First Foods

food freedom in motherhood

3 Tips to Make Meals Less Stressful

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Let me set the stage…

It’s 5:15pm, you’ve just worked a full day and arrived home with a hangry kid. Heck, let’s face it, you’re hangry too!

You make it into the house carrying a baby, the mail, and approximately 13 different bags. Now you’re faced with the task of supper. It’s not the cooking that’s daunting; it’s the mental list of requirements before that…

-think of actual food to make
-think about if said food will actually be accepted by family
-think about if said food is actually on hand
-somehow find a way to quickly prepare the meal to avoid meltdowns (from the kids or you)

I get it. I’ve been there. Guess what? Meals don’t need to be this stressful. Here are 3 tips to make meals less so:

  • Keep a staple stock. For a meal to keep tummies full and check the boxes on nutrients we need, try to include a source of all three macronutrients: carbs, fats, and protein. Keep some staple items from each category on hand so that you can rely on them when you’re throwing together meals in a pinch. Think- chicken breast in the freezer, olive oil in the pantry, rice or pasta in the pantry, etc.
  • Give choices. Want a simple win? Give kids a choice. “Would you like carrots or cucumbers with supper tonight?” This way you’re still in the driver’s seat when it comes to providing the meal, but the child feels like he also has control by getting to decide between choices. Easy, simple win? Yes please!
  • Offer, but don’t pressure. You’ve just about made it to the finish line when you’ve got food on the table, but the task of getting kids to actually eat what you serve can be another challenge altogether. Can I tell you a secret? It’s not your job to get your kid to eat. That’s right. Your job is to decide what to serve and to offer that to them. Check! You’re done. It’s your child’s job to decide how much or whether she will eat. Offer the meal, but don’t pressure the child to eat a certain amount, try a certain food, etc. This not only allows the child to feel less stress, but a happy child at a meal = a less stressful meal!

Remember, your job is to provide the meal. Your child’s job is to eat (or not). These tips are to help you take the stress out of figuring out what to make and know you’re providing balanced, nutritious meals without a fight every time you sit down to eat. It doesn’t mean kids won’t protest sometimes. It doesn’t mean that when you give a choice between cucumbers and carrots they won’t request pickles (been there), but these foundations are things we can come back to and help us do our job as parents, which is to provide the meal. You can’t fail at something that was never your responsibility, and it is not your responsibility to make your child eat what you serve.

This post was originally published April 22, 2022.

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