01 December 2010

Warning....This is a Venting Post

I'm burnt out....


on figuring out what to cook for my family.

I can't tell you how many times I've cooked dinner....and half the family likes it and the other half doesn't....it drives me crazy....after so many times of this happening....I just kinda feel like....well....like not cooking.

What's a mom to do!

I'm not one to cook different meals for everybody....when I cook dinner....if you like....you get dinner....if you don't....you get cereal.

I know that may sound harsh....but you can't please everyone....especially my family at dinner time.

Does anyone else have this problem?

I actually had a bit of a fit tonight about dinner....

so much so that I refused to cook dinner!

Not really....I cooked....if you call mac and cheese from the box cooking.

And I went a little dramatic when I said...."I'm done cooking....it's t.v. dinners from now on"....really...I truly said that....can you believe it. We haven't had a t.v. dinner in the house for years....and that's what I resorted to.

So what's a mom to do?

Any suggestions?


  1. I feel your pain! Here's something I hears somewhere - Think of 5 meals everybody likes and on Monday - they get .... on Tues - it's.... and so on - every week. Maybe if they get bored with it they'll be happy for some different foods. And if they don't get bored - then you're good to go. Many people have something they already do standard on weekends - but if not - think of 7 meals (or TV dinners/frozen pizza/box mac and cheese, etc. for one of those nights). Blessings! And Hang in there!!

  2. Let's all go on strike...


    kindof ..LOL

  3. My kid's used to get a choice.... what we fixed ( I said "we" because my husband cooked too & does most of it now that the kids are gone) or a pbj. And they had to make it themselves!
    Good luck!

  4. We do the same thing as Whistle Stop. If they have to do the work to make their own PBJ, they'll often just eat the dinner that was made for them. If they decide to make PBJ, that means more leftovers for me!

  5. Maybe you could get the whole family in on giving their suggestions on making a combined meal of things that everyone likes. If they're a part of it, they might take the time to eat it quietly. Or, don't cook for a week and let them know you're serious! :)

  6. I was a picky eater as a kid. I either had to eat what was on the table or have cereal. I hate cereal for years and then about the time I hit 10 I was bored and wanted to try new things. Now I pretty much eat what is put in front of me. I vote make what you want and suggest the rest make their own dinner.

  7. I am with you girl. I'm tired of coming up with the menu. My girlfriend went on cooking strike 3 weeks ago. Husband said something not too nice about dinner. She said fine, I'm on strike. She's my hero. Good luck.

  8. This is funny because my sister and I are the pickiest eaters EVER and my brothers ate anything and everything. So my poor mom(who is an amazing cook) had to cook seperate dinners every night for us! They experimented with new foods nightly while my sister and I ate chicken fingers! Not every night, but you get the point! I feel bad now that I am grown and making dinners that she had to do that. I will say though that if we didn't eat the dinner she chose to make us, even though it was something we typically liked, then she would put it in the fridge and make us eat it the next night and so on til it was gone. I once ate on a disgusting, dry, crumbly hamburger for days!! I don't really have a great suggestion since I was like one of your kids! But I like the idea of making what you want and suggest the kids make their own.

  9. My husband and son are a bit picky. We sit down to dinner on nights before I go grocery shopping and we come up with a meal plan that everyone likes! Everyone pitches in their opinions and then everyone is happy!

  10. Andrea, I know your frustration intimately. And we have a similar rule here... if you like it you have dinner, if you don't, enjoy the sides or we'll see you at breakfast. Our kids never really complained much (maybe they were afraid to based on the expression on my face), but if they didn't eat I felt wounded. Ridiculous. So here's my solution that has worked well for us for years. Always have two essential ingredients on hand:
    1)Ranch dressing
    2)Teriyaki sauce
    I found that no matter what it was they didn't like - meat, veggies, pasta, whatever...if they poured one of these two magical ingredients over the top, they were subsequently able to choke it down, nay even enjoy their meal. We use it to this day, but less and less so, because they rarely have a problem with a meal anymore. That was our solution, for what it's worth. Your mileage may vary :)
    p.s. Hubby would add a 3rd essential to the list for himself: hot sauce. I try not to get offended when he uses it :)
    p.p.s. Another thing we used when the kids were younger was that they only had to eat as many veggies as they were old. 4 years old? 4 peas. Our son was very proud of himself when he discovered he could mix his peas into yogurt and they actually tasted good lol.

