The food post

So in my last post, Carrie asked about food.


Sigh. Food. One of the two huge sources of stress if you’re a mom of toddlers. (I shouldn’t have to tell you what the other one is, but if you don’t know, just imagine what happens after you eat food and that should tell you.)

I had such high hopes when the boys were tiny. I was going to feed them everything we ate, and they’d eat it all, with no fighting. I remember thinking, when they were about a year old and would eat anything, that this would be no sweat. I mean, anything you put in front of them (well, Miles, mostly), they’d eat. Awesome.


And then, gradually, the list of foods they’d eat got smaller and smaller. I’d put a previous hit in front of them, and they’d refuse to eat it.


So here’s what we’re down to now. Please don’t judge. It’s not pretty. If you want to judge, then come to my house at dinnertime and fix my kids a meal you deem appropriate. Then we can talk again.

Plain noodles with butter
-I give them the fortified Barilla Plus angel hair, so at least they’re getting some protein and other good stuff. I figure it’s better than plain pasta.
– the “butter” part really depends on who’s asking. They all get butter or olive oil on their noodles, but if Miles says “I don’t want butter on my noodles, then I tell him, no, of course I didn’t put butter on his noodles. Dishonest, yes. Whatever. I’m not making three pots of noodles, depending on their individual whims.


Chicken Nuggets (aka Brown Bok-bok)
– Hey, at least I buy the Tyson Natural ones. (insert eye roll)

French Fries
– These come in two types. “Yellow” and “Orange”. Fortunately, they like the orange (sweet potato) ones a lot, so I try to give them those whenever possible.

Pink Yogurt
– Strawberry yogurt. They’ll all eat this. Oliver will eat vanilla yogurt, but the other two will only eat the pink stuff. God help me. They will put away a quart of it at a meal. I only buy the kind without HFCS. Has to be creamy, no chunks or fruit on the bottom.

– They will eat these until the cows come home. Plain only, no blueberries allowed. When my back wasn’t giving me trouble, I’d make them from scratch-ish. When I did, I’d put flaxseed in them. For now, I have to use the frozen kind. Soon I hope to fire up my Griddler again.

Quaker Oatmeal Squares cereal
– If I let them, they’d eat an entire box at one sitting.

Granola bars, Fruit snacks, goldfish, potato chips, raisins, and other assorted choking hazards and crap
– I mean, they’re kids, after all.

Jambalaya and Couscous
– I haven’t served these in a while, so I’m not sure if they’ll still eat it. They used to love it, so I hope they still do.

What they will occasionally eat:

– applesauce
– non-nuggetized chicken
– pizza (must have no burnt bits)
– Cheddar or American cheese
– hot dogs
– green beans from the can (EXTREMELY rare, but it does happen)
– smoked turkey sausage
– turkey bacon

They used to love, but will no longer eat:

– Macaroni and cheese
– Scrambled eggs
– Meatloaf (except Oliver might) and meatballs
– Jelly sandwiches
– Peanut butter
– Spaghetti with meat sauce (I loved this one, because I could sneak veggies in. Alas.)


You’ll notice what’s not on this list. Fruits and vegetables. Sure, they’ll ingest the occasional bowl of applesauce, or the odd green bean, but that’s about it. They won’t eat things that are mixed together, like casseroles. Everything must be separate. They do get a multivitamin, they drink plenty of milk, and they seem to be thriving, so I truly try not to stress about it. But I think it’s time to pull out my copy of How To Get Your Kid to Eat…But Not Too Much. Sigh.

If anyone has any ideas or just wants to commiserate, I’m all ears.

26 thoughts on “The food post

  1. beth

    My daughter goes through picky eating phases. She eats A LOT but on her terms. She is also anti-veggies, but fortunately, she eats mac and cheese (laced with baby food veggies, she has never had it plain!). Here is a frozen pancake tip that might work for you. In Whole Foods ($$$ of course, but I only have one child 🙂 ) in the frozen pancake section there are sweet potato pancakes and my daughter inhales them!
    Also, in the produce section of the regular grocery store we buy dried peas – they are long pea pod peas and we buy the ceaser flavor. Yes, there is salt, but they are peas.
    For both of these I tell myself she is eating veggies.
    Hope this helps, even a little!


  2. Zoie

    When B was going through the picky eating phase, he is a little better now, we would try to give him what we had and if he didn’t want it then we had three options to give him: toast, fruit or yogurt. He loves sour so I’m guessing that helps with him trying new foods. Just do what you can, one is hard enough.


  3. Shannon

    I have to agree that pulling out Ellyn Satter is probably a good idea. Even if she just makes you feel better about what you ARE doing, since she’s all about drawing boundaries and the fact that children will not starve themselves. Of course, I’m speaking from a professional viewpoint whose best friends are feeding therapists, and I have zero real-world experience, so I might just be saying things I really should keep quiet about!


