Boring dinners? Stuck in a rut? Here's the solution.
My kids aren't generally complainers, but meals got to the point where we were having the same 10 or 12 meals over and over again because that's what they wanted and I knew they would eat. They were healthy and successful, but the grown-ups were getting bored. And that is bad for two reasons. One, we started eating out WAY more than we should. Two, the kids meals, when we ate out, were usually waffles with loads of sugary goodness/badness all over it. So dinner became less healthy and more expensive. Something had to change.
We instituted New Food Night. Knowing my children there would have to be a set of expectations or rules. But more than that we wanted it to stay positive. I didn't want to say no this and no that. These were the rules we came up with.
Rule 1. SMILES & SILENCE
With Rule number 1, they couldn't complain or whine. I explained it like a cooking show (and we watched some) where there were judges and they didn't say anything about the food until after they had tasted it.
Rule 2. TASTE THREE BITES
Our little saying is, “Take three bites; It’s not many. If you still don’t like it you can have Peanut Butter and Jelly.” There were somethings that didn't turn out well (even the grown-ups didn't enjoy). We always had a simple alternative like oatmeal, cheese tortillas and fruit, or PB & J.
Rule 3. THREE PRAISES & THREE CHANGES
This rules gives them a chance to voice their opinion in a controlled manner. Instead of “OH, MOM! I hate it, it’s gross!” It needs to be three praises. Sometimes all the good they could say was, “It looks pretty on the plate.” If there are veggies, they usually want them changed to the veggies they prefer: broccoli, carrots, corn.
Since we've instituted New Food Night, we have some new favorites. Peppered Salmon and Asparagus, Dr. Pepper Pork Chops with Spinach and Pasta, Black Beans and Rice go with everything. And now they ask when the next New Food Night is coming. They've even started to look up recipes and cook themselves.
Would you add a New Food Night to your dinner routine? What's the first meal you'd have your family try?