Friday, August 28, 2009

We Are Pickle People

When I was a kid, my mom fixed us 3 square meals a day. Dinner was always a time when the whole family sat down together. We were always given an entree, a starch, and a vegetable. As a matter of fact, I remember not really knowing much about take-out pizza when I was in high school, because my mom NEVER ordered pizza out. If she didn't feel like cooking, we had left-overs or she made grilled cheese. Or I just had a Miracle Whip Sandwich.

I, on the other hand, am a total slacker mom. Some of my kids' favorite meals from me include Hamburger Helper and Chef Boyardee Ravioli.

However, I do have to say, I try to trick my kids into eating all their necessary food groups. How do I trick them, you ask? No, I don't put frosting on a carrot, nor dunk broccoli in Hershey's syrup. Instead, I offer them a lot of good choices and tell them that they MUST choose two side dishes.

For example, last night we had Sloppy Joes for dinner. Side dishes included: Cottage Cheese, sliced cheese (Co-Jack or Cheddar), corn, and pickles. I told the kids they had to have at least two side dishes but they could have all 4 if they liked.

There is a method to my madness: if a kid feels like he can choose what he gets to eat, I think he's more likely to actually eat it. But if forced to eat what is on his plate, a kid is probably going to turn up his nose.

And, it has just become such a regular thing that I offer non-typical side dishes for dinner, I don't even consider it as non-typical anymore. I only noticed this when our across-the-street neighbor stayed for dinner last week. I did the "You pick 2 of these 4 choices" thing. When I showed him pickles as one of the choices, he looked at me like, "Are you for real?"

The thing is, I am not really doing any more work than my mom did. I still fix an entree, a hot vegetable, and a starch. But then I add 2 or 3 more side dishes that are cold (like canned peaches, carrot sticks, sliced cheese, or apple slices). So, I'm not really having to do any extra prep work - I just basically open a can or a jar. And I make sure that none of the extra choices are starches, so when choosing my kids can't choose two starches.

I don't know what the long-term effects of this plan will be. But I can tell you, my kids eat a lot more pickles and carrot sticks than I ever did.

16 comments:

Sturgmom said...

I think that's a great tip! I refuse to be a short order cook, and sometimes the boys really balk at our dinner choices. But you know what? They will eat huge portions of broccoli as long as they have ranch. So I figure, dip away, boys!

McVal said...

I love it! If we have pickles in the house, they're snacked up as quickly as possible and there are none left for meals.
My middle child had a Christmas program once at school where the words were "The people keep-a coming and the train..." something something... To us it sounded like she was singing "The pickle people coming and the train... ". I'm thinking she thought those were the words.
Have a great weekend! I'm a pickle person too btw.

Jennifer said...

I think that is a really smart idea. I would have never thought of it. I'm a "you must taste it" mother and then if she doesn't like it she doesn't have to eat it.

Emily said...

Such a great idea! And we totally count pickles as a veggie over here!

Gigi said...

What a FABULOUS idea!!! I was a 3-bite rule mom myself. Which worked rather well as my 14 year old will pretty much eat anything. I've sent a copy to my friend though - this may work for her. You are BRILLIANT.

Bridgett said...

You know, I think I'm going to try that. Tonight. My younger one, golly, she's obstinate.

anymommy said...

I think any strategy that gets them eating fruits and veggies is fabulous!! And I'm a huge "selection of healthy things for dinner" person. Worse than you. I'll boil eggs, steam soybeans, cut up apples and give them broccoli and cheese dip. Okay, I might just be lazy.

stephanie (bad mom) said...

Excellent scheme! (Though, for the record, corn is a starch...Have you ever tried it fried in a tiny bit of butter? mmmmm)

I'm not super at dinner nutrition but I rock at breakfast - I have many delicious ways to use yogurt; boggles the mind.

:D

Vicki said...

Great tip! Eventually the thought that broccoli is "trees" is not going to appeal to my son anymore. Then what? sigh. Fine. i suppose I will give him two healthy sides to choose from to go with his chocolate chip cookie dinner. I will never tell if I am kidding or not!

StaceyC4 said...

My older son is not a very good eater. Never has been really. But he LOVES pickles! He eats them for breakfast and it kind of makes me feel good that at least he's getting some form of a vegetable!! His favorite breakfast? Meatballs and pickles. Honestly.

yulz said...

Happy Saturday Sharefest ~

Debbie said...

I think your plan sounds brilliant. I wish I had done that when mine were small. Some of mine are so picky it is ridiculous.
Stopped by from SITS.

Karly said...

That's a great idea!

Lisa@verybusymomwith4 said...

My kids love pickles but the jar never makes it to dinner ;)
I do the as many bites as your age for everything on the plate. :)

Angie @ KEEP BELIEVING said...

I freaking LOVE this idea. Do you always provide the same "extra" two options? This could be a small breakthrough with Gavin. But it also means a bit more work for me in that I dont cook much anymore at all.

KEEP BELIEVING

Aleta said...

What a great idea! If I ever have kids, I'm going to try that out, because it's true - having an option is so important!