January 31, 2013

Cooking Experiment: Report After One Month

I am trying an experiment: I'm cooking one new thing per week and making the children try it. The experiment came about to try to fix three major issues:

1. I'd like the children by the time they leave home to be physically able to force themselves to eat food they don't like (the "Keep offering it and they'll eat it!" method never did work out for us, but now they're all old enough for the "Eat it anyway" method)

2. Edward's food pickiness may not be worsening his anemia but it isn't helping it either, and we'd like to see if we can find more foods he'll eat

3. I'm so bored cooking dinner, it makes me want to drink

Here are the ways life has been improved by this new way of doing things:

1. It really is kind of interesting (bordering on fun, but I wouldn't want to go quite that far) to cook something new, though "during the worst hour of the day" is perhaps not ideal timing for it

2. It feels good to feel like we're working on the children's food-eating training, even if so far we don't seem to be making any measurable progress and maybe all we're doing is teaching them that trying new things always leads to not liking it

3. Paul thinks he doesn't like any meals except the half dozen he always eats (hm, I wonder where the children get that picky eating, hm hm hm, what a mystery), but as it turns out he really likes the new foods, and he also likes coming home from work to find a dinner ready for him (normally I cook for the kids, and then Paul and I make our own dinners later: eating dinner around the table as a family makes us wish we weren't one)

4. I cook stuff I like, so my dinner is made too

5. Since none of the kids eat the food, I have lots of leftovers for my lunches

Here are the ways life has been unimproved by this new way of doing things:

1. When I spend a couple of hours researching, shopping for, and cooking a new meal, and then the children don't eat it, I feel like laying waste to all the lands

2. The more time I spend doing cooking and cleaning in general, the less happy I feel with my role in life: I start feeling grey and drudgey and like I'm in servitude to an endless cycle of unappreciated work that leads nowhere and results in nothing of any lasting value (I had not been sure which way this one would go: lots of people feel MORE fulfilled and happy when they do more/better cooking/cleaning)

3. It takes about 5 seconds for Paul to start taking cooking/cleaning for granted, I think because those gender roles are so easy to slip into; when I see even the first edges of that happening, I feel like laying waste to all the lands AND I feel less happy with my role in life

4. Because this is new, and because the children normally are allowed to have a snack in the evening if they're hungry, we are dealing with a lot of new-rule explaining, accompanied by whining, forgetting, and fresh shock upon hearing that no, after eating one bite of dinner, you do NOT get to have a snack.

I would say that overall, the costs and benefits of the experiment are about equally matched: I am both happier and less happy. But I can see the long-term effects going either way. If, for example, Paul gets even one single millimeter further on the "Wow, I LIKE having a wife who cooks me a hot dinner and then does all the dishes while I go have free time!" spectrum, that will make a kilometer difference to my drudgery spectrum. One. more. millimeter.


Lawyerish said...

Ahahahahahaha! YES: "When I spend a couple of hours researching, shopping for, and cooking a new meal, and then the children don't eat it, I feel like laying waste to all the lands."

My child will eat just about anything (so far), and typically so will my husband, but one time recently I told my husband what I was planning to make for dinner and he MADE A FACE. It...did not go over well with me.

For me, the cooking itself is not that bad (since I also get to enjoy the results), but the PLANNING and the LIST-MAKING and the SHOPPING really do make me want to set things aflame if the end result is not 100% appreciated by everyone involved.

Dr. Maureen said...

I am not going to suggest anything. I am merely going to commiserate with you about the rage that bubbles up when food that I have worked hard to prepare is pushed away, untouched, with accompanying whining complaints of "I don't LIKE this!"

Rage. Ragey rage rage.

I try very hard not to engage in food battles, and we are trying to teach the children to simply not eat it if they don't like it; there is no need to complain and complain about how gross it is. But we also try to make them TASTE it. They don't have to eat it, just taste. They are allowed to spit it out! But it still leads to food battles.

