Mama’s Menu

Mealtime in One Artsy Mama-land has turned into an epic battle scene.
Gone are the days when Little Crafter scarfed down whatever was put in front of him because it tasted better than formula.  Now, he’s the pickiest eater I’ve ever seen.  Even with his favorites, like grilled cheese and hot dogs, it’s hit or miss.  One day he loves them, the next day he acts like you’re trying to poison him when you put one on his plate.  For the past two weeks or so, even when he chooses what he wants, he refuses to eat it and does all kinds of things at the table {ie: playing with the tablecloth, or my personal favorite, pretending he’s choking} to avoid actually consuming his food.
Today, as I was driving home from a much needed coffee break with a friend, it occurred to me that maybe there’s a way to make mealtime in general feel more fun.  I remembered how when I was a child who hated to eat breakfast, my mom fixed up a little handmade menu for me and let me pretend I was ordering in a restaurant each morning.  I thought it might be fun to whip one up for Little Crafter and see if it makes him more excited about choosing and eating his meals.
Here’s what I did. {Sorry the pics aren’t so good…I was trying to attach the actual document and just couldn’t get it to work.}

On one side, I listed his entree options for lunch and/or dinner.  For each option, I typed its name and added an easily identifiable picture. {I found all the pictures through Google images.} This way, it’s useful while he’s too young to read…and who knows?  It may actually help him to begin recognizing the spellings of some of the foods he eats if he uses it each day.
I stuck to foods that he generally likes, at least on a good day.  Grilled cheese, hot dog, chicken nuggets, yogurt, PB&J, Butter Noodles, and Mac n Cheese.  He has seven different options, which isn’t so many that it will totally overwhelm him, but is enough to show him that he does have choices available.
The other side of the menu features side choices, broken into two categories.  One is fruits and veggies; the other is more snacky type foods.  Again, I tried to stick to things I know he normally likes: grapes, berries, oranges, peas, and black beans.  I figure I’ll get a better response if I don’t try and force things he hates like lima beans.   The snacks are some of his favorites: puffs, animal crackers, yogurt melts, cereal bars, and graham crackers…things he enjoys, but that are still low in fat and have some nutritional value.  Again, pictures accompany the words so he’ll have no trouble knowing what he’s choosing.
My plan is to have him choose one entree and one side from each category per meal.  That way, he gets protein, a fruit or vegetable, and also something “fun” to go along with it.
I couldn’t resist making up a little cover for the menu:
He loves stories, role playing, and using his imagination, so I’m hoping he’ll really latch on to the idea of pretending that he’s in a restaurant.  I’ll give him the menu, let him “order,” then serve his food like he’s a customer.  I’m thinking of possibly laminating it, then letting him circle his choices with a dry erase marker or crayon that I can wipe off after each meal.  If he really gets into it, I can even give him a bill and let him pay with his fake money or credit cards that came with his toy cash register.  I’m definitely hoping to get lots of tips in the form of hugs and kisses! 
What are your best tips for dealing with a picky eater?
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6 comments on Mama’s Menu

  1. Terry
    August 31, 2011 at 11:15 PM (4 years ago)

    I wish I could help with this. My family is full of fabulous eaters (and we have the waists to prove it, lol). I like the idea of laminating the menu so he can use a dry erase pen. The whole idea is great. Fingers crossed that it works.

  2. Clem
    September 1, 2011 at 1:22 AM (4 years ago)

    Great idea…wish I had thought of it. Vicki was such a picky eater…there was a year period that all she ate for breakfast, lunch AND dinner was chicken nuggets, topped with ketchup, of course!
    Luckily this will pass…

  3. Becky @ Buzzy Bee Creations
    September 1, 2011 at 2:56 AM (4 years ago)

    My 4 yr old son is a picky eater as well. He does great at breakfast and dinner but rarely eats any kind of dinner foods. I tried forcing him…we would sit there for 2 hours and he would choke the food down and cry. So needless to say, that wasn’t working. Now I just let him pick whatever he wants to eat. Some may think I am a bad mom for not making him eat what he is served but it’s either that or he wouldn’t eat. Luckily he is actually a fairly healthy eater…lots of raw veggies and fruits. One thing I have found that works is letting him pick out some new foods to try at the grocery store. That’s how I found out he loves broccoli, clams and almond butter! Sorry for the long winded comment, just wanted you to know that you aren’t alone in “picky eater” world :)

  4. Amanda Joy
    September 1, 2011 at 1:35 PM (4 years ago)

    Asher is the same. exact. way! All if the sudden he doesn’t like spaghetti sauce or peanut butter. I can’t get him to eat m any kind of melon, no black beans, rice… the kid wishes to live off of cereal and noodles. I might need to do this, otherwise he is going to loose weight that he doesn’t have to spare.

  5. BeLove
    September 2, 2011 at 3:41 AM (4 years ago)

    i love this idea!!! brilliant! i don’t have children yet but will def have to keep this in mind for the future! i also shared a link to it on my fb for all my friends with kids to check out! :D


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