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IABU but half the time I don't know what to feed my kids

(36 Posts)
monkeymamma Tue 24-Jan-17 10:17:14

So toast and roast potatoes cause cancer. Cured meat (sausage, ham) cause cancer. Kids shouldn't eat more than a teaspoon of sugar over a 20 year period and no salt should be added to anything.

What should my kids be eating?

I have two (5 and 2) and the youngest is fussy to the point I am going to ask the HV for advice.

The 5yo wrote a meal planner for the week to help me with our weekly shop and this is what it says (these are his choices I should point out)

Fish fingers

(He gets a cooked meal at school too).

The above just doesn't strike me as healthy. The bolognaise has loads of hidden veg and is made with lamb and will be served with broccoli. The curry is homemade with chicken, veg and apple. The toastie will be ham, cheese and mushroom (the only veg the 2 year old will knowingly eat) and the pizza will be made with hidden veg sauce and both will be served with raw carrot and cucumber.

But the toastedness of the toastie and the hamminess of the pizza and toastie now worries me. And overall it just doesn't sound 'healthy' iywim.

If you would say your children (of similar age) have a healthy diet what would it involve? Are there kids out there who will eat e.g. lentils and spinach and whatnot?

Actually DS1 will eat spinach (but only raw) but he will not eat (and nor will the 2 yo): quiche, soup, anything with butternut squash or sweet potato, avocado. 2 yo will eat bananas and baked beans (not together obvs) but the 5 yo will not.

Both kids will, with some cajoling, eat chicken pie and fish pie. The 5yo will eat a stir fry and noodles (e.g. prawn and broccoli).

I loathe cooking meat that's just meat (e.g. chops, ribs, a roast). and I don't think it's so healthy that i need to feel guilty about not doing it (do i?).

We do try to do meals together but DH is not home till past 7 so the kids do eat together in the week (then family meals at the weekend).

Breakfast I don't feel so bad about as they have porridge (the 2 yo) which I have stopped sweetening as he doesn't seem to care and yoghurt and fruit (the 5 yo). But I feel like the rest of the day is fairly bad.

I also let them have ice creams and loads of sugary yoghurt. The 2yo is addicted to biscuits which we don't have at home but they seem to pop up in his line of sight almost everywhere we go and there are well-meaning people everywhere (I find) with treats for my kids.

The 5yo has a krispy kreme obsession which means I can no longer take him to tesco (or anywhere else they are on sale).

For the 2yo he has various 'safe' foods he will eat reliably, but if there is a foreign body in there (e.g. if I added spinach to his pizza, say) the whole plate is pushed away and there's no more eating that day. Other than biscuits

Any tips/recipes/meal ideas? Am I the only one to find family catering a bit repetitious and tough?

user1484317265 Tue 24-Jan-17 10:23:04

Toast and roasties do not cause cancer. Cured meats ever so slightly raise your risk of certain cancers from one small number to an ever so slightly larger small number.

Feed them real food, the less processed the better. Don't read the papers. Buy a few cookbooks, read a few cooking for kids , try a few new things. But mainly, stop stressing and give them what they will eat!

Lapinlapin Tue 24-Jan-17 10:24:05

No advice, but just wanted to say you're not the only one who finds it tough and you're doing much better than me!

I started out with such good intentions - pureeing a variety of steamed vegetables and all that. No sugar, no jars. But my fussy eater (fussy from day 1!) was not having any of it.

He's now 6 and does eat, but is ultra fussy. Dc2 is a better eater but unfortunately starting to copy dc1's fussy ways.

We try to all eat together as much as possible, but it's SO hard finding a meal that everyone will actually eat.

So if mine would eat your range of meals - with actual veg and sauces - it would be considered a dream in this house!

SomewhatIdiosyncratic Tue 24-Jan-17 10:29:24

I find cooking nutritious food for a family to be quite tough. There are a lot of contrasting dislikes in my family. I'm not keen on dry food (and it uses so many pots!), but the DCs don't like one-pot meals. DH and the DCs have opposite tastes in veg etc.

