If I had to venture a guess, I’d say you’ve probably got some picky eaters in your house.
How do I know? Because I’ve got five of them. And they are almost never willing to eat the same thing at the same time. Every day is a demoralizing back-and-forth wherein my kids start asking probing personal questions like, “What’s for dinner?” (I don’t know yet), “What IS that?” (You’ll see), and “But, what’s IN it?” (You’ll see, OK?!). It starts off with daily 11 a.m. texts from both of my teens asking what we’re having that night and ends in tears as the littler ones in the family declare my homemade masterpiece to be “Gross” and I declare that they’ll “Eat it or not eat at all.” but give in with, “OK fine you can make yourself a sandwich. Yes, you can have a banana instead.”
I just know you guys feel me on this, right?
Well, recently my husband came up with a genius idea that has made our dinners so much better.
I’m not saying it’s lessened the sandwich-making and banana-eating. It very well may have increased it. But it has limited the amount of questions and complaints I get and made my kids excited about dinner.
How we got our kids excited for dinner:
Hubby sat the kids down and told them that each of them would be in charge of one meal every week. The good news: They get to pick pretty much any meal they want. The catch: They have to make it (or help make it, based on age and ability). That’s it!
Amazingly, my kids are suddenly excited about dinnertime.
They can’t wait until it’s their day, and when it is, they haven’t complained ONCE about making the food. The ones whose day it ISN’T don’t always like what’s for dinner, but I actually don’t care anymore. I used to feel like it was my job as the stay-at-home to provide healthy dinners that at least most of the people at the table were willing to eat. Now, I know they get something they love at least once a week, so it takes the pressure off of me to perform miracles every night. I simply tell them calmly that they have 3 options. 1) Eat it. 2) Make something else yourself. 3) Don’t eat. I think my lack of pressure is rubbing off on the kids. They know what their options are and they know they will get something they chose this week, so they give up fighting and make a choice. It’s glorious.
This method is seriously the way to go. At least it’s working wonders for our family. I finally have an answer to “What’s for dinner?” because they already planned it out. All I had to do was plan each meal for a day it would work and buy the ingredients. And since I have two kids who are old enough to make their chosen dinner completely on their own, that’s two nights a week I don’t make dinner at all! And the other nights I have a designated helper. It’s fantastic.
Another reason this idea is genius is that it teaches them skills. My oldest son, who is 16, has been choosing homemade pizza every single week. And yes, this kid can make homemade pizza all by himself! Then just the other day he said, “I’m not going to make pizza EVERY week. I want to branch out and learn how to make more things. And he has. In fact, he has developed a newfound freedom now that he knows how to make several dishes that he can cook up on his own whenever he’s hungry (which less face it, he always is).
This is something that works better with kids who are old enough to make food choices and help make the meals. If all of your kids are under 5, hang in there. They will be able to help with dinner eventually! In the meantime I suggest more ramen, spaghetti, and quesadillas. Cheap, easy, filling.
Coincidentally, I’ve also stopped getting those pesky 11 a.m. texts about dinner. This plan really is genius.