That ^^ up there, i dont want my children to EVER have to say. Besides that, i make irresponsible food choices for myself so i am over weight which isnt healthy. These bad habits are PROPER hard to break, i have tried time and time again. So, i want my children to be set up with GOOD habits, so the choices are easier.
I am REALLY proud to be able to say that for the most part my children are not fussy and will generally eat what is put in front of them. If there is something new they will at least try it and i believe that this is down to being very fortunate in the child stakes, and the strong line i took from the very start when it came to food.
* If they are hungry they will eat. If they do not want what is put in front of them, they may leave the table and the plate will remain until the next meal time or until they go to bed. There are NO alternatives.
* They will NEVER be forced to eat, but will be gently encouraged to try what they are given. They wont be presented with a whole plate of unfamiliar food. There is a 'One Bite' policy - we expect one good bite of whatever they are trying. If they dislike it they may leave it, we will try again another day.
* Our children are actively encouraged to participate in the planning, buying and preparing of food. Both Dreamer and Manic can cut food on the chopping board with a small sharp knife and know how to use them safely. Princess uses a less sharp knife and can cut softer items. I think this is very important part of the eating process, the children feel they are part of it, they have some input and control and have a sense of pride when the food is ready - this makes them a lot more eager to try things.
* We have a dedicated junk time. Friday's afternoon snack is junk instead of fruit. The children get an extra with their lunch on a Saturday (either some crisps, or a biscuit or two) and we have desert after dinner on a Friday and Saturday. The rest of the week there will be some form of fruit or veg with every meal.
* Change it up. Get the children to look online for new recipes to try, you can always substitute ingredients if they are unsuitable. Saturday mornings are for cooked breakfast - that doesnt have to mean greasy fry ups, if you want to get technical toast is cooked bread!
* You are going to have to try new things too. Your children look to you as a model for their behaviour - if you staunchly refuse to try any new tastes so will they. Even if you are sure you wont like it you still need to try and at least appear open minded!
* No fuss. "Not hungry? Ok then, ill leave your plate there til later." "Dont like that? Never mind, well done for trying it though!" If you make a big deal out of eating so will they. Take a deep breath, remember they arent doing it to be naughty or hurtful, and realise they wont starve or die for leaving some of their meal. In fact, letting them go off and get properly hungry might be a good thing! Its us adults who say we should be eating three meals a day, children arent built like that and seem to be more of the 'little and often' types so a bit of healthy grazing wont hurt.
For example, on a typical Saturday this is what our children eat...
~Before breakfast (because they wake obscenely early!) they have a fruit platter - bananas, apples, melon etc all drizzled with a little fresh lemon and lime - this is an excellent wake up.
~Breakfast is cooked and varies from week to week. It could be scrambled eggs on toast or dippy eggs and soldiers, it could be a bagel with cheese or porridge or cooked fish or sausages and tomato and potato cakes (which, by the way, are a great use of leftover mash!).
~Midmorning snack is very small, usually a handful of nuts, seeds or dried fruit.
~Lunch is a sandwich, pitta, half bagel or wrap, a piece of fruit or salad or veg and a piece of meat (ie a slice of ham, a small sausage) or some cheese and half a packet of crisps or a biscuit or two. It is eaten in that order too - id much rather the children filled up on the other stuff than the crisps and they only get half a pack because crisp packets are designed in adult servings.
~Mid-afternoon snack could be popcorn, fruit or dried fruit, possibly a biscuit or small bit of veg or salad item.
~Dinner will be a proper cooked meal, followed by a desert which will range from home made cake to natural yoghurt with honey and fruit to pancakes!
That may seem like an awful lot of food but the servings are quite small. There may seem to be an awful lot of fruit but it is just one fruit (or veg or salad item). These small, frequent servings keep the children topped up and help to prevent that 4pm break-down. My children have lots of energy and are very inquisative!
Ok then, enough waffling. Recipe and tip time!
I'll start with salads......
Lettuce. Please please dont use Iceberg lettuce it is awful, why not try a different one each week - let the children choose! Lettuce is pretty simple to prepare, you just separate the leaves and wash thoroughly in cold water.
Cucumber. Cucumber can be a sticking point with children, i have to admit im not keen on it myself. However it is a lot more palatable when prepared this way - peel it, cut it in half length-ways and then scoop out the watery smush (which reminds me of snozcumbers). Then slice into pleasant little crescent moon pieces.
Celery. Again, children often turn their noses up at this because of the bitter, stick-between-the-teeth stringy bits. Simple solution is to peel this too, just on the outside, then wash in cold water and slice.
Cherry or plum tomatoes - these are quite sweet and just require a wash.
Pepper. Easy to prepare - rinse off the outside and then just cut open, remove the seeds and slice.
Carrots. Depending on the variety, these will not always need peeling, just a quick wash. Top and tail and then use the peeler to get super-thin strips or grate. This is because the goodness in carrots can be quite hard to digest, so the greater the surface area the bigger the benefit.
As a base this salad is simple and easy to prepare. You can serve it as it is, with a dressing or you can add more - fresh peas straight from the pod are a sweet and refreshing surprise, sweetcorn is a colourful addition, or some mozzarella cheese crumbled in... the possibilities are endless!