Also I get that drudgery feeling about cleaning the bathroom because I am the only one who does it and it lasts for 30 seconds and then I have to do it again and what is the point of even living.

StephLove said...

My kids are picky and frustratingly often in completely different ways so often I feel I couldn't even make a kid-friendly meal if I were so inclined. But last night they agreed-- the (perfectly normal) cream of tomato soup was vile. They wouldn't touch it. You'd think kids would eat grilled cheese and tomato soup for dinner without complaint. You'd be wrong.

I like advantage #5.

Sarah said...

Yes, the whole planning a meal thing was A NIGHTMARE. I swear, every Sunday was nearly the Sunday I stabbed my husband. All he'd ever suggest for a meal idea was "enchiladas".

So I signed up for one of those meal planning services. Every Friday I get a menu and a grocery list. And I LOVE IT. In fact, we all do. Even my kids. Not saying they eat everything without complaint, but for the most part they do eat it. Ours' even has "kid friendly modifications" for each meal.

Teej said...

I am curious as to what kinds of new meals you are trying? Do they have to be super-healthy or organic or hyper-vegetabley?

If not, I love this blog for finding new recipes: http://mixandmatchmama.blogspot.com/. The blogger is from Texas, and I don't think the food is super healthy necessarily, but it is pretty easy and TASTY. I have tried about 10 of her recipes, and they have all been a hit! Well...a big hit with me and my husband. Not so much for the 19 month old who only wants to eat cheese and scrambled eggs.

Jen said...

It is hard to try something new. I made a pad thai dish and the noodles were crazy sticky and glopy and it was just horrible. But then we've also found a new favorite in Bourbon Street chicken. It didn't quite work on the first try but I knew with some modification it could work. I also like to try my new dishes on Saturday or Sunday night so we are a little less busy and I have more time to spend jumping back and forth to a new recipe.

Swistle said...

Teej- Ha, no, and in fact one of the recipes I tried called for a full pound of mozzarella cheese AND half a stick of butter. I'll check out the site!

Melospiza said...

Back in the old days, cooking new things was one of my favorite things. Then I had kids. Now, between two sets of tastes (and not even very picky tastes!) and the time limitedness of life with kid activities, I just kind of cook the same basic things and slop the stuff down there. When I do try something new I am promptly reminded of why it's not worth it ("lay waste to all the lands" = YES.)

One thing I HAVE done, though...and it helps that I have a husband fully on board with this and all of the, er, training it entails...is institute a "kids clean up" policy. It took a few months, but the kids are now the official dish washers. They still moan and woan, obviously, but not in that "OMG you want us to WHAT!?" way.

Anonymous said...

Swistle dearest:
1) good for you for trying new things.
2) your children are old enough to do dishes. . .especially on a night not followed by school
3) I love you
4) once or twice a month I tell my husband that he's in charge of dinner. I don't care what it is or where he gets it from as long as I am not the one that has to think about it or do something to get it.

that is all


Becky said...

I have been doing this too! The good thing is that my husband is usually super appreciative and compliments me to high heaven. The bad thing is that sometimes my husband will be like, oh, thanks, but I feel like cooking my own supper, and then I am the only one eating this huge meal because my children won't eat it either and aaaaaaaaaa I hate everyone. So it's really a mixed bag.

Raven said...

I had a full comment here earlier but I was on my phone and it wouldn't complete the freaking commenting processes and ALL WAS LOST. Gah!

So this will be a partial reconstruct because I've done other things since and I am old.

Basically, major fist bump for this post because, OH YES, I live this. Day in and day out I am responsible for dinner and have a picky child (who is months away from "adulthood") and am OVER IT. Especially given I have a husband who is starving the moment he walks in the door from work and who I pack lunches for every day as well. *sigh*

Add to that the complication of me being vegetarian and the boys being meat eaters and you have me cooking two dinners nearly every night and yeah, I'm tired. BUT! This year is improving because Sprog got into a culinary arts class and it has been the best thing ever. He has had pineapple salsa! He participated in a cheese tasting! HE DRANK SOY MILK! Last night he made scrambled eggs "using the Alton Brown method" for dinner and he now wants to make smoothies as an after school snack instead of eating junk.

