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  • Feeding the kids: The struggle continues

    At this rate, “Feeding the kids” is going to become a regular series around here. If you’ve been following along, you know that I’ve been having some trouble getting my sons to eat my cooking (and I’m a good cook, in all honesty). But it turns out that involving Alex in the meal planning doesn’t work too well because he’s not interested. It’s not about trucks and firemen and his other favorite things, after all.

    But I’ve only just begun to read the Ellen Satter book, Secrets of Feeding a Healthy Family: Orchestrating and Enjoying the Family Meal.Things have been crazy lately, but I have a couple of appointments coming up where I’ll be sitting in a waiting room, so I should be able to read some then. Hopefully the book will have some tips on getting Alex to actually want to help go through recipes and identify meals he’d like to try.

    Meanwhile, I recently made macaroni and cheese in the rice cooker. I’m afraid I can’t remember who recommended the recipe – I can’t seem to find the comment or email, so my apologies to the kind person who suggested I try it. I figured the kids would eat it – it’s macaroni and cheese, after all – and the idea of cooking it in the rice cooker was intriguing. I used the only “healthy” elbow macaroni that I can find (Barilla Plus), 2% milk instead of cream, and 2 cups of cheddar and 1 cup of mozzarella. Of course, I now realize as I write this that the recipe only called for 1 1/2 cups of cheese. But overall, I thought the macaroni and cheese was fine – kind of plain compared to what I usually make from scratch, but otherwise good.

    So of course, neither child ate it.

    Does anyone have a good recipe for using up leftover macaroni and cheese?

    Comments

    1. All I can say is keep it simple. I have 3 kids ages 6, 3, and almost 2. The 3 year old wont eat hardly anything. So I make what I like most nights and then I will make something simple that I know they will eat a few times a week. I try to get them to eat at least some of what they’ve been given and if they dont eat then they dont get anything else. Its their choice. At that age they are trying to grasp their balance of independence. Being able to chose if they want to eat is part of it. I lose on most nights with my 3 year old. There is almost always a mostly full plate at his spot when everyone is done. The key is that he did at least eat a little bit of it. Their stomachs are small so they really dont need a whole lot to begin with. As long as they are still growing then they are fine.

    2. Do they eat chili? Stir up the leftovers with a bowl or pot of chili.

      My youngest just turned two so he’s still a constant battle but as long as he eats something, I’m happy at this point. However, with my 7yo, she has to eat at least half of the stuff she doesn’t like, which is usually veggies, or she sits at the table until it’s gone and misses play-time. She’s getting better, learning how to stir ‘yucky’ food into tasty food makes a lot of difference.

    3. Add some tomato sauce or diced tomatoes, some ground beef (or ground turkey) and voila, a whole new meal! Sometimes I add onion and Italian seasoning too. Or cook some chicken and steam some broccoli and mix that with the Mac and Cheese.
      My son won’t eat Mac and Cheese. He also won’t eat plain noodles, which I thought all kids like.
      He will eat the above recipes.
      I enjoy your blog!

    4. Add some ham and a veggie they’ll eat, top with bread crumbs and bake until warm.

      Or you could bread it and fry it up in little cubes (seriously, we had this at a restaurant once and it was great.). Not healthy, but you could try and hide some veggies under the breading!

    5. I can’t help you too much. My kids aren’t that picky — it’s my husband who drives me crazy. He probably would eat this recipe, not your standard one. I usually don’t do menu planning because if I do I end up crying out of frustration. Looking at what Alaarie wrote, reminded me of what I had at a camp once: chili mac. Basically it was chili mixed with macaroni and cheese. If I remember correctly it tasted pretty good.

    6. I have 4 boys, ages 6 to 12. Honestly, in our house, you eat what you get and if you don’t eat it, you don’t get anything else AND it’s your next meal (with one child he refused to eat until the 3rd meal – at which point he was starving).

      Sounds harsh, but the reality is I’m not a short order cook. I make sure that 99% of the meals we do have are at least somewhat liked by the majority.

    7. Rylee will eat macaroni and cheese no matter how it’s made. What about adding ground beef? CiCi’s makes a pizza with a macaroni topping. Doesn’t sound good to me but maybe worth a try.

    8. That was me, that recommended the recipe. And I’ve found that my kids most work week nights don’t really eat much dinner — I pack a lot of food at lunch, and they snack at daycare, so really, I don’t think that are all that hungry, so I don’t worry too much. Like someone else said, as long as they are trying different things, even only a little bit, you win. They both seem to get better as time goes on. If you never offer anything different to them, they’[ll never eat anything but crap, I think. I try to make the lunch as healthy as possible, because I know they eat there. I’ve heard similar feedback from other parents at the daycare. Peer pressure, or something — they all eat there and give their parents crap.

    9. I’ve made “confetti” mac and cheese before, shredded up beets and carrots and gave the shreds to my daughter to sprinkle on and mix in, like confetti. She liked the idea and ate a fair bit. If you need a veggie that will go stealth, try cauliflower. It blends in beautifully with mac and cheese (especially if you steam and puree it). Good luck and don’t worry. Anxiety plus food never equals anything good.

    10. I so identify with you, it’s something I have been struggling with lately! So far nothing has worked, lol – and really, that’s not funny, but if I don’t laugh about it I will pull out my hair! I really try not to have food battles, as I believe they are counter productive and send negative messages to kids about foods and that they will make negative associations with “healthy” foods as they’re older — but that being said, I am so frustrated with mealtimes! Like you, I’m working on it one day at a time! I may also check out that book you’re reading! Good luck!

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