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Feeding your only child

(17 Posts)
LadyMaybe Sat 24-Mar-12 07:21:13

Hi, I thought about posting this in food, but as this really does relate to fact of there being just one small mouth to feed, I thought your collective wisdom would be better to ask!

So...this really is about feeding a younger child, one who is going to bed around 7:30 and eating 5:30-6ish. I'm currently a SAH/WOHM to my nearly 4-year-old DS, and my DH normally gets home from work around 7:30 - just in time to have a goodnight cuddle but not in time to eat with DS.

I try to strike a balance between eating with my DS and eating with DH. But often find myself casting about for something to make at 5, knowing that it's getting late and DS is likely to be less agreeable about whatever I've prepared the later I leave it.

I'd really like suggestions for meals that work in small portions, how do you deal with the vegetable/sides? I use frozen peas an awful lot, and find the frozen mash things go down well but I worry about the amount of salt/fat etc - I guess it's more than I'd myself if I were making it from scratch but can't get my head around mashing such a small portion.

Annoyingly, DS isn't that keen on tomato-based sauces for pasta, or anything that is like shepherds pie etc, he's becoming more 'suspicious' of what's in things and seems to prefer separate items on the plate (eg. a sausage, peas, mashed potato, carrots. NOT peas & carrots together, or sausage casserole).

And do you eat with your child or with your partner/husband? How do you strike that balance?

xkcdfangirl Sat 24-Mar-12 08:18:55

I have the same problem and I don't think we have the balance right so no particular advice to offer - hopefully other people will post advice to help both of us!

My DH & I are vegetarian and mainly eat curry, chilli and hstrongly flavoured dishes which are "mixtures of lots of ingredients" and our DS (2.7) won't even try them - he likes separate items on the plate (though he will sometimes each pasta in tomato sauce so long as the sauce is completely smooth with no variation in colour or texture. He usually refuses anything home-made and healthy that I make for him (there are a very very small number of exceptions).

So, guiltily and knowing this isn't the best thing for him, I have given up trying to find things that I can cook from scratch that he will eat. His diet is varied enough but it's quite limited. The only protein items he will eat are processed manufactured "meat substitutes" e.g. quorn, which he has pretty much every day, and slices of cheese. Each meal he will choose one out of either pasta, gnochi, some kind of processed potato product (smiles, letters or waffles - I wish I could get him to eat boiled or mashed proper potato but every attempt has failed, he's happier to go hungry than to try something like this) - or occasionally bread and butter - I make sure he doesn't have the same every meal though. He does eat vegetables every meal but it is limited to peas, sweetcorn and carrots.

It's fairly easy - the various quorn varieties are just there in the freezer, so I usually just have to bung something under the grill and/or boil something for a few minutes. I just know that I'm being the kind of mother that the food police thoroughly disapprove of and I'm probably storing up problems for later!

We try and have a "family supper" at least once a week where we all eat the same thing, but this is usually sausage & chips as this is one of the very few overlaps between things he is happy to eat and things we are happy to eat!

I don't think there's anything wrong with using frozen peas an awful lot - they are healthy! And I consulted our GP about the salt content of the frozen food we use and she was very reassuring, saying that we have the message rammed home about the dangers of salt when we are first weaning our babies, but it is a lot less dangerous now he is bigger and she doesn't think it's doing any harm.

If your DS is less fussy than mine, you could try making your own mashed potato shapes. I tried to do this myself but my efforts were rejected. Make some mashed potato, very smooth. Let it cool and roll it flat on a plate to half a centimeter, cut out some shapes and freeze them. You can then shallow-fry 2 or 3 shapes for a meal without having to go through all the rigmarole.

LadyMaybe Sun 25-Mar-12 07:59:01

that's interesting - I wonder whether the 'not mixed up' thing is a phase? I definitely remember hating anything like a stew (and still am not that fussed with them) as a child, but if it's a staple for your family then it's certainly just because he doesn't see anyone else eating them.
I was hunting through some toddler cookbooks for inspiration today, and I think I might make a few things like homemade crumbed chicken strips, or meatballs and see how they go.
It also occurred to me, that I haven't ever actually even tried doing anything like chop or stir-fried steak with him, have always just assumed that he wouldn't eat it but maybe I should try. A friend was around the other day and talked about cooking something like that for her nearly-2 yo daughter which made me blink but there's no reason why they shouldn't have something like that.
I'd love to have a few more options in the freezer, but the things that seem to freeze well all seem to be stews/bolognese/sauce-type things.

savoycabbage Sun 25-Mar-12 08:07:35

I buy sausages, small pies, small chicken drumsticks and lamb chops and I freeze them. You have to separate them out on a chopping board or whatever before you freeze them so they don't stick together, then when they are frozen they can go in a ziplock bag.