  11. Oh Andrea...can I relate on this one...I am not the best cook in the world I admit...but I do try...Jess is great he eats everything but Meg and John drive me mad...soooooo picky!!! I made lasagna last nite and it was really good..but "there was too much sauce on it...and I didn't like that cheese"and on and on!!! Today I worked till 5 and got home and said"Leftovers or whatever you can find" and you know what...my lasagna seemed to please everyone...go figure eh???? AHHHH....that felt good!!! BTW...I love my chalkboard...alot! x0x0

  12. You poor girl! You sound so frustrated, Andrea! :( When I was a child, we ate what mom put on the table....and we had to sit there until we ate it all. Sounds cruel, but it worked. We never whined or complained because we knew that we didn't want to eat it cold! lol! And we learned to at least try new food when we weren't at home. :)

    Have you tried using a crock pot? You can make so many good dinners in those and it's so darned easy! I'll throw in frozen chicken breasts or a venison roast in the morning with some stewed tomatoes or soup on the top and let it go all day on low. By 6pm dinner is hot and ready and the house smells amazing!

    Hope you find a plan that works for you, sweetie! Do you want me to send my "chef" hubby over there....??? :)

    xoxo laurie

  13. I cook things that I like - things that I want my kids to like - and I make them eat it. They all have to have one bite, every time. I'm with you - no making multiple meals! We have some crowd pleasers in heavy rotation (tacos, spaghetti, certain soups and casseroles) but I have watched my kids become pretty adventuresome eaters as they are faced with things they "don't like" over and over. Also, I can't tolerate them whining or complaining about what I make. We're trying to teach them that that is rude behavior. My SIL just started making her boys leave the table and clean the toyroom at the first mention of a complain. She said it's working like a charm! ;)

  14. I have Mr. Norm to thank on curbing that with our girls when they were young. They tried to get picky and he would say "Thats ok, you're not old enough to have this, it's for mom and dad, you have ceral" I don't recall them ever not trying what ever we served. Good luck, I know how frustrating it can be when someone doesn't like what you prepare. As a professional Chef I take it to heart, logically I understand everyones tastebuds are different.

  15. I have this problem all the time! Ugg... I have gone on strike too in the past but then I start feeling guilty after awhile because they are eating such unhealthy food. My kids would live on lunchables if I would let them.

    it is tough being a mom!


  16. We had the same problem in our home. So I stopped cooking and my husband took over. He is more patient about being a "diner", where every one wants their own meal. I can't do it, I am like you, eat what is made or don't eat. So now my husband cooks full time. I don't think he knew what he was in for!

    It is tough being a mom!!

  17. That's tough. Can you cook a few different things so everyone has one thing they want to eat. I've had the same problem and we were a family of three. We all like to eat differently.

  18. I like some of your earlier commenters was a VERY picky eater as a child. My mom made one thing and it was always what my dad liked. I spent many, many evenings by myself at the table long after everyone else was finished. When I met my husband he was (and actually still is) a very plain eater. I'm talking no sauces, no casseroles, no fun. Since I quickly got tired of eating "his" kind of food I got used to making 2 meals or at least 2 meals that had "overlaps".. like we both had spagetti noodles or potatoes so that it wasn't usually 2 complete meals.

    When my kids were small they had choices and I usually tried to be sure there was at least something they liked in those 2 meals. Then when my daughter was a teenager she became a vegetarian which actually worked in well since I don't eat much meat and neither does my son.

    It was just what worked for our family. And my kids friends loved having dinner at our house because there was always more than one thing to pick from!

    Good luck,

  19. Try soup and sandwiches put the sandwich fixings on the table and let everyone pick out what they want. Do it with pizza or tacos, other foods to can be done this way and don't forget the vegies!! Good luck

  20. Man, if you think you're harsh for making them eat cereal or nothing then I'm a complete witch! I make my kids eat what we're eating or they don't eat till the next meal. My husband spent a couple years in a different country and he was served um... less appetizing things. Like pickled pigs and stuff. And he ate it because sometimes it was ALL the family had to give. I try and remember that. I don't want my kids to get in the habit of becoming picky eaters and then going to a friends house and them not eating because they simply don't like it. So tell them TOUGH LUCK. I don't care if my kids have to smother dinner in ketchup to be able to eat it, they're still eating it.

