Wednesday, August 22, 2012

What To Feed the Children?

If you haven't read this post already, it will make more sense if you read this post first.

I showed you my beautiful, logical Master List for the CDP Exch*nges; it's like a fun logic puzzle, and I so enjoy filling in all of the information and then figuring out the assignments!

Well, I need help with a logic puzzle that is not at all fun.

I try to feed my children healthy, nutritious, minimally-processed foods. I am even willing and able to COOK many healthy, nutritious, minimally-processed foods. I like knowing which ingredients are in the foods my children are eating. I like the fact that it is more economical to make a lot of foods at home thereby allowing more money to be spent on CDPs us to feed this swarm of children without going bankrupt.

But my children! GAH! THESE OPINIONATED CHILDREN! There are so few foods that all of them will eat! Some people will say, "Oh, if they get hungry enough, they will eat." Those people are WRONG. My children would rather starve to death than eat something they don't like, and LET ME TELL YOU: starving to death is a LONG and miserable process.

When I came home from my vacation...

...moment of silence as I longingly remember that blessed, amazing, peaceful, refreshing time...

...I told Husband that he and the children were going to have to take over dinner duty because trying to plan dinner, and then listening to complaints from one or more people when I put the food on the table was DRAINING MY WILL TO LIVE. (And, yes, I have the chart. And, yes, there are consequences for complaining about dinner, but by the time these children actually understand the connection between their actions and the consequences that follow, I WILL BE DEAD AND BURIED.)

But Husband's dinner planning hasn't been involving much actual PLANNING going well either, so I am STILL having stress about dinner every day. I finally decided that I would write down the foods the children WOULD eat and make a chart to see if that would help me at all. At first, I only wrote down the things they would eat that I can make or that I consider to be nutritious, but that was a VERY SHORT LIST, so then I included as many of the other things that I could think of too. Behold the results below! Any suggestions?

*sometimes means: At some point the child would eat this food, and even complained about there not being enough! But the moment I fixed a double batch, he/she would not touch it.
*yes means: It is almost certain the child will eat this.
*NO means: The child will choose to die a slow, painful death complaining every moment before he/she will put this in his/her mouth.

