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A Mom's Simple Request: Just Eat

Balancing the quirky appetites of a family without wasting food is a serious challenge.

Aside from the day-to-day craziness of raising children, my biggest pet peeve is food waste. When the kids aren't whining about a lost bey blade or about how bored they are they are standing in the fridge or repeating how hungry they are.

Seriously repeating over and over and over again. You would think if they were THAT STARVING that they wouldn't be quite so picky. I have tried so hard to expand their palates but I just can't win.

Ethan, my oldest, has what seems to a legitimate texture issue with meat. He has never actually eaten red meat happily. On the few occasions that he has eaten either sloppy joe or a cheeseburger I'm so excited I could buy him a pony. Its that big of a deal.

He honestly has gagged more than a handful of times on meat. If chicken is prepared anyway outside of the lightly battered and fried oval shape of a "nugget" his nose turns up like I'm asking him to eat a roach. Really. Getting him to try anything new is actually harder than pulling his teeth.

Quinn, my youngest, worships his brother and his vast authority on being a "foodie." If Ethan turns up his nose at trying something Quinn most definately won't eat it. The key is to get Quinn to try new things when Ethan isn't around. Quinn won't eat a hot dog or mac-n-cheese but he will plow through MY bowl of Guacamole. Really??? He will actually eat a cheeseburger but it has to be off either my plate or my husbands. Not only that but it has to be after he has already trashed his dinner.

I refuse to be the short order cook. I make one dinner for the kids (mainly because my husband doesn't get home in time for the kids to not STARVE TO DEATH) and one for us, sometimes. Because I know that there are only like 3 things that they will both eat on a good night it really comes down to how much food I feel like throwing away.

They either eat or they don't. If they don't eat the ONE dinner I make for them it sits on the table for a couple hours. Usually long enough to prove to my husband that YES I did feed them, they chose not to eat. If they are hungry they will eat. There have been a handful of nights that they go to bed not eating dinner.

I'm not sure what else to do. Its not like I'm even filling their plate with liver and onions and lima beans. Please, I make it as "kid friendly" and balanced as I can, so I don't feel that guilty when they don't eat. Being the mom that I am thats so in love with these little monsters I do feel guilty. However, I am also trying super hard not to raise demanding, ungreatful, disrespectful food snobs.

As anything with parenting its all a balancing act. It's really enough to push a sane person to insane in just a few sittings. If there isn't food in front of them they are whining about wanting something to eat. If there is food in front of them they are in and out of their seats, whining about how they didn't want hot dogs, or they didn't want applesauce tonight or the banana is too soft or the apples have peels on them still.

This summer I have made the vow to not buying anymore Caprisons or juice boxes. I'm so over those little straw wrappers. I have a jug of koolaid, a gallon of milk and each kid has full access to water. The rule is they get 1 cup of Kool-Aid a day. They can choose when. Other than that it's milk or water. So far that is working well.

Slowly I'm trying to cook new things and my husband is grilling new things. We are trying to make them visually appealing so the kids might be more apt to try them. They were very excited about the kabobs we made last week. I'm not sure if it was because they were grilled on sharp objects or if they were actually interested in trying the new food. As I continue to try eating clean and healthy I am hoping to sway my children into a more varied menu by the close of summer.

In the meantime as I impatiently wait for them to eat something that doesn't come out of a box or a jar I will try my hardest to count to 10 before I go from my June Cleaver "here is your dinner darlings" to my Rosanne Barr "just eat your freakin dinner". I'm not even sure who I conjure up 30 minutes in to yelling about eating their dinner. I have most definately wanted to scream in my Mommy Dearest Voice "NO CHICKEN NUGGETS."

Admit it -- you have all at some point reached the point where if you serve one more chicken nugget you want to scream it. Until then . . . 

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