    And guess what? They eat all of their dinner. My 18 month old, 3 year old and 5 year old eat everything I serve them. Including salad, onions, or whatever else kids make us think they're allergic to. You shouldn't have to cater to your kids wants. They're lucky there's food.

    Man, I am a witch. Oh well!

  21. oh, i am so with you, girl! I am soooo not a cater-to-your-kids person. I do the same thing at my house: you don't like dinner...make yourself a pb sandwich or a bowl of cereal. I guess I look at is as: it's a big job to make a healthy, tasty meal for the whole family everynight and NOBODY is volunteering for the job, so i guess i just think kids (and hubbies) need to appriciate your hard work and eat UP!

    Ha!! Now you've got me on a rant and rave!!

    Good luck with dinners :)

  22. Oh I am so with you on the striking.... I will be front and center!
    I remember as a kid my mom saying "Im not a short order cook!" And I always thought WTH is that?!
    When I get burned out I let everyone know that if we cant decide then guess what...its mac n cheese, soup, rotisserie chicken (luv these!), grilled cheese, or top ramen for dinner. And do it yourself!They usually think its cool for a few days then they come back to their senses and want a home-cooked meal. It works for me, cleans out the pantry and is teaching them to cook for themselves too (obviously I have only been making them prepare their own food the past few years)! My one stipulation is that we all still eat TOGETHER. Family dinner time is a MUST with me.
    Anyhoo - I say dont fret it girlfriend! Besides, admit it.....
    We all HEART mac n cheese.... and hot dogs :)

  23. Oh, I definitely understand! My complaints do not come from my "children" (now all college-plus age) usually, but from extended family--all over 40 y.o.--when we have them over. One wants a special mustard or won't eat the item, another wants 'greens,' one wants a special seat for his left-handedness (which is interesting since my own left-handed son does not have problems with where he sits). I think you are doing the right thing by not catering to everyone's whims, or the children will be demanding, as my extended family is, even well into adulthood.

  24. Oh, dear lady this is a universal problem. You are right though, if you don't want whats served, feed yourself.
    Last weekend I was feeling frustrated with things and made a meal that I truly enjoy- a peasant meal of ground pork sausage, sauerkraut, apples, small potatoes,etc. and then I made apple Pandowdy. My son, however sensed something was amiss, asked if this "wonderful meal" was a passive aggressive. meal. Yup, I said.

    When I am not sure what to do I just fill a pot with whatever there is in the fridge and pantry and call it soup. Amazingly, this usually works. Also, years ago my husband set the rule that every child must thank me for dinner at each meal. He was tired of whining and complaints too. After all, if we didn't put the effort in, who would? So, bless the hands that prepared the meal. I hear ya!

  25. Andrea, here's something that will help you. Make the other members of the family responsible for at least one meal a week. When they have to cook, I guarantee they will much more appreciative. My husband and I share the cooking (I would hate it if I had to do all of the cooking all of the time). When my 14 year old son doesn't like what we're eating, he'll just go an cook up his own dinner (I stopped being offended by that). As for the younger girls, because they're younger and especially the six year old needs to eat (very skinny), we modify whatever we're making to make sure they're eating, like keeping some vegetables raw for them instead of cooking them, not mixing the meat into the stir fry and letting them have it plain, simple stuff like that. p.s. I've hear about the sauce at the table solution, and some people swear by the addition of ketchup :)

  26. have the family memebers make a list of what they do like to eat you maybe surprised at how much you could mix and matxh from there list.....