It's been fabulous for him and for us, so I highly recommend getting kids into a cooking class. I also am forcing him to eat vegetarian (and weird) one day a week in preparation for future girlfriends/girlfriends families as you never know what might be their style of eating. He's already been subjected to sushi by a former girlfriend. Ha!

Erica said...

Ha. Dinner can be such a no win thing. Sometimes I think the Peg Bundy approach to stay at home mom hood is the only way to win. Imma get me some spandex pants and a pack of cigs today and try it out.

G said...

Love this. I go on a similar run periodically because I'm tired of eating the food I cook all the time that the kids all like. (We do sit down and eat all together whenever possible.)

Years ago, I instituted a new answer to "what's for dinner?" After several rounds of giving an honest answer and hearing "But I don't like that" as though that meant we could never have it again, I started saying, "Food."

What's for dinner? Food.

When asked for more details, I will add "Good food" or "Food that is good for you" or (when feeling especially crank) "Food that I am cooking and you are not and that you will therefore eat for dinner whether you want to or not."

That last one got my husband on board with the whole "when somebody cooks something for you, you eat it" line and he usually takes over the scolding of children who behave badly over their dinner.

JenniferB said...

I am grateful to you for "keeping it real." I sat back, stared at the screen, and just laughed and laughed long and proud over your statement: "eating dinner around the table as a family makes us wish we weren't one." I truly identify with this sentiment. My husband and I often feed the kids their "nursery supper" and then eat later ALONE. I adore my children and don't want them to feel as if we are avoiding them or hidng from them, but sometimes that is exactly what we are doing. It keeps us happily married and ready to face the continued effort of raising four brilliant headstrong daughters...

swimmermom said...

Am I the first to note this literally LOL line? "eating dinner around the table as a family makes us wish we weren't one"

Oh Swistle. You are my favorite kind of funny.

brzeski said...

I read Sarah's comment about a meal planning service and literally said "Whoa" out loud. This is a thing? I'm so on it.

Jody said...

I hate cooking dinner so much. SO MUCH.

We have a strict rule: one adult cooks, one adult cleans. We should make the children do the cleaning but I hate supervising recalcitrant whiny children even more than cooking dinner (and yes, I do understand that they are spoiled because of it). When I cook, I get to leave after dinner because spouse cleans. Maybe I will stay because I am wanting adult conversation but if I am on my last nerve and need to spend some time with Sui's Burn Book, so be it. It does help.

Anne said...

I actually cried the other night when I made something that NO ONE ATE!!! What a fun, rewarding thing to do, make a labor intensive meal that NOBODY EATS!!! Plus it's so cost effective too!!

Maggie said...

Lay waste to all the lands indeed! I hate to cook, have never enjoyed cooking, and was clear about this before I married husband. And yet, over the years even though we both work FT outside the home, I seem to have become the one in charge of dinner.

I'm already pre-hostile about making dinner because I don't like to cook and then when the kids don't like what I make, it's all I can do not to walk out of the house, slam the door, drive somewhere else, and stay there.

I tend to make mostly the same 5 or so dishes for dinner and lunches following. Sometimes I make husband decide what we are making because I can't even stand to decide anymore. I think the every day demands of food purchase and production and service are one of the (many) areas of parenting of which I dramatically underestimated the burden.

Heather said...

Don't give up! 7 months ago, my 13 year old niece came to live with us. She ate butter chicken, meat pies and salad. I told her that she was to try EVERY meal and if she didnt like it, she was welcome to carrot and cucumber sticks to fill herself up. BUT she wasnt allowed anything if she didnt at least try the meal. Plus, she was expected to thank me for every meal whether she liked it or not. She asked me why and I said, "well you just watched tv for an hour while I stood in the kitchen cooking." End result: she happily tries everything, eats MOST things (assuming I leave peas/onions out of it) and if she doesnt like it, she isnt rude about it which is important for when she visits other people's homes for dinner.

