Family Dinner

by Jen on January 8, 2010

Each night we sit down and eat dinner as a family. As a child, my family sat down together for dinner every night. As a mother, I want to pass on the idea of family dinners to my children. It’s a chance for us to connect with one another, talk about issues around us, and sometimes, just a chance to have fun together! It is rare that Mark isn’t home for dinner, thank goodness, because I don’t have the energy to feed the boys all by myself. I’m completely exhausted by dinner time!

Sitting down for a family dinner is only half the battle, one we’ve managed to conquer. However, getting the kids to eat their dinner is a whole other battle! Actually, it’s a downright war lately.

I can count on one hand the dinners that my boys actually eat.

1. Spaghetti
2. Baked Brie

Hmmmm….I can’t think of anything else at the moment.

Caleb will also eat meat and broccoli.
Justin won’t eat anything else.
Ben will also eat anything with pasta and sauce.

They don’t like pasta unless it’s cooked in a tomato based meat sauce. But if I serve it as a side dish, they don’t touch it. They don’t like rotini, fusilli, macaroni, lasagna, shells, etc, etc, etc. Seriously, what kid doesn’t like pasta??? I’ve tried mixing theirs with butter and Parmesan cheese. No go. I’ve tried mixing theirs with spaghetti sauce. No go.

They don’t like rice. I usually cook at least one meal a week with rice. They won’t touch it. Again, I’ve tried mixing it with stuff. No go.

They don’t like potatoes. I don’t cook them that often but when I do I try to mix theirs with ketchup. No go. But they will eat fries so that is what I bake for them.

But the one thing they will all eat, BREAD!

Since they will eat bread like it’s going out of style, I bake a lot of bread to serve as the “carb” at our dinners. Thank goodness for my bread machine.

I try to serve healthy meals each night. Our meals are well rounded; carb, protein, and vegetable. I love to cook, and I love to cook healthy. I can make almost any meal healthy. A few substitutions is all it takes.

However, it’s frustrating when the kids won’t eat my dinners! I feel like whatever I make, they aren’t going to eat it. And by the way, I’m not a short order cook. I refuse to just give them bread every night. I serve them what we are eating. Each boy has to take the same number of bites as their age. Currently, this means that Caleb must take 4 bites of his dinner, Justin must take 2 bites, and Ben, 1 bite. I feel bad that they are going to bed without a belly full of food but hey, that’s their choice!

I wish I had more meals to make that the whole family enjoyed!

So my question to you, do you make any dinners that the whole family enjoys? If so, are you willing to share the recipes?

Desperate Mother

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{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Chelsea January 8, 2010 at 9:44 pm

At this point I have to make two meals… One for Joshua and one for us. When my husband was gone I would just snack and make a meal for Joshua. But since he is home I'm trying to cook every night and eat as a family. Its tough 🙂 Joshua is also Mr Picky and I'm not much for noodles breakfast… lunch and dinner.


2 Lori: Teacher Turned Mommy January 8, 2010 at 10:57 pm

I could write this same post. my two sons don't eat the same foods and barely ever the same things we are eating. I'm sick of being a short order cook, but some days that's the way it is


3 Mom's on Fire! January 9, 2010 at 12:21 am

Well, I have been blessed with 2 little boys who not only enjoy food, but will try anything at least twice. I first realized that not every child is this willing to eat different foods when I cared for my neighbor's son.

The first night, I cared for him, I offered what I thought was classic kid fare (albeit NOT HEALTHY) – hot dogs and mac/cheese. Well, he liked the mac and cheese – and he SAID that he liked hot dogs – except only the bun!!! Ha!

I tried pizza next – and that was NOT okay with him – he only liked Prime Rib and Chicken Nuggets.

Having said that, I have LOTS of meals my whole family eats, but … they are not terribly particular.

Some of our favorites that MIGHT fit the bill are chili, taco night or super nachos, Cheeseburgers, or potato chip crusted salmon. Also grilled cheese and tomato soup are a hit!

GOOD LUCK!!! And if any of these recipes sound like they may work – LMK!!!


4 Lindsay January 9, 2010 at 2:05 am

I can so relate to this. But the thing that my son can't get enough of right now is hot dogs and ritz crackers. He loves these two things and I know for sure that he will eat it if I make it for him. I hate him having them so often but feel bad when he hasn't had anything because all he wants is a hot dog. I have tried putting it in mac and cheese but he manages to pick through it to only eat the hot dog part. My mom says it's just a phase he will grow out of. But hope he grows out of it quickly : )

– He does listen to daddy though. If I make him something else he will eat it when daddy tells him. Which I am both happy and irritated about. I try for eight hours to get him to eat one piece of chicken and he never does. But when daddy gets home he says it once and the whole piece is gone. Funny how things work that way!


5 Amy January 9, 2010 at 2:16 am

Oooh, good luck with this. My boys eat anything which makes me very happy. They are not picky. But I have a cooking blog you are welcome to get any recipes you fancy fro it. Good luck!


