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To be SO fed up with making dinners?

(51 Posts)
IHateDinnerTime Mon 11-Nov-19 21:01:49

I am so fed up with dinners.

DS1 eats most things, but some are off-limits. But most things are ok.
DS2 is the only neurotypical child and is a great eater.
DD is a pain with what she eats and things are ok one week, not the next depending on her mood and other triggers.

Over the years we have tried various methods of dinner, most of which saw at least one child (usually DD) kicking off and moaning and complaining.

Chicken and salad they will all eat and it is easily adaptable for everyone's requirement but DS1 gets 'bored' and annoyed with that every night. Fair enough really!

So we ended up with a monthly dinner plan that all children signed off and agreed to - it includes adaptations for each child if necessary but means I am not making three different meals each night. (DH tends not to eat, nor do I, or I eat on shift at work so we are literally catering for the three of them)

This has been going ok, except DD is now not wanting what is on the meal plan. I gently remind her that we all agreed on it. It does have things on there that she will not eat and a previously acceptable alternative is provided. She asks if she can cook her own dinner, and I generally say no as I have already prepared it - plus it will not be balanced nutritionally - she is overweight and we need to keep an eye on what she eats. She would basically live off carbs if she could! (not that we have told her!)

However, there are two issues.
1) Sometimes due to after school activities, general life circumstances we have to go "off plan" - this does not go down well and she will refuse to eat anything at all. Or will want something that we don't have. Or will want something that we just. don't. have. time. for! (like a roast dinner when we have got in at half six!)
Tonight we went off plan because DS2 requested something in particular. He NEVER kicks off about food, rarely requests it and infact, his life is hard enough between the other two and their issues so a small thing I can do for him. It is something that I adapted to cater for the other two - so it was something "allowable", just not on the plan exactly. Say, curried sausages instead of sausage casserole.

2)DS1 is on medication that affects his eating. He basically does not eat at all during the day. This means when he gets home from school he will have a massive meal as he hasn't eaten breakfast or lunch. But then come dinner he is not hungry. Fine as I know he has what he needs diet wise during the afternoon.
Tonight, however, DS ended up not wanting what I had put aside for him and he cooked up a bacon sandwich for supper. Again, I have no issue with this as his medication has caused him to lose a lot of weight over the summer, his diet is balanced and he actually waited until after DD was in bed as he knew it would cause issues. Dinner is also ok to use tomorrow for DS2 lunch so won't go to waste. (sometimes it is not something that will go well in a school lunch!)

But DD is still awake and is now saying IABU not letting her make her own dinners if her brother can.

She is under ten. He is a teen! They have different needs, but HER needs won't let her see that.

I hate dinners! I just needed to vent, really, to distract from the yelling out going on upstairs! Le sigh.

IHateDinnerTime Mon 11-Nov-19 21:02:29

God that's long, sorry! I guess I really did need to get it out!

GrumpyHoonMain Mon 11-Nov-19 21:09:54

Sounds like the main issue is around your DD’s weight and food issues and meal times are fraught because of her. Is this correct? If so perhaps remove weekday family mealtimes and have her and the boys eat their meals separately.

IHateDinnerTime Mon 11-Nov-19 21:15:00

@GrumpyHoonMain yes, mainly, I guess. We already gave up on family dinners years ago sad They cannot sit at a table together without massive aggravation between the oldest and youngest so it is mentally healthier to keep them apart for dinner. sad

IHateDinnerTime Mon 11-Nov-19 21:48:02

Anyone else have any thoughts?

user1494670108 Mon 11-Nov-19 21:54:42

Gosh that sounds so hard. I don't really have any advice but didn't want to leave you unanswered.
Would it work to try a 1:1 with dd and review the mela plan. What meal is suggesting she cooks herself?

Ni58 Mon 11-Nov-19 21:54:51

You said they'll all eat salad and they'll all eat chicken. Is there anything else they'll all eat?

user1494670108 Mon 11-Nov-19 21:55:24

It sounds like she wants some control but giving her that whole keeping her healthy is probably your problem

Ni58 Mon 11-Nov-19 21:57:48

What's already on your meal plan?

