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6 ways to get your kids to eat what you cook!

6 ways to get your kids to eat what you cook!

Eat up

Eat up

Meal time can be very frustrating with little ones, especially if it turns into a battle. Just think about when you were younger. We battled our own parents at dinnertime. For instance, I used to sneak the food I didn’t want to my older brother who never said no. Now as parents, we have tried to establish ground rules and certain tactics to minimize the stress and the amount of work that goes into feeding our little humans. My kids are not epicureans, and they don’t always eat without prompting on my part to have a few more bites. However, they do eat a variety of foods and will eat most things that I serve, which is a huge part of meal time battles. If you want your kids to eat what you serve, give these tricks a try:

This is not a diner

This is not a diner

Establish the rules early on and stick to them.
We have a sign that hangs in our kitchen that says, “This is not a diner.” The saying was passed down from my husband’s childhood and we’ve had that sign up since before our first child was born. We refer to it if they complain about what is served. More importantly, we don’t give into their whines. If I make a meal, that is what you get and nothing else. It is hard at times, but if you resist the urge to offer another option or a snack when they don’t eat, you won’t be revisiting the issue very often.
Be practical about what you serve.
Don’t expect your child to eat sushi and then get bent out of shape when they refuse to eat it. If you want your child to try new foods, make sure to not make it the only thing on their plate. When we introduce a new foreign food to our boys, we serve it on their plate with one or two things we know they like. That way, they don’t feel overwhelmed and if they only try a little bit, we know they won’t be starving at the end of the meal.
Have the kids help cook.
Even little ones as young as two can help in the kitchen. Whenever my boys help cook a meal, they have no problem eating it. I have my boys help retrieve items from the fridge and pantry. They wash vegetables in the sink. Do dishes as we cook and even help add spices and ingredients to food. When kids feel involved in cooking a meal, they will enjoy tasting the finished product.
Try, try, try again.
When you serve something new your child might be resistant to eat it. My rule is that you have to at least try it. If they say they don’t like it, that is fine for that meal, as long as they tried it. However, we are not done yet. I will serve that same food several times and encourage them to try it again. After awhile the food is not that foreign to them and we have seen our children start eating it on their own terms.
Get the kids involved.
Grow a garden, have them pick out a new recipe, or have them help pick food out at the supermarket or farmer’s market. All of these things work at encouraging my kids to eat what I serve. This year we started a garden and the process has helped the boys consume what the garden is producing. When we go to the supermarket, I ask them to help me pick out the meat and vegetables. Then when we go home, I have them help me pick a recipe that includes the ingredients we have. Grab an old school cook book and let them choose what’s for dinner, you will be shocked at how much more willing they are to eat the fruits of their own labor.

Little helper

Little helper

Show them grace on a few foods.
We all have foods that we just don’t like. I have two boys that like peanut butter and jelly and one that does not. When he was younger, I tried several times and that food item never took. After a while, I just let it go. I did that because there are plenty of foods that he does eat and I know that he honestly just doesn’t care for it. He eats salad, vegetables and a large variety of other foods, so I am OK with giving him grace on this one. If I am serving sandwiches, I make him a turkey and cheese sandwich and make the other kids peanut butter and jelly.
Do you think these tips will work to ease meal time battles at your house? Do you have any tips or tricks you have tried that get your kids to clean their plates?

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