Our diet isn't something to write a virtuous health guide about, but we are in good health, active and maintain healthy weights. I'm not going to sweat over the latest cancer scare stories or we'd never eat anything.

It's all very well cooking some kind of uber superfood mongbean and qinoa casserole, but if the DCs won't touch it they won't get any nutrients from it. If I give them pizza, they will get proteins, carbs and a smear of antioxidants from the tomato paste. The reality is cooking a mix of food and getting as broad a range of nutrition as their preferences will allow. (And hope that they learn to love a good homemade curry...)

Soubriquet Tue 24-Jan-17 10:30:39

Stop panicking!

Remember years ago it was DO NOT EAT BUTTER!! IT WILL KILL YOU!


The 5 year olds choices for dinner is perfectly fine.

If you listen to every single piece of health advice you would never eat

Lake2 Tue 24-Jan-17 10:31:22

Those meals are very healthy, I don't know why you are worrying? It's not like you are feeding them pot noodles every day.
We eat a roast dinner once a week with chicken and veg fried rice with leftovers the following night, lots of pasta, curry, chilli, chicken breasts and veg and pizza on a Friday night. I let my kids have a happy meal every 2 weeks or so and let my (very skinny) DS have a second piece of choccy cake after dinner if he wants it.
Ignore the toast and potato warning...proved carconegic in very high doses in animals, not humans.
What DOESNT cause cancer.
I make sure my kids have fruit and veg every day, but it wouldn't cross my mind to worry about the sugar in yogurt. Some children get nothing besides toast and chicken dippers/chips. You're obviously a good mum for worrying but give yourself a break...

Thetruthfairy Tue 24-Jan-17 10:34:13

I agree with the first poster.
Relax. You are doing a great job. Kids are fussy. As long as you keep trying them with new flavours occasionally, they will be fine.

TwentyCups Tue 24-Jan-17 10:35:27

I think you need to look at different types of food. Try falafel, salsa, pesto, hummus, boiled eggs, breadsticks, corn on the cob, Pitta breads, roasted tomatoes, other types of beans - kidney, black, black eyed, butter beans. These things or a combination of some can easily be a varied kid friendly meal. Pitta with beans, hummus and salsa is kid friendly healthy and simple. Keep expanding and hopefully you will find more things they will like.

corythatwas Tue 24-Jan-17 10:37:18

First of all, I would not worry too much about ham or roast potatoes or anything like that. Yes, if you eat it exclusively over a long period of time (or if you happen to be a white mouse, as a poster put it on another thread). But as part of a balanced diet, it's not going to do any harm.

The one thing I do think you want to watch is sugar intake: not because sugar is dangerous either, if part of a balanced diet, but simply because sugar is so ubiquitous in modern produce that it's hard to keep the diet balanced at all.

I would put some effort into training your dc to accept that there will be no biscuits if he doesn't eat his supper, and that he can scream all he likes but you will walk past the Krispy Creme counter in Tesco's. It is worth sitting out a few tantrums to teach them that you do not buy treats on an ordinary shopping round.

Other than that, your diet sounds fine. Perhaps limit the pizzas to once a month or so, find a few more recipes of similar stews and sauces to bolognaise, see if you can occasionally get them to eat plain fillet of fish with a sauce rather than breaded fish fingers. It's more about tweaking and balance than completely banning things.

Gaaaah Tue 24-Jan-17 10:37:26

Oh for pity sake, this drives me mad, who comes up with all these rules. Some may think I'm in the wrong but i cannot be bothered with all the 'guidelines'. If we listened to everything, we'd never eat anything! I don't stop my children having anything as far as food goes and so far I've managed to avoid fussy eating thank goodness.

livingthegoodlife Tue 24-Jan-17 10:37:53

I think your meal choices by your child look great, I'm pretty certain my 5 year old would choose pasta with cheese, followed by pasta with pesto, followed by pizza!

I struggle massively to get mine to eat any veg. They only eat peas!

hoddtastic Tue 24-Jan-17 10:38:13

pitta with beans, hummus and salsa... kid friendly. Ha!

I eat that stuff, DH eats that, my children? One of them (the milk and meat avoiding one) would maybe eat that, the others? No chance!