  27. I feel your pain.
    I wish I could say
    that I always get
    rousing applause from
    my meals, but I don't.
    {And...not to toot my
    own horn, but after 24
    years of marriage, I've
    been told I'm a very
    fine cook.} It's hard
    when the audience that
    means the most to you ~
    your little family ~ doesn't
    appreciate the work and love
    that goes into meal planning,
    shopping and preparation.
    We went through a time when
    the only way my son would
    eat veggies was with balsamic
    glaze or ranch dressing on it.
    At 12, he is still a challenge.
    My 15 year old is a vegetarian,
    so that is a whole other story...
    And my husband has never had what
    I'd call a sophisticated palate,
    but he has wised up over the years
    and will go with the flow! I say,
    put it in front of them and if they
    are hungry, they will EAT. I have
    never allowed the cereal option;
    you are a kinder mommy than I am : )
    It's good to vent.
    Happy Thursday and keep cooking!
    They'll eat it if they are hungry!
    xx Suzanne

  28. You are soooo right...I feel like that a lot of the time too! *Sigh* Lately though we are down to only 3 members of my family...so it does get easier...but there are way to many days I open the fridge to start dinner at 5pm..wondering what to make. Wish I was a meal planner but I am not.

    Hugs and love...we are not alone by the looks of all these comments. xoxoxxo

  29. Although I only have one kiddo and my hubby doesn't usually eat with us because of his work schedule I do feel your pain. I wholeheartedly agree with you on making one meal for everyone and if they don't like it they don't eat. I don't even give my daughter an option of cereal- she just has to eat at least 'some' of what I prepared. After a long day at work I don't have it in me to argue about it so I do usually make things that I know she likes just to keep the peace and ensure she eats. ;)

  30. Oh I hear ya my friend!!! It's hard trying to be healthy and finding something that everyone likes, but also doesn't take forever to make!! Plus for me, I usually have to make a separate meal for my son b/c he is allergic to dairy and can't eat what the rest of us are having. If you get any good meal suggestions, make sure you post them, I could definitely use some suggestions!!

    Hugs ~

    :) T

  31. I have three boys that for the most part are good eaters. But there are things that one will eat but one will refuse to eat, etc. etc. I refuse to make more than one meal so I try to make a meal that has a little bit of something that I know all three will like at least one of. Alot of pasta recipes with different ingredients then they can pick out what they like and don't like. Hope this helps a teeny bit!!!!

  32. NEVER offer them a choice! That`s the start of a very slippery slope!lol Great days, they don`t last forever, enjoy while you can(or come over here and vent at the snow...I am!)

  33. oh dear, you are quite nice. If my kids don't like what I make, it's no food till breakfast. And many a nights they have gone to bed hungry. They would love cereal! that's why I don't offer it. And your also nice to offer TV dinners!! When I am burnt out I say, forget it, get your own meal! After all you still have to cook a TV dinner and take it out of the oven and take off the foil and make sure it's not to hot for the kids....
    Pathetic thing is, it's mostly my husband who whines about dinner!!!

  34. Ohhh I wish I knew the answer. We do have a bit of problem with that too, but mostly with my son. My daughter, who is little, will surprisingly, eat anything. She loves salad. Can you believe it? I tend to make the same things over and over because I don't want to hear any complaining, which means we eat a lot of pasta and soup. If it is a day when I just don't want to hear everyone's opinions, we'll take out so they can get what they want.

  35. tough one....i have had it happen more than once! you do kind of feel like giving up but i usually go to one of a few go to meals that appeals to everyone. pasta is almost always ok with everyone and i'll just make it a few different ways. soup too, i have a couple soups that everyone will eat even if they eat different things out of it! keep your chin up! xo susan

  36. Check out http://e-mealz.com. This is a website that give you recipes and a grocery list based on your pick of grocery stores for five evening meals a week. Your meals can be based on family meals, meals for 2, low carb, low fat, points...many different options. It is only $1.25 per week and you sign up for 3 months -- that is only $15.00 for 3 months. I did it for the last three months and loved it. It gave a variety for our meals and I didn't have to think what I wanted to have for supper. I did the Low Fat meals and thought they were very healthy (and I could make them more "fat" if I chose to). I probably won't renew until January because of the holidays, but I definitely will renew. Oh, they also keep your grocery budget to around $45.00 per week. Amazing! Hope this helps. If you try, let me know what you think. BTW, I am not affiliated with E-Mealz! Just really loved it!

    Judy :)

  37. Andrea- I saw the title of this post and hopped right over here! O love a good vent! GOOD FOR YOU! I think they may take you seriously now! TV dinners! I read a story once about a woman whose husband complained about every thing she cooked. everything. and told her the only thing she made good was chili. SOOO she made TONS of chili. And froze it! Filled a deep freeze! And refused to make anything else. haha!
    Let us know how this shakes out!
    Have a pretty day!

