Our Fussy Eater Challenge.
Updated: Jan 9
Ruggie 2 is the fussiest of eaters. I'm making it my mission this summer to turn things around.
My cute Erin (Ruggie 2) has me wrapped around her little finger. But, I believe my softness has allowed her to be a fussy eater. She's also the second child, so I haven't had time to persevere at mealtimes.
The first time around with Jack, I admit I put a lot more effort in to rustle up recipes and present various fruits and veg throughout the day. I followed Annabel Karmel's weaning book, and it worked. I even have a video of Jack at ten months old devouring asparagus.
With Erin, I winged it. There was no batch cooking, there was no making purees. I went straight for Ella's pouches and finger foods. I don't have any videos of her devouring anything. Sorry Erin!
I'm not a confident cook. Don't get me wrong, if you gave me time and a recipe book I'd probably be ok. I'll never forget when I (once, and only once) cooked my husband a three course meal on our anniversary. We had scallops, fillet steak, and chocolate souffle. I nailed it. He couldn't believe it.
Yet, when it comes to mealtimes in the week I can't see past the usual tomato pasta or spaghetti bolognaise. I find it hard to come up with new ideas. However, I was having a chat with my husband a couple of weeks ago about ready-meals and processed foods. We were talking about the rise in cancer (sadly we know too many people with the disease) and the connection with processed foods. There's been a lot in the news recently on the subject. It alarmed me. Hands up, I eat a lot of ready-meals and processed foods. I also feed these to my children. We made it our priority there and then to feed our children, and us, better food. We'd hopefully cut back on plastic at the same time too (yet another discussion in our house that I'll save for another post).
During my next food shop I walked around Tesco feeling confused about what I could feed us. The shelves were not giving me inspiration. I left the shop with very little. I felt defeated. However, on the way out of the store I picked up Tesco's free magazine...
That night, while drinking my decaffeinated coffee (with processed sweeteners), I flicked through the mag. To my surprise I found lots of recipe ideas that a) looked like I could make after school and b) would suit our family. There and then I built my shopping list. I know this sounds ridiculous as I could have reached for a cookbook before. Believe me I have. I've exhausted our cookbooks. I find many of them don't suit the after-school-madness. I also always find myself stocking up on various ingredients to only use them once.
Now, let me give you an insight into mealtimes with Erin. A standard after-school dinnertime will go like this:
I start cooking and Erin is at my leg screaming "eat, eat eat". She's telling me she's hungry. Great.
After 20 frantic cooking-minutes with a toddler hanging off my leg, dinner is on the table. Hoorah.
We all sit down. Erin takes one look at her bowl and looks away. We all tuck in and Erin says "down, down, down". Argh.
I tell her it's dinner time and offer her a spoonful of food. She accepts the first mouthful, and will either eat it or spit it back out. Cue mummy cleaning up the mess.
If she likes the dinner she might have one more mouthful, two if we're lucky. It's then back to "down, down, down". Double argh.
I've tried everything I can to keep her at the table. However, the more I try, the more she screams. In the end, because the rest of us want to finish our meal, I let her down. So every day Erin leaves the table eating one, maybe two, mouthfuls of food. This is when we get what I call, "empty chair syndrome". There's an empty chair at our table because our toddler has refused to eat.
However, last week dinner time took me by surprise. I rustled up my first non-processed meal challenge - Pea, Fennel and Chicken Pasta (from Tesco's magazine). I left the fennel out as I wasn't sure the children would like it. But to my delight, Erin finished the entire bowl! Every last mouthful. I couldn't believe it. Even Jack, her brother, couldn't believe it. Jack gets marbles for rewards when he does something helpful, kind or good. He said, "Mummy I think Erin needs a marble." So Jack and I rewarded Erin by allowing her to choose a marble and she was SO happy. The look on her face was amazing.
At this moment, I knew I had to continue with my mission. Erin could eat. Erin did like different foods. I just need to put more effort in and get out of my rut.
From this day I decided to start our very own Fussy Eater Challenge. Twice a week, more if I can, I'll be trying new family mealtime recipes. I'm continuing to work my way through Tesco's magazine, however the recipes will soon be at an end. So, I'd love to build a bank of new recipes to try, recommended by other mummies. If you have any recipes you think my fussy eater will like, please, please share them with me. I'd love to give them a go.
I'll be sharing the outcome of our Fussy Eater Challenge on my blog and instagram page (@mummyandtheruggies). Wish us luck!
I always blend Ruggie 2's a bit (third bowl) so she can get it on her spoon.