Being a “Mean Mom” Makes For Healthier Kids: Meal Planning

In a moment of wisdom, or finally getting sick and tired of literally acting like a restaurant every night, I am now joining the ranks of “mean moms” who make one meal for their families every night.

Please don’t laugh at me.  Pleases don’t shake your heads.

I am a good mom, but the obvious was just beyond my reach.

Don’t get me wrong…I wasn’t feeding them ring-dings and nuggets every night.  But the choices were not so many or so far off from this.

I have hugely struggled with a picky eating problem in my house, that is entirely due to the fact that I fed my kids what they wanted to eat.  While that might not sound immediately troublesome, let me just give you the quick background: I grew up like many of you, eating the dinner that my mom cooked.  That is to say, she made one meal.  A meal that I didn’t know anything about, until it was served, nor did I have a say in what she decided to make.  I was extremely lucky that we had a household that dinner was served at a table every single night, as we ate as a family.  Because this is my model of what dinner should look like (for my own feeling of giving good nutrition and family time to my kids), I am failing to keep up my own goals in this area…miserably.

I have strayed too far, over these few short years to letting my kids tell me what they want on a nightly, daily and snacktime basis. Yes. It has hurt their nutrition, and I have tried so many times to stop, but my own fear of underfeeding my kids, or enduring the crying at the table that is supposed to be good “family-time” has made me steer toward, giving up on salads or anything green for them.

Adding to this already problematic feeding schedule (if you call it that) I work on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays out of the house.  My kids, like most, have activities every night of the week after school and early evenings.  On all week nights I need something to feed my family that I can either have my husband just put in the oven before I get home without having to prep anything, or I need a meal that is ready to go in 15-30 minutes of my getting home.  If I don’t, the fail safe has been “quick-feed-the-kids whatever they want” meals.  Ugh.

I have read up on this. You know I have. I am trying. That is what I can do.  So here it is..

I have some new rules at the table for all of us –  Because this is really about ME sticking to this too- because after all, I am the one who has allowed myself to make several meals and not just one.  If I don’t do it, how on earth can they?…The new rules are pretty basic:

1.   ME: Give the kids exactly what I give myself to eat

KIDS: Try every single thing on your plate

  1. ME: Make the rules of behavior known.  At first do this on a nightly basis, until the behavior changes.

KIDS: Sit up straight, napkin in your lap, no faces or comments about how the food looks or smells.

  1. ME: Stick to it.  Do not give them food after dinner if they didn’t eat their meal.  Even if they are crying/screaming/whining that they are hungry. (This one is very very very hard for me!)

KIDS: No dessert, no bread or other foods after dinner-time is over, if you didn’t eat your meal.

I am also trying to have no snacks up to 2 hours before dinner.  This calls for major distraction, and minimal after-school snacks when I am not home, and my distracted work-from-home husband is the enforcer (so hard).

The key in all this is meal-planning.  I try to balance food that I know they already like, and is healthy for us as a family to eat, with new things that I know are truly throwing them a curve ball!  I also give a cut up tray of veggies at every dinner, as I know they can pick from this as they like…and they are learning to like!

While “30 minute meals” sound good in theory, in reality, when I get home, I usually have some picking up to do, and the last thing I want is to be chopping away for 15 minutes, trying to get my table cleared of homework, lunchboxes, and crafts from the afternoon, let alone focusing on trying to feed us all the same dinner at the same time.  Not going to happen.  I need more planning than that.  I have to have it prepped the night before, be in the crock pot, or assembled and ready to go in the morning to cook as soon as I get home.

I have done a month of planned meals that fit the bill, ahead of time for February.  This is the second week that I am on this goal for myself, which unfortunately falls on vacation week- where our schedules are kind of mixed up anyway, but I am determined to stick to it!  Planning ahead for a month, I can switch days up if I need without having to think too much about what to cook- and I can plan ahead for the week, making sure that I already have all the groceries that I need before the night-of!

Here’s what I have left, planned for February.

Meal Plan

Menu for Feb. 15 – 21

  • Skillet Beef Stroganoff – serve over noodles, steamed broccoli, salad
  • Crockpot Cajun pork roast – serve with kale salad, baked beans, potato fries
  • Quick & Healthier Chicken Parmesan – salad-veggie platter – garlic bread
  • Breakfast for Dinner
  • Corn Chowder & Biscuits
  • Homemade pizzas
  • Thin-cut, 3 Pepper Pork Chops

Menu for Feb. 22-28

  • Chicken Meatloaf minis – mashed potatoes – salad
  • Crockpot Mushroom Soup – biscuits
  • Crustless Quiche – rolls – potato casserole hashbrowns
  • Ground Chicken Tacos – fruit salad
  • Chicken Caesar Sandwiches – coleslaw – baked beans
  • Homemade pizzas – veggie tray
  • Spaghetti & Meatballs – salad – garlic bread

The recipes for much of this will follow this month.  March Planning will be right around the corner.  I think that by then, my kids may be getting used to this idea with much less resistance.

I have truly screwed them up, up until now with the food thing! It is not too late, for my youngest ones for sure, so wish me good cooking and resilience from their puppy-dog eyes, tears, screaming that I am a “bad mom!” and other awesome kid manipulatives. {Sigh}. I love my jobs.  Especially this mom thing.

3 thoughts on “Being a “Mean Mom” Makes For Healthier Kids: Meal Planning

  1. Anne

    As if you didn’t already have enough to worry about! Good on you for trying to reign in the dinner rush! One of the criteria for our kids is that they know how to make at least 10 meals before they go off to college and out into the world on their own. As your girls are getting older maybe you’ll be able to get them more and more involved in cooking, prepping meals and even in grocery shopping with you. The more they help, the more interested they usually end up being in the final product. And what great life skills to teach all of your kids! Good Luck!

    1. Post author

      Yes- We have them set the table and cut up the veggies and fruit usually to help out. I totally agree that it helps them to get involved. My pickiest eater, it won’t make a difference though. She is starting to not say “Eww,” and that is a good start! Raising our expectations for them has been a hurdle for sure! I am three weeks in so far, and they are starting to think that it may be a permanent change that they have to adapt to! Thanks for the luck~

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