I make macaroni, mashed potato, pasta with pesto and tuna and spaghetti bol and freeze that in those Ikea bowls. Oh, and Yorkshire puddings. Not in Ikea bowls, the yorkshires.

For quick meals I do French toast with a side of peppers and carrots. Filled pasta. I was going to say beans but if he is not keen on tomato things what about dahl?

rillytrying Sun 25-Mar-12 10:43:34

My DS (4) almost exclusively eats frozen food for his evening meal. The only time I would cook 'fresh' for him is if we are all eating as a family, or if just he and I are eating together. Obviously at weekends we all cook and eat together. We're very lucky in that he eats anything so any meal that my DH and I have that could conceivably be frozen, I freeze in small bowls, defrost and microwave/oven, e.g. roast dinner, shepherds pie, lasagne, bolognaise, chicken pie, toad in hole, salmon and lentils, stews, casseroles etc. Most food freezes adequately enough (he certainly doesn't seem to mind about soggy pie crusts!).

I've done this for him since weaning (just mashing up our meals - I don't own a food processor so never did the puree stage). I don't think I've ever cooked a 'specific' meal for him! I think this may have contributed to him being the fantastic eater he is now.

feedthegoat Sun 25-Mar-12 10:53:15

My ds is 6 and still won't eat 'mixed up' things.

Interestingly I weaned him on homemade food too and he ate all sorts up to about two.

My stand by meal and his favourite is pasta and veg. It is bland as he prefers it plain without sauce but he will happily scoff a huge plateful. I just chuck it all in one pan too. He's the same with sunday dinner, plain with no gravy.

I would say it is easier if you give them the elements of a meal they will eat without fuss and try not to view it with your own tastes. I'm sure plenty of people will disagree with my giving into fussiness approach but he eats a balanced diet with lots of veg and fruit. I was fussy as a child but eat most things now.

Portofino Sun 25-Mar-12 11:13:01

My dd is 8 and the same with "mixed up" stuff - she loves pasta, filled or otherwise but sauce is a big no no. She will have a bit of cream. She is not keen on meat. Ham and chicken is about it. When we have a roast I always insist she at least tries a bit of pork/lamb etc

I do french toast, fish fingers, hot dogs, omelettes and get as much veg as I can in - peas, sweetcorn and she loves raw carrots. She eats a lot of fruit. Shepherd's pie/curry/pie all seem to be an impossibility still.

I am determined to make more of an effort now she is older - as I would like us all to eat together where possible.

DontCallMeBaby Sun 25-Mar-12 17:26:04

We eat as a family whenever possible - it's possible because DH is home at a reasonable time, and a priority for me because of DD being an only child, I wouldn't want her to sit and eat every meal by herself. I know the advice about sitting there with her, with a cup of tea or whatever, but tbh her eating habits drive me to distraction even when I have a meal of my own to be distracted by!

She goes to a friend's after school every other week, and I did the mum a list of what DD could be pretty much guaranteed to eat (she did ask for it, in my defence):

Roast chicken
Fish pie (white fish, cheese sauce, mash)
Chicken wraps (tortilla wraps, chicken, carrot and cucumber sticks, ketchup)
Cheese omelette
Chicken noodle soup (chicken, mangetout, baby corn, noodles, veg stock - I add soy and teriyaki once her portion of chicken has been taken out, and lime juice, chili, ginger and coriander once her portion of stock and noodles are out - yummy; she'll also eat basically a stirfry without the sauce, so chicken, veg and noodles)
Risotto (bacon and pea)
Sausages (hm, bit fussy about what kind of sausage tho)
Corned beef hash/mash, bacon and cheese
Spaghetti carbonara

As well as the cliched kiddy staples of breaded stuff and pizza. She loves cottage pie, but it has to be made by me (one of the reasons it's not on the list, plus this other family don't eat beef so there'd be no point). Tuna pasta bake is another one, but again that has to be to my recipe. Argh.

A lot of my cooking now is about finding things that can be adapted to our different tastes, and trying not to judge DD's tastes - I wouldn't like to sit down to essentially the ingredients of a stirfry, but without any sauce, however she is reasonably happy to eat that. Likewise the chicken noodle soup without the flavourings is INCREDIBLY bland, but she likes it.

LadyMaybe Mon 26-Mar-12 08:29:12

mmm, some great ideas there. There's definitely more I could be freezing and trying - at the moment our freezer seems to be completely packed full of bags of various veges, but like the idea of freezing in the little IKEA bowls, we have stack of them loitering in the cupboard and the portion seems about right.

I probably sit with a cup of tea or pot of yoghurt 2-3 nights, eat with him 2-3 nights and on weekends we do our best to all eat together, although that does often mean him eating later which is not ideal because when he's tired his appetite and tolerance goes down. I'm trying to teach DH not to put such big meals on his plate as well, as I think he finds it all overwhelming (portion size is an issue for DH, he dishes me twice as much as I could possibly eat as well!)

