody had to stress about either 'going hungry' or trying to force down something they didn't want/couldn't eat.

I'm with Olivio - I was made to eat things I didn't like as a child and I don't want to do that to my children. I don't really see why children should be made to eat things they don't like. If a friend cane round you wouldn't serve them up something you knew they didn't like ...

busygirl Sun 16-Jun-13 12:12:56

But if its only one or two things its different to refuse to eat/try many foods.I don't make them eat something they don't like but they have to try some.

Startail Sun 16-Jun-13 12:17:02

Much using of an extra pan to cook fry mushrooms and peppers or other DD2 unacceptable veg.

A lot of serving DD2's food before sauce is added.

Eating far to much sweet corn and carrots.

Chopping loads of apples, DD2 'salad'

insanityscratching Sun 16-Jun-13 12:22:37

I cook one meal, they all eat either all or some of what I have cooked or they make themselves a sandwich/toast/cereal etc.
I don't make a fuss, someone will always eat leftovers for lunch the next day and no one has starved yet anyway.

Ashoething Sun 16-Jun-13 12:32:16

I cook one dinner for all and if they don't like it they can have fruit. Actually dh is the fussy eater in our houseangry

OutragedFromLeeds Sun 16-Jun-13 12:33:22

Cook the same meal for everyone, but make sure there is at least something that everyone likes.

Skew portions so that everyone has most of what they like e.g. if DC1 likes the veg choice, but not the fish and DC2 likes the fish, but the veg, DC1 gets loads of veg and tiny piece of fish, DC2 get big bit of fish, small mouthful of veg.

Make sure to mix it up so that over the week everyone has a good mix of protein/veg/carbs etc.

Avoid the few things that they really hate where it involves being mixed in and they can't pick it out e.g. no chillis in pasta sauce.

Justfornowitwilldo Sun 16-Jun-13 12:33:42

There's a big difference between 'isn't my favourite' and 'hate'. If it's something they genuinely can't stand I work around it but I'm not doing different meals because someone isn't in the mood for X that particular day or would always prefer sausages and beans.

I've seen someone post on here that they allowed each person 3 things they genuinely loathed and agreed never to serve them those. It sounds sensible. Obviously being a veggie would be accepted too.

2712 Sun 16-Jun-13 12:39:13

Well here goes.....
they don't like cheese, eggs, fish, curries, roast dinners, (DD will only eat the potatoes and gravy), chicken unless it's in a nugget!!! peas, carrots, tomatoes, salad stuff, pasta bakes, lasagne, phew.
ATM we usually have
sausage and mash
shepherds Pie (DS2 refuses this)
Jacket pots with cold pasta salad
chips and burger
spaghetti bol
That's about it really.
I love cooking curries and caserolres and homemade meat pies but they pick at it then leave it. Makes me weep!!!
I keep trying to introduce new foods but it never gets eaten.
All the usual meals you see folk on here posting sounds delicious but my lot won't touch it.

BellaVita Sun 16-Jun-13 12:39:19

I serve one meal and that is it.

When Ds1 was little he didn't like bolognaise but would eat cheesy pasta with cucumber, pepper and tomatoes on the side, so I just left off the sauce, but I wouldn't actually cook anything separate.

When I do a roast, Ds1 doesn't like gravy, he just leaves it off his dinner.

I'm with trice too. I cook good food and they either eat it or they don't. I used to stress about it but eating was becoming a war zone with kids staring at plates of food so now I don't bother. There will always be something that will get eaten i.e. if they don't like the meat, they will like the veg etc. I do tend to cook fairly normal food (casseroles, roast chicken, fish pie, sausages, pasta with various sauces etc) and hide certain things (dd1 doesn't like mushrooms but will happily eat creamy bacon pasta sauce with mushrooms grated into it). Rule is you have to try anything that's new and may leave it if you really don't like it.

I love to cook Indian and Thai food from scratch and eat it fairly spicy so on those days I do cook separately for the dcs (they are 4 and 8)

Yes, Bella. We used to do that a lot too. And even now (and dd2 is 16), if the rest of us are having a 'salad type meal' I do her a 'baby pot' of cucumber, carrots, red pepper, cherry tomatoes as she won't eat salad leaves.

212 - I think lots of children don't like casserole type things. Dd1 certainly didn't, even if she would happily eat all of its components individually. If I really wanted that sort of meal, I'd have the potatoes and vege to go with the casserole and then quickly cook dd1 an omelette to have with the potatoes and vege, instead of the casserole.

