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My kids DO NOT eat paleo. I've said this before in a post: The decision to drag your kids into something as restrictive as paleo isn't an easy one to make. I'm not a nutritionist or a doctor. I can experiment with my body and can decide if something doesn't feel right for me. My kids are sticking to whole healthy foods including dairy and grains.
I'm not a perfect parent and I'm sure what I'm about to type will bite me one day but my neither of my children are picky eaters. Here's what I think has helped that.
Keep it simple.
I really try to feed my kids whole foods which are simple in their own. I've found that they eat more when there are just a couple things on their plates instead of a variety. You'll see that they usually have a starch, protein, and veggie or fruit. That's it. An overloaded plate is overwhelming and hard it's hard to judge how much they eat.
My kids eat on a pretty strict schedule and they sit until they are finished eating. My kids do not wander around with food in their hands. They eat every single meal at our dining room table and once they get up their plate is removed. This prevents messes in my house, I can gauge how much they are eating, and it teaches them to eat until they are satisfied. They don't have to eat everything on their plate but they have learned that they have to wait until the next meal to eat. My kids also do not snack. It baffles me to see kids eating handfuls and handfuls of goldfish crackers at 10am. Then they are expected to sit and eat their entire lunch at noon. Because your child ate all those empty calories all morning he won't eat your nutritious lunch you offer. Then an hour after you offer that nutritious lunch he'll be hungry... and want a snack and forgoes the cycle to dinner. I know from experience. I stopped all of that nonsense with strict meal times. 8am, 12pm, 3pm, 6pm. The one at 3pm is a small nutritious meal usually consisting of fruit, nuts, or cheese. Guess what happened when I applied this? My kids inhaled their nutritious lunch because they were hungry. I also stopped throwing away so much food and meal times weren't a fight anymore. It doesn't hurt them to be hungry.
Maybe I go a little too far with this one. I usually have the kids meals already planned out. I know on Monday they eat oatmeal for breakfast and a pbj for lunch. Tuesday they have waffles for breakfast and mac-n-cheese for lunch. This helps me feel less overwhelmed with meal time and I can always deviate from my meal plan. Plus it helps on the grocery bill. I buy the same things all the time.
It is obvious that LB is a good eater but so is the squirrel. Both will try just about anything and there are very few things they don't like. However, sometimes it can be a struggle. With squirrel it's all about presentation. For instance, if she has a hotdog it's in a blanket (bun). Chia seeds and granola are sprinkles on yogurt and toast. I cut toasted waffles into strips to dip into syrup. Sometimes we have a picnic outside or inside. She loves it when things are hiding and she has to find them. She likes to find peas hiding in the shell pasta. For a snack she loves to break open edamame pods. And the child will literally eat anything on a stick. I mean anything.
Focus on what they do like.
I've heard so many moms complain that their kids don't eat a good variety of foods. I always ask them what they do eat and amazingly they come up with a great list of food! My kids eat broccoli and carrots all the time. You know what else they like? Kale chips, chia seeds, coconut oil, plain yogurt, any fruit, and LB eats salad. There are so many things that they don't like. Meat is hard for us but look at everything they DO like. Variety will come. If they want to eat fresh broccoli every night let them! Do you know how good it is for them?!
Make a boxed cake mix. Let them eat nuggets and french fries. Use a can of green beans. Make them a box of mac-n-cheese! Having those options keeps me sane sometimes. It's nice knowing that it's OK to give into convenience foods once in awhile. My children eat cheddar bunnies, chicken nuggets, french fries, and graham crackers. Don't beat yourself up over it.
Some of our favorite kid friendly prepackaged things are:
Whole foods 365 original hummus
Crofter's grape jelly
Squeeze applesauce packs
Siggi's grass fed yogurt
Alexia sweet potato fries
Erewhon graham crackers
Kodiak Cakes pancake mix and syrups
Amy's frozen cheese pizza
Nature's Rancher whole grain chicken nuggets
Here are some meal examples.
For breakfast we do banana oatmeal, whole milk yogurt and homemade granola, waffles, scrambled eggs, and pancakes. They love almond butter and syrup on waffles and pancakes. Breakfast is always served with fresh fruit and whole milk.
• Waffles with almond butter and syrup, banana
• Whole milk grass fed yogurt with raw honey, toast with grass fed butter, pear
• Brown rice cereal and whole milk, mixed berries
• Kodiak Cakes pancakes with grass fed butter, maple syrup for dipping, pear
• Morning O's cereal with whole milk, blueberries
• Kodiak Cakes chocolate chip dippers, maple syrup for dipping, blueberries
• Whole milk yogurt, homemade granola, banana
• Scrambled eggs with cheese, organic ketchup, toast with grass fed butter, banana
Lunch is hard with both of them. They are so busy that it's hard to settle down around lunch time and eat. Most of the time it's a finger foods kind of thing. They do love mac-n-cheese. Instead of buying the boxed kind I just cook whole wheat pasta then add cheddar cheese and a little bit of butter. It melts perfectly and is super yummy.
• Cashews, crackers, cheddar cheese, carrot sticks
• Trail mix, crackers, cheddar cheese, and watermelon
• Grilled cheese, homemade tomato soup, grapes
• Hummus, tortilla for dipping, parmesan cheese, carrot sticks, strawberries
• Muffin tin meal- cashews, cheddar cheese, cherries, raisins, animal crackers, turkey
• Nature's rancher chicken nuggets, carrot sticks, grapes
• Hummus, tortilla for dipping, apple, cantaloupe, kale chips
• Grilled cheese, watermelon, pickles
• Almond butter and jelly sandwich, carrot sticks, and pear
Dinner is usually whatever we eat.
• Chicken, noodles with evoo, steamed veggies
• Chicken, noodles with grass fed butter and parmesan cheese, peas
• Black beans, hummus, tortilla, and roasted sweet potatoes
• Pizza with steamed veggies
• Veggie spaghetti- (noodles with evoo, steamed broccoli, chicken, and soy sauce)
• Chicken, white rice, roasted carrots
• Tilapia, noodles with evoo, broccoli
• Chicken, white rice, kale chips
• Pulled pork, homemade mac-n-cheese (just noodles, grass fed butter, and cheddar cheese), steamed veggies
SNACKS (the 3pm meal)
Snacks are an occasional thing in our house. If their snack is too big then they won't eat the next meal. It's usually small and simple.
• Graham crackers and milk
• Applesauce packs
• Popcorn popped in coconut oil
• Annie's snack mix
• Cherry smoothies
• Homemade trail mix (cashews, banana chips, and raisins)
• Apples with sunflower seed butter
• Chocolate milk
Both my husband and I agree on everything when it comes to feeding our kids. I'm lucky he believes in the same things I do. There are two things we think are important. Exposure to different foods and involvement.
Let them be involved in preparing.
And teach them where their food comes from.
They might be small but they DO understand.
You might have to accept that:
• You will probably throw away more food than you want to.
• They may like something one day and not like something the next day.
• They may not like something one day but like something the next day!
• Everything evens out. If they don't eat that broccoli one day try to look at the weeks meals.
I hope this helps answer some of your questions!
*PLEASE REMEMBER- Disclaimer: I am not a registered dietician nor do I have any type of medical training. Anything documented on this blog is my personal opinion or a learned experience.