MistressPage Tue 24-Jan-17 10:41:46

Relax OP, your kids diet sounds perfectly fine and normal

OrchidaceousRose Tue 24-Jan-17 10:41:58

I actually think your kids eat an alright range of fruit and vegetables for their age, compared to a lot of kids I have known,especially as you're getting a lot of hidden veg in there too.

Why not just make the ham on the pizza Parma ham- lots of Parma hams have no nitrites in them, which is the harmful bit of processed meats. It will cook as the pizza cooks so the texture won't be too different by the end.

And as for the toaster, the advice is toast/roast to a golden yellow colour.

I know you mentioned not liking cooking meat that's just meat, but roasting s chicken can make meals easy. If you have a roast chicken in the fridge it's easy to whip up meals quickly- chicken with salad, chicken with vegetables, chicken fried rice, chicken noodles, chicken pizza, chicken with hidden veg sauce on pasta. You can buy ready roasted chickens in the chiller section of the supermarket if you really can bear to roast your own. A big chicken can mean a couple of days of easy meals.

Also, I did read somewhere that part of the reason small children- up to about 3 or 4 years old, don't like fruits/vegetables because of some of the natural chemicals in them. The chemicals that have evolved as defences agsinst insects/much kids etc. Their little bodies just aren't as good at dealing with them as adults and older children. So sometimes peeling things is the answer as most of those chemicals are in the skin, and partly just trusting their instincts and waiting for them to grow out of it (as long as overall they have s healthy, balanced diet, and it sounds like they do).

Good idea to get the 5 yo involved writing a meal plan, and it's really not s bad one. Lots of adults make less healthy choices than that.

monkeymamma Tue 24-Jan-17 10:42:54

Oh what lovely replies! Thank you for being so kind :-) (I was expecting 'OMG monkey you are killing your kids' types responses. Or 'OMG stop worrying you sound mental'!) You are absolutely right about health scares. I need to stop listening to the radio.
Lapin and somewhat it's really nice to hear it's not just me! It's a thankless task sometimes isn't it. Although DS1 did say at bedtime 'mummy you're the best cooker in the whole world' so my skills in heating up fish fingers haven't gone completely unnoticed grin.
twenty those are my favourite foods! Sadly they are exactly the kind of thing they push back against. Baby DS1 ate hummus but has now rebelled. Any beans or pulses are reviled (I blame DH as he also dislikes this type of food and like DS1 is all about the meat. If I fell under a bus they'd just live of chorizo). They will both deign to nibble a boiled egg if I make them though!

arethereanyleftatall Tue 24-Jan-17 10:50:06

I know this meal my dc eat will get ridiculed on here, but they do actually love it, and it's bloody easy.

I buy the ready made (red and white) quinoa packs. Then I chop up anything I find - normally it's tomatoes, cucumbers, pomegranate, apple, raw pepper and carrot, peas and corn (from freezer), cubes of cheddar cheese, cold chicken if I have any, and walnuts. Mix all together. It looks lovely, takes ten minutes, the pomegranate and apple and cheese mean the dc genuinely love it. Dh likes it. I find it too healthy tbh so I normally add a turkey dinosaur to my dinner once dc are in bed!

Starduke Tue 24-Jan-17 11:01:01

My 2 are exactly the same age as yours. I think they have a healthy balanced diet but it isn't very varied.

They eat:
Chicken casserole (so chicken in a tomato sauce with carrots, beans, leak, brocoli, potato or sweet potato and sometimes apricot). The 5 year old will eat it with a bit of rice but the 2 year old won't

Lamb casserole - identical to above but lamb instead of chicken grin

Fish pie (if bribed with ketchup)

Pasta and tomato sauce with cheese and ham (for the 5 year old only)


Vegetable soup

Lentil soup

Cheese on toast

Plus yoghurts and fruit.

The 2 year old likes chips. The 5 year old likes chicken nuggets.

And that really is about it. We stuff loads of vegetables in all their meals.

One thing we can't get them to eat is bolognaise unfortunately - think it's the texture.

DJBaggySmalls Tue 24-Jan-17 11:02:48

Just feed them what they will eat and enjoy.