She just spent some of her summer holiday in NZ with her mother (my big sister) and the report came back that she was amazed with the change and improvement in manners. Dont give in, you can make good progress!

Heather said...

Oh and since there is no 'time off' from the job of a housewife, I make my husband cook for the whole family on Saturday night...after all, he hasnt been at work! If he doesnt want to cook then he can order in and I dont complain so long as I get every Saturday night off!

Brenna said...

If I cook, husband cleans. It is the only way we're not eating quesadillas and hotdogs every night. The cooking is hard enough, but cooking while watching dishes pile up that I know I'll have to wash later destroys my will to live. At least if I know I don't have to clean up, there's a light at the end of the tunnel (of kitchen drudgery).

Karen L said...

yes. all of it. yes. I'm sending this link to DH right NOW.

liz said...

Three ideas, from my childhood.

1) Your kids are old enough to take over meal planning and execution one night a week (I started when I was 11). It may be mac-and-cheese every week, but it will give them an appreciation for the work you put in, and will give them skills.

2) Your husband is young enough to take over meal-planning and execution one night a week.

and 3) Mom gets a night out on her own at least 2x a month.

Today Wendy said...

The rules I decided to go with are:

1) You must sit at the table during dinner with the food in question in front of you.
2) If you make any disparaging comments or faces regarding the food, you're stuck with it and this is all you get.
3) If you taste the food (just one bite) and decide that it isn't something you like, you're welcome to go get yourself something else from the fridge, although you still have to have the food you aren't eating sitting in front of you.

Liz Botts said...

I like to cook so that automatically puts me into a different category than this post is aimed at. I find it interesting reading your experiences. I love making new stuff. My husband and my oldest son (6 yrs old) will try anything. My middle child (4) is my picky one but slowly we are discovering things he likes. And my 2 yr old tries age appropriate stuff. (We eat a lot of spicy stuff so she has to have a milder version.)

I think the best way to avoid drudgery is to find recipes that excite you.

Karly said...

I think starting my food blog was the very best thing I could have done in terms of feeding my family. I mean, I thought I was adventurous in the kitchen when I started, but four years into it and I have to really get creative with new recipes! I don't think my readers would love to see the same thing posted week after week, but man, that'd be easier. ;)

Anyway, my kids are so much healthier and braver about food since I really started cooking new things. We have new meals probably 75% of the time. :)

jen(melty) said...

I don't want this to sound like assvice! But I don't have a blog! My experience with trying new things worked out oko.. I berated my husband to at least act thankful, and then once he was grateful we could have an honest discussion about whether this would be entering our rotation. But lately, you know, I don't really give a flip. And I've changed my eating habits pretty much. I realized I was bored with food and I kept finding all this new and interesting stuff and started reading food blogs, and it's all stuff no one in this house would eat, but why deprive myself? Now I just make the same old boring crowd pleasing carb-loaded junk and I make myself separate meals. it's more work but I like to cook, and really doesn't take any more TIME because I can juggle 2 things, and sometimes I share a side dish or whatever. And my lunches are really interesting these days too! I've learned husbands and children would be perfectly content with spaghetti every night. Whatever, right? Someone is gonna get on me about healthy foods, but my kids won't eat healthy foods, they just went without those nights.

Swistle said...

StephLove and Melospiza- YES, my kids too: the DIFFERENT pickiness/tastes! I don't know if we have ANYTHING that EVERYONE eats.

DB- Yes, we already have the kids helping with dishes---and Paul cooks twice a week!

JenniferB- I like to think of it as Taking Time for Our Marriage. SPIN. Spin is everything!

Jody and Brenna- I'm going to have to put that more firmly in place if this keeps up. It's been that we both help with the kids' dishes, and we each do our own dishes. But now that I'm cooking for everyone, I think Paul is not quite tracking yet with the idea that this needs to be reflected in the clean-up.

