Dealing with picky eaters when on a limited budget
- posted on: June 9, 2016
- posted by: 21 Acres
Recently, the New York Times published an Op-Ed piece, A Hidden Cost of Giving Kids Their Vegetables, discussing the blame game that is often played on people with limited resources for not feeding their children healthy food. When it comes down to it, children are picky eaters, regardless of family income. This fact, weighs a heavier burden on low-income parents. When money is tight, rather than waste food that children will not eat, parents tend to provide their children with food they know they will eat. This food is oftentimes nutrient deficient, bland and sweet, a trade off that I truly understand.
I am a mother of 2 small children. I work, my husband works, we are busy and tired. Occasionally, a day or two before payday, we are out of pretty much everything, left with only pantry staples like rice or pasta and beans and we have to be really creative about “what’s for dinner.” I was raised by a single mother, we were food insecure, especially when the food stamps ran out near the end of the month. I understand some of the struggle and hardships that are part of “going without.”
I also believe that children can learn to not be so picky. Get them in the kitchen! Have them help prepare the meal. Time and time again, I have, with my own children, gotten them in the kitchen to cook with me, and they will eat it. They say, “This is the yummiest, best soup we have ever had.”
If possible, grow a little garden; peas or strawberries, lettuce or carrots. Here at 21 Acres we have repeatedly witnessed the transformative power of a child pulling a carrot out of the earth, eating it unwashed, or a warm strawberry fresh off the vine… yummy!
What I am saying is it is possible to change your children’s palate. Keep giving them new vegetables, offering small amounts. What they do not eat, keep and eat yourself. (That is a fact of being a parent, often we eat half-eaten, cold food.) Children will and do follow a parent’s lead, eventually. Keep trying.
Search for free or reduced price cooking classes. Many community service organizations such as the YMCA, school districts, health clinics and even PCC Natural Markets offer free classes.
The need for better food options and the education of how to use them is why 21 Acres created the Harvest Share, because everyone deserves good food. The Harvest Share is a weekly membership program that allows families or anyone living on a tight budget to learn to eat well seasonally. During each weekly pickup a hands-on cooking demo is conducted, getting kids involved, creating, and tasting new yummy foods.
Being a parent is hard. Being a parent with limited resources is harder. Keep giving your children fruits and vegetables. Cook with your children. You will be rewarded with knowledge that you are doing the best you can.