This means I refuse to be a short order cook for my family, and I make ONE meal. Take it or leave it.
Is this always easy? Absolutely not. Do I occasionally channel all of my willpower to hold back from making a peanut butter sandwich or a box of mac and cheese? Yup.
I get it. When it’s dinnertime and the whole family is hungry and tired, tantrums happen over the smallest things (g-d forbid I give my daughter the wrong colour cup). Sometimes it would be so much easier to serve up whatever she wants in that moment in order to avoid a meltdown.
But I stand my ground. It’s important my daughters see us sitting down for family meals and eating the same foods. There are many reasons for this. One of them being I have zero time or desire to cook multiple meals. But also, eating as a family will help my girls develop a happier and healthier relationship with food. They will also be more willing to try new foods if they see me and my husband eating the same thing. As parents of young children, we’re role models and in their minds, the coolest thing since sliced bread.
So, here’s my strategy that works almost every time which can turn any meal into a family-friendly superstar.
I call it, the deconstructed meal.
It goes like this. Whatever I’m making for dinner gets broken down into separate components for the kiddos. I set aside the various components and serve them family-style, laid out separately on a plate or in small bowls, and allow the girls to choose which components they want to eat. This way, we’re are all eating the same foods, but each plate might look a little different.
As an example, picture a dish of Enchiladas: tortillas, some sort of filling, sauce and cheese, all rolled together. A delicious combination for adults, but some younger kids may not bite. To deconstruct this meal, I set out plain tortillas along with the filling, sauce and cheese in different bowls. Then, I allow my daughter to pick and choose what she feels like. I always ensure to include one food I know she’ll eat (that’s where the term ‘considerate without catering’ comes in), and I remain completely neutral in my reaction to what she chooses. She gets to choose if and how much she eats on her own terms.
Lets play again! This time, we’re cooking up a Stir Fry. I set aside some raw peppers, plain rice, cooked chicken and sauce on the side, and she chooses what she wants. She gets to feel some control over choosing the foods and quantities she wants to eat, and again, we are all eating the same thing.
Now you try! I can’t promise it will solve all of your meal time battles, (it won’t leave your house tantrum free) but I do promise you’ll have a few more #kidapproved meals under your belt.