6 Laura January 9, 2010 at 2:18 am

I am lucky to have semi good eaters. There's stuff they don't like but they usually will eat at least one thing one their plates. I am with you though, I am not going to make 3 different meals so everyone can have their favorite food. I think part of growing up is making them try things and most of the time they end up liking it. My mom always made me mac and cheese when I didn't like what she made and I am still such a picky eater…I think it has a little to do with not trying any foods my whole childhood. I have read a few articles on this and the "experts" say that kids will eat when they are hungry and not too worry too much about it. It sounds like you make great yummy meals so hopefully their taste buds will grow to like it…sooner rather than later. 🙂 Sorry, that wasn't that much help. 🙂 Good luck!


7 DG at Diary of a Mad Bathroom January 9, 2010 at 2:32 am

It's tough to please everyone. We all like chili, spaghetti and meatballs, chicken parmagiana, roasted chicken. The only side dish we agree on is salad. Good luck. You have one more palate to please than I do.


8 Helga January 9, 2010 at 2:35 am

My sons are pretty good eaters. Kobe is going through a phase right now where he doesn't want half the food I make. It is driving me crazy but he doesn't seem to eat very much at all these days. I just think the same thing Laura said….they will eat when their hungry! I hope you find something that works for the boys.


9 Cheryl January 9, 2010 at 3:50 am

Cole will eat homemade chicken fingers….I bread them in mashed cornflakes and and egg and some spices like oregano. I use low fat creamy cucumber for dipping. He also will eat rice broccoli casserole made with long grain and wild rice, brocolli, creamy mushroom soup and lots of cheese.

Kids are so tough to figure out!


10 Tammy January 9, 2010 at 4:52 pm

wow, reading all these comments, I realize how lucky I have been with my two…I serve pasta everyday, sometimes twice a day as a first course (because Italians eat pasta like we americans snack on potato chips). It's been ten years and no one is tired of it yet…then I have a meat and vegetable. The vegetables are where I have problems, if you can call it that. So, if for lunch I had made salad, which the kids won't eat, for dinner I make lentils, which they love. I honestly don't know the answer, but I've never gotten stressed out about it, if they are hungry, they eat. And they always eat the pasta first course. I think I should try posting some of my recipes on my blog. How would you like to be cooking pasta everyday for ten years? lol I can tell when it's done just by looking at it! lol


11 Martinis or Diaper Genies? January 10, 2010 at 2:40 am

i lived a life of my parents forcing me to eat and I will never to that to my future kids. They can starve for all I care.


12 Pennie January 10, 2010 at 8:43 pm

My family is pretty picky. It's not just the kids, though – Mike is picky, too. Lasagna is good – but not too cheesy or not too saucy – ???? Like, is that not the point???

My kids love mac n cheese, but only homemade mac n cheese made with cream cheese, cheddar, noodles and cracker crumbs on top.

Here's a listing of the Faves of The Pickiest Family I've Ever Known (and many of my girlfriends agree). I make these recipes over and over. I try other things, but these are my mainstays:

Homemade Chicken Pot Pie
Beef Stew with a Hunk Of Bread
Spaghetti Pie
Chicken Barbecue Pizza
Beef Roll Ups
Chicken Rolls
Meatballs Over Noodles (You could make Sandwiches)
White Chili (made with chicken and white beans)
Frito Chili (made with taco spices & piled with fresh tomatoes, lettuce, cheese & fritos -tastes like tacos)

If you want any recipes, let me know.


13 Kerrie McLoughlin January 10, 2010 at 10:17 pm

tater tot casserole!!!! i let my kids snack too much so they are never hungry for dinner. bad mommy.


14 Debbie January 11, 2010 at 8:20 pm

One of my boys doesn't like most meat, the other doesn't like most veggies. It's hard to get a dinner that the whole family will eat. But, I do have luck with…

-Mac & cheese. I try to do homemade as much as possible, but when I can't, or it's date night, I keep a few boxes of Annie's shells & cheese on standby.
-Pasta & sauce
-Rice (they loooove rice). I've been experimenting with chicken fried rice so I can at least get some protein into them.
-Cheese pizza
-Perogies (I make or buy potato & cheddar and don't tell them there's potato in them). They like theirs 'naked', no sour cream, no onions, etc.

We do have a "one bite of everything" rule in our house. And "Breakfast for Dinner" is always a success. Eggs, bacon, pancakes, etc. Anything they would expect to see Saturday morning is a hit if it shows up on a weekenight table.

I've also tried tentatively branching out…they like rice, so I've started making risotto. Similarly with eggs & souffle, pancakes to crepes (great to make ahead & freeze), etc.

And I have been known to provide a simple (but substantial) meal of cut veggies, cheese, bread, and a protein (even just a nut butter), and send them off to bed while Hubs & I make a late dinner for ourselves.

Sorry, that was really long! But food related, I can't resist!


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