So, I often say to parents, “consider but don’t cater to your child” when cooking or meal planning. That means you have options, at least one of which your child regularly eats on the table (it might be bread and butter for awhile…) but you do not only cook things you know your child will eat (a sure-fire way to end up with a kids who only eats a handful of favored foods over time.)
So, if you’re making chili and you know little Tammy hasn’t eaten it the last few times you served it, your thinking might go like this…
“Well, Tammy likes cornbread, so I’ll make cornbread with the chili. We like it too. Tammy doesn’t like spicey things so much, so I’ll leave the spice out and let everyone spice it at the table. Also, Tammy loves to help grate cheddar cheese to put on top, so she can help out which might make her more likely to want to try the cheese. Tammy sometimes likes peas and her brother loves them, me too, so I’ll serve it with peas and bread and butter…”
Sounds doable? It is a lot of thinking and planning, and it does get easier and less complicated with time as children expand their food choices. But not even the most adventurous eater likes everything. Which brings us to last night.
Here’s the thing. I realize that I cater to the grown-ups. Dad doesn’t like ground beef for some reason, but I like sloppy Joe’s. So, I made sloppy Joes (also an easy meal) and I also served a DiGiorno’s frozen pizza and brussels sprouts for dinner last night. If Dad wasn’t there, I would not have made the pizza. I ate a small slice, M had a little, I ate a Sloppy Joe, M had about 1/3 of a sloppy-Joe (even at five, it was hard for her to eat. The meat kept falling out, so I had to help her eat it…) We all enjoyed the sprouts. Dad did not even try the Joes. I think because it is a food all of us would eat (pizza), it was OK… But, I would not have done that for M…
I also know as the chef that I cater to my own likes all the time. I think. as the one who plans, shops and cooks, the family cook is special If I really don’t like something, I’m not going to cook it. I make things that aren’t my faves all the time, but maintaining the effort of cooking for a family is such a grind for years on end that I think it’s OK to let the cook decide what’s for dinner. If you don’t enjoy cooking or eating something, you can’t sustain that effort. That’s when you end up grumbling and heading to the local restaurant for an over-priced meal that no one enjoyed because you were all starving and moody and the toddler had a tantrum…The cook has to find joy in the process wherever possible.
What do you think? Are you the cook? Do you cater to adults or kids? Are you over your Halloween craziness yet?