Advice please - how to cook healthy family meals when fussy dc's don't like them?!(19 Posts)
I'm really struggling with cooking for my family. There are 4 of us, dh & I eat pretty much everything but our ds & dd are both fussy in different ways. DS 10 the worst. He doesn't like veg at all but will reluctantly eat green beans, carrot & sweetcorn. He likes plain simple food like pasta with sauce, sausages, burgers, pizzas. He does like meat and we generally have roast dinner once a week.
DD is a bit better but likes the things he doesn't like & vice versa.
It's becoming stressful trying to find one thing the whole family will eat & after working I don't have the time or energy to cook 3 different meals a night.
I'm worried that my ds is getting a varies enough diet and that we're all slightly missing out as I'm feeling like whats the point in cooking a nice meal if only dh likes it!
There must be ways around this but I don't know what so would be really grateful for any tips please.
Hi OP, if you find a solution, pass it on.
Here, it's both my DH and DS (8) who are supremely fussy so I end up cooking nice things just for me and freezing leftovers to eat another time, that way I'm not cooking 3 separate meals daily.
DH now has to sort himself out 100% of the time so I just concentrate on feeding DS and me.
Have you tried a hidden veg pasta sauce?
This is a good one from Jamie:
Have you tried cooking with your DC? Often helps if they can be involved in the process and see what's going in to make a delicious meal.
I tend to try to adapt meals so everyone is happy, so for example if I am making a stir fry I will remove the dc's portion of meat from the pan before adding spices etc for us. They have theirs with plain noodles and carrot sticks. Or when making fish pie I would keep back some plain fish and mash for them to have separately.
For things like burgers or sausages I tend to add more interesting side dishes for the adults.
I wouldnt entertain it at all.
Just a small range of reasonably inoffensive food (eg spag bol, schnitzels, roast, veg curry, white fish) and serve it up. If anyone doesnt like it, do not offer an alternative.
I'm with Dull on this one.
Cook what you want - they eat it or don't.
Would they eat
Chicken noodle soup? Only using the vegetables that they both like?
What topping do they like on pizza?
Do they eat a simple tomatoes sauce with pasta? Can you add other vegetables for example pepper or herbs and seasoning like paprika or cumin?
I have a son who seems to be getting fussier as he gets older. I’m like Greensnail, who,does the same meal for wvwryone with a slight adaption. Ie. If we have breaded fish, he will have breaded chicken. We all the same veg.
Also, during school holidays, I tell the kids that we will,have ‘trying meals’. Ie. Will have food they have not eaten before, and maybe if they have a reasonable portion, they will accumulate points for a reward.
Also, I will try slight variations of food. Ie. If they like chicken breast, will cook a stew as the chicken in stew is essentially the same meat. They will generally pull out all the onions, mushrooms etc.
Thanks for all the replies, I've just popped out so will reply properly a little later.
Good gracious. Why are they not given the food there is and told to eat it? The more you indulge the worse it gets.
I don't think it's great forcing people to eat things they really don't like although I suspect there is an amount of 'playing me' being done. When they were little they are lots more variety than they do now. DS seems to not like certain things since being at school so maybe he's copying friends, I don't know, I just know it make meal planning flipping difficult.
Greensnail I like that idea of adapting meals, that could certainly be worth a try.
AutumnalTed they both like chicken fajitas! We lay all the bit same on the table and they like assembling them.
Ivykaty they do like tomato sauce with pasta so that's a good idea to add more veg. And they do like a pizza topped with veg, peppers, mushrooms, onion etc.
Petalflowers that's a good idea although this is what I've done before, cooked a new meal for them to 'try' and if they don't like it I feel pretty miffed at the wasted time & effort!
Crumbs1 that is exactly how I was brought up and what my mum would say but it's easier said than done to serve something up I am aware that they will not like and make everyone's mealtime miserable.
I do have a standard few meals that everyone likes but to be honest I am bored myself of eating the same 5 meals over and over, and also I want to make a real effort to be healthier myself and try new things.
Does it have to make mealtimes miserable if they don't eat it?
I wouldn't cajole, persuade, yell or threaten (not saying you do). It'd be served without comment, any negative comments from them ignored, and thrown away without comment.
That way I can enjoy my meal whilst ignoring others pushing it around their plates.
We have a system where everyone takes turns to decide what we're having. That way the DC all have at least a few meals a week that they really like. Then on the days we're having something that one child really can't stand, they can choose leftovers from the night we had their favourite. No extra cooking for me and still a decent meal for them so I'm happy with that as a compromise. But to be honest, just knowing that everyone gets their turn, they usually eat the meals that they're not so fond of without too much fuss.
It sounds like it's too late, but there is no easy solution that doesn't involve giving them no option but to eat (or not) what's on their plate.
Kids will refuse anything that isn't simple pizza and pasta with cheese given the chance. So the key is not to give them any leeway with what is served. They can pick bits out if they like, but with no cajoling, no shouting or threats, serving non negotiable family meals is the only solution. It's amazing what a hungry child will eat - and learn to like - if they know it's that or nothing til breakfast.
Non negotiable meals is the way to go. I have four kids, there were probably half a dozen meals that everyone really liked. I encouraged my lot to have a try. If they didn't like it they could make themselves a butty, beans on toast or something.
My oldest three are late teens/early twenties now. They all eat pretty much everything. Youngest is 11 and still a bit fussy. We don't indulge, don't dwell. Try a bit, your tastebuds are changing all the time. Not keen? Fine make a butty then.
I would add more vegetables to pizza and more to tomato sauce for pasta, don’t hide them but cook them well and add some flavours
Then if they eat them in these meals introduce the same vegetables to other meals
I’d let them all choose a meal they want on the condition they eat the other meals picks - so that’s 5 meals but they can’t pick the same as a sibling
If they do well with eating each other’s meals
Then the following week get out some recipes and get them to choose a meal that they haven’t had before - try and find three or four children’s recipes that will be easy to cook and they can help on a Saturday
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