Oh and if you can, get them used to spices ASAP. My two have been eating mild curries, chillis etc since they were tiny!

tumbletumble Sun 16-Jun-13 14:50:50

OP, I'd suggest a combined approach. Say 5 days a week you can cook things you know everyone will like, but experiment once or twice a week with risky ones that may not be so popular. That way you can give them the opportunity to keep trying new stuff but minimise the waste / hunger issues. Sometimes they may surprise you on the experiment days!

We don't really have any meals that everyone in the family loves, and most meals there is one person who actively hates the main part of it. So we do the main meal with variations thing. I don't agree with the theory of if they're hungry enough they will eat it, I have tried it and the result has been angry, upset mealtimes. I would rather go to a little bit of extra effort and have everyone eating happily instead of being starving or forced to eat things they really don't like.

2712 Sun 16-Jun-13 15:21:48

some interesting tips, thankyou.
I like the idea of sticking with the usual meals but introducing some new twist a couple of times a week.
Think I might also get all 3 DCs to write out a fave food list and hope somewhere in the lists there might be some areas of agreement.

Lasagne is the same as spaghetti Bol IMO so that wouldn't fly and chicken is chicken whether it be a strip of poached chicken or a nugget.

Sounds like you have pandered to them and now they aren't moving.

DD1 will happily eat spag bol but hates lasagne.

Bestseller Sun 16-Jun-13 20:34:24

I do one meal, with some very basic substitutes for those who really can't eat part of it.

e.g DS1 won't eat couscous and DS2 won't eat potatoes, so they have the same meal as the rest of us, but some bread instead of the couscous/potatoes.

They both like pasta, but DS2 doesn't do sauce, so I'll open a tin of tuna or grate some cheese for him.

DH won't eat prawns, so if I'm doing prawn stirfry or biryani (v. popular with DCs!) I serve his portion before adding the prawns and he has a vegetarian version

Sometimes it means one of them hasn't had a great meal, but over a week they all do OK.

specialmagiclady Sun 16-Jun-13 20:53:49

We have one meal and we talk about how everyone gets something they love and something they don't love in a week. We have allergies in our house so that makes life complicated enough, thank you.

I'm very clear that they don't have to like it, but they do have to try it.

I get them to eat their age in mouthfuls of things they are "practising". So if you are 3 you have 3 mouthfuls; by the time they are 10 they should be able to force down a plateful of food they are not keen on if they need to at someone's house.

We have a veg box delivery and quite often the only food in the house will be beetroot. It has made me a much more inventive cook, as I try and find ways to make (say) parsnips delicious.

That said, DS2 (6) just won't do parsnips, no matter how I disguise them. (Even as cake) We try not to give them to him.

I was a terribly fussy eater and very worried about trying new foods so I'm determined that my children learn to try stuff, and keep trying it as I cook it different ways. If they have a good try and they are not keen that's completely fine. I hate cucumbers but I make a big show of finding a way that I don't mind eating them, because I know many people in my family like them.

Next stop: tuna (bleeeeeughh)

snoworneahva Sun 16-Jun-13 21:07:06

I was a fussy eater as a kids - normal was cooked that I never liked and I didn't eat! I wouldn't feel comfortable with pushing that situation on my dcs. However my pickiness was chopped away by my dh, constantly feeding me foods I didn't like - one spoonful at a time...until I gave n and started liking most things.
So our approach with the dcs is I cook things I hope they'll like - I try out new recipes every week - ds will eat anything...craves new flavours, dd is still fussy but she only has a couple of things that she refuses to eat - mushrooms and creamy stuff - not liking 2 things is fine.

sharond101 Sun 16-Jun-13 22:27:31

I was from a cook one meal for all household and it did me no good. I chose not to eat it when I didn't like it and that got mee in a critical condition with an eating disorder so I won't inflict that on my family. DH and I have different tastes so currently I batch cook some meals we both like and some we individually like e.g enchiladas for us both, steak pie and curries for DH, veggie lasagne and quiche for me. I try and make a meal we will both enjoy at least twice per week and on the other nights I will make one meal fresh for either of us and the other will have one of the frozen homecooked meals that way it is no extra work of an evening when I am preparing the food. DS is only 1 year old so I am trying to give him as many flavours as possible and I hope he will fall somewhere in between my DH and I so we can enjoy meals without e having to make another something for him.

invicta Sun 16-Jun-13 22:32:02

I do one meal but may vary it slightly. Ie. DC doesn't like fish, so he may have chicken nuggets, but we all have the same veg.

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