Disclosure: I am participating in the Monsanto, #HeyLetsGrow campaign. Gardening materials, as well as $50 for additional gardening supplies, provided by Monsanto. All opinions within this post are my own.
Dear Misery Loves Cookery,
My kids hate vegetables. It’s frustrating. I hide them in their food, but they won’t touch them if they know they are there (and they sometimes won’t touch food if they even think they are there.)
I know that they won’t die if they skip a meal, I’m mainly writing because this is so irritating, it’s making cooking meals stressful and meal time no fun for me. Is it too much to ask for me to have an enjoyable meal everyone once in awhile?
No, it is not too much to expect to enjoy a meal every once in awhile, you just may need to change what is required for you to enjoy yourself.
- Your kids are healthy, and
- You manage to get nutrients into them by sneak attack (hiding vegetables in casseroles, smoothies, etc.), and
- You have vegetables on the table and model eating them, and
- You have a requirement, either each night or occasionally, that they take a bite or two of a vegetable, and/or try new foods when they come to the table, then…
…if they don’t eat all their vegetables—or even most of your vegetables—you are off the hook.
In order to be happier about this, please:
- Let go of the expectation that they enjoy their meals, and
- Accept that they might grouse about their requirement to take a few nibbles of things, and
- Stay calm, but have appropriate consequences when kids either refuse to try a few bites and/or have a table tantrum, and
- Take deep breaths and focus on your own plate, enjoying the bites you get to take, redirecting the table to different conversation topics, etc., then…
…even if the table descends into veggie-protest chaos, you will feel better.
Is it important that kids learn to value nutritional foods, and hopefully develop a taste for them? Absolutely.
Is it worth ruining your evening dinner every night to fight for this, day-in, day-out? No.
Even if you occasionally get the kids to choke down some broccoli, if you are miserable with your kids, routinely, you are winning the battle but losing the war.
My recipe for this week is a little different than my usual recommendation: I want you to take your kids to a nursery or home store, and I want them to pick out vegetable seeds to plant.
There is a considerable amount of chatter in the “how to help picky eaters get interested in vegetables” universe that if kids can help to grow their own food, they are more interested in consuming it. I’m not sure if this is always true—our daughter loved planting salad greens in our community garden when she was little, but still resists salad like it comes with a curse—but it won’t hurt!
Getting kids connected to how food is grown, plus giving them time to dig in the dirt and explore, offers you the opportunity as a family to enjoy time together that isn’t about hating vegetables, but rather, about taking care of them.
Our family will be growing vegetables right along with you! Thanks to the #HeyLetsGrow campaign at Monsanto, I received seeds, tools, a gardening bag, a starter tray, mugs, a little jar of honey, and some additional funds to get our vegetable garden off to a great start.
Because we live in Florida, I have to plant immediately—the heat of the summer is not our friend—so I will keep you posted, and hopefully provide some information for your own garden.
We take a lot of delight in all the things we grow here. We are finishing up the end of citrus season, as evidenced by our lemon tree (our orange tree looks about the same.)
My husband has two fig trees, a Black Mission (which doesn’t seem to want to fruit) and a Celeste (which is fruiting like crazy.)
(As you can see, even our dog likes the fig trees.)
I have an herb garden, which makes my daily cooking so much happier. Parsley is a big fan of Florida.
And all of us, our daughter included, enjoy raising milkweed. And no, that’s not a vegetable, but it helps us support monarchs, and we are pro-pollinator in this family. No pollinators, no food! Check out one of the latest caterpillars, as well as his/her punk cousin, who formed a chrysalis right above our front door.
I hope gardening together will be as fun for your family as it is for ours. Until then, keep hiding those pureed veggies in the chili, friend, and play some tunes and dance around while you are making the dinner that they may refuse. Let’s all do that. Solidarity!