After I started posting pictures of what I’ve been eating, I had a lot of requests to write about whether or not my kids eat the same things I do and how I have time to cook meals and how it all works, so here is my sure to be long winded explanation of that.
First let me walk you through the day.
Erik wakes up at about the time the kids wake up (6:25 ish) and he gives them breakfast. This is usually oatmeal or yogurt or toaster waffles or fruit. Eli used to eat all kinds of weird stuff for breakfast (frozen hot dogs) but now it’s pretty much this. Neither one of them eats a great breakfast and I throw out a lot of half empty yogurt containers, but what can you do.
Eli takes a packed lunch to school because he refuses to eat the hot lunch. Usually I pack him half a sandwich, a fruit of some kind, some cookies, maybe some craisins or some olives, maybe a vegetable. He sometimes eat a lot of lunch, sometimes barely anything, but he does seem to like the sandwiches. (They can’t take anything with peanut butter in it to school.)
I come home from dropping Eli off at school at about 9. If I’m starving sometimes I’ll eat breakfast right away, but generally I do not care to eat anything until I have been awake for a few hours, so usually I don’t cook myself breakfast until around 11 AM. Usually I’ll make three eggs and Katie will eat most of one.
After I get Eli at 1, we come home and I try to get Katie to eat something else, and I ask Eli if he wants anything else to eat, sometimes he eats, sometimes he doesn’t. He almost always asks for food sometime before dinner though, and both my kids seem to get hungry at about 4, so they usually end up eating a pre dinner around then.
I try to start dinner before Erik gets home (and try to have an idea of what I’m making in the morning so I can defrost things) but sometimes I don’t get around to it before he gets home. Usually I’m in the middle of cooking when he walks in the door.
We all eat all together every night at the dining room table. If it’s something I KNOW they won’t eat any part of, I will try to get something else ready, but usually I just alter it slightly and put it on their plate. For example if we’re having steak salad, I’ll just save out the steak and cut it up for them. Eli is also unusual in that he’ll eat only vegetables or fruit if given the choice, so usually I will give him the protein first and tell him he can’t have lettuce/peppers/mango until he eats the protein.
Usually if I feel like he ate a terrible dinner I’ll try to get him to eat an ice cream bar for dessert because I will do whatever to takes to get calories into the child, and he is fairly amenable to ice cream bars.
In general, though, here’s some of my food/eating philosophies:
1. Milk is for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Both my kids would do nothing but drink milk all day, given the choice. Eli can’t have milk except at meals or that’s all he’d drink. If he wants a drink and it’s not meal time, he gets himself water.
2. I essentially let them eat whatever they want whenever they want to eat it. I make some exceptions because I think sugar plus Eli is a really horrible combination, but when he asks for food, he gets it. I don’t make more than three suggestions of things he’d like to eat though, after that it’s his job to come up with something he wants to eat. And I am not an all day long short order cook, if you ask for food and it’s not a time when I am in food fetching mode, then you can get it yourself. We have a step stool in our kitchen and a snack basket and lots of things that are readily available.
I really feel strongly about this “whatever” approach to food. When I was growing up, we ate at McDonald’s twice. Yep, twice in my entire childhood. We never had treats or junk food or sugar and this approach backfired wildly as soon as I could control what I ate. I never learned how to be normal around junk food. Erik grew up in a house where no one really gave a shit what you ate or when you ate it, and he has the most normal and non screwed up attitude towards food of anyone I’ve known, so we veer hard toward the “chill out” philosophy of food around here. We always have fruit and vegetables and healthy stuff around, but we go to McDonald’s. If you want some chocolate chips I will give them to you. And most importantly, in our house, food is morally neutral. You may gain or lose weight because of something you eat, it might make you thirsty or it might make you feel gross or feel great, but what you eat does not make you a good or bad person.
3. One person cooks dinner, the other person does the dishes. And there’s give and take in this, but in no universe am I going to cook and clean up from an entire home cooked dinner that I cooked every night.
4. You’re not allowed to say that you don’t like something that I cooked. You don’t have to eat it, but I don’t want to hear your opinion about it unless they are positive.
5. We food bribe ALL THE TIME. All the books tell you not to do this, but the reality is that Eli can’t tell when he’s hungry, he doesn’t ask for food when he should, and when he gets too hungry, all hopes of getting him to eat are lost. So at dinner he can’t leave the table until he eats a certain amount of protein, and if he starts to get hangry, we make him a plate of food, shut him in his room, and tell him he can’t come out until it’s eaten. I have this same problem and hopefully he figures out “If I’m crabby I need to eat” shortly before his 36th birthday, but for now, this is what we have to do sometimes.
6. Speaking of books, the books have never helped us. I checked out ALL the books on how to get kids to eat and they just don’t apply to my kids. I always hear “no child has ever starved with access to food” and first of all, I really really hate statements that start with “no child has ever…” because really? In a world of BILLIONS OF CHILDREN you’re willing to say NO CHILD EVER? I just don’t believe that. Secondly, I think Eli really would starve to death while he sobbed in the corner next to a pizza, so…I don’t worry too much about what the books say.
7. You’re expected to ask to leave the table by saying “May I be excused” and to clear your own place once you are excused, and then if your parents are still eating, you may not lurk around the dining room. We all eat dinner together every night but it has been an exercise in patience for the past five years, so sometimes we do let them leave the dining table early because we just can’t take it anymore.
8. I have a lot of things that can be really quickly made for a kid (although Eli won’t eat most of them because of course not) like chicken nuggets, etc, but I never worry about whether or not my kids will eat a dinner. I haaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaate picky eaters and I refuse to raise them. And again, they don’t have to eat it, but I cook what I want to eat, and everyone else can fall in line or eat a bean burrito.
Let me know if you have questions. I will try to note what my kids ate below what we had for dinner if I can remember.
Braised Chicken and Vegetables in Peanut Sauce
One of my go to all time favorite recipes. Everyone loves this. I usually just use regular chicken breast and serve it over this brown rice/quinoa mixture you can buy frozen at Costco because I hate cooking rice. Kids at the chicken and the rice.
Thai Beef Salad Wraps. No recipe because in my opinion it was similar but not as good to that regular old Thai Beef Salad with mint. Kids ate the steak sans sauce, and lettuce.
This was breakfast one morning – TJ’s frozen green beans, sauteed with garlic, and then some random mushroom from the Farmer’s Market sauteed till crispy and two fried eggs. YUM.
I have renewed my love for roasted broccoli. This breakfast was broccoli, eggs, and smoked salmon.
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