Meal Planning and the (not) Picky Preschooler

Lying Fibbing to Braxton is not one of my favorite things, but sometimes, it has to be done.  Tuesday night I took both babies out for a sunset run with me.  Brax wanted me to take the trail to the playground, as we have done countless times.  But it was too late for such things this time around, so I told him it was way too muddy.  Well, Karma then got back at me because for the ENTIRE rest of the run I heard…”Mommy, we can’t take the trail ’cause we’d get stuck in the muck and have to call a tow truck?!”  Yes, Braxton.  Yes, we’d have to call a tow truck to pull this bus a stroller out of the muck.

When the little white lie comes back to bite you.

There was a happy ending, though!  At the end of the run, I asked Brax if he wanted to join me- he is getting big for a stroller, but I will take him running as long as he’ll come with me.  We ran the rest of the way home together.  Highlight of my week:)  They are literally the best running buddies.

running buds

Anyways!  Onto my tips on meal planning.  Nutrition is super important to me, and I want to instill that in my kids.  I’m definitely neither an expert nor a cook, but I’ve implemented a method that really works.  Before, I only had to make Braxton’s baby food on a Sunday for the week and I’d eat whatever was quick for Bri and I.  As he’s grown, I’ve begun to make meals for the family plus Charlotte’s food.  I now have homemade healthy meals happen most days of the week.  Here’s how:

1. I plan next week’s meals every Friday.  This takes maybe 15 minutes and I include my boys in the planning.  What do you guys want to have for dinners next week?  Friday works because I have gotten my CSA pickup and plan meals around that, and I get whatever else I can at the farm market on Saturday.  Sunday we get the remainder at Wegs.

2. I plan easy meals.  I don’t have time to prepare meals on a Sunday and freeze them for the week, so I find quick meals to cook when I get out of work.  I have tried in the past to do complicated meals on a weeknight, but that only leads to frustration on my part.  I want to spend nice evenings outside with the kids, so dinner needs to be as quick and balanced as possible.  Once a week, I might put something on a little more complex and commit to making it.  I try one new recipe each week, and pull in others I already know for a variety.  I make Charlotte’s food right along with our dinners.  When we have beets, so does she.  It is so easy to do, and one beet can make three batches of baby food!  I share some of my vegetarian meals on here, but obviously cater your meals to your family’s desires.

Sad but true.

3. I make the grocery list for only things I’ll need for these meals, lunches, breakfasts, and a few snacks.  I do not stray from this list.  This saves time and money- I never find myself scrambling to the store on any weeknight or food going to waste.  Brax definitely gets antsy at the grocery store (and has had tantrums due to this for sure), but he does not have tantrums over not getting something.  This is because he knows, if it’s not on the list, we don’t get it.  Very randomly, if he’s being very good, I’ll surprise him and say, “Oh look at this, I see stickers on the list!!  Let’s go pick some out!”  It also helps that Wegmans offers the kids an apple or a cookie, so he feels validated just by that.

4.  Cook once, eat twice.  One night a week, usually Fridays, will be either a treat out to eat, or leftover night.  Because I have made healthy meals all week, I let Brax choose what he wants of the leftovers and he feels like he made the choice of what to eat.

Thanks to @Leite's Culinaria for the image - Take it or leave it!

I would not call Braxton a picky eater- he eats when he’s hungry and just plain won’t eat when he’s not.  I let him be involved in preparing the food with me and I never EVER offer him a substitute meal if he doesn’t eat.  He will not starve by missing one meal, if that’s what he chooses.  He always needs to at least try everything on his plate.  There is no calling it “yucky” before it is tried.  The other night we made beets, and he tried to pull the “yucky” thing.  I calmly asked him to just try them.  When he did, he said, “These are YUMMY!”  But this will happen again when we have beets.  It takes time and patience, that’s for sure.  I heard a statistic that it takes kids many MANY times of trying something to form an actual dislike for it.  If they “don’t like” something cooked one way, try it another.

Fstoppers Talking Food Gary W Martin 8 Pop Culture Food Pun Photos You Never Knew Eggsisted

Dinner time is always frustrating to me because I am not the kind of person who sits and eats for hours- I may be healthy, but I eat fast and that’s that. Ask anyone who’s eaten a meal with me. Brax also has a really hard time staying at the dinner table (which I’m working on by setting a timer at dinner and adding a few minutes each night.). He’s got a long way to go in that department. I need the timer too, so I in turn can show my kids how to slow down. Children learn by what they see. If I serve him beets, I should be eating beets too. If I leave the dinner table early, how will that teach him to stay? It is amazing how much we learn about ourselves when we have children.

I am certainly not saying going out to eat, fast food, take out, frozen pizzas, etc. aren’t fun (if not necessary sometimes), but these tips help make things a little easier.  Meal planning has worked wonders for our family.

Well in a little nutshell, there are some of my tips on how to make dinners at home more efficient and still healthy.  With practice, it all becomes very easy to do, and hopefully with time, we can all find dinnertime with preschoolers a little bit easier.  Now it’s Friday-you know what I have to go do!

Asian Turkey Lettuce Wraps - These simple wraps comes together in less than 30 min, and it's incredibly hearty, healthy and filling!



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