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Never fail dinners


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#1 The Falcon

Posted 29 January 2013 - 08:03 AM

My 3 yr old is driving me crazy at dinner time.  I am a keen cook, so I would happily spend hours slaving away in the kitchen if the end result was something healthy (or at least had some nutritional value) that she would actually eat!

She hates zuccini slice, doesn't like sauce on her pasta and is usually not interested in plain meat or veg.

After she happily ate chicken nuggets and fish fingers when we were at restaurants I made my own healthy versions at home and she wouldn't eat them.  I got her the frozen ones at home and she wouldn't eat it.  

So what are your never fail dinners that your 3 year old loves?  I need some inspiration!

#2 Bluenomi

Posted 29 January 2013 - 08:07 AM

Plain pasta. That's about it!

#3 Two Socks

Posted 29 January 2013 - 08:14 AM

The things my children eat the most are the things they've helped prepare and cook.  It's still hit and miss (mostly with DS3, who is 5), but they'll at least have a go when they're partly responsible for it!  DS1 (9), never has sauce on his pasta.  DS2 (7) floods everything with tomato sauce!  I've given up worrying about it!

Another tactic I use is getting them to look through the recipe books and find something they like the look of.  We do this mainly during school holidays when we have more preparation and shopping time.

Recent favourites - San Choy Bow, Chicken skewers (honey soy) and home made gnocchi.

#4 Chelara

Posted 29 January 2013 - 08:17 AM

My 3.5 yo is very in to curries, rice, corn on the cob, veggies.  There are lots of veges she'll enjoy more raw rather than cooked so I often get her to help prep the veg with her kids cutlery knife and she eats while she's going- mushrooms, capsicum, snow peas etc.

When she went through her worst fussy stage coating everything in BBQ sauce worked.

#5 Therese

Posted 29 January 2013 - 08:22 AM

I am past this stage now but back when my girls were this age, plain pasta and frozen peas and corn (never cooked) were the favourite.

#6 ACO

Posted 29 January 2013 - 08:30 AM

I don't think there is such a thing. One week my cild will love chicken, the next he won't touch it with a 10 foot pole.

It's a tough stage, but it passes....eventually.

#7 adnama

Posted 29 January 2013 - 08:38 AM

my 4yr old is the better eater of the two

-my kids love pasta, with a tin of diced tomatoes as their sauce and some cheese on top.
-mini pizza they can add the toppings they want
-my son loves a pick plate some cold meat, cucumber (a must for him), cheese, tomato, lettuce, grapes, strawberries any thing he can pick at with his fingers
-scrambled eggs are also another fave

#8 ComradeBob

Posted 29 January 2013 - 08:38 AM

Mashed potato, plain pasta with nothing but salt, sausages, hamburgers that consist of a meat patty, tomato sauce and  a slice of cheese on bread.

She would eat mash with peas and corn through it, and she's always adored plain oven baked salmon.

#9 Fright bat

Posted 29 January 2013 - 08:41 AM

I simply refuse to cater to a 3 year olds whims. Never have, never will. I will serve up what I think to be a healthy tasty meal, and a potion which represents the minimum I think constitutes an acceptable meal. And it doesn't matter how much they carry on and tantrum, they eat it. It's always been the rules, and we consequently rarely get more than a token attempt at 'I don't want it'. I don't send them to bed without dinner, I don't bribe with dessert. The only concession I'll make is I'll help them eat it.

That are, of course, allowed to not like certain things - my elder simply could not bear tomato until be was 2.5 (and to be fair it gave him a rash around his mouth). I also don't make things really strongly flavoured (like sour, or chilli hot). But apart from those concession, they have both eaten the same food a us from about eight months.

So personally, I think you're asking the wrong question. It's not about what a 3 year olds likes (because at that age it has little to do with what they like, and a lot to do with simply being stubborn) - its about how you get your child to eat the meal you have prepared. And for me, the answer is simple. I am not my child's friend, chef, personal assistant or anything else. I am their parent, and they will eat the delicious healthy food we make for the family.

