Whenever I say something to someone about one of my kids not liking something I make for a meal or snack, I get reactions like, “What?! Your kids are picky eaters?” No, no. I say. All four of them shout, “YES!” and do a fist pump each time they look over and see what has been prepared for them to eat. They give me a loving squeeze and pick me up off the floor (because three out of four of them can do that now), swing me around, and offer to do the dishes after we eat. They eagerly dig into each prepared dish, helping themselves to seconds and thirds – no matter what I have fixed. I’m four-for-four on every single breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snack item I prepare.
The truth is that if I ever happen to prepare a meal that all four boys like without making any adaptions, it’s an amazing feat. They aren’t brats about it (usually), but shucks if two of my boys don’t even like corn. One won’t eat peanut butter. One hates bananas. One likes just about anything…but he’s not a big fan of anything with pumpkin unless it’s pie. One will only eat green beans if he has ketchup to dip them in. Only one boy will eat a fresh tomato and it’s beyond me why one of my cute blondies won’t eat a sweet potato fry because it’s orange and you know, tastes a little funny.
Do I baby my kids when it comes to food? Only in my spare time. When one of my boys hesitates about the food I’ve made, I remind him that I have not made anything weird or gross to eat, that I’m not going to make anything else for this meal, that most of what I make they do like, and they are to be grateful for the wonderful variety of food we always have at our house. They always have to eat some of what I make. If it truly makes them gag, they are on their own to find something nutritious that is less disgusting to them.
Hey, I get it. I don’t really love bananas either. We all have different tastes and preferences. But we don’t get to whine or complain, and we do need to be tough and thankful. Why yes, I have given that lecture a few (hundred) times.
All that to say, last week I decided to make Raspberry Oatmeal Bars for breakfast. When I mentioned my plan, one of my boys said, “Okay, but I like apricot jelly better than raspberry.” To which I replied, “And I like summer better than winter, what’s your point?” Not really. Although I do…like summer better. But it occurred to me how easy (and tasty) it would be to make the oatmeal bars half and half. Not always can I run with the taste preferences in my household, but for this? Sure, why not?
I doubled this Raspberry Oatmeal Bar recipe. I pressed the mixture into a 9×13 pan. I spread apricot jelly on one half and raspberry jelly on the other half. I sprinkled the oatmeal deliciousness on top, I baked the bars, and we all had a breakfast we loved. All six of us. Even the one who didn’t really think oatmeal bars sounded good that morning. To which I answered, “This is what we’re having for breakfast. And don’t forget to drink your milk.”
Next time, instead of making them half and half, I think I’ll make them like a checkerboard – each piece a different flavor.
In my spare time.
Does everyone in your house eat everything you make every time?
I made the raspberry twice last week. I want to try them with applesauce tomorrow.
Denise Frederick says
Oh….that sounds really good!! And I think my son might actually eat that! Yay!! Bless you!! :)
Denise Frederick says
I could eat ALL of the yummy flavors that Laura makes….but my son…not much of a fan (yet!!) *wink*
Sounds like my house. They nibble but know there is no special meal for them if they don’t eat. You get what you get’ and don’t throw a fit is my saying.
Thank you for this. I have a 5-year-old and a 3-year-old. People see them eating at church or school and comment on “what good eaters” they are. And it’s true. But they do both have their picky items.
The rule in our house (with some bending): Eat 3 bites of a new food, to get a good feel for it. Even if “it’s disgusting” – you don’t know, you might like it!
For a food that you have had before and you KNOW you don’t like – take ONE bite, to make sure you still don’t like it. This is the only time you might get a substitution (Mom made something that we already know you don’t like. If it’s the only thing we’re eating, you take one bite and then get cereal or plain bread or a PB sandwich.)
Being consistent with these two rules has worked! My big girl didn’t like baked oatmeal the first few times I made it (the rest of us thought she was crazy). So, each time, I made her have one bite, and then gave her some cereal. A few months ago, she tried her “one bite” and said “Mom, this is really yummy!” and now she eats it with the rest of us :)
Fletcher R. says
I have one that won’t eat egg (also thinks she’s a vegetarian – not in this carnivorous house!) or cheese unless it’s on a pizza; one that won’t eat peanut butter or anything with PB in it, or yogurt; and one that won’t eat hot dogs, but loves smoked sausage – go figure.
My kids have ALWAYS been good veggie eaters – they loved plain broccoli as toddlers – and good milk drinkers. I count my blessings, but it does get frustrating.
They’ve always been good at trying new meats as long as I call it chicken and let them have ketchup. Swiss steak? – here’s the ketchup! Italian chicken? – here’s the ketchup!
I love Anitra’s rule and we’ve used something similar to get my son past texture issues when he was small.
My husband has always been my picky one simply because his mother cooked very few foods and he did not have exposure to a wide variety of tastes. The odd thing is that now that we are empty nesters he is willing to try just about anything. He has found that he likes many foods that he thought he would never eat. Why this has happened at age 55 I have no idea but I am grateful.
I have a recipe that is very similar to this raspberry oatmeal bar, except it calls for adding chocolate chips on top of raspberry jelly and then the crumb topping. Yum!!!