IHateDinnerTime Mon 11-Nov-19 22:17:01

Variations of these, repeated on alternative weeks, or as per the popularity, or as per my work rota allows or as per what is on the school menu for the days DD has school dinners:
Sushi - Toad in the hole for DD
Chicken & Chorizo skewers w/ salad
Spag bol or spaghetti meatballs - not for DD tho as she won't eat 'wet'
Chicken burgers (basically a chicken fillet in a bun with salad!)
Pasta w/ bacon, mushrooms, sauce, etc - DD won't eat this now
Homemade wedges, beans, eggs, combination style
Nachos - DD won't eat this now, as it is the full thing with guacamole, olives, salsa, cheese etc.
Casserole - again, DD won't eat so I separate all the bits
BBQ pulled pork and veg - guess what, she now won't eat!
Chicken stir fry - DD has to have separate bits
Roasts - but only chicken!
Steak and gravy homemade pies with veg - again, refusing
A chicken drumstick recipe I made up, with either veg or salad
Ham and cheese ploughmans with crudites, salami, olives etc
Chicken Ceasar salad - without the anchovies or dressing for DD
Hoisin duck pancakes - this is the only other thing they will all eat!

I know some of these are random, but it was what they came up with and I am willing to compromise. DS2 and DD have very balanced lunches - dairy, veg, fruit, carbs, protein and a snack and I try and balance it all out over the week with what they eat for snacks after school.

When she cooks she wants potato based freezer stuff like waffles, or those ball things, plus bacon, plus bread.

Dieu Mon 11-Nov-19 22:26:28

I'm with you. Kids would be so much easier if they didn't have to fucking eat!

IDontEvenHaveAPla Mon 11-Nov-19 22:27:37

This sounds very difficult and frustrating. Sorry to ask OP, but is your daughter concerned about her weight at all herself? Being under 10 and overweight is worrying and you are right that you do need to control her meals to an extent.

Do you use social media? I wonder if you could follow something like "Tasty", they often have quick meals and lots of variations. Perhaps you could watch some recipes with the children and get them involved in preparation too? One night a week one of the children could prepare a meal for the rest with your supervision, of course.

Furthermore, if they do refuse to eat something that they have agreed upon previously, then do not allow them to make something else, they can have plain toast. Take away options of alternatives as if you keep pandering they will know that a refusal will allow them to eat something else.

DianaT1969 Mon 11-Nov-19 22:48:07

Gosh, that sounds hard. I think I would press the reset button. No cooked evening meals for at least a week. You offer a cold buffet on of things like chicken legs, potato salad, hummus, veg sticks, bean salad, seeded flatbread and chopped fruit. Every eve for 7-8 nights. They eat what they want or don't eat it. Then you discuss a new meal plan. They know that at any time it all gets too much, you will go back to reset week.

IHateDinnerTime Mon 11-Nov-19 22:48:11

@IDontEvenHaveAPla I cannot not do alternatives as she wont eat anything 'wet' so if I didn't offer them the boys woul dhave the same restricted diet - which is not fair on them. I have to do some of 'their' meals too.

All of them enjoy cooking tbf. but DD wants to cook as above. oh and eggs :/

DS2 is a fantastic cook and can make some lovely meals - he has had a thing for cooking from a young age. But DD wont eat them.

DS1 won't eat anything DD cooks. He is a functional cook. With his issues I am satisfied he has enough at the moment to look after himself if he moves out, and that is ok.

RichPetunia Tue 12-Nov-19 02:29:15

What a bother! Make a meal, put it down to the lot of them. If they don't like it, they can have something that doesn't need to be cooked - slice of bread and butter, bowl of cereal, fruit. That's the choice. All that catering to everyone's whim would do my head in.

sashh Tue 12-Nov-19 04:30:32

Wow I can see why you hate dinner cooking.

I know you are working hard to give your children a balanced and home cooked diet but could you have a couple of ready meals in the freezer, a roast chicken dinner as an alternative, but only allowed one per week?

Or allow them to cook one day each week, either cooking for all three or just for themselves but they have to plan and you have to approve it ahead of time.

I also think some things could be adapted further, so when you have spag and meatballs put some meat balls in the oven to 'dry' cook and let DD have meatballs and salad in a pita bread (with a dash of creme fresh) or she can have plain spag with a bit of parmesan.