#10 *lightning

Posted 29 January 2013 - 08:46 AM

My DD prefers raw carrot. My DS1 doesn't like carrots, I hide them. My DS2 doesn't eat large chunks of food.

Both DD and DS1 will eat almost anything if I tell them in advance they will be eating it.

DS2 I just mash it up because he is such a good little boy at meal times and eats anything.


#11 Exhaustedbuthappy

Posted 29 January 2013 - 09:37 AM

QUOTE (AvadaKedavra @ 29/01/2013, 08:41 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
So personally, I think you're asking the wrong question. It's not about what a 3 year olds likes (because at that age it has little to do with what they like, and a lot to do with simply being stubborn) - its about how you get your child to eat the meal you have prepared. And for me, the answer is simple. I am not my child's friend, chef, personal assistant or anything else. I am their parent, and they will eat the delicious healthy food we make for the family.



I like this, very much.

#12 Natttmumm

Posted 29 January 2013 - 04:49 PM

Plain pastaSoft boiled eggsScrambled eggsPizza - home madeChicken schnitzelFish and chipsStir fryLamb skewersTiny meatballs - no sauceTacos - they like to add the toppings themselvesHoney soy chicken drumsticks - the little onesChicken noodle soupAny meat they can dip in sour cream sauce

For my kids its all about how it looks. So if I use little toothpicks they will eat anything. If I  make the plate look like a persons face they eat everything. I also explain which foods help you grow and give energy and they eat more of it.
They don't eat big meals so I try to give 5 small meals over the day. Some meals are hit and miss. The next snack is not too far away so it doesn't matter.



#13 librablonde

Posted 29 January 2013 - 05:08 PM

QUOTE (AvadaKedavra @ 29/01/2013, 09:41 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
I simply refuse to cater to a 3 year olds whims. Never have, never will. I will serve up what I think to be a healthy tasty meal, and a potion which represents the minimum I think constitutes an acceptable meal. And it doesn't matter how much they carry on and tantrum, they eat it. It's always been the rules, and we consequently rarely get more than a token attempt at 'I don't want it'. I don't send them to bed without dinner, I don't bribe with dessert. The only concession I'll make is I'll help them eat it.

That are, of course, allowed to not like certain things - my elder simply could not bear tomato until be was 2.5 (and to be fair it gave him a rash around his mouth). I also don't make things really strongly flavoured (like sour, or chilli hot). But apart from those concession, they have both eaten the same food a us from about eight months.

So personally, I think you're asking the wrong question. It's not about what a 3 year olds likes (because at that age it has little to do with what they like, and a lot to do with simply being stubborn) - its about how you get your child to eat the meal you have prepared. And for me, the answer is simple. I am not my child's friend, chef, personal assistant or anything else. I am their parent, and they will eat the delicious healthy food we make for the family.


This is exactly how we run our household, too. As a result, we have 5 kids who will eat anything I serve up to them, whether they actually like it or not. If they don't eat it they go hungry until the next meal. I find it bizarre that I see so many parents pander to their kids in regards to food. Can you imagine how much extra work it would be for me if I had to cater for each child's acquired "fussiness" with certain foods. Barring issues like ASD, I just don't think I need to make a rod for my own back that way. I just feel that food doesn't need to be such a drama. Once a child knows that arguing and whining and going on a food-strike will yield no results for them, they stop behaving like that and just tuck into their food without hassle.

Edited by librablonde, 29 January 2013 - 05:10 PM.


#14 EssentialBludger

Posted 29 January 2013 - 05:12 PM

I made butter chicken and rice the other night and both kids scoffed it down with second helpings!! these are the kids that never eat their dinner...

#15 RainyDays

Posted 29 January 2013 - 05:12 PM

My 4 year old turns up her nose at plain meat and veg, but will eat a curry (provided they can't see any 'green bits', not saying that there's not any there).

Omlettes are another winner, as are veggie fritters (again, hiding the green bits).

