My kids like to eat, and they like to eat good food. I don't know whether to attribute this to luck or my parenting skills, but I'll err on the side of giving myself credit any day! Here are my top five tips to help children learn to appreciate good food.
1. Eat good food. I know that I'm a good cook, but sometimes I'm a better cook than others. When the food is good, the kids eat up, accompanied by lots of lip smacking and 'mmmms'. Even if you don't like cooking, having a few stock meal ideas on hand will help your kids learn to appreciate good food.
In other words, master a few good dishes, rather than trying to do a whole range halfheartedly. Roast chicken, scrambled eggs and toast or a quick and easy lentil soup are usually crowd-pleasers.
2. Eat different kinds of food. Five different variations on pasta, five nights a week can make anyone turn their nose up. One night make breakfast for dinner, the next lasagna with zucchini, the following tofu in spinach sauce. And yes, my kids eat all three dishes.
3. Propose it often. I've heard that it takes a new food being offered fifteen times before a child accepts it. One of our favorite meals is leek and potato pie. My children didn't like it at first, my now they scarf down every bite.
4. Let them help. My older two children love to cook. They stir the batter or cut things with a plastic knife. Or they help me carry things to the table where we do the preparation. If they've made it themselves, children are much more likely to try something new- even Endive Gorgonzola soup
5. Don't force them. I never make my children finish what is on their plates. On the other hand, they know the rules about eating quite well; this helps them to gauge when they're hungry and how much they want to eat. Our rules? If they don't finish dinner, then they don't get cheese or dessert. If they get down from the table then they are finished eating. No snacks, except for right after school. They can eat as much as they want at meal time, of all the different choices, but I don't cook special foods for them.
Again, I don't know if it's through luck or the things I do. But I do know that my children love good food as much as I do- good thing, considering that we live in France!