Thursday, July 16, 2009

Clean Plate Club

I used to be part of an online forum for moms in my area. We discussed all sorts of interesting topics and offered each other advice on many things. One question that really sticks with me came from a mother of 3. She wanted advice on how to get her children to eat what she prepared. She was making 4 different dinners per night; one for her and her husband and a different one for each child. 4 meals per night! She was spending hours preparing just dinner. I was really taken aback at the question since it seemed so simple... make one meal and everyone eats it. What is hard about that. That is what happened when I was a child (& I would guess was the case when most of us were children) and that is what happens in my house now. We are the parents, why the hell would we give the child the authority to decide what we prepare them to eat? I probably sounded rude to the woman, but this is exactly what I told her. You make one meal and they eat that meal. If they won't eat it, then they will go without. A child will never starve, they will eventually eat something that you give them.

Don't get me wrong, I understand that people have aversions to some foods (I hate peas) but as long as you have at least a couple of courses, they will have something to eat. I also will alter what I serve slightly if the child asks nicely. For instance, my kids like alfredo sauce on pasta and I like red sauce, so I will serve both. I will also get my kids involved in the choices for dinner. I will give one child a choice of what I make for dinner (Should I make pasta or chicken Caesar wraps?) so they feel like the had an option. And notice I said '1 child'. I would never involve more than 1 child since it would just turn into 1 long argument.

I feel that is you acquiesce to your child's ridiculous eating habits, you are just setting them up for issues in the future. Put on your big girl pants and take charge.


  1. I'm totally with you on this. If jake refuses dinner, I let him eat a little bit of plain baby oatmeal (I'm so mean!) before bed so I'm not woken up in the night by a hungry child. But no way in hell am I a short order cook

  2. Okay, so I am one of those that makes different meals...Only really for Jo though because of her medical issues, but if my kids do not like what is for dinner I will make them something else. I do not make what I do not like, so I feel why should they have to eat what they don't like. I do not think you are rude though, I grew up with my mom always making different meals, because she and I were vegetarians, and my dad and sister ate meat. So now I do the same.

  3. AMEN SISTER! Eric never let Jace decide what he was eating during his childhood. He ate whatever he was given. Now he's 15 and NEVER complains about dinner. He is perfectly content eating a piece of salmon and broccoli. Anything above that, like MacNcheese, is a sweet sweet reward. Keep up the outstanding work...your ideals will carry on for generations.

  4. There have been times I have felt like a short order cook. You are absolutely right though, 4 people, 1 meal...

    And I hate peas too.