Mine will also eat veggies raw - snow peas, carrots sticks, etc, but won't eat them cooked.





#16 Ice Queen

Posted 29 January 2013 - 05:21 PM

QUOTE (librablonde @ 29/01/2013, 04:08 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
This is exactly how we run our household, too. As a result, we have 5 kids who will eat anything I serve up to them, whether they actually like it or not. If they don't eat it they go hungry until the next meal. I find it bizarre that I see so many parents pander to their kids in regards to food. Can you imagine how much extra work it would be for me if I had to cater for each child's acquired "fussiness" with certain foods. Barring issues like ASD, I just don't think I need to make a rod for my own back that way. I just feel that food doesn't need to be such a drama. Once a child knows that arguing and whining and going on a food-strike will yield no results for them, they stop behaving like that and just tuck into their food without hassle.


Yep, us too.  Tonight is pork snitzels (all home prepared), roast potatoes and salad.  They can eat how much they like but no substitutes, no pandering, no bribing.  Just sit at the table and enjoy our dinner.  If the 3 yo decides to be a PITA (which she can be) we talk over top of her and ignore her until she is nice!

#17 The Falcon

Posted 29 January 2013 - 05:22 PM

Some great suggestions thanks!

I have also got a parenting crush on AvadaKedavra and librablonde as that is exactly what I feel I should do, and always said I would do before I actually had any children....

I tried it tonight with the pasta with corn & tuna sauce I made tonight, low and behold DD decided after some initial complaints and refusals that it was delicious.

DS (18 mnths) on the other hand refused, poured it over the floor and then screamed the house down until I let him out of his high chair, but I suppose that problem belongs in the 12-24 month group!

#18 Lazycow

Posted 29 January 2013 - 05:30 PM

QUOTE (AvadaKedavra @ 29/01/2013, 06:41 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
I simply refuse to cater to a 3 year olds whims. Never have, never will. I will serve up what I think to be a healthy tasty meal, and a potion which represents the minimum I think constitutes an acceptable meal. And it doesn't matter how much they carry on and tantrum, they eat it. It's always been the rules, and we consequently rarely get more than a token attempt at 'I don't want it'. I don't send them to bed without dinner, I don't bribe with dessert. The only concession I'll make is I'll help them eat it.

That are, of course, allowed to not like certain things - my elder simply could not bear tomato until be was 2.5 (and to be fair it gave him a rash around his mouth). I also don't make things really strongly flavoured (like sour, or chilli hot). But apart from those concession, they have both eaten the same food a us from about eight months.

So personally, I think you're asking the wrong question. It's not about what a 3 year olds likes (because at that age it has little to do with what they like, and a lot to do with simply being stubborn) - its about how you get your child to eat the meal you have prepared. And for me, the answer is simple. I am not my child's friend, chef, personal assistant or anything else. I am their parent, and they will eat the delicious healthy food we make for the family.


I do have to agree with this ^ ^.

The only thing I do differently is, each child gets to pick their favourite meal and it is incorporated into the weeks menu. The child also gets to help prepare their meal.

DS1 usually asks for Chow mein or fried rice

DD1 usually asks for Spag bol or jacket potatoes

DS2 who is by far the pickiest will choose macaroni cheese/Carbonara,basically any pasta dish with a white sauce.

For the rest of the week they eat what I make them and so far they all eat pretty well especially on the night they have helped to cook to their chosen meal.

My current battle is trying to get DS1 to eat different veges (he will only eat carrots and broccoli stalks)

#19 spando

Posted 29 January 2013 - 05:30 PM

I do veggie frittas basically corn and what ever veggies we have in the fridge in basic pancake batter sometimes with added cheese. The trick is I get a bit fancy with the fry pan and make different shapes or we make eyes mouths noses and make faces on the plates.
It's painfully but it's our failsafe.

#20 Swarley

Posted 29 January 2013 - 05:32 PM

Wow, I agree with AK for once Tounge1.gif

I have 4 kids and with the exception of DS not liking tomato, they eat whatever they're given.
I raise them the way I was raised. We were never forced to eat anything, but were never given the option to pick and choose what was cooked for us.