At least they are not filling up on balls of wet newspaper after a day of rammaging through a landfill site in a third world country.

FeliciaJollygoodfellow Tue 24-Jan-17 11:03:24

Your bolognese is made with lamb And served with brocolli?!?!

I think that menu sounds fine. I make a lot of mince base meals as you can blend in a shit ton of veg to make it more healthy. At least once a week we have pasta (might be lasagne, might be with pesto) and pizza at least once a week too.

I don't sweat it. They're still little, if you don't make a big deal of veg then they don't see it as the shit choice!

(I did see a recipe for veg nuggets earlier - broccoli, cauliflower and carrot blended together with an egg and bread crumbs, then coated in more bread crumbs and baked. I think I'm going to try that with chips and ketchup to balance! grin)

greynunu Tue 24-Jan-17 11:12:11

I too think your meals sound pretty healthy for normal small DCs (i.e. fussy!). Worrying too much will also give you cancer wink

You mentioned struggling to get beans & pulses into the family. Have you tried disguising lentils in a cottage pie? My DS is pretty suspicious of veg in general but will wolf a lentil pie down. I just replace mince with a tin of lentils and it all cooks down to look much the same as a meat dish. If that is a bit challenging then maybe half mince half lentils.

I also make up big batches of my own baked beans and freeze in portions, I can then add in lots of hidden veg and control the salt & sugar. I don't feel so guilty dishing up a baked potato or chipolatas when they're served with those beans.

AButterflyLightsBesideUs Tue 24-Jan-17 11:28:26

Your meals sound fine. My daughter would never give me 5 choices like that, she would say "sausage & mash" 5 times grin

She will also quite happily eat:
home made burgers
meatballs & spaghetti
chicken nuggets
buttered chickpeas
occasionally poached or boiled eggs

with some combination of mash/wedges/jacket/new pots/cold plain pasta/rice/bread/broccoli/corn on cob/cucumber/defrosted but raw frozen peas. I make her have one item of protein, one carb and one veg/salad on her plate and try not to think about the absurb or unappetising combinations she ends up with as a result.

I think that is it.

To be honest her favourite meal is a "picky plate" ie cheese sarnies, cucumber & tomatoes, and if I happen to have cold sausages or sausage rolls or wotsits to add that is apparently the Best Meal Ever.

I've stopped giving myself a headache over it. I'm sure she'll branch out eventually.

monkeymamma Tue 24-Jan-17 11:33:42

Orchid they love parma ham! Thought it was one of the 'bad' meats but I'll be sprinkling it liberally now.

greynunu you're right about the worrying! The bolognaise does have some contraband lentils in. I have to be careful about proportions though because one time my hand slipped and both DH (!!) and DS1 said they didn't like it. (They didn't/don't know about the lentils but it must have tasted a bit thicker than usual.)

Felicia grin the lamb is a weird hangover from DS1's very early life when he had an allergy and I did an elimination diet with no cow's protein. So we stopped having beef and now all prefer lamb! I do worry one day DS1 will grow up and have bolognaise in a restaurant and be like 'hang on...' because my 'bolognaise' is full of non-traditional elements!

Thanks for all the tips guys! They are all useful!

LIZS Tue 24-Jan-17 11:36:54

Ham/cheese pasta bake, served with spinach or broccoli.
Shepherds pie ( hide veg)
I don't think you should worry about squash, sweet potato, avocado etc tbh.

Oly5 Tue 24-Jan-17 11:37:29

Your menu is fine and healthy!
The processed meat rule is if you eat a lot - like every day.
A bit of ham and bacon isn't going to kill them. They are also full of iron!

MaQueen Tue 24-Jan-17 11:39:08

I totally ignore the guidelines, just can't be arsed.

I always buy organic meat, fruit and dairy - so that's pretty healthy.

We eat a lot of homemade chilli and bolognese and sausage&bean casserole (I only really do one pot cooking if possible). I also do a lot of 'wraps' made with breadcrumbed chicken & salad. Once a week we have pizza & garlic bread, and once a week we have fish & chips.

We're all very healthy (can't remember the last time we had coughs&colds?).

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