Maggie - "walk out of the house, slam the door, drive somewhere else, and stay there"---HA HA HA! Yes.

Heather- I don't know---I've already been forcing food-trying for 14 years! How long before I can give up?

liz- Paul already does the cooking twice a week! I've been having Rob and William help me on the one night a week I make two different things, and they each handle their own dinner one night a week. I've considered putting them completely in charge, but I think for seven people it's a lot even for an adult to handle. Also, I'd have to do the training to give them the skills, and that seems exhausting right now.

Liz Botts- No, we're too different: "find recipes that excite you" is like saying "find floor-cleaning supplies that excite you": it doesn't resonate with me at all!

H said...

I did this, too, when my kids were living at home. It was hit and miss and sometimes I was irritated when no one cared for the meal. BUT, what drove me absolutely bananas was when they liked a particular dish one day and then claimed they didn't the next time I made it! We've had many conversations in which I say: "Yes, you did like it. I can't believe you don't remember that." - and they say "No, mom, you have a terrible memory and I never said I like this." ARGGHHHHHH!

Bibliomama said...

It's really pathetic how grateful I am to read someone who has five kids not extolling the pleasures and virtues of the family dinner. I've been trying to get out of the whole 'curry chicken, tacos, stir-fry, spaghetti' rotation, and it's, meh, okay. But if I had three more kids? Jesus.

Rebecca said...

Oh, it is so good to see that others cook for the children and then eat together, later. We do this most nights (we have 5 children also) and I have always felt mildly guilty because MY family of origin ate together. Never mind that my bad childhood memories are almost universally mealtime related...

Natalie said...

I did not read through all your comments...
I'm going to go the other way. What are the 12 things that you always cook? I cook a lot of new things. But nothing really stays as a staple. My staples are spaghetti and lasagna. I need more staples!

After 5 years, my husband is finally taking some initiative! He does the dishes WITHOUT BEING ASKED. It's amazing. I told him I would be so happy when he does chores WITHOUT me saying anything. He's in charge of dishes and trash. I do everything else, but not well!

Lisa said...

What is this "butter chicken" of which you speak, Heather?

Mary said...

First, I want to say that I have been reading you, and loving you, for years, but this year you are making me laugh out loud with almost every post. And given that, "laying waste to all the lands" is the best phrase you've written this year!

I have a husband who is the youngest of eight kids, and his mom just cooked for him on order. He came to me eating about five things, and convinced he would die if he tried anything else. (I know, right, what was I thinking? But I loved him, and I thought he'd change!)

Given that, it's no surprise his children are picky. It was a regular event for me to cook something that everybody liked last week and this time no one would even try it. My kids are older (15 and up) now and will eat lots more food. The oldest is cooking once a week as part of the price of continuing to live in my house. He is dismayed that he cooks a delicious dinner and his father refuses to even taste it because it contains a forbidden ingredient.

I have given up and most of the time I just cook the same dozen meals that nobody will gripe at me for. It's too bad because I am quite a good cook and used to really enjoy it. On the rare nights when I make something new and wonderful, and husband comes home, screws up his face and starts digging for leftovers, I still want to lay waste to all the lands. When the kids are gone and it's just him and me, I am never cooking again.

He has, however, after about 20 years, conceded that his life is much more pleasant if he follows the rule that whoever cooks dinner doesn't have to clean up after. He does it most of the time now, and it's quite wonderful.

M.Amanda said...

Oh, how I wish I were one of those people who got so much satisfaction from a clean house, home-cooked meal that it made up for the fact that I HATE doing those things. OH, HOW.

But, yes, I am also less happy with my life the more time I spend cooking and cleaning. I just feel like I'm no more alive or fulfilled than my vacuum cleaner.

HereWeGoAJen said...

My husband is picky and my child is a different kind of picky and WHY DO I EVEN BOTHER?

Serenity said...