A 13yo 10yo 8yo 6yo 2yo
Applesauce sometimes yes yes yes sometimes
Apples-Green/sour yes yes NO yes sometimes
Apples-Red yes sometimes yes sometimes sometimes
Bacon yes yes yes yes yes
Baked Chicken sometimes NO NO NO sometimes
Bananas NO NO sometimes sometimes sometimes
Beef-Roast sometimes NO NO NO sometimes
Biscuits NO NO NO NO sometimes
Black Beans with Sausage yes yes NO yes sometimes
Blueberries-frozen NO NO NO NO sometimes
Boiled Eggs sometimes sometimes sometimes sometimes sometimes
Breadsticks-homemade yes yes NO yes yes
Broccoli-steamed sometimes sometimes sometimes sometimes sometimes
Carrots sometimes yes sometimes yes sometimes
Cheese yes yes yes yes yes
Chicken Noodle Soup-canned NO NO NO NO NO
Chicken Noodle Soup-homemade NO NO NO NO NO
Chicken Nuggets-bought yes yes yes yes sometimes
Chicken Nuggets-homemade sometimes sometimes NO sometimes sometimes
Chicken Pot Pie-homemade NO NO NO sometimes yes
Chili yes NO NO yes yes
Chili Only With Corn In It NO yes NO NO NO
Chips and Cheese yes yes yes yes yes
Cookies, Choc Chip-homemade yes yes yes yes yes
Cookies, Oatmeal, Homemade yes NO sometimes sometimes yes
Corn Flakes with added sugar yes yes yes NO yes
Cornbread-homemade sometimes sometimes NO NO yes
Corn-canned yes yes NO yes yes
Corn-frozen NO NO NO NO sometimes
Corn-on the cob sometimes sometimes sometimes sometimes sometimes
Dora Yogurt sometimes sometimes sometimes sometimes sometimes
French Fries-homemade yes yes yes yes yes
French Toast yes sometimes NO yes sometimes
Fruit Smoothie NO NO NO NO yes
Gogurt yes yes yes yes yes
Goldfish crackers yes yes yes yes yes
Graham Crackers yes yes yes yes yes
Grapes yes yes yes yes yes
Green Beans sometimes yes NO yes sometimes
Ham yes yes yes yes yes
Hamburgers-homemade yes yes NO yes yes
Hot Dogs sometimes yes yes yes yes
Lunch Meat yes yes yes yes yes
Macaroni and Cheese yes NO yes yes yes
Mandarin Oranges yes NO NO NO sometimes
Milk yes yes yes NO NO
Muffins-homemade sometimes NO sometimes sometimes sometimes
Nectarines NO NO NO NO NO
Nuts-Peanuts sometimes sometimes NO sometimes sometimes
Nuts-Pecans sometimes sometimes NO sometimes yes
Nuts-Pistachios yes yes NO yes yes
Nuts-Sunflower Seeds yes sometimes NO yes yes
Pancakes yes NO yes yes yes
Peaches NO NO NO NO sometimes
Pineapple-fresh NO NO NO NO yes
Pizza yes yes yes yes yes
Popcorn yes yes yes yes yes
Pork Chops NO NO NO NO sometimes
Pork-pulled-only when fresh yes yes yes yes sometimes
Pork-Roast sometimes sometimes NO sometimes sometimes
Potato-Baked NO NO NO NO NO
Potato-Mashed NO NO NO NO NO
Potato-Parmesan Roasted NO yes NO NO yes
Pumpkin Pie yes NO NO NO NO
Quesadilla yes yes sometimes yes yes
Quiche-bacon, sausage, cheese sometimes sometimes NO sometimes sometimes
Quiche-only bacon and cheese sometimes sometimes sometimes sometimes sometimes
Ramen Noodles yes yes yes NO yes
Rice NO NO NO NO yes
Rotini yes NO yes yes yes
Sandwich yes yes NO NO sometimes
Sausage Pockets-homemade yes yes NO yes sometimes
Scrambled Eggs yes yes sometimes yes sometimes
Smoked Sausage yes yes yes yes yes
Spaghetti yes sometimes yes yes yes
Split Pea Soup-homemade NO NO NO NO NO
Tacos yes yes sometimes yes yes
Toast yes sometimes NO yes sometimes
Toast-cinnamon sugar yes yes NO yes sometimes
Tuna Helper-only when fresh yes NO yes NO sometimes
Waffles yes NO yes yes yes
Yogurt-homemade sometimes sometimes NO NO NO


Erica said...

Okay, I have not made a very impressive chart, but those people are absolutely wrong. Mine would definitely starve herself.

Slim said...

Why, you just have to stand firm about the "No complaining" rule! And the "Take howevermany bites" rule! And then everything will fall magically into place!

No, honestly, I have no idea. I am just relieved that other people have kids with similar incomprehensible aversions (pork chops and pork roast ARE THE SAME THING).

I once served watermelon and chocolate babka for dinner because I just could not take any more complaints.

I have also served cereal at 5:30 and sent them to bed at 6.

Erin said...

Clearly, the only option is to feed them, cheese, bacon, and goldfish cracker sandwiches. I don't see the problem ;)

Nowheymama said...

I stole this idea from a friend of mine who also has four kids, and it helps a lot. She puts out fruit/veggie sticks/crackers/whathaveyou with every dinner. At first I was all, "What is this? Sunday dinner at Grandma's?" But then I saw the light. It may be more work/money per meal, BUT it doesn't involve actual cooking, and the reduction in complaining is a fair trade off for me. Everyone can usually find something they will tolerate enough to not starve. You can just throw the leftover carrot sticks in the fridge and bring them out tomorrow night.

