Ways to Save: “You don’t have to eat it”


Ways to Save is a series of posts about how I save money, time, my sanity, or a combination of all three.  Keep in mind, some things that save time and sanity might actually cost more money, and things that save money might take more time.  It’s up to you to decide what’s more important to you in those instances.  These posts are what works for me!

I am not a short-order cook and make one meal for dinner that the whole family eats.  The kids may not make something else….they are expected to eat what is served.  You can see from my menus that I’m not asking them to eat crazy things, and there is always something on their plates that they’ve eaten before without complaint.

We used to require all of our kids to take a minimum amount of bites at each meal.  With our son, this quickly turned into a nightly battle….a battle with no winners.  It didn’t even matter what was on the plate….it all depended on his mood that day.  Begging, pleading, bargaining, even yelling were the norm.  We stood our ground, thinking that one day he’d get over it.  No such luck.  Our dinner table became a battle ground more often than not, and many days we dreaded it.

About a year ago, facing yet another battle, I wearily said, “you don’t have to eat it.”  He sat quietly for minute, surprised at my statement, pushed his food around his plate, ate a bite or two, then proceeded to entertain us with stories from school.

Wait, what?!?!  It actually worked? My husband and I grinned across the table at each other and enjoyed the rest of dinner with the kids.

We do have a few ground-rules that go along with this phrase:  he may not make himself an alternative meal, and he may not disparage the meal in front of him (most nights he would glare at his plate, and at me, saying “this is gross, looks disgusting, smells bad, etc).

Now I’m not saying we don’t fight anymore at the table, because yes, we do.  But it’s much less often, and since we’ve put the ball in his court it’s removed a lot of the emotion from the situation.

And yes, there have been a few times he has sat down at the table, looked at his plate and said, “I’m not eating that.”  Because I know he eats a good breakfast and lunch each day, along with a few snacks, I don’t mind if he skips dinner occasionally.  The natural consequences of skipping dinner have taught him that sometimes, it’s just not worth the battle and eating a few bites won’t kill him.

Clearly, this saves my sanity.  It may not work for your family, but it definitely works for mine.

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