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To suddenly expect my 4 children to eat the same meals? (2 are teens & 2 little one's)

(50 Posts)
peachcake Sun 17-Feb-13 11:12:00

I have absolutely had enough of cooking 2,3 or sometimes 4 different meals to feed my fussy family? It's too difficult and time consuming and half the food ends up overcooked or burnt trying to cook too many things at once.

So in organising a positive change I have got as far as doing a list of dinners that have at least a few meal options that they will all eat (although they all have meals they will eat these just aren't the same) that is the problem!! So I know I'm in for plenty of abuse, but I have had enough!

My questions are,

1. Do I offer plain buttered toast if dinner is not palatable to them? Or do they go hungry until breakfast?

2. Do they get pudding regardless or only if they eat some of what is on offer or only if they eat most/all of their dinner?

Please offer your advice and opinions and share your experiences with me.

P.S. I know I am a complete and utter fool to let this situation continue until my older kids are in their teens, but I have just let things slide and now I'm in big trouble and youngest is 4 years old so really want to make the change :-)

DesiderataHollow Sun 17-Feb-13 11:15:08

You cook a meal. You offer the meal.
They eat the meal.
Toast can be made for the little ones, or the big ones may make their own.
Pudding in our house is fruit, sometimes fruitcake and cheese. unless it's a special occasion. It's unconditional, you don't have to eat the main meal to get it.
They do the washing-up

GW297 Sun 17-Feb-13 11:23:49

Tioli for tea tonight everyone - Take It Or Leave It!

LeaveTheBastid Sun 17-Feb-13 11:24:08

As above. We rarely have puddings unless special occasions. I think it's unnecessary to have one if you have just eaten a decent meal. If anyone fancies something sweet after dinner then they're pointed towards the fruit bowl or yoghurts. If dd refuses dinner then I'll make her a plain sandwich (ham etc, just not her favourite peanut butter) or some toast. She is 3.7, she used to be hellish to feed at dinner times any would only ever want mash and for me to feed her and me doing it because I wanted her to eat. Past month I've stopped, she gets what me and DH have and we don't comment on her eating or not eating at all, 7/10 she will clear her plate.

GregBishopsBottomBitch Sun 17-Feb-13 11:24:31

My daughter is real pain in the arse for this, i make her something she wants barely eats anyway, so to maintain control, she has to eat a certain amount to get a small yoghurt, if not she goes hungry, that usually gets her eating some more.

Bakingtins Sun 17-Feb-13 11:35:27

YANBU. I cook and serve one meal. If they don't eat a reasonable amount there is nothing else on offer. If they eat most of it then there is fruit or yoghurt Etc for pudding. To some extent I pander to their tastes e.g. DS1 hates mushrooms, I still include them but he can pick them out. My DS2 had to be dairy and soya free for 2 yrs, I made dairy free family meals and other members could add cheese, yoghurt, sour cream if they wanted. I would not cook seperate meals for different family members. You are not running a restaurant.

Bakingtins Sun 17-Feb-13 11:37:47

The teens should be coking for the family sometimes too. Give them some input into the meal planner and out them on a rota once a week to cook. They'll start to understand the work involved.

Bakingtins Sun 17-Feb-13 11:38:13


Pobblewhohasnotoes Sun 17-Feb-13 11:42:33

Um...cook one meal. Stop pandering to them. I bet your kids know they can get away with it.

Do the older ones wash up?

Unless there is something they really hate the older two should just eat whatever they get. The little ones could have toast later if they won't eat. Offer fruit or yoghurt afterwards.

They won't starve.

GregBishopsBottomBitch Sun 17-Feb-13 11:47:52

Even the most stubborn of children wont like to starve, unless they have a real issue with food, and eating it makes em sick.

Cook something, they can eat or have fruit, they'll soon learn.

mum382013 Sun 17-Feb-13 11:54:31

i always say you have a choice for tea. eat what i cook or go hungry. i dont think it is necessary to offer toast. its what i cook or nothing until breakfast. works for mine but all kids are different. mine have to eat all veg too. very rarely do they leave anything. if i offered toast then maybe they would leave the food for toast. my cousin ate only cheese, ham and bread for years. because it was offered as a option if he didnt want the meal. my mum didn't when he stayed with us. he ate the meal.

Sokmonsta Sun 17-Feb-13 11:57:44

To do it suddenly may cause huge fights over dinners. But YANBU.

Pudding isn't conditional on finishing a meal. But make it fruit or yoghurt unless its a special occasion or they start eating everything put in front of them.

Start by cooking meals with ingredients they all like. Might make for a random meal, but if they eat it you can progress to changing some foods for something else.

Don't suddenly expect them to eat a meal they haven't done before. Roasts are always good for catering to fussy people, especially of you do a help yourself serving of vegetables. Of course encourage them to try the ones they don't like, but they can have more of the ones they do. If you get the right meat you can put it in the slow cooker, so not really a roast but takes the pressure of evening meals. The older dc can prepare all the vegetables, or at least some. And if the younger dc want to help, they could put things in pots, lay the table, clear it after and dry up.

Don't worry about having left it this long. You've got some hard work ahead I am sure but better now than letting your teens leave home only knowing what they eat from convenience foods.

mum382013 Sun 17-Feb-13 12:00:43

good luck op

Dawndonna Sun 17-Feb-13 12:01:15

I have four children. There are two choices in this house:
1) Eat what is provided.
2) Go hungry.
That's it. Obviously I don't do things that someone really hates, eg. one hates baked beans, so she doesn't get them, if the others are having beans she gets something else, but I've always known she hates them. I don't do changing your mind on a weeklyl basis nonsense, if you ate it last week, you'll eat it this week, and that's that.

