About once a week, our kids eat hot dogs for dinner. Another night, it’s grilled cheese sandwiches. Every Friday is pizza for supper. It’s not homemade.
I tell you this because for the longest time, I wanted my children to be nourished with only the best foods. Curry stews and organic, free-range chicken with a spinach side salad sourced from a local farmer. But guess what? My kids didn’t appreciate it like I hoped they would. They didn’t gush over my roasted sweet potatoes and steamed ginger broccolini. Because they’re kids. Because they’d rather have the pizza.
Listen to me, mamas. There’s a lot of shame around what our children will and will not eat. It’s easy to feel that our children’s preferences are a reflection on us. I find this shaming particularly true from parents whose children have a complex palette and enjoy many foods. Often times that’s because they gave their babies interesting tastes and textures that they grew accustomed to. Other times, those parents just plain lucked out.
Guys, I spent a lot of years trying to cook fussy meals for my family. I was raised by a mother who put a hot dinner on the table every night for my dad and us kids. It always had a meat, a few sides, some delicious sauce, and her homemade bread. A dessert too. So when I became a mom, I had a standard to aspire to. My mother-in-law is a great cook as well, so Graham came into the marriage with expectations similar to my own. Which is all fine, except that my kids aren’t appreciating meals made of good, wholesome food yet. Not all the time, at least. So I don’t make them every night. Because when 45 minutes of dinner prep is consumed in under 4 minutes with complaints about eating their vegetables, it feels like a low return on investment for me. And while I realize I’m preparing my children to enjoy the process of cooking and consuming good food for their future families, I can be just as happy making mac-n-cheese with green peas thrown in for good measure.
So, how do Graham and I keep the kids alive without developing scurvy? Welp, we give them nothing but fresh, unprocessed foods in their lunchboxes which they eat. And we make vegan protein shakes filled with good-for-you foods like spinach, berries, almond butter, and avocado several times a week for breakfast or an after-school snack. Sometimes, I even throw in an extra serving of veg from my Arbonne Greens Balance. We still cook good, nourishing meals three times a week and have found things the kids enjoy like chicken stir fry with sugar snap peas, carrots, and edamame, or tacos filled piled high with black beans, avocado, and cilantro.
But if you come to my house some night and see my children tearing up their grilled cheese sandwiches again while Mom looks on from the sink, just know that I still love my family, it’s likely been a long day, and we’re just grateful to gather around the table together for three minutes while they inhale their food.