  4. Jen

    I so appreciate reading this post… Thanks for sharing your mealtime struggles! I’m with you on so many levels. If my kids didn’t eat peanut butter, they would have ZERO protein in their diet. Good luck!!!


  5. Jenn

    My pedi at our 3 year well check said this is the worst time for diets. It’s not about what they eat in a day, but over a week’s period. Dinner is the worst. I wouldn’t {and don’t} stress over meals, I’ve seen much worst than your list 🙂 Hope you’re feeling better.


  6. Heather

    Zack would eat pizza and mac & cheese at every meal if we would let him. He’s four now so it is easier to tell him he has to take two or three or four bites of something before we let him have anything else. When he was younger, I pretty much just gave him what he would eat. The fight didn’t seem worth it….


  7. Linzey

    Same exact thing over here. Lucy “hates” butter but loves butter pasta. No more mac & cheese, no more string cheese, no jelly, etc. She does loves chicken nuggets, oatmeal squares cereal, cous cous, waffles/pancakes, and the assorted choking hazards. Luckily she will eat carrots, sugar snap peas, breakfast sausage, fruit, peanut butter, chicken, and any kind of nut she can get her hands on… but yeah, we’re following the same trajectory. Kind of trying to follow this book:


  8. Carrie

    Thank you thank you thank you!!

    It’s so good to know that I am not alone in this. My boys used to be such good eaters and I was like you, I thought I was in the clear. And then they started getting picky. And now there are only a few things they will eat. It’s brutal.

    You have given me some ideas of foods to try and you have made me feel a lot better about this so thank you so much for the food post!



    1. pyjammy

      Thanks for suggesting it! Even though I’ve been trying not to stress about it (especially since with my back issues, I haven’t been able to truly cook for a few months) I’ve gotten some good ideas here too. Here’s to our boys becoming better eaters one day!


  9. Erin

    I have been very careful to never get too proud of my 15 month old’s good eating habits because I know they will change 😦 We’re basically using the Ellyn Satter philosophy, and for example last night, she didn’t have any dinner. Nights like that are super hard for me though, because there is no rhyme or reason to what she won’t like one night! I’m trying to mentally prepare myself for it to get a whole lot worse… ugh.


  10. Ali

    Ah! I’m with you! With both the boys, it was like gourmet central when they first started eating. Every kind of fruit, veggie, grain, etc. (We’ve never had luck with meat.) i mean, we even dabbled in dragon fruit, and kiwi salad! Now? It’s like they both are getting pickier and pickier. And like you, the list of “used to eat but won’t consider” anymore just blows my mind–no pasta at all. Maybe mac n cheese. No raspberries. Right now, with the almost 3 year old, it’s pretty much pb&j, pb& cream cheese, pb & nutella, applesauce, grapes, and chunks of cheese. Oh, and dried fruit. The baby still eats lots of fruits, but is now off of veggies. I’ve tried the hidden tactic–spinach in smoothies…carrots in applesauce.

    I keep wondering if the latent “not great sleeping gene” came paired with the “picky eater” gene.

    And isn’t it funny how so many of us say, “I won’t be THAT mom. They will eat what we serve. ’nuff said. If they don’t like it, they can starve. And they’ll never want that bad stuff because I will never offer it.”

    Oops. That lasted all of 1 hot minute.

    But I keep trying. Last week? it was “orange” night–cheese, carrots, mac n cheese…I even colored the milk orange. Total disaster.

    Do you think that whole “children in China are starving” starts working at 3??? I may resort to it.


  11. MandyE

    KNOCK ON WOOD, our girls are really well-rounded eaters. I honestly hold my breath whenever I say that…I don’t want to jinx a good thing!

    Our pediatrician told us one time that one of his children would only eat a certain kind of cereal for months on end….breakfast, lunch, and dinner….only that cereal. He told his wife to just buy it by the case and that the kid would eventually come around. I think that probably holds true for most kiddos.

    At 27 months, I still don’t give our girls a lot of crunchy stuff, but I’ve heard many moms say that their kids will eat any veggie if you give them some kind of dip (like ranch dressing or hummus)…carrots, celery, cucumbers…maybe???

    Good luck! 🙂


  12. Brigette

    Haha! This made me laugh so hard. My boys are the same way and the butter thing is hysterical. Connor never wants butter on his toast so I always have to make sure that the butter on the piece he gets is completed melted into the bread so he can’t see it. Sigh…the life of a mommy.
    A few things my picky eaters will try–hummus with pita crackers, rice (even brown if I cook it in chicken broth). I also try to get sneaky with them…if I tell them not to eat something they usually will, so we play a game where I say “don’t eat this” (usually fruit) and they will eat it. I try games too like telling them carrots are eyeballs and they eat them (little boys are weird).
    And I’m probably going to multiple mommy hell for this one…but sometimes I tell them I only have one of something (like a banana) and give it to one of them and then the other two MUST have it.
    Good luck! I try to remind myself that really they are so small and their bellies are so tiny they really don’t need as much food as we think they do.