  38. stick to the cereal. you are not a restaurant, or a cafeteria. i have 3 grown up girls and lived the same problem. i would go in a fit once in a while ,specially when one of them was nibbling the food with her front teeth ( i knew then she hated what was on the plate ) and had those spasms as though she was about to throw out, urgh ! they are big girls now and they eat mostly anything. ^_^

  39. So true - you're on the right track - keep on making that one meal and not be a short order cook, and you're absolutely entitled to go on strike every now and then! Hang in there, girl - maybe have them write a list down of their favorite foods - and put your spin on them or look up alternate recipes online (have you seen the blog Annie's Eats - and I'm sure you've seen Our Best Bites...) - to keep it fresh...

    Sorry, friend - hang in there! xoxo

  40. First of all your 'out of the box' mac and cheese looks pretty good. Secondly, I think every family goes through this. My daughter's favourite food one week was her least favourite the next...........you cant win. so just remember to put the cereal box out with whatever else is on the offering. Once they leave the nest they will remember how good moms cooking was!
    Trish xo

  41. Well, the picture looks pretty amazing. Ha. :) But I do, honestly know how you feel right now. I am going through the same thing. Not because of my family not liking what I fix - but that my husband owns his own business, and mostly works out of our townhouse now, and I have two kids (both under age 4) and we are busy and barely have time to breathe. I was the girl who always bought "Lean Cuisines"...now I am diving into gourmet foods, organic, and fresh foods (produce, etc...) I do not regret it one bit. I have even been picking out some 'specialty/imported' foods from my local market. The ones that specify which country they are from (British Isles, Germany, France, Italy...etc.). They are alot less fatty, and taste sooo much better. I have tried this for the past week, and I have received alot of compliments from my hubby and family. :)

  42. I saw someone mentiont this but e-mealz are the best and my kids love it. I do the Wal-mart Low fat plan and it is good and yummy. The only thing they hate is the squash, too mushy. Mealtimemakeover.com I think.

  43. I was a bit of a picky eater as a child for a couple of years, and lived on a egg sandwich for lunch, then egg on toast for dinner. If I didn't eat what everybody else ate, I could have an egg and toast, but no other choices. I still love eggs, but each a huge range of things now.

  44. Common problem and each Family has to decide how they shall deal with it and what works best for them... at least you don't have to feel like the Lone Ranger... as you can see MANY of us have a point of reference. *le sigh* My own solution after raising two generations of picky eaters (we're raising some of our Grandchildren) and being married to one for a very long time *wink*... I say, "This is what I'm fixing... for ME and anyone else who wants to partake... the rest of you are on your own... this is NOT Burger King". *smiles* Good Luck and I hope you find a solution that preserves your own sanity and well being GF! BTW your photo looks yummy, I'll come over and eat your meals any time, I love being cooked for! *wink* Christmas Blessings... Dawn... The Bohemian

  45. Been there....still doin that!! I unfortunately think that the only time that this will not be an issue is when we are old and grey and everyone has moved out and we only have to worry about ourselves...till then...we just hope they don't starve and Children's Services does not take them away for neglect...unless of course that would solve our problem!!! But...we would be terribly sad and wish they were back with us and we would not get so mad at our family for all of their whining!! We love them anyway...and a box of KD now and then never hurt anyone!! Enjoy the rest of your weekend...be Happy!! xOxO Nerina

  46. Tough one - I remember those days well - not running a restaurant! From what I remember and what the kids say now that they are in their 20s, the best thing, if you can, is to get them involved. It's work, but it makes a huge difference. They each got to pick the menu one night per week (I have two so it wasn't hard!) and then together we cooked it. They made the decisions but I explained that when you cook for other people, it's your responsibility to make things that will help them be healthy. It made them think, and that's the first step - the rest will come!

