Do you often end up fixing separate meals for different family members or adding extra items so everyone will have more choices? If you don’t go out of your way to accommodate that with fussier tastes, are you right back in the kitchen soon after dinner preparing snacks?
Kitchen duties can seem endless. One solution is to insist that everyone eat what is placed on the table. This is considered a bit old fashioned by some, and while it works in some families, in others, the fussy eater will go hungry. It’s usually a child that is stubborn enough to skip dinner or pick his or her way through it because it isn’t what was requested. So, what can you do about it?
One option is to offer different side dishes. Offer two or three different items and allow family members to choose for themselves. Once they make a choice, they should stick with it. Offer simple options such as baby carrots, applesauce, cranberry sauce, tomato juice, bread, or cottage cheese. You won’t have to do extra cooking, but you may actually get to enjoy a peaceful meal more often.
You can also prepare snacks in advance or purchase a few items, which you will allow after dinner. If someone is still hungry, those are the options. Make it clear that you will not return to the kitchen every night to prepare additional foods after supper. It’s also a good idea to have children or others help in the preparation of meals and snacks so they better understand the time and effort involved.
Also, insist that those who straggle in late for a meal or begin searching for a snack soon afterward, clean up their own messes. Making kids eat things they don’t like or sit at the table for countless hours in an attempt to make them eat is usually counterproductive and stressful for parent and child alike.
You may feel like you are giving in by presenting these other options or feel like you’re allowing your children to take control, but if you set down clear rules it doesn’t have to be that way. Also, if children and others must help with the preparation and clean up, you are soon likely to find that you have fewer special requests.