  13. Stephanie

    My daughter eats the majority, 99% of her veggies, frozen. When she helps make them for dinner she’ll eat a small bowl of whatever we’re having before dinner, broccoli, peas, mixed veggie, etc. A little weird but if thats how she likes them then its ok with me.

    Try not to stress about and just keep trying.


  14. Teri

    I’m uber glad to see this post…this is about where my boys are at for likes & dislikes & used-to-likes…sigh…mostly zero on the veggies but they do love bananas (and berries for Q)…glad to see I’m not alone in this struggle! Thank you!!!


  15. Ann

    what about fruits? do they eat strawberry, kiwi, banana (specially got lots of vitamin), papaya…
    or blended juice. i think all kids like sweet :).

    popsicle make from fruit juice…


  16. Yvette

    Hi Pam,
    Thanks for sharing — Matt and I are so silly. We have been so proud of Abigail liking everything we try — she is not even nine months, her taste buds have not fully developed. Wow. Thanks for the heads up. I am bringing this up at our nine month well baby appointment. ….And to think I have been stressing out about introducing meats next month. 🙂


  17. Beth

    I hear you ….out of my trio, they eat so differently. One eats really well – thank goodness since he’s the skinny one. Somehow the chunky boy stays chunky even though he doesn’t eat well…..I did catch him sneaking a sunny D yesterday, so maybe that’s the secret. And my little girl (27 pounts soaking wet at 3 years 4 months……) won’t eat anything thing that resembles a veggie and won’t eat most fruits. And to make it worse, big sister doesn’t help AT ALL…..but they are all usually healthy, and growing, and that’s what matters 🙂


  18. caislas

    I am afraid to write this, as maybe you and your readers with disagree with me. But because I care for your little ones, (I follow your blog and your children are adorable), and you are an incredible mom that do things with your children and for them, I decide to write this lines.

    If you want your children to eat healthy it is up to you. You can find excuses that they eat ok, knowing that they do not eat healthy. You will find more people in the same situation as yours, but still you know that your children are not eating healthy.

    I tell you, your little ones already have a habit of bad eating, changing it will take some crying days, but they will learn if you want them to have good eating habits. You are building habits on your children and teaching them the basics that will help them for the rest of their life. Help them to eat healthy! They will cry today and thank you the rest of their life.

    Perhaps the first question is: what do you eat? if you eat salads, fruits, and healthy food in general should be easier to have a good diet. You only have healthy food at home. If you children take something from your plate, instead of theirs, they will find the same things: salad, tomato soup, fish with vegetables, strawberries, banana, etc.

    Ideas: cook together with them, harvest some ingredients 🙂 For example pots with basilicum or tomatoes. You have a nice garden, you can farm something else, perhaps carrots. Food has other meaning. Make it fun, teach the whole process. We are lucky to have food! Transmit that! 🙂

    The kids will keep on growing even if they do not eat what they should. The problems of bad eating habits will show up in their teenagers or in their twenties.

    It is our job to teach the new generations and given them proper basics


  19. Anna

    I think the list of foods they eat is wonderful for their age! Your boys sound about like my son. My guy loves fruit though, especially grapes, strawberries and apples. Weirdest thing – He LOVES asparagus. (Only fresh, not canned) It’s the only vegetable he eats. What our kids eat is most definitely a worry I think most moms have all the time. But I think as long as they are developing and thriving, we are doing our job. My biggest struggle is breakfast. My boy won’t eat pancakes, or oatmeal, or any typical breakfast foods other than scrambled eggs. And sometimes, I think he lives on PB&J sandwiches. We’re all just doing the best we can – so keep at it. I think it sounds like you are feeding them well!


  20. Maria Carlson

    Oh yes! And what one likes the others don’t. Crazy! I just tell ours “hey, that’s what’s for dinner.” 😉
    -Maria, mom to a 7yo boy and 3yo GGGG


  21. Michelle

    I give my son options of what he wants before I make it. I don’t ever let him go without, but if he doesn’t eat the first option the second option is not usually something tired and true, either. We sneak veggies into recipes as well. He only gets one snack per day – like, an apple with the skin peeled off or small nuts or fruit, if he’s eaten well. And we also limit the juice he is allowed to drink – he gets half a cup of very watered down apple juice whenever he’s thirsty, and usually only asks for this once or twice a day. He gets milk three times a day AFTER his meals with 1/4 a packet of carnation instant breakfast in it (in lieu of a multi vitamin; he is too young and most of the kid friendly vitamins have gelatin in them). We just don’t offer him quick fixes. It’s simple to say, but if it just isn’t part of their lives, they won’t ask for or miss it. Best of luck to you!


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