  47. I remember those days...we all laugh about them too! When the 4 kids were young...there was no pleasing everyone all the time! It started out as a joke, when they asked "what's for dinner?" And I would reply, "The item on the menu tonight is...take it or leave it!"
    Seriously..when planning meals, knowing everyones' likes and dislikes..I would make meals with at least one thing that one of the family liked. Jay hated tomatoes so if the meal contained tomatoes...I made something he really liked! Kate didn't like pork, so on that night, I made her favorite potatoes...and so that way everyone ate...everyone was happy with 'thier special item'. It went well...I wasn't frustrated...and they do grow out of it! Good luck...you will laugh about this someday!

  48. Hope you get this worked out! My Sis' kids were picky eaters, now 1 has all kinds of health problems, 2 have never learned to eat more than junk food, and 1 tries EVERYTHING lol. Just keep plugging away at it! Karen

  49. This is a common problem for us slave to the stove Mom's! I used to tell my little ones "this is NOT Burger King- you don't get it your way" No help I know they laughed their little gremlin laughs but when I baked fresh bread they laughed all the way to the dinner table! Fresh baked bread made even tuna surprise a five star meal!
    I know bread takes a bit of time but there are so many easy recipes for homemade bread- just the smell of it is so enticing to the little munchkins!

  50. I can very much relate to this and I will be glad to vent along with you on the subject. My 5 yo is an extremely picky eater. He only eats a handful of different kinds of foods (sauteed shrimp, toast, snap pea crisps, chicken & stars soup, fruit, carbs, pasta) and he is very specific on things. For instance, he will only eat noodles if they are green, so I have to stock up on green noodles at Trader Joe's. He will only eat pasta with olive oil, not spaghetti sauce. Also my kids will only eat chicken nuggets if they are shaped, as in dinosaur shapes. They won't eat frozen pizza.. that's another.. it has to be pizza parlor pizza. Drives me crazy. I cook separetly for the kids and they will nibble at our food, vegetables. My 4 yo daughter eats much more variety than my son & she is in a always hungry stage now. I am looking forward to this picky stage being over with.. if it ever will be. Good luck, I know what a pain in the you what it can be!
    Lara xx

  51. wow - your post has made me feel better. I'm not alone. I'm working my way through the deceptively delicious books right now - a new meal each day and a freezer of pureed veggies. Seems like my husband I like them more than my 3 year old does. I make her try whatever we make, and do try to angle the meals towards her likings, but she loves in one week, then hates it the next. Because I am not a fan of the 4am wake up cry over being hungry, there is always a snack of some sort before bed. I need to be stronger like some of these other moms.

  52. I could right a novel about this...I'll spare you though.
    If the kids don't eat their dinner I say fine you don't get desert and when your hungry before you go to bed you can go get yourself a piece of fruit...
    It's so frustrating, your not alone friend :)

  53. Hi Andrea...we only ever had one rule in the house...you eat what mum cooks...like it or not! If mum takes the time and effort to cook good nutritious (AND delicious!) food then they show the respect deserved to eat the food and not comment if they don't like it! Them's the breaks...it means sometimes you get food you like, sometimes you get food you don't like, but THEN there are times when you get food you LOOOVVVE!!!!...so it all evens out. That's life ;) I bet at times my kids would've LOVED to get cereal instead...even if it was Weetbix!(a nonflavoured, nonsweetened, HEALTHY wheat biscuit cereal, in case you don't have it up there!)haha...anyways...stick to your guns! My kids are now 16-27 and very well balanced and well nourished!!..and besides, NOW they get to choose what they eat now that they are their own cooks!! haha...well, except the 16yr old, but she and I LOVE food, and cooking..so we pretty much always get food we love, or at least like :)
    Also can I say I love your blog..found it thru...someone elses blog (cant recall right this minute!)...but I love your header..i am just now hosting a giveaway for a bag SO SO much like the ruffled bag in your photo..GORGEOUS!LOVE THAT PIC!!(did you make the bag? love that too!!!)
    anyways..looking forward to following your blog ;)
    nice to 'meet' you :)
    jessie, nelson, nz

  54. I don't have kiddo yet but I can only imagine! Even though it's just me and the hubs we use the 5Meals1Hour method! It's AMAZING! And the food is sooooo yummy! Plus I save at ton on groceries! The lady who does it has small kids so her food is really healthy and kid friendly. Plus if there is something your family doesn't like you can substitute it! Say she cooks with fish and your not a fish eater substitute with chicken. It saves me so much time and money that I recomend it to everyone! Check it out at