Another friend with four kids always has noodles and cottage cheese available because these are her children's default foods. You don't like dinner? Noodles and cottage cheese it is.

The first friend also splurges on pork loin about once a week because that is the one thing her entire family will eat. Expensive, but the quiet is worth it to her.

Whatever gets you through, is what I'm saying.

Jessica said...

The 8yo seems to be a bit picky. Maybe if do the 'only one option besides dinner' thing at your house (peanut butter sandwich, cereal, etc) it should be his favorite of the things everyone will eat?

Also, NONE of your kids will eat mashed potatoes?? Only one will eat pumpkin pie? I'm coming to your house and eating ALL THE LEFTOVERS.

Jessica said...

That was supposed to say maybe if YOU do...

twisterfish said...

Good for you for trying to find foods everyone will eat and making notes about it all, rather than just giving up and serving pizza and popcorn every night ... though not a bad idea since all 5 eat it, right? ;)

It is nearly impossible for me to make one meal everyone in my family will eat. Most nights I have to have a designated Plan B -- usually egg or cereal -- because the youngest one will just not eat for days if he doesn't like the food.

For my daughter, who was Super Picky #1 in my family, when she reached her teen years she suddenly was willing to eat things that used to be off limits. I can't explain it other than guessing that seeing these foods over and over for years finally was enough for her to attempt new things. It took YEARS but she now eats almost everything I make. Now it's just the little guy who is Super Picky Eater. Oh well....

el-e-e said...

I love this beautiful list!! It is SO LIKE my list, although I only have two columns across the top. (Well, three if I count my DH, which I do. He's picky too.)

Tacos, spaghetti, ham, pizza, chicken nuggets, bacon. Yep, sounds about right.

Oh, mine will also (surprisingly) eat steak. STEAK! I know red meat's not what the cool kids are doing and is sometimes expensive BUT. Iron-filled, and they eat it. I am buying it more often. :)

d e v a n said...

Dinner time is SO HARD! Here are things I do that sometimes work, and sometimes don't:
#1 rule is no complaining (broken rule a lot)
#2 I put fruit or a loved raw veggie + dip on the table at every meal
#3 I let them pick what they want for b'fast and sometimes lunch.

I still have one child who absolutely won't eat dinner unless it's breakfast food or macaroni and cheese and one other child who basically eats raw carrots for dinner most days.

Anonymous said...

what? no gruel on the list? ha ha, I kid, I kid. seriously though, there are times that I think mine subsist solely on air molecules. My 6 year old loves to continually confound me (roasted seaweed? can't get enough. Peanut butter & jelly sandwich? surely I am trying to poison him), so I keep stocked up on Flintstone vitamins and call it good :).

Elsha said...

So, I have yet to be in this place with my kids, but here's what my parents did that seemed to work:
Only one dinner was made, and we ate or not. We weren't required to try anything or take a certain number of bites of anything. We weren't required to finish what we'd dished if we didn't want to.

My mom WAS willing to dish things without a final ingredient. For instance, she would dish my clam chowder (still does in fact) before the clams were added. Or have a smaller dish of a casserole minus broccoli. Also, I think every dinner included a canned veggie of some sort and bread and butter. And if all we ate was bread and butter that was fine with them.

Did we eat the healthiest diet ever? Probably not. BUT. We did develop good eating habits- like only eating until we were full. Also, not feeling pressured to eat foods I didn't like has made me much more willing to try new things as an adult.

Anyway, I'm not sure if any of that is helpful. Good luck!

liz said...

I only have the one kid, so YMM DEFINITELY V,

But what we do is this:
1) Complaining gets the complainer banished from the table. Dinner is over for them. This has not been completely successful, but it has resulted in a reduction so I count it as a win.

