Fine Dining in the Frozen Food Aisle

There are two things that my kid can do that can send me over the edge on any given day. The first is put up a fight while I’m changing his diaper. The second is refuse to eat anything.

The diaper issues is more or less fixable. All it really takes is putting a firm forearm down across my baby’s torso. Sure, there’s some screaming sometimes, but it’s over rather quickly once the diaper is totally on.

But the latter? Not so much. And don’t think I haven’t tried to pretty much force feed my kid. I dare say that after about three days of refusing to consume anything solid other than Goldfish crackers, I’ve almost had him in a rear naked choke waiting for him to open his mouth to cry so I could cram a few spoonfuls of something with actual vitamins in his mouth. And it’s not like I lack any tricks of the trade. I have about a million distraction techniques in my repertoire. And still, it’s often a fight to get food into his face.

So, I recently have taken his refusal to eat as a challenge; I absolutely will find something that he wants to eat. This mission, however, has made me reneg on one of the few things I said I was never going to do as a mother: Let my kid eat crap food. But I have been losing in this battle over breakfast, lunch, and dinner, so it was off to the frozen food aisle for fortification.

Under normal circumstances, I rarely go into the frozen food aisle. Mainly because I just don’t like a lot of that stuff. I detest Lean Cuisine dinners, I think frozen pizza tastes yucky, and oven-baked french fries never taste as good as McDonald’s fries. So, you won’t find any of that in my freezer; instead, you’ll usually find a few bags of decaf coffee, a couple of tupperware tubs of leftover pasta sauce, and a steak or a salmon filet or two.

But desperate times call for desperate measures. So, into my cart went a bag of tater tots during the last grocery run. Followed by a box of mini chicken-and-cheese empanadas and a bag of chicken nuggets. I couldn’t pass up the fish sticks or the Stouffer’s french bread pizza. And oh wait, I forgot that there was such a thing as frozen vegetables, so I grabbed a bag of mixed veggies–diced carrots, peas, green beans, and corn. I couldn’t believe I was caving; I made my own baby food for god’s sake.

When mealtime rolled around again, I set the oven to 425 degrees and laid out a high fructose feast on a baking sheet. Twenty minutes later, I cut the crispy, crunchy canapés into cubes for my crumb cruncher. Tater tots got high marks from him, as did the pizza. He was pretty happy with the veggie medley, although it’s proved to be impossible for him to resist picking up those perfectly pint-sized pieces and pitching them across the kitchen. He’s warming to the chicken nuggets and the fish sticks, but the jury’s still out on the empanadas. He ate a whole one once, but I’ve yet to see a repeat.

While I’m disappointed that I seem to be a fast-food mom in the making, I wonder what the alternative is when you’ve got a kid who just won’t eat. At this stage in his young life, it would seem that calories are king. And while it would be great if they came from whole grains and organic vegetables, I guess I’ll just take them where I can get them, be it via fish stick or chicken nugget.

Photo: Courtesy Flickr.com

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4 Comments

Filed under babies, cooking, daily life, feeding, food, toddlers

4 responses to “Fine Dining in the Frozen Food Aisle

  1. kebibarra

    I can totally relate to this! This is my life!! My wonderful 2-year-old little man is a terrible terrible eater. I’ve worried myself sick with the advice of my mother, doctors and friends lingering in my ear, “he isn’t going to starve-he will eat when he is hunger.” Really- and just when the hell is that going to be?? It’s so frustrating, I know and I too find myself more times than none handing over junk food just to get something in his system. They are strong willed little bodies thats for sure. Good luck to you!! :o)

    • Yes, as my one mommy friend who has a similar issue with her toddler said, “It’s embarrassing what passes for dinner some days.” The only thing I keep reassuring myself with is that at least my kid drinks a heck of a lot of milk and will chow down on a gummy vitamin. I’m not sure that exactly balances out the fact that most of his calories come from Goldfish, but it’s something, right? 🙂

  2. Here is a link to homemade baked tater tots (potato puffs): http://www.melskitchencafe.com/2010/10/potato-puffs-a-k-a-homemade-baked-tater-tots.html

    I hope I can offer some alternatives for you.

    I know you’ve heard it before 🙂 But It is really quite normal for toddlers to go through periods of not wanting to eat. They are discerning eaters–exploring their likes, dislikes, and the power over themselves. And they are fortunate to live in a place where they’ve never known hunger or starvation. They have that luxury. We are all well fed, KWIM? As long as we get adequate fluids not eating now and then isn’t harmful. Food battles just can’t be won so don’t enter into it. Pay it no attention other than to off out healthy alternatives and let the tot choose.

    One of my siblings at that age would reject food for most of the week and then eat like a vacuum on the weekends. You really do kind of have to let go even though it can be really hard and not give in to sweets or instant foods like tots. My DD was BLW’d and so has always been offered healthy food to eat or reject as she chose. She is considered an adventurous eater, but still even she will go some days not wanting to eat even her favorites. The girl who couldn’t go a day without a blueberry, now has no desire for them. I could almost read the thought bubble, “I have learned all there is to know about blueberries…please *huffy sniff*, take them away.” LOL

    Here are the principles I follow about meals, perhaps you can take something from it:

    1. Choice. Rejection and refusal are non issues. I do not like everything nor feel like eating all the time or I may not want peas today either.

    2. Variety. Don’t be afraid to offer reasonably spicy foods and different food types (mexican, indian, aisian, salad with onions, risotto, pickled beets…etc) and even foods I don’t personally like/prefer. Assuming they won’t like it isn’t giving them the opportunity to be confident in exploring. So, if bean burritos, tom yum soup, or quiches are on the menu they aren’t over looked. And rejection today doesn’t mean shunning tomorrow.

    3. Participation and emulation. My 2y DD has been using cutlery for a year. She chooses to use the fork, spoon, or her sometimes her hands and is served from the “communal bowls and plates”. I have offered such fare before and been rejected and I simply shrug and eat what is on my plate. Sometimes my DD has changed her mind and decided to select something to eat and other times just wasn’t hungry then. That’s okay.

    4. Opportunity. My time and her time are two different things. Kids eat slower so I must remember to give my DD adequate time to eat and also to be aware that she may not be hungry at a specific time. If I am hungry I make us both plates. If she has taste or two but then isn’t interested–no problem. I finish mine but leave the food out for her (it was something that would keep a while) and show her where I put it. This happened yesterday, after an hour or two, she cleaned the plate. I would do the same for myself if she were hungry and I were not!

    5. Bribery has no business here. I do not offer dessert as an enticement nor processed food to make her eat something/anything. Payment for expected behavior is a road that has no stop signs. KWIM? Eating should be enjoyed and be its own reward.

    • Thanks for all the good information! I appreciate your sharing it. And yes, I know this is totally normal for kids this age. 🙂 But after a long day, sometimes I just want to have him eat what’s on his plate and not have to empty out the fridge and pantry for the sake of half a grape. I totally agree with you that variety is definitely a good thing when it comes to food, so I’m with you on letting kids try stuff with strong or spicy flavors. That’s sort of the fun in eating, right? And thank you, too, for the recipe. I’ll have to give the alterna-tots a try.

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