Serving foods over and over is supposed to convince your child to try new things. But there is only so much experimenting a parent is willing to do before getting fed up with how much money is being lost and how much food is being wasted. Save cash by making strategic grocery shopping trips and stretch your menu through the week.
If your kid loves one type of protein but no other, or if veggies are going to waste because your child has decided the broccoli she loved is now heinous, it's time to get creative. Blending proteins and veggies to find your kids' favorite combos will help you create some stellar comfort food that is also healthy and nutritious – and easy for you.
If your kid loves ground beef…
You must buy a decent amount of ground beef to satisfy this protein dedication (and perhaps put some on ice for end-of-the-week meals), but it's a good way to identify your kids' favorites. Plus, the grown-ups don't get tired of repeats, even though you might be desperate for any other kind of protein by the end of the week.
Monday: Meatloaf (cut into fun shapes and offer marinara sauce or ketchup for dipping)
Tuesday: Sloppy Joe (eat with bun or without if accompanied by French bread to dip)
Wednesday: Meatball (sandwiches or spaghetti and meatballs)
Don't forget the fruit and veggies: Hearty meals are nicely accompanied by lighter veggies. Opt for cucumber slices or asparagus. Melons work well too to counteract the heaviness of the beef or as a soothing dessert.
If your kid loves chicken…
A rotisserie chicken can get you through a few days of meals, or stock up on thinly sliced chicken breasts or chicken tenders which bake quickly in the oven or on the stovetop.
Monday: Chicken Parmesan (bread crumbs, mozzarella, sauce, and bake)
Tuesday: Chicken salad (salad with mayo or a legitimate salad with veggies)
Wednesday: Shredded chicken wrap (marinate chicken in BBQ sauce for flavor)
Thursday: Chicken tenders (with honey mustard, ketchup, or ranch for dipping)
Friday: Chicken pasta (can't go wrong with noodles, chicken, and mini veggies)
Don't forget the fruit and veggies: One head of lettuce can substitute for a tortilla wrap. Or create a grilled chicken or sliced chicken tender salad and toss with sliced strawberries, mandarin oranges, and raspberry dressing for the kids who have a sweet tooth.
If your kid loves deli meat…
If you can get your little ones dedicated to oven roasted turkey breast or ham slices, you can make a slew of meals (and school lunches) to keep them happy and munching on their favorite deli snacks.
Monday: Sandwich (any way they want it – roll, bread, wrap, pita, etc.)
Tuesday: Open-face sandwich (stack meat on a waffle and teach your kids to use a knife)
Wednesday: Finger sandwiches (no crusts and thin cucumber slices)
Thursday: Go breadless (lunch meat rolled into cylinders with cheese cubes as a side)
Friday: Kebabs (folded deli meat surrounded by melon chunks, strawberries, cherry tomatoes, cheese cubes, or hard-boiled eggs)
Don't forget the fruit and veggies: Experiment with cooked veggies, like broccoli or cauliflower, which are an easy accompaniments to sandwiches. Or, stick to the reliable carrot and celery sticks.
If your kid hates repetition…
Mixing and matching may be your only option when your kid hates eating the same thing. Rather than allowing a few pounds of protein go to waste, freeze your preparations and defrost for the following week, or for a few weeks later for your kids to try anew.
Through this trial and error, you are sure to find a few recipes that your child will love. Food doesn't have to be complex to be nutritious or get a kid's approval. Simple is great, but remember that flavor is a must and imagination helps. Try not to stress too much about every meal – with extracurricular activities, meals on the go, and a dinner or two out, the staples of cereal, PB&J, and mac and cheese get the job done when necessary.