My oldest son, now 19 (YEARS not months) was picky about taste, texture, smell until he hit late middle school/high school Foods classes and now, not only does he work as a cook (which also helped) but he's open to new ideas i might throw out there. Today he said, "I'd like to try marinated goat cheese, on crackers." "Really now."
My younger son lives on canned chili and cheese bagels. How does he not have scurvy? Rickets? Kwashiorkor? Yet he thrives.

Laura Diniwilk said...

You know how sometimes you say you can very much relate to the way I think (best comments ever, btw)? Well, this one had my head nodding so hard it almost fell off my damn neck (ONE MILLIMETER). And I laughed out loud at "Eating dinner around the table as a family makes us wish we weren't one." I still feed my kids on the living room floor a ridiculous amount (less distance for Lucia to throw food) and we almost always eat after bedtime (less children incessantly begging for scraps).

Ali said...

What a great post! Swistle, you should write a book. I would definitely buy it!

No kids to feed here (other than a baby who only nurses and refuses both solids and a bottle), but my husband is the pickiest eater EVER. Cooking for him is a pain in the neck as is eating at friends' homes, where he is inevitably "forced" to eat something that he doesn't like (i.e., not fried or not a carb). Seriously, who doesn't eat beans? If any type? My husband, that's who. Anyhow, vent aside, you are doing a great service to your kids even if it is a pain. My MIL catered to my husband's pickiness (and still does!) and it makes me murderous.

Alexicographer said...

Hahaha, count me among those delighted to know I'm not the only one who finds that, "eating dinner around the table as a family makes us wish we weren't one." So true. And it's not even (just!) the food. It's the idea that one might wait until everyone (Note! N=3) is seated to start eating (hubby!) or that one might sit straight in your seat and face the table (son!). Guess where we eat? At the kitchen "bar." Guess what our barstools do! Swivel! Swivelly barstools + kindergartener? Not. A. Good. Combination! What was I thinking???

I avoid a lot of this stuff by being a WOHM with a SAHH but I still somehow feel that I end up with >50% of meal prep. We however employ the opposite rule of those many others are recommending: whoever cooks in our household cleans, because DH complains (correctly) that when I cook I make the kitchen look like I have, well, laid waste to all the lands.

When I acquired a hubby + stepkids I realized after awhile it was necessary to have the following rule: After supper is served, you may say, "Ooh, yummy!" Or, you may say, "Gosh, I think I'll make myself some mac-n-cheese." There is NO other allowable response to the presentation of a cooked meal. We've varied this a bit over the years (DS is too little to make his own M&C, must eat as much dinner as he wants and pretty much all of it if he wants dessert, but can have a banana or some toast later, pretty much regardless. But he is still a little kid, and also thin as a rail, and also (most important of all) sleeps better if he goes to bed with a full tummy), but I believe the principle remains sound.

Good luck to you. Any recommendations (recipes)?

Elizabeth said...

I cannot be the only one who desperately wants to know what the six meals are that Paul likes, can I? I am imagining them as the most delicious meals in the world and I must know what they are!

Karen L said...

I've been thinking about this post all day and so I'm back!

Many, many days, when I am putting dinner on the table and I am greeted with a lack of appreciation, I remember that once a reader asked you how to raise appreciative children and I remember something about thank you notes but that's all. So, then I'm stuck and my inner-hater starts in on me about how clearly the problem is me. What is it about me that I feel the need for appreciation? Isn't a job well done it's own reward?

As to an early suggestion to keep at it well... reminds me of baby-wearing. Alright seriously, well, given that maybe you need to keep at it one more year for Robert, till he's 15, then until Henry is 15, I guess you can quit trying once you've been at it for 24 years. Bwhwhwhwhwh

In the mean time I'm going to tell *myself* that my kids are going to grow out of this cuz they're still little. uh huh.

Life of a Doctor's Wife said...