Astelia Sun 17-Feb-13 12:49:18

One meal is cooked here but the teens tend to have the veg or potato then instead of the meat or fish they'll add some grated cheese or something else out of the fridge.

I don't fuss as they sort themselves out then sit down with DH and I at the table. We don't do puddings either although toast, cereals, yoghurts, fruit are always available.

As long as it doesn't make extra work then I am relaxed about it.

BackforGood Sun 17-Feb-13 12:55:33

I'm with everyone else - this is what's for tea - eat it, or go hungry.
Obviously I use a bit of discretion around long standing things they really won't eat... eg, we'll have a curry on the nights dd2 isn't eating with us anyway, and, as long as they have some veg, I'm not fussed if there is another one they won't eat.

Also, totally agree with getting the teens to take their turn cooking the family meal at least once each week - the protests about what other people cook become much reduced.

KentuckyFriedChildren Sun 17-Feb-13 13:20:56

My children eat what we eat with the exception of particularly spicy food. They either eat it or they don't but they do not get anything else until the next meal if they haven't finished what's on the plate. They have "pudding" (usually one sweetie out of a pack of haribo or whatever) but only if they finish their dinner and tbh they aren't really bothered if they get it or not. I occasionally make a proper pudding like a crumble or something if I feel like it. The point is if they aren't eating it then they can't be that hungry. They are 5 and 4.

5madthings Sun 17-Feb-13 13:24:47

Its take it or leave it here with my five. They are involved in meal planning and cooking/washing up etc and there are always some favourite meals but equally there are sometimes ones they aren't so keen on but I am not cooking separate meals, they won't starve themselves.

Squitten Sun 17-Feb-13 13:28:46

My children are still very little (4 & 2) but I cannot be bothered to cook seperately for everyone! With my two I find they just dislike different bits of the meal (e.g. the 4yr old struggles with chicken and fish whereas the 2yr old hates anything potato)

Everyone gets the same meals here. They have to have eaten at least most of the meal to get any pudding (yogurt, fruit or a dessert depending on what we have) but I don't force them to eat anything I know they don't like. Refusal to eat any of it means they get no pudding and stay hungry!

You really shouldn't run yourself ragged catering for everyone's fads!

littleducks Sun 17-Feb-13 13:31:54

I do one meal, there is sometimes pudding sometimes not. I will allow some altering, like adding yoghurt to spicy things or sauces to thinks that really dont need it but for the most part that is dinner. I dont provide toast/sandwiches instead, I cant think of a quicker method for them to switch to a carb only diet and give up eating vegetables.

Pandemoniaa Sun 17-Feb-13 13:38:43

Having watched my friend struggle with her incredibly fussy and strong-willed dd who seemed to take positive pleasure in eating as little as possible, I was fairly determined not to run a restaurant for my dcs.

I never made anyone eat anything they genuinely disliked (even now, at 30, ds2 detests mushrooms and, bizarrely, ds1 still isn't keen on red fruit) but equally I wasn't prepared to cook different meals. I tended to take the view that anyone unprepared to eat a meal that contained food they liked was not hungry enough for pudding. So no, nothing else was offered. My friend with the fussy eater would invariably give in so her dd just used to wait until the biscuit tin was opened.

I do think your teenagers ought to take responsibility for cooking some of the family meals though, OP.

worridmum Sun 17-Feb-13 13:39:15

I hope you account for allergies I still have nightmares from staying with my aunt she during my visit served pizza which I didnt eat so she then made marriconro and cheese which I also refused to eat because am lactose intolerant she then kept serving me that horrid marriconro and cheese ever meal time because she thought I was being fussy and my parents were just pandering to my tastes. with no alternitives so I went hungry for 2 days when I finally eat it I was so ill I had to go to hospital it was a nightmare thankfully I never had to stay at that anuts house again.

Booyhoo Sun 17-Feb-13 13:40:28

the whole lot can be involved in cooking the meal, not all cooking every meal but certainly a rota with supervision from you for the younger ones.

have a family meeting. everyone says all the meals they would be happy to eat and it goes on a list. you make a rota of who will be cooking on what night and ask them to choose which meal they will be cooking (this is your meal plan) so you will know that on monday sarah is making lasagne, tuesday you are making stew, wednesday jack is making jacket potatoes (easy for little ones to do) etc etc and you teach them all to wash up while they go along so the only dishes to be washed after dinner are the ones they ate off which takes all of 30 seconds to do themselves. no rows over who does the washing up then, or you could have sarah washing dishes, tom wiping table and counters and mary sweeping the floor but tbh my kitchen is tiny and they would all get on top of each other doing that.

Booyhoo Sun 17-Feb-13 13:42:12

oh yes and the meal that is cooked is offered and if refused then nothing til supper which is toast or cereal or fruit and milk in my house.

SashaSashays Sun 17-Feb-13 13:42:39

I will not reheat cook different meals for anyone in this house. Theres toast or cereal or chips (only for teens as they make these themselves) if you don't want what I've cooked and then I do say no afters if you haven't eaten your dinner or only had toast. However teens just help themselves and I normally give in to little ones its something I don't really enforce unless they have refused to eat at all.

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