I think the only meal where everyone agrees to eat it is pizza. Even i have my dislikes and I still fix them for the family because majority rules. I have given up on the you must try it routine with my teenager though, and just hope that the vitamins she takes evens it all out. I tried making two meals when they were smaller, but I got burnt out on all the extra dishes and the leftovers noone wanted. So i gave that up quickly.
I have to laugh – pizza is one of the few meals in our house that gets completely customized! The four of us cannot agree on a single topping that we ALL like, except cheese. But that’s where homemade pizza is great – we can easily customize individual small pizzas for each person (or sections of a large pizza).
Rachel E. says
I made these the other day for a quick lunch (believe it or not). The kids loved them. I used strawberry jelly (it was all I had). Awesome recipe. Thanks.
Vickie Houser says
It’s just me and the hubby, but he is a picky eater. After the first few years I learned that for most meals I need to make the main dish with personal side dishes for each of us. Sometimes I have to just leave the ingredients on the counter and let him assemble his own meal. I want to make sure he gets a well balanced meal and enjoys it. It’s worked for over 25 years now. I’m not sure I could be this flexible if I had a whole house to feed. Even with my preparation there are times when he opts for something out of the fruit bowl instead of what I am offering. Good thing I love him so much… :)
Charlotte Moore says
I have to try these soon.
I play the “I’m so proud of you” card a lot. Other moms will occasionally express surprise at something my kids are eating without complaining, and I’ll remind them (over and over) of those comments when we’re at home by ourselves and they’re confronted with something they aren’t partial to. Now they eat pretty much everything without complaining. I absolutely loved the book “French Kids Eat Everything” by Karen Le Billon; it really changed how we approach food around here.
Mine are super crumbly and won’t cut into the nice bars you have in your picture. I can’t figure out what I’m doing wrong.
Also, they’re super salty. I’ll have to cut down the salt next time. I always use himalayan salt and it tends to have a saltier flavor.
This just happened at lunch today! My daughter doesn’t like egg salad, but that’s what I fixed so that’s what had to be eaten. She wasn’t very happy, but she didn’t gag (she used to do that on purpose). She also doesn’t like sliced cheese, but give her a block or shred it on pizza and she’s happy – weird kid! Her twin brother on the other hand would eat me out of house and home if allowed!
We are getting our first snow here in Michigan, I think I’ll go mix up some hot cocoa :-)
K Ann Guinn says
Wonderful post. I must say I share your cooking/eating/tolerating food fussiness viewpoint very closely! Thanks for the great ideas!
This must sound boring, but i cant think of anything my husband and i don’t like. Some things we like better than others, but in 35 years, he has never NOT liked or complained about anthing I’ve cooked for him. The only time we arent crazy about our food is due to pilot errors on my part- under or overcooking, poor seasoning, etc. Actually, he’s been a vegetarian for over 40 years and after marrying him i became also, mainly because it was too much work to make 2 different entrees. We both feel good, have no health or digestive problems, our cholesterol and other test results are always super good, which i attribute to excluding meat and dairy products from our diet. I know it doesnt appeal to everybody, but it’s sure worked for us.
I should add we both grew up in families that were poor enough we felt fortunate and thankful for whatever was on the table which probably contributed to our not being picky eaters.
My kids can be good eaters, or really picky, but I don’t worry about it too much, I can be kind of the same way ;) We do the “eat 3 bites rule” and “no dessert if you don’t eat your dinner”. So far, it hasn’t been too much of an issue, praise God! My one-year-old is so funny. If I put something he doesn’t want to eat on his tray, he looks straight at me, picks it up and drops it on the floor. He is getting a lot better about eating different foods though :)
What is on our table is what we eat! Food allergies would change that.
Can I just say that I LOVE your raspberry bars?!?!?!
We visited Jerica this past weekend and she made these bars- said they were from your site…”hadn’t I seen them?” To which I responded- “if I had I would’ve made them like EVERY DAY since then!”. So sadly, I am just now being exposed to your wonderful breakfast bars…and will promptly make them…for breakfast tomorrow :D
Yay, so glad you like them. You got to see Jerica?? No fair! (But I’m happy for you, really I am.)
Ok, I’m bragging now but none of my 4 children are picky eaters.
They’ll eat pretty much anything you put in front of them. One claims she doesn’t like black pepper. That’s really the extent of the “don’t likes” in our house. Maybe I’m blessed:) Anyways, I made a double batch of the raspberry bars and (of course) everyone loved them. I only like shortbread, not love it so when the pan was half gone I baked them again and got a wonderful crunchy granola bar! Fabulous!
Charlotte Moore says
I have made these 3 times this week. One raspberry, one blackberry with store bought preserves. Then I made it with my homemade blackberry jam and wow it was good. I did add a little more sucanat and one fourth less butter. Very happy with the results.
Robyn Owens-Miille says
I am making a pan of strawberry and a pan of apricot for our bake sale at work. Very easy recipe that is pretty darn cheap too!
My oldest son loves oatmeal BUT he won’t each the oatmeal strawberry bars or the dark chocolate granola. What is up with that?
My kiddos aren’t necessarily picky, I ‘d say. They don’t say what they don’t like. As soon as you put the food in front if them they will eat it it not depending on the day.