Ya, you read that right. I got my kids to eat dinner without whining, crying or complaining for two weeks.
Now if you know me, you know that I have been struggling with one picky eater since he was 7 months old. It’s been one of the most frustrating parts of parenthood (if not the most frustrating). Nothing drives me more nuts than sitting down to a nice meal and having the kids say one of the following:
“BUT I DON’T LIKE THAT!”
“WAAAAAAAH I DON’T WANT CHILI!!!”
“THIS LOOKS LIKE CAT FOOD!!!” (A personal favourite.)
So two weeks ago on a beautiful and sunny Sunday morning I said to Leo: “Leo I’m making my meal plan for this week; what do you want to eat? You get to choose what we eat this week.”
He looked at me like I’d fallen off my rocker, but quickly started listing off things that he wanted to eat:
- Pasta (duh)
- Burgers (that one surprised me because I make bean veggie burgers that aren’t always popular)
- Tacos (we came up with that one together)
- Chicken fingers and fries (You want it? Ok I’ll make it!)
- Pizza (duh)
And then he picked fajitas for our Sunday dinner.
To be honest, I thought the whole week would be pizza and pasta, but I was pleasantly surprised.
Here’s the thing. I don’t follow the I-don’t-care-what-they-eat-as-long-as-they-eat-something! philosophy which is probably why my life has been a bit hellish for the past 4.5 years where dinner is concerned. But if they’re going to be picky, I want them to eat something that is good for them. It has to have nutrients. But I do realize that it has to be fun too (it only took me 4.5 years to figure it out). So I took a stab at this let them choose thing, but then I made the food the way I wanted to make it.
So here was my version of what he picked:
- Portobello mushroom ‘steak’ fajitas from Oh She Glows cookbook
- Pasta with Kale/basil pesto
- White bean burgers on sprouted buns
- Tacos with walnut ‘meat’ (honestly they only eat tacos with cheese and yogurt anyway, but I want them to see all the fixin’s that we eat)
- I made a special trip to a meat market for free-range chicken to make chicken fingers and made roasted potatoes for the fries
- Gluten-free pizza crust with the kale pesto and whatever I had left in the fridge
And that was it. That’s all it took. If they did start to say something I’d say “That’s what you picked!” And then they’d keep eating. Aside from the chicken fingers, these meals are pretty much what I make on a regular basis, but because I gave them a choice of what to eat they bought into it.
It was heaven. We laughed at dinner. We told stories. Mark and I talked about our day without much interruption. It was craziness!
So the following week I told Mila that she got to pick. She picked a few of the same things, and then Leo helped with some meals until we got another full week that they chose. And again it was another full week of bliss.
We’ll see how week three goes!