2) He doesn't like butter on things, he doesn't like ketchup or mustard or sauces that contain them, and he doesn't like his food to touch. I indulge him in these preferences. In return, I expect him to try at least one bite of what I've given him. This has been more successful, because I put it in terms of "I show that I respect you by doing this, you will show your respect for me and the work I put into cooking by trying what is on your plate." I don't take offense if he doesn't like it (provided he expresses his dislike politely and without whining), and I try hard to make sure that there's at least one thing on his plate he'll eat (like green beans, or rice, or potatoes).

That's all I've got.

shin ae said...

Oh dear. I have the utmost respect for your efforts here.

Let's see...I wonder if exploiting those things they like would help. For instance, using those flavor profiles on different things. It looks like everyone likes tacos well enough, and also pizza and spaghetti. So maybe trying something else in the tacos other than ground beef, but make sure you use similar spices, or even serve a similarly spiced something else: casserole, dip, stew, I don't know. Same with "Italian"-type spices? Or sneak other pureed veggies into the tomato sauce? Also, it looks like vegetarian options are surprisingly popular...I wonder if you've looked at vegetarian cookbooks? Also, since nuts are relatively popular, maybe there would be ways to use those as the protein source? Again, vegetarian cookbooks or blogs might be helpful. And if they like french fries, maybe they'd eat some other root vegetables (parsnip, turnip, jerusalem artichoke) prepared similarly, especially if they were then incorporated into something else like a burrito or "Italian"-spiced layered thing? Also, if pancakes work, what about crepes with a savory filling for dinner? Sorry this is long, maybe should have been an email...I'm kind of desperately suggesting because I wish I could help somehow.

Nic (NotPerfect) said...

Woman, you are running yourself ragged trying to make everyone happy. Give yourself a break.

The range of acceptable foods seems to be consistent in that they prefer carbs (higher sugars) and the non-homemade versions of everything, but it doesn't appear that there are consistent textural or flavor palate issues. This is making me think that it's less of a food-based issue and more of a behavioral one.

I really like what Elsha said: there's one dinner option. If they choose not to eat it, you could offer an option that is healthful, but not something that can be seen as a reward for avoiding dinner, like plain oatmeal. I also like what she said about there not being any pressure to eat or try a new dish. It's a power struggle in your home right now, you don't need to be dealing with that. You might have to start by not caring, or rather, pretending really hard not to care and doing your best to look like you don't care.

Set our your new dinner expectations and be consistent for a while. You'll make dinner and there is one, regular and non-exciting, alternative. If they are eating other meals during the day, they really will not starve themselves, even if they plead that they are near death. Obviously there will be complaints and it won't be easy, and you have probably already tried this, but it's an option, and you aren't a short order chef. Stick to your guns and maybe it will work.

Dinsdale said...

Ok, this is total assvice, because I don't have kids, but I was one of those picky kids and to be honest, I'm still pretty lame in my food choices.
You may well already have this in place, but I would suggest making a weekly or monthly meal plan and displaying it in a prominent place, so they can mentally prepare themselves for dinner. (I know that sounds melodramatic, but I remember being SO disappointed when I was really hungry and then dinner turned out to be... lamb chops.) That way, too, you might well get most of the complaining out of the way once a week/month when they see the meal plan!
With the exception of the baby, they're all old enough to fix themselves toast/cereal or oatmeal. Again, you're probably already doing this, but if they choose not to eat dinner, I'd make them fix whatever the allowed alternative is themselves. That way they get a (tiny!) idea of the work that has gone in to making dinner, and they get the message that you will not be able to be manipulated into more work. If they choose to go hungry, well, I went to bed hungry more than once!

Emily said...

That chart is a thing of beauty. But I have no helpful advice. I'm at the point with my kids where I've pretty much given up cooking. I feed the boys one of the handful of things they'll eat, and B and I will either make something quick and easy (e.g. spaghetti) or we'll forage (e.g. I eat cereal and he eats some sort of junk food). I hope everyone else is able to give you some good tips!