Kelly's Korner is doing a link up today for what you feed your kids - so I thought I would do a little run down.
My initial reaction to the question "What do your kids eat?" is of course, "Whatever I feed them!" ha!! But I'm not quite that hardcore all day every day. And I think that your food and meal planning has to be flexible depending on where you are at in your life at a given point.
When Marlie switched to table foods Jayson and I were working in restaurants. It was likely that most nights we would just bring home dinner with us . . . but I wanted Marlie to have more structure to her meals. But at that point in life, I didn't cook! So Marlie had mixed veggies with cheese on top, a fruit, and a form of meat (nuggets, turkey dogs, sliced ham or turkey) every night. Her breakfasts and lunches were covered with healthy meal plans at daycare.
Over the years, and now that there are 4 people that eat real food every day, I have learned to cook. I love trying new recipes - especially easy ones. I am a super bland eater - I mean really, I don't care for seasoning all that much - I have never in my life picked up a salt or pepper shaker, and I prefer very plain foods - but I also don't want to pass my food prejudice on to my kiddos . . . so I follow a bunch of recipes. My blog roll is covered in sites that give kid friendly recipe ideas, that are good for adults too. I have about 5-7 recipes that are staples that I always have the ingredients on hand for . . . and then I throw in new ones here and there and add them to my menu depending on my husband's reaction.
I think that is the key to part of my meal philosophy . . . I make things that my husband and I enjoy. Since I'm not big on spices, there is nothing in our meal preferences that are out of the realm for our kids . . . and I'm not going to live on chicken nuggets . . . so when it comes to dinner time in our house - our kids eat what I put on the table. We have worked in restaurants, my kitchen is not one. If you don't like it, then don't eat it - but you're not getting anything else for the rest of the night - simple as that. It's tough to throw away full plates of food sometimes . . . but I remember 2 things that I have heard over the years 1. A child won't starve themselves - if there is food and they are truly hungry, they will eat it . . . 2. No one ever ordered chicken nuggets as their meal before the prom! :)
So . . . for dinner, my kids eat what I make. However, I give them their options for meals in other areas and hope that I have provided some kind of guidance so that they make good choices. They pick what they eat for breakfast and most lunches. The key here is not having crappy foods for them to choose from.
At breakfast we do smoothies (you can sneak spinach in with all kinds of fruits and get a boatload of iron in to them 1st thing in the day), waffles, cereal, and different kinds of muffins (again, you can sneak in pureed veggies). Every breakfast has fruit with it - so they also pick which fruit they want that day. The fave in my house are grapes, raspberries, and strawberries - but I have a grocery budget and fruits grow in seasons . . . so apples and bananas are always around . . . and in case there is a lapse in shopping days, we always have canned mandarin oranges :) Oh - and both of my kids LOVE prunes - I don't eat them, but they think they're awesome!
Snacks are a mixture every day - yogurt, dried fruit, nutri-grain bars, granola, applesauce, cheese sticks, dry cereal, etc. The key here - the only stuff on the low, reachable shelf in the pantry are things I want them to have . . . same goes for the fridge - all fruit and yogurts and good stuff are at toddler eye level . . .
And lunch is always more like another snack, just with a little more substance . . . their absolute favorite thing is whole wheat crackers, cheese, and apple slices . . . sometimes they ask for peanut butter on their crackers and sometimes I will just toss on carrot sticks and ranch dressing. But they really enjoy eating that almost every day - and that's cool, because that's grain, protein, fruit, and veggie - so I just change up the crackers or the cheese type sometimes, but more or less, that's it . . . and then of course there are always days with a lunch out to throw in variety. I can always rely on lunch out with Marlie for her to order her staple - side salad with ranch dressing . . . I do love her! hehe
So I guess my tips are to let them make choices a few times a day . . . and don't run a restaurant at dinner time - it sounds harsh, but I would bet that most of us didn't grow up in a house where our Moms made multiple meals - in my house if Mom cooked it, you ate it - you got to be picky and make your choices when you were the one cooking - 2 things I grew up eating that you will NEVER find in my house - tuna casserole and split pea soup! GROSS!!!!