Friday, January 31, 2014

Dinner with Kids

Let's be honest. It isn't always a picnic.  Dinnertime at our house is far from perfect but here's a few things that I do to survive it.

 After I've cooked dinner, my least favorite thing to hear is "I'm not eating that!" spoken with a bunched up nose. I refuse to subside on hot dogs, spaghetti, and chicken nuggets. As the mom I have 3 options:
1. I make one dinner, if you don't want to eat it you can go hungry.  This option doesn't really work because we all know that hungry children equals emotional meltdowns from all parties involved. Bedtime doesn't come soon enough in this situation.
2. Make your own dinner, then. PBandJ sandwiches do not provide adequate nutrition and won't expand their narrow palates.
Here's my third option.
3. Make layered meals-- meals that are assembled in steps and that can be consumed at any point along the assembly process. (Was that clear as mud?)

For instance: I've been dying to try that Baked Fajita recipe that I've seen floating around Pinterest. The one where you toss everything in a pan and bake it instead of frying it-- like this one.
So easy. So yummy! I will never fry fajitas again. Seriously, this recipe is a keeper. Try it. But would my picky eaters eat it...nope.
Two kids ate just a tortilla with sour cream, cheese, and lettuce. (I had them try a piece of the chicken on the side.)  Number 3 ate hers with all those plus some of the chicken shredded inside.  I ate the works. And then, for good measure, had a second fajita in a lettuce wrap to save a few calories. ;)  The plus for me: I only had to make one dinner.
More layered dinner ideas: 
Sweet and Sour Chicken over rice-- serve the sauce separate and buy good quality chicken nugget
Meatball Stroganoff-- pasta, meatballs, with the sauce separate
Baked Potato Bar-- add your own toppings
Hawaiian Haystacks-- add your own toppings
Chicken Alfredo-- pasta, grilled chicken, with sauce separate 
Individual Pizzas-- every makes their own
Tacos-- fill it with your favorite toppings
I also try to have at least one side that each kid will eat, whether it's fruit, veggie, or bread.
To really combat the complaining we had a sit-down conversation with the oldest two when they were 5 and 7. We came up with these rules and posted them by the table.
Number 6 is strictly enforced. I'm thinking of adding -- #9 Please clear your dishes from the table.
Got any more good family-friendly recipes or ways to teach mealtime manners?

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