I’m thrilled that I found this book thanks to this post at Nourished Kitchen.
French Kids Eat Everything trails the lives of a Canadian woman and her family moving from North America to her husband’s small picturesque town in France. Enamored with romance and visions of rustic European life, this author soon found out that there’s more to living in France than baguettes and chocolat.
What she didn’t realize was that she was going to have to discipline herself and her very picky daughters to eat in an entirely new way. It’s a funny memoir where she lays out 10 rules that she learned from the French to raise healthy eaters that will try and enjoy everything.
What resonated so much with me in reading this book is that being from a Spanish family, we have many similar rules in Spain.
In my travels to Spain over the years, I remember having family members be disappointed with my sisters and I if we fussed or if we expressed that we didn’t want to try a certain food. Often times, they would be surprised if we didn’t like certain vegetables and even confused if we didn’t finish our plates.
Like the French, Spanish kids eat everything. From the time they can lift a spoon, they eat exactly what adults eat. There are no “kid” foods.
This really had me thinking. I don’t cater to my children with what they eat for supper – they eat exactly what I make and serve them. We have a strict rule that in the toddler years, although they may fuss, they must try at least two bites. It’s our “two-bite” rule.
Now that my boys are 4 and 6, I’m really proud that they eat everything I make for supper. Vegetables, legumes, rice, meats, salads, etc…
However, this book got me thinking, “why do I cater to them for lunch?” I usually ask them if they want a pb&j, organic mac & cheese, a ham sandwich, a quesadilla, a cheese and fruit plate, or a burrito. This was our usual lineup. Have your pick. With every lunch I would give them a fruit and milk.
After reading this book, I thought to myself, “This isn’t the way my family eats in Spain and it’s definitely not helping them develop their palates.”
Being that I homeschool my kids, I decided to start a new lunch mentality at home.
Ridiculously Good Lunches for Kids
Or supper for lunch as my youngest boy calls it.
I decided to take some of the strategies described in this book and start feeding my children real food for lunch. I don’t fuss or menu plan for this, I just use what I have on hand to make my kids nourishing meals that keep them satiated much longer than their lunches of before. I do try to include as many seasonal vegetables into the dishes as I can.
I share each meal every lunch hour on instagram and I plan on sharing them on my website every Saturday as well. The following meals are the ridiculously good lunches for kids that my children ate last week.
Monday: Sauteed Tilapia, Garlic Broccoli, White Rice
Tuesday: Garbanzo Salad with Carrots, Apples, Raisins, and a Kale/Swiss Chard/Spinach Mix in a apple cider vinaigrette. Plain Yogurt and Honey.
Wednesday: Buckwheat with a Orange Beet Salad (orange beets, dried un-sulphured apricots, cilantro in an apple cider vinaigrette with a smidge of honey). Cheddar Cheese.
Thursday: We celebrated my nephew’s birthday out. pb&j with fruit.
Friday: Roasted chicken, apples, and butternut squash in a balsamic glaze. Kale/Swiss Chard/Spinach Mix in a yogurt dressing.
I have to admit, I was a bit nervous to implement this at first. I had no idea how the kids were going to react. Praise God, it’s gone amazingly well. I feel that the years of hard work in establishing our supper routines has made this transition easier.
My kids are not always thrilled. Often times they’ll say, “what is this?!” Or exclaim, “I want a pb&j!”
However, I stand firm and together we have our own rules on eating ridiculously good lunches for kids.
The Rules of Eating Real Food
- We sit at the table, sitting properly in our chairs
- We do not get up without asking to be excused
- We never EVER fuss that we don’t like what’s on our plate. We need to appreciate all food especially in the people that take their time to make it for us.
- We try and eat everything.
- We enjoy food and have pleasure in eating. This means eating slowly.
I am more surprised in myself that I would think that my children would not like certain vegetables or foods. That I would think that this isn’t “child” appropriate.
They have proven me wrong and really shown me that yes, children need to be taught to enjoy all foods. It’s my job, my discipline, to continuously feed them everything.
Which in turn, means that I also have to be eating everything.
I know too many adults that say they don’t like this or that. Be aware, that children will learn what they like and dislike from our own eating habits.
My encouragement to you is this, if children can be taught to eat everything, adults can also be taught to eat everything. If you don’t like something, say beets, make them again. Then make them again. Then make them again. Until you acquire the taste.
Just like a fine wine or a deep un-filtered beer, you need to acquire the taste for food which includes all vegetables.
Strategies for Eating Everything
- Talk about the food with your children. Ask them what it looks like, what the texture is like, or if they can point out certain ingredients within the food.
- Ask them what they would do differently next time. It’s great to get them thinking about flavors and cooking techniques.
- Talk about how these vegetables are grown in our gardens and if they would like to grow them.
- Tell them how these foods benefit our bodies. This can be simple. On the day we ate carrots, I asked them, “how do carrots help our bodies grow?” Then I explained, in a funny voice, “they make us seeeeee farrrrrr!!!!” Then we took turns talking about all of the different vegetables and how they make us grow strong.
- Don’t ever, ever, make them feel as if they have to eat gross food because we had to when we were young. Make them enjoy and appreciate good food. (Also, if you’re vegetables don’t honestly taste great… it may have to do with how you’re cooking them. Here’s my post at Keeper of the Home on how to cook phenomenal vegetables.)
I do know that many of you have children at school and can’t make all of these meals at home, however, these same rules and strategies can be implemented for supper. If you’re on the go, check out Laura from Momables for healthy lunches on the go.
I do plan on sharing these recipes and tips for my new Traditional Menu Plan on a Budget. I’m still working out the kinks, but it’s almost ready to launch! So, stay tuned!!
Do your kids eat everything? Please share your rules and strategies for eating everything.
Get the Book: French Kids Eat Everything