Published by Beth Bader, co-author of The Cleaner Plate Club book.
We parents get a lot of advice. From the moment we show the slightest inclination to conceive a child, the advice begins. Even advice on that conception. Thankfully, we managed that part just fine without assistance.
Now that my child has miraculously survived my first few rookie parent years, I often look back with humor on some of the worst of that advice with gratitude that I did not take it. It went a bit like this:
“You know, now that you have a child, you are going to have to change the way you cook. Kids don’t eat the same as you do, they need blander kid food, you know, pizza and Mac and Cheese …”
“Uh huh …” I said. “So … do they have curried Mac and Cheese in India?”
Insert icy stare and deafening silence. This will not be the first or last time my ideas on feeding my child have been questioned. But, nearly six years into the journey, I think I managed to do a few things right. The kid is alive and well and eating broccoli and a whole bunch of other things that don’t come with a toy.
That said, some of my cooking habits have been changed forever.
- I’m More Organized. Getting real food on the table when you are real tired from working all day required planning. I now do the majority of the cooking on weekends; make larger batches; alternate leftovers early in the week; then have a quick meal or two such as a frittata for late in the week.
- I Love Leftovers. The days of eating out nightly or preparing a gourmet meal for two are over. I now fully embrace the joy of good food ready to go after a minute or two in the microwave. We parents don’t have the cash to waste food these days, anyway.
- I Try, And Try Again. Kids have to be exposed to a new food as many as 14 times before some will even try it. Come to think of it, I have to tell my kid the same thing over and over about 14 times before she listens, too. It’s a pattern.
- I Wage Peas. And carrots. And greens. But I don’t force them. This, I admit, was harder for me. I am not used to cooking for people who don’t like my food. Especially pint-sized critics who can’t even cut their own meat. I did finally learn that the rejection is often way more about control than it is about too much oregano. To avoid frustration for all of us, I fix familiar and well-liked dishes with just one new item on the plate per week.
- I Enlist Help. This is my latest change. I am learning to give up control of the menu. I have to slow down, be patient while I train the new sous chef. Her budding desire to help cook is a gift I can’t be too busy too ignore. Not only will cooking encourage a love of new foods, it is the one skill I can teach my child that will give her a lifetime of healthier eating — and less time in the fast food lane.
Of course, that’s just my advice. You don’t have to take it. What’s the best or worst food advice you’ve ever gotten with regard to your kids’ diet?