If I let them lead the way we'd be living off Tuna pasta bake and Tacos biggrin.gif

#21 Swarley

Posted 29 January 2013 - 05:34 PM

QUOTE (spando @ 29/01/2013, 06:30 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
I do veggie frittas basically corn and what ever veggies we have in the fridge in basic pancake batter sometimes with added cheese. The trick is I get a bit fancy with the fry pan and make different shapes or we make eyes mouths noses and make faces on the plates.
It's painfully but it's our failsafe.

I love this biggrin.gif

Might do it tonight because I'm in a lazy mood and the kids had a late lunch.

#22 josh2003

Posted 29 January 2013 - 05:39 PM

Our kids eat what we eat too. I can't keep up with what that like/dislike at any given moment anyway. So instead, I try and cook meals with a few elements e.g. chicken with mash, brocolini, carrots etc. and some days he will eat all the chicken, but pick at the veggies, but the next time he will eat all the veggies but leave the chicken.

One thing my kids love to eat is green veggies like chinese broccoli, bok choy and broccolini in oyster sauce (like you get in asian restaurants). I often cook up a huge plateful to go with whatever else we're having, and they always hoe into that.

But I refuse to cook something separate for them, as I don't want to set myself or my kids up for a life time of them being picky or spoiled when it comes to food. I'm not asking them to eat chopped liver or prawn heads.

I find the hardest part is getting them (mainly my 3 year old) to try things. Just about every night he will sit at the table and say he doesn't want what we're having, but once he tries it, he will usually say it's yummy!

My 9 year old has quite an exotic taste... he loves things like tom yum soup, dumplings, or anything thai/asian, but has to be pushed to eat a roast potato! One thing they both like to eat is mexican, so if I make tacos/burritos for dinner, it's always a nice a peaceful dinner!

#23 RunDMC

Posted 29 January 2013 - 05:53 PM

Mine is a bit younger at 2.5 yrs and we also do the eat what we are eating.

If he objects or says he does not want it DH says good more for me and goes to take it off DS plate, which usually gets DS to giggle and eat it.

Our best meals however are ones where he gets a small amount of (perceived) control over what is on his plate, like tacos/wraps or when we place things in serving bowls and plate up at the table - Asian/Indian dishes. He likes the involvement especially as DH and I always use small servings and are constantly refilling our plates

Our best just get food into him is penne with a spoonful of pre made pesto and cream cheese.

#24 Berndt Tőst

Posted 29 January 2013 - 05:56 PM

I had a rare success with a glazed meatloaf. It had finely grated carrots, celery and mushrooms hidden in it and both kids ate it all, plus seconds. The only other time my three-year-old eats vegetables is when she picks snow peas straight off the vine.

#25 Funnington

Posted 29 January 2013 - 07:02 PM

QUOTE
I like this, very much.


Me too.

I cook a meal I know the whole family will enjoy (nothing outlandish like stupidly constructed meals with sweet breads decorated with foam randomly sprinkled with capers biggrin.gif ) - but, I WILL NOT run a cafe.  My MIL did this for her children and they are the fussiest (it used to be embarrassing in restaurants) eaters imaginable.

I like the 'try 10 times' ideaology.  Sure, there are things we genuinely don't like even as adults, but, if you've made your own chicken nuggets and fish fingers - I suspect she is playing you big time.  There is surely nothing unlikeable about those foods.  

At that age I wouldn't be making a big issue about food.  Simply serve your family meal, if she doesn't like it just say 'okay, but that's all there is and if you're hungry later, there's fruit'.  

This is how I've operated and my children are really good eaters.  I'm not posting to brag but to simply offer how I've viewed food in the house.  I despised the days when I was made sit at the table eating lambs fry & bacon - not allowed to leave until it was eaten.  That creates a very unhealthy attitude towards meal times (in my opinion) as does catering at every whim.  

I hope you find your happy medium.  Good luck biggrin.gif




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