FloraMacDonald Tue 12-Nov-19 04:41:12

I hate menu planning too, and my family are less difficult about meals!
Perhaps planning a months worth of meals is too much? Would DD prefer to do it weekly, so it's more immediate? I can see why she might not fancy something she'd agreed to 3 weeks ago.

Butterymuffin Tue 12-Nov-19 04:57:52

Suggestion: you allow DD to have a mealtime 'joker' card she can play every so often (say, once a week) where that allows her to make her own separate meal that evening. But once she's played it, that's it for the set period of time and she has to accept the agreed menu the other evenings.

Copperblack Tue 12-Nov-19 05:12:18

Hi- I feel your pain, I am a foster carer with 4 children all with different restrictions. I actually find it easier to just give up on family meals, and cook separately with veg and carbs on the table. I make lasagnes etc in single serve foil containers so at dinner I might have 1 pie, 1 lasagne, some chicken nuggets and leftover pasta in the go but because I’ve made my peace with it it’s not really more effort than 1 family meal. Taking the stress out is so important. If I serve things where they can help themselves, such as a taco buffet, everyone will eat to some extent, though I divide the meat as otherwise one of the children takes all of it.

If your plan isn’t working, change it, and don’t worry about the ‘should’s

WillLokireturn Tue 12-Nov-19 05:40:05

I feel your pain. Mine are all NT but drive me mad over "but this specific week I now don't like that... It's gross and I'm not eating it" . My go-to is 'make yourself egg on toast' then if they kick off, after the age of 11. Or noodles. Or baked potato with baked beans and cheese , the first two microwaved separately. On the odd occasion... but if every day.... Argh! ,

The menu agreeing and planning is best you can do, and if it has to change one day due to being too busy, tough, that's life and your sanity. I confess on a rare occasion to bursting into tears over my picky DCs shenanigans at meal times after a long day. I didn't bring them up like that, they ate everything to start with (except for allergies of DD3)

I don't have an answer because like me thousands of parents would jump at it, if there was a simple one.
ps. I'd love to know what curried sausages are ...! Yum.

WillLokireturn Tue 12-Nov-19 05:43:16

Oh I agree with Copperblack I do the buffett , tapas, 'make your own healthy kebabs', stir in what you want into your pasta bowls, mix and match thing a lot too.

StoppinBy Tue 12-Nov-19 06:01:09

My daughter is also on medication that means she has trouble eating during the day, as the medication wears off it can cause difficult behaviour, tearyness, general upset, I am presuming that our kids may be on the same meds so this may also be playing against you.

Can you make extra of the stuff your daughter will eat and freeze it when you have those meals so that on the nights she wont eat there are spare meals she can pick from (your son may find this helpful too?).

Please don't crucify me on this but I think that the fact that your DH and yourself don't sit and eat is setting a terrible example and also giving your children the opportunity to see this food avoidance as normal.

I totally understand how stressed you must be trying to sort this out, these things suck on top of everything else you are no doubt dealing with. Perhaps look in to getting some outside professional help, someone to help sort out with all of the family what can be done to make life easier. A family psychologist and then a nutritionist might be of value here if you can afford them.

Dongdingdong Tue 12-Nov-19 06:12:04

When I was growing up we were made a healthy home-cooked meal every evening and ate what we were given. I’m amazed that people ask their kids to sign off meal plans these days! You’re giving them way too much authority IMO (and a licence to be fussy eaters).

cantfindname Tue 12-Nov-19 06:28:53

@Stoppinby has picked up on my first thought.

I think you and DH need to be setting an example and eating with them. It doesn't need to be a huge meal but you should have something. After all if DD sees that you can both 'opt out' then why can't she?

I am afraid I am a bit old-school and would go for the easiest option, I would give her chicken salad every single night until she got so fed up with it she wants to try other things. It's a well balanced healthy meal and would save you a lot of aggro by just letting her have it. I do believe some (definitely not all) children use mealtimes as a stick to beat us with and it sounds as if your DD might be playing this game.. albeit unintentionally. If you reduce the tension by letting her have what she will eat the 'game' will lose it's appeal.

I frequently thank my lucky stars that my 4 were so easy to feed. I honestly could not have survived a daily battle over food!

LellyMcKelly Tue 12-Nov-19 06:32:19

Soup (homemade or tinned) and a fresh baked (part baked) roll is one of the big favourites in our house and is quick, cheap, and easy.

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