DS does like it when I eat with him though, he often asks whether I'll eat with him tonight I think the meal is smoother when we are both eating, I wonder whether that's because I'm concentrating on my own food and not just sitting there watching what he's doing and being tempted to correct/comment too much.

Glad to hear I'm not the only one with a child with a preference for separate food. It's hard to have such a quick and easy option as pasta w/ sauce of some sort taken out of the equation, but glad to get some other ideas. I love risotto and DH hates it, so if I can convince DS to try it, it could be something that we have together as my treat!

GateGipsy Thu 12-Apr-12 20:36:52

in reference to the comment about not being able to make a small portion of mash - why not? It never occurred to me. I often make just enough mash for DS.

I don't always eat with him, but I do always sit with him when he has his meal. Mostly we have our meal together though. I can sit and talk with DH later, if we eat seperately, and he doesn't mind that I'm not actually eating. Whereas it matters more to DS.

Most of what we eat is fresh made. A do a lot of freezing, and do this with vegetables too. So I buy his favourite vegetables fresh, chop them up and freeze them. Then I can just pull enough out for DS.

BsshBossh Fri 27-Apr-12 10:25:07

I give DD her main meal at lunchtime and we eat that together (the usual hot meals eg spag bol, fish fingers, omelettes, mac cheese all with veg sides). I eat the same portion size as her. Then she has a picnic dinner at 5pm - toast, sandwiches, salad etc, which she eats on her own as I clean up the kitchen and chat with her or read a story. I eat later with DH, who returns home after her bedtime.

I guess we'll follow same routine when she starts school - hot main meak at lunch time at school then picnic dinner on her own at home.

BsshBossh Fri 27-Apr-12 10:26:32

Also, whenever I cook for DH and I - if it's a stew or mac cheese or basically something I know DD will like then I set some of it aside and freeze it for her in small 1-portion tupperware. Often means I'm not cooking from scratch each lunch time - only the fresh (or frozen!) veg.

forevergreek Sat 23-Jun-12 14:54:46

They can always eat your food the next day. So make family meal in eve, you and dh eat and remainer he eats the next eve and any spare gets frozen for days when you ate something the night before he doesn't like.

Bellabellabella Wed 25-Jul-12 17:20:53

Mine is 18 and still won't eat mixed up food! Be warned.

Zoidberg Tue 28-Aug-12 21:26:55

I usually cook one dinner during the day or at DD's dinner time of about 5pm, serve DD (3.5) a portion, and sometimes myself a miniportion to keep her company, then DP and I eat the rest later. For veg for DD, I usually steam 2 broccoli florets (takes 5 mins), or sliced carrot, frozen peas as a standby.

We have a roughly biweekly menu, she wants a lot of the same things often - variety is overrated smile

littlestgirlguide Thu 06-Dec-12 21:03:35

My DD has her tea at nursery 4 days a week and it's just supper at home, which is normally a sandwich, or toast, a banana and yogurt or cereal. At home we try to eat our main meal with her the other days, but it's not always possible. She was weaned on home-made food, and eats pretty much anything so I guess I'm pretty lucky. I rarely cook anything just for her, whenever I cook I make 4 adult size portions, one each for me and DH, one for my lunch the following day at work at two child size portions for the freezer.
You can freeze cooked mashed potato easily. Just let it cool, dollop it out onto a greased baking tray in portions- when they're frozen they can go in a freezer bag, defrost in the microwave and add a little milk. Also my DD likes potato shapes - I use cold mash, in a big piping bag and make letters, numbers etc, freeze them and oven cook from frozen. She also loves making her own pizza - English muffins split, toasted and topped as normal, fish in cheesy sauce and what she calls Guide Toast - basically eggy bread with cinnamon and a sprinkle of sugar.

upstart68 Thu 06-Dec-12 23:31:54

Mine is 7 and generally has dinner at around 4.30pm because that's when she's hungry. I sit with her and have a cup of tea and we eat together at the weekend.

Things I cook for her:

Jacket potato and beans
Pasta with grated cheese (on the side) and salad
Salmon (just put a bit in foil in the oven) and veg
Chicken drumstick and veg
Fishfingers and oven chips
Risotto - just chop up small bits of veg and ham, add rice and boil.

For vegetables I get one small pan and throw the lot in - brocolli, carrots, green beans, sweetcorn. As long as they're not all small things (e.g. peas and corn) it's fairly easy to fish them out and separate on the plate.

Jacket potatos are really easy to do one portion. If I want mash, I just cook a JP and put the inside through one of those ricers.

Sometimes I'll do a casserole and just fish bits of meat out for her dinner, then we eat the rest later.

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