#3 on the disadvantages? The taking for granted thing? Oh yes. RELATE. Someone falls ill, and the other person in the household does all the dishes - out of KINDNESS - for a few days, because who wants to do dishes when feeling ill? And then all of sudden, doing dishes is that kind person's sole responsibility forEVER? No. That is why there are dishes sitting on the counter and a dishwasher full of clean dishes right now. That may sit there until... Okay. Let's be honest, until *I* can't stand it anymore. Man, I need to be more stubborn.

Ahem. I seem to have gotten sidetracked from the point of your post.

Val said...

Posts like this one make me wish I could go back in time and be SO much nicer to my mom when I was growing up. Ay!

Good for you for trying something new, Swistle. :)

Christina said...

I did this to myself when I started pinning recipes, and also got kind of burnt out. I sympathize with the "waste of time" feeling and "being taken for granted."

What I've been doing since is to kind of balance out the efforts. Instead of trying a whole new plate of food- as in, cooking chicken a new way, cooking a new side, and making home made biscuits (scream!) I just try to "cheat" the other parts. So yes, I'll try cooking the chicken a new way.. but the side is just gonna be something easy like frozen tots and the biscuits are gonna be Grands pop tube kind. It makes it less hair-pulling-out for me.

I also love the line "eating dinner around the table as a family makes us wish we weren't one"

Swistle said...

Elizabeth- Ha, no, it's more like variations on a taco/burrito theme. He gets fancy (homemade tortillas, homemade salsa, homemade bean stuff), but it's basically rearranging those ingredients every night.

Swistle said...

Karen L- Pshaw! ALL human beings want their work appreciated! It's why we train children to be appreciative (or to ACT it, anyway): not because we're desperate and needy, but because all their lives they'll be accepting work from people who also want that work appreciated.

nic said...

No kids of my own, but i remember my parents' rules very well:

- you eat what is served
- if you don't like it, you HAVE to eat 3 bites of it but you can leave the rest
- if you ate the three bites (or more), you can have dessert
- you are not allowed to eat anything else until breakfast next morning

I cannot remember a time when we were 'too little' for these rules, so they must have started us on them young :) It made for 4 adults who eat (and appreciate) almost everything. They did try to teach us not to voice our displeasure over unpleasant food, but with their sometimes very experimental cooking they sometimes couldn't even keep that up themselves...

Heather said...

Take a look for THE MOM 100 COOKBOOK by Katie Workman. Yes, Katie happens to be my friend but its a brilliant book with great ideas. Its based around the idea of multiple things to make (easily!) with a few basics you likely already have in the house.

Its been a big winner in my house.

Crafty Beth said...

"I feel like laying waste to all the lands" is the way I will forevermore describe that feeling when I am holding back from forcibly putting lovingly prepared food into my children's mouths.

Wendy said...

"eating dinner around the table as a family makes us wish we weren't one" - love it, because I can so relate. It is so much nicer when we feed the little ones and eat by ourselves later (or even sometimes, in another room, while they eat in front of the t.v. - horrible, I know). Like you, though, I'm trying to have more of these forced meals around the table trying things they may not like. I hope someday, my daughter-in-laws all thank me!

Jennifer H. said...

Loved the post. Why are food issues so terribly, terribly frustrating?
Here is what we do at my house:
I get meal planning and shopping lists from Relish (relishrelish.com) I think I found out about it through Parent Hacks or something. It seriously has changed our life and made shopping a lot easier. Also, we don't end up eating a version of chicken and rice every. single. night.
Our rule (kids are 6 and almost 2) is that you don't have to eat anything you don't want to, but you can't complain and nothing else will be served. I wasn't a picky eater as a child, but my husband was and he talks about how terrifying it was to look at something that appeared gross and have to put it into his body. It sounded traumatic and I empathize. (Also, the consequence for complaining is having to eat it all - we've only had to do it once).
Lastly, its my husband's practice to sit down at the table and find something to exuberantly complement about the meal. My son noticed how charmed I was by it, and started doing it himself. Somehow it takes the sting out of him not eating a bite when he tells me how delicious it looks. :)