The challenges of eating out with picky eaters

This summer, I encouraged the kids to try some new foods. They are both picky eaters in their own way. And being non-adventurous eaters, they are usually hesitant to try new things. While this summer’s experiment went well, I now need to expand the items they will eat when we dine out.

Image result for steak with friesPicking places that please both kids (as well as the adults) can certainly be challenging since neither child seems to like the same things. Jase will eat steaks, pizza, chicken nuggets and tacos. Lexie likes spaghetti, pizza (if not to greasy), and steak. At home she will eat fried rice, enchiladas, and chili but she likes how I make them and not so much how they taste from a restaurant.

But fast food or sit-down places, I find it a challenge to find a place they both will eat well. For example, last Thursday, my husband was working so I decided the kids and I would go out to eat. I was thinking some fast food like Chic-fil-a. Lexie vetoed that. She used to love Chic-fil-a but once it made her stomach upset and now she rarely will eat there. She suggested one of her favorites Chipotle, but I didn’t want to eat there as the last two times I haven’t felt well after eating there. (And we will be eating there next month as part of a school fundraiser.)

Jase suggested Whataburger but Lexie said no. She always wants to order a hamburger but then never eats them which of course annoys me. Panda Express was out since Jase doesn’t eat Chinese and I wasn’t sure how Lexie would do with their fried rice. She loves the fried rice I make but is quite picky about other versions. She suggested Olive Garden where I know both kids will eat but I wasn’t looking for a sit-down place.

Related imageWe ended up going to Freddy’s Frozen Custard and Steakburgers. Lexie tried their California burger and ate about 1/2 of it with the lettuce and tomato (a first) before just ditching the bun and veggies to finish the patty. She only at just a few fries but ate enough for me to get her a brownie delight sundae for dessert.

This whole process of selecting a place happens all the time and is draining! We are going on a trip with my parents this summer and I am already looking for places that my kids will find things they like. We are going to New Orleans and I know they won’t want gumbo, seafood or Cajun food.

Image result for disney donutsWe are also going to Disney World this year. That proves it own challenges as both of the kids are now considered “adults” but have the palates of “kids”. Even ordering off the kids’ menu isn’t guaranteed to make them happy. Disney’s kids’ menus most of the time don’t appeal to them. They don’t eat turkey sandwiches, uncrustables (PB&J) or mac-n-cheese. Plus, those meals are smaller though as I point out to the kids that just leaves more room for desserts and snacks.

My goal between now and these trips is to get them to start trying different meals. It could be that they just take a bite or two of what my husband or I am eating, or it might be they order something new. I’d rather they try things here rather than on vacation – especially when looking at those Disney meal prices.

Choosing school-day breakfasts my kids will actually eat

breakfast girlI have heard all the reports and experts spout out about how a good breakfast is essential for your kid to start off the day right and learn more in school. The problem is how to get my kids to EAT that breakfast.

I went to seven different websites looking for breakfast suggestions. (I found these websites by doing a search for kids and breakfast.) Here are their suggestions and why most won’t work for my family.

Website #1 (www.npr.org)

Suggestion #1  – Peanut butter toast and a glass of milk

Child 1 – won’t eat peanut butter or toast.

Child 2 – allergic to peanuts, won’t eat bread and doesn’t drink milk.

Suggestion #2 – breakfast burrito (scrambled eggs and salsa on whole-wheat tortilla)

Child 1 – doesn’t eat eggs.

Child 2 – will eat eggs and tortilla (has not had them together) – no salsa – This one might be doable.

Suggestion #3 – whole-grain toast with melted low-fat cheese and tomato

Child 1 & 2 – won’t eat cheese, toast or tomato.

Suggestion #4 – whole-grain cereal with low-fat milk

Child 1 – will eat cereal with milk  – but we already had this down as a possible breakfast item.

Child 2 – nope, might eat cereal but not with milk and usually doesn’t eat enough cereal to count.

Their foods to avoid: soda, chips, sugary cereal, breakfast pastries, donuts

Website #2 (www.bhg.com)

Again, they list things my kids won’t eat – cheese, trail mix, cottage cheese. They do list yogurt as a good choice but this is one of the lunch choices for Lexie, and since she can’t have too much dairy it is either a breakfast OR lunch item – not both.

Website #3 (www.babycenter.com)

This one was heavy on the smoothie suggestion. I might have to try this at least for Lexie. Another option was fruit salad with a dollop of yogurt but again, this is usually Lexie’s lunch, so I don’t know if I can do it in the mornings too.

pancakesWebsite #4 (www.parenting.com)

Suggestions – various muffins, Ham & Cheese sandwiches, pancakes and smoothies. Pancakes my kids like but I don’t know that I will have time for this on very many mornings.  Some of their recipes such as breakfast tortillas had a 45-minute prep time. I don’t have time for that!

Website #5 (minesota.cbslocal.com)

This one featured a registered dietician who suggested you include items from three food groups: whole grains, proteins and fresh fruit. She suggested cereal but not every day. Her suggestion: oatmeal made the night before. And you know what – you guessed it – my kids don’t like oatmeal!

Her next suggestion – apple sandwich. No bread or peanut butter eaten here so that is out. After that she suggests ham and cheese on a tortilla. No cheese for my kids. Thanks, but not much help on this site for the picky eater.

Website #6 (kidshealth.org)

This site says any breakfast is better than no breakfast. (Totally agree with that!) It says to avoid doughnuts and pastries. (Agree with this in theory at least but sometimes something is better than nothing.) They say if you eat a doughnut, you won’ feel full for long. I think the same thing about eating fruit for breakfast.

Cereal and orange juice uid 1197396Their list of traditional breakfast items: eggs (yes for Lexie, no for Jase), waffles or pancakes (yes for both), cold cereal (yes for Jase, no for Lexie), hot cereal (no for both), toast or English muffins with cheese (no for both), yogurt with fruit (Lexie might go for this but again, this is my plan of what to send for her lunch), fruit smoothies (willing to give this a try again).

Website #7 (www.education.com)

Here they suggest hard-boiled eggs (again, something my kids won’t eat), muffins (again a no), pancakes (ok), omelets (Jase doesn’t eat eggs and Lexie is fine with just plain scrambled eggs – she won’t eat the veggies they suggest adding to the eggs) and then the list goes to more no items – cheese, bread, peanut butter and oatmeal.

Pintrest has a lot of good-looking breakfasts for kids but just because you shape something into a lion or bear doesn’t mean my kid will eat it. Plus who has the time during the busy school morning rush to create these meals.

So needless to say my search online has only added smoothie to my possible breakfasts. I know you shouldn’t load them up with sugary food before school but sometimes that might be the only way to get my 5-year-old to eat something, and something is better than nothing.