One of our sanity-saving food observations over the last ten years has been the classification of foods into the categories of Always, Sometimes, and Never (and not the Sesame-Street-type categories):
“Always” – a food the children will eat even if they are full. Examples: fruit, chocolate, steak, yogurt, roast chicken, tacos, homemade chicken nuggets, baked potatoes, bacon, eggs, cheese, nuts, any kind of doughy carbohydrate.
“Sometimes” – a food the children will eat if they are hungry enough, trying to earn a dessert, or in a good mood. Examples: meatloaf, leafy green vegetables, sweet potatoes, cauliflower, casseroles, never-seen-before foods, fish.
“Never” – a food that the children would not choose over going to bed hungry. Examples: shrimp, tuna, mushrooms.
We use these unofficial classifications of food (designated by years of kid reactions) to help encourage the kids to eat the way that we think they should be eating. When the kids are waiting for dinner and are “starving,” we offer Sometimes Foods to snack on, and when we serve them their first plate of food (the kids eat one plate of food that we serve them, then may have seconds of whatever they would like), we fill it with Sometimes Foods.
Healthy Always Foods are served after the kids eat their Sometimes Foods. Nuts, cheese, yogurt and fruit are usually reserved for school lunches, when we’re not available to supervise the kids’ eating. We also serve fruit as dessert after dinner. As I mentioned last week, breads, pastas and treats are saved for treats.
As for the Never Foods. . . . we don’t prepare them often. If all six kids gag on a food, cry about a food or would prefer to go to bed without eating over trying it, we save that food for Date Night (or, as with mushrooms, save it for Sisters Night). Every once in a while, we encourage the kids to give it a try, but we don’t push it. We fight plenty of battles here, and we choose to let that one go. Luckily, that list of foods is short and getting shorter all the time. But you probably won’t be seeing shrimp on our weekly dinner menus anytime in the near future.
Dinner for the Week.
Tuesday: Spinach Quinoa “Mac and Cheese” and Salad
Friday: Cashew Waffles and fruit salad
Do your kids have Never Foods that you choose